Ian St John

  • Date of Birth: 7/6/38
  • Birthplace: Motherwell
  • Nationality: Scottish
  • Position: Forward
  • Signed 1961
  • Debut 19/8/61
  • Appearances 425
  • Goals 118
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Ian St John was responsible for the single greatest moment of the Shankly era.

It was his extra-time goal that sealed our first FA Cup in 1965 and brought hundreds of thousands on to the streets of Liverpool in jubilation.

Even today, after famous nights in Rome and Istanbul, that first Wembley triumph is still cherished as one of the club's finest hours.

St John's contribution to the Red cause goes far beyond a single goal, however.

The Scot was a key figure in the transformation of Liverpool Football Club from a mediocre Second Division outfit to one of the most feared sides in Europe.

It took a club record £37,500 to prise him from hometown team Motherwell in May 1961.

Legend has it that when Bill Shankly approached his board for the funds they questioned the wisdom of spending so much on one player, to which Shanks replied: "We can't afford not to buy him!"

A sign of what was to come came on his debut in a Liverpool Senior Cup tie against top-flight neighbours Everton at Goodison Park.

The fact the Reds lost 4-3 was of minor significance to the Liverpudlians in the crowd, for they left knowing they'd witnessed the birth of a legend. St John scored three times and deservedly earned rave reviews for his all-round performance.

Standing at just five feet and seven inches, he may have been short in size but not in stature. The Saint was a feisty competitor, a fact illustrated by a sending off during an end of season tour to Czechoslovakia just weeks after his debut, but an infectious passion rubbed off on those around him.

Twelve months after moving south he helped the Reds to promotion, forming a partnership with Roger Hunt which became one of the most talked about in the land.

St John was also cultivating a special relationship with the Kop, who devised one of the first ever football chants in his honour.

For a player so small, he was deadly in the air, and it was with his head that he broke Leeds United hearts in the '65 Cup final.

With the game tied at 1-1, it was in the second period of extra-time that the striker twisted acrobatically in mid-air to glance Willie Stevenson's centre into the back of Gary Sprake's net.

If he never scored another goal in a red shirt he'd still be feted today as the man who broke the club's 73-year Cup duck but there was much more to come from the inspirational Scotsman who was equally adept at operating as a centre forward, inside forward or deep lying creative midfielder.

With close ball control and a football brain to rival the greatest in the game at the time, St John was both a taker and maker of goals. His best season in terms of hitting the back of the net was in the Second Division title-winning campaign of 1961-62 when he bagged 22. It was a feat he went on to match two years later as the First Division championship came back to Anfield.

With the passing of time the goals slowly dried up, but St John remained an influential member of a team in which he was almost an ever-present for eight seasons.

By the time the Seventies dawned, the ageing Saint was gradually being phased out of the first team as Shanks began the construction of his second great side.

He left for Coventry in 1971 safe in the knowledge that the period of dominance about to be enjoyed on Merseyside would not have been possible without him.

Previous Clubs:
Motherwell Bridge Works, North Motherwell Athletic, Douglas Water Thistle (all amtateur), Motherwell, Hellenic FC (South Africa), Coventry, Tranmere

Past Players