By Chris Rowland.
As the first Liverpool FC captain to get his hands on Ol’ Big Ears, Emlyn Hughes’ place in the club’s hall of fame should be secured for that alone. But he gave us much, much more than that unforgettable night in the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, and that song he gave us at the official homecoming; ‘Liverpool are magic, Everton are tragic’. Those who weren’t really football fans said ‘what a pity he sad that, why couldn’t he just enjoy the win without being nasty to another team?’ I just thought it added to what was already a glorious story!
Like many Reds’ players in the 70s and 80s, Emlyn grew accustomed to trophies: League and UEFA Cup doubles in 1972/3 and 1975/6 (remember Molineux in 1976 when the title was clinched in that dramatic last game?), the FA Cup in 1974 (his first trophy as skipper, and Shanks’ last), another League title in 1977, and then a couple of weeks later our first European Cup. To complete his year, he was also voted football writers’ Player of the Year for 1977, back in the days when was still allowed for the media to give any credit to anything connected with Liverpool.
Hughes also played at Wembley in the team that retained the European Cup in 1978, before a knee injury and the emergence of a young centre-back called Hansen brought the curtain down on his wonderful career at Anfield. He was rewarded with a testimonial in 1979.
Born in Barrow-on-Furness, Hughes was signed by Shankly from Blackpool in 1967, just turned 20, for £65,000. He told the story of when Shanks came to complete the signing:
“We had to get to Lytham St Anne’s to complete the signing so I could play straight away in Liverpool’s next match and Shanks drove us both down there. It’s only about ten minutes from Bloomfield Road, but he was the worst driver in the world. He had this old brown Corsair and just as we left the ground he half went through a set of lights and a woman shunted into the back of us and smashed all the lights in. Next thing, a police car flags us down and the young officer comes up to the car and Shanks winds down the window. ‘What is it officer ?’ he asked, ‘I’m sorry sir you can’t continue the journey in that car as you’ve got no lights’. said the policeman. ‘Do you know who’s in this car ?’, said Shanks, and I thought he was doing the old do you know who I am routine. ‘No’ said the officer, ‘I don’t recognise you.’ ‘No not me you fool’, he said, ‘I’ve got the future captain of England alongside me.'”
Shanks was right of course!
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