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Clemence, Ray

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RAY CLEMENCE 1967-81

 

by Chris Wood

Date of Birth - 05/08/48

Nationality - English

Position - Goalkeeper

Games - 665

Goals - 0

Club Hons (Lpool) - League Championship 1972/73, 75/76, 76/77, 78/79, 79/80, European Cup 1976/77, 77/78, 80/81, UEFA Cup 1972/73, 75/76, FA Cup 1973/74, League Cup 1980/81

Intnl Hons - 61 England Caps

Other Clubs - Scunthorpe, Tottenham

 

Arguably the greatest of the many great goalkeepers that have represented Liverpool over the years, only Emlyn Hughes and Ian Callaghan had made more first-team appearances for the club by the time Liverpool's last line of defence through the glory days of the 1970's moved to Tottenham Hotspur in 1981.

 

Ray had played 48 League games for Scunthorpe United when Bill Shankly brought him to Anfield in June 1967, folklore suggesting that the famous Scot chopped a few years off Tommy Lawrence's age to encourage the young 'keeper to think that he would soon be first-choice in his side! In fact Ray had to serve a long and frustrating apprenticeship in the reserves apart from being selected for a League cup tie against Swansea in September 1968, a competition Liverpool certainly didn't take seriously at that time.

 

As the 60's moved into the 70's, Shankly was starting to break up the team which had brought him so much success and Ray was given his full League debut at Nottingham Forest on the last day of January 1970. Tommy Lawrence's last appearance for the club was in the awful F.A. cup quarter-final defeat at Watford the next month and seven days later Ray was one of a number of changes made for the visit of Derby County and he had established himself firmly as first-choice 'keeper by the end of that season.

 

Ray only missed SIX League matches in the next ELEVEN years and picked up a bagful of medals as the teams of the 1970's surpassed the achievments of their predecessors of the 60's, not only winning the championship several times but also conquering Europe as well. In his first full season, Clemence only conceded 22 goals in 41 First Division matches, a record which was surpassed in 1978-79 when just 16 goals were let in with Ray being an ever-present for the sixth time.

 

Ray's positional sense and quick reactions led to England caps galore and his tally would have been even higher had Peter Shilton not been around at the same time.

 

One of very few players over the whole continent to have won three European cup winners' medals, Ray's crucial save from Stielike when the Rome final in 1977 was tensely balanced at 1-1 helped Liverpool achieve perhaps the most memorable result in the club's long and illustrious history.

 

Just as important saves in the Anfield quarter-final with Saint-Etienne in the same season had paved the way for that first success in Europe's premier club competition and his penalty-save from Jupp Heynckes prevented Liverpool from losing the 1973 UEFA final on the away goals rule. Another brilliant penalty-save at Dresden in the UEFA tournament three years later also prevented a quarter-final exit and the Reds went on to win the cup that year as well.

 

Memorable saves like these come easily to mind. What is not remembered so well but what was just as vital to all the success the club enjoyed during the 1970's was Ray Clemence's remarkable consistency and athleticism which turned many a draw into a victory and many potential defeats into draws and wins. Ray's final game for Liverpool was appropriately on the sort of grand stage to which he had become accustomed and he kept a clean sheet as Real Madrid were beaten by Alan Kennedy's late strike in Paris.

 

But the flamboyant Bruce Grobbelaar had been signed only weeks before that European final and Ray knew that after so many seasons of almost unbroken success, he might have a difficult job at the age of 32 to keep the young South-African pretender to his crown out of the team. He chose to move to London in the summer and ironically his first competitive match against his former team-mates was at Wembley when, despite his heroics, Liverpool retained the League cup by three goals to one.

 

A few weeks later Tottenham travelled to Anfield with Liverpool needing a win to secure their 13th League championship. As Ray ran towards the Kop goal at the start of the second-half he received a fantastic ovation from the thousands of supporters packed onto that famous terrace (and from other parts of the ground as well) as a tribute to the remarkable service he had given Liverpool for so many years.

 

Whilst at Anfield, Ray won the League championship 5 times and also picked up 7 winners' medals in major cup competitions. He left Anfield having played a staggering number of 656 games for Liverpool in all competitions, a record unlikely to ever be beaten in modern times by another goalkeeper or - for that matter - any outfield player.

 

More info on Ray Clemence:

 

++ / LFChistory.net -- Past Present Future

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