Tom Watson

Date of Birth: 09 Apr 1859

Birthplace: Newcastle-Upon-Tyme, England

GAMES: 741

WON: 328

DRAWN: 141

LOST: 272





First Division champions 1901, 1906

Second Division champions 1905


One of the great figures of the early Football League, Tom Watson led Liverpool to their first two Division One titles and our first ever FA Cup final.

The Newcastle-born boss, who was previously manager of Sunderland's all-conquering 'team of talents', was lured to Liverpool in 1896 and made an immediate impact with the Reds, taking us to two FA cup semi-finals before the turn of the century.

Watson was only 37-years-old at the time of this move and was still a relatively young man, certainly for a football manager.

But if you are good enough, you are old enough, and there could have been a First Division title even earlier too, but Liverpool capitulated on the last day of the 1898-99 season. A 5-0 defeat at Aston Villa ended their hopes of the championship when a draw would have been enough.

Liverpool slipped to 10th the following season but recovered to mount a serious challenge for the title in the first full season of the new century.

Watson had already proved at Sunderland that he had a good eye for talented players and he continued to show that with Liverpool. Numerous players that had a huge influence on the club’s earlier years, and in particular their double-title success in the first decade of the 20th century, were signed during Watson’s reign.

Amongst them and in no particular order were Scotsman Alex Raisbeck, legendary goalkeepers Sam Hardy and Elisha Scott, as well as prolific scorers Jack Parkinson and Sam Raybould.

The 1900-01 season ended in glory, with the championship being won by two points. Ironically the Reds pipped Watson’s former employees Sunderland to the title and supporters thought it would herald a new and exciting era.

But rather surprisingly results took a turn for the worse and the club was relegated only three years after winning the League Championship.

It was certainly proving to be a rollercoaster ride under Watson's leadership and Liverpool bounced back at the first time of asking. They followed that up with their second league title just 12 months later.

It meant Liverpool became the first club to achieve the ‘double’ feat of winning the Second and First Division championships in successive seasons.

In 1906 Watson suffered FA Cup semi-final disappointment for the sixth time as a manager when they were beaten by neighbours Everton and, only in 1910 when finishing runners-up to Aston Villa, did Liverpool seriously challenge for another championship.

Four years later Watson finally managed to overcome his semi-final jinx as Liverpool progressed to the FA cup final at Villa’s expense. But the big day at London’s Crystal Palace ground was to end in disappointment with a single-goal defeat to Burnley.

As the First World War broke out, Tom Watson was embarking on his 19th season in charge at Anfield - but sadly it would be his last.

He died on May 6, 1915, aged 56. Watson had been a popular and successful manager and that was reflected in the turn-out for his funeral, where many of the players he had signed acted as pall-bearers on his final journey.

Alex Raisbeck, Teddy Doig, Arthur Goddard, Charlie Wilson, Maurice Parry, George Fleming and Robbie Robinson as well as the club trainer William Connell were all on hand to carry his coffin.