by Frank Dacey
Tommy Lawrence made 390 appearances for the Reds between 1962 and 1971 and in that time he rarely missed a game.
He was one of the first ‘sweeper-keepers’ and his speed off the line and bravery in taking on opposition forwards enabled the Red’s defence to play a high line and keep the pressure on our opponents. Yet Tommy was strangely under-rated at the time. He won only 3 international caps at a time when Scottish goalkeepers had a reputation for calamitous mistakes.
This under-estimation of Tommy’s abilities may be a reflection on his appearance. He wore the scruffiest, baggiest green jersey that can ever have appeared on a football field and it was always worn outside his shorts. Unkind critics suggested this was to cover his ‘ample physique’.
Liverpool fans thought he had a sweet tooth as he was showered with sweets, chewing gum and possiblyeven the odd fag as he made his way into goal at the beginning of each half. These were all assiduously collected and put in his cap for (presumably) later consumption. Opposition fans called him, ‘The Flying Pig’, or ‘The only pregnant goalie in the land’.
Tommy could laugh off the insults by pointing to his medal collection. You don’t win two league titles and an FA Cup if you’re a not a top-class player. In the end, Tommy had to give way to Ray Clemence, who simply couldn’t be kept in the reserves any longer. There’s no shame in losing your place to the greatest goal-keeper in our history.