There's rarely a week that goes by here on the Bleacher Report that somebody isn't writing a piece to inform readers of who is the greatest player, manager, tea-lady etc. etc. in the history of one club or another.
There's also frequent pieces with regards to the best-ever lineups for each team based, more often than not, on the writer's opinion and little more. I do want to make it clear that I'm not in any way having a go at the people who have written those articles; many of them are assigned the pieces and the work they produce is often very good.
What I did want to address however was the issue with whether or not readers agree with the picks put forward by the writers. I have read many of these articles and then scrolled down to the comments section to see that often the readers have a completely different view than what has been put forward in the article itself.
So with that in mind, I thought it might be interesting to put the decision on who would make up an all-time Liverpool 11 in the hands of you, the reader. Over the next 12 weeks, it is my intention to produce an article per week relating to each position in a 4-4-2 formation, starting with this article which covers the position of goalkeeper, and give you the opportunity to vote for who you think is the best player Liverpool FC have ever had in that position. The final week will be the announcement of the team picked by the readers.
The format will be pretty simple: I'll put forward five players for each position along with a short bio on each and you'll have the chance to vote for your choice. When I publish the article for the next position I will announce the winner of the vote for this position and goalkeeper will therefore be filled and we'll move on from there.
Certain players will be nominated in multiple positions if they have played a significant amount of games in more than one role. You will also have the option to vote for "other" if you don't feel that any of the five players I nominate are in fact the best in a chosen position and I'd ask you to specify who the other nominee is in the comments section.
All sound simple enough? Let's get on with it so.
Liverpool FC has, throughout its history, been home to many great goalkeepers. Dating back to 1895 right up until today, the club has almost continuously had in their ranks a top-class goalkeeper who provided a solid foundation on which the rest of the team was built. Here are five of the best.
Elisha Scott: 1912-1917 and 1919-1934, 468 Appearances
Elisha Scott served Liverpool FC for 20 years and to this day still holds the record as their longest-serving first-team player. Born in Belfast, he played for Broadway United and Linfield before being signed by Liverpool on 1 September 1912.
During the First World War he returned to Belfast to play for Belfast Celtic but returned to Liverpool two years later and established himself as first choice for the club. He would hold that position for a decade and play a major part in Liverpool's title-winning seasons in 1922 and 1923.
Scott had a famous crosstown rivalry with Everton star Dixie Dean which is recanted to this day. There is a famous story regarding the two men which may or may not be true. Ireland were due to face England in Belfast and the two men were set to line out for the respective countries. On the day of the match they bumped into each other in Belfast City Centre and Dean, who was famous for his heading ability, touched his hat and nodded to Scott as they were about to pass, only for Scott to respond by diving as if to try to save an imaginary header, much to the initial shock and then delight of the locals who witnessed it while a mildly shocked Dean smiled and quietly continued on his walk.
A true Liverpool legend, Scott left Liverpool in 1934 having lost his place in the team to Arthur Riley a few years before. He would join Belfast Celtic as a player-manager and go on to lead them to great success.
Tommy Lawrence: 1957-1971, 390 Appearances
As is well-known, Liverpool have had many great Scottish players over the years. One that is often overlooked is "The Flying Pig," Tommy Lawrence. Many years before Everton's Neville Southall gained acclaim for the ease in which he threw his large frame through the air to make jaw-dropping saves, Lawrence was doing the same at Liverpool as he hurled his short but stocky 14-stone frame into the air to save the un-saveable.
Lawrence was one of the greats of Shankly's Liverpool and his mix of a consistently high level of performance and ability to organize his defence, along with the fact that he was rarely injured, insured that he kept his position in the Liverpool first team from 1962 to 1970 before being succeeded by Ray Clemence.
Lawrence was 17 when he signed for Liverpool and left the club at the age of 31 to join nearbyTranmere Rovers, where he made 80 appearances over the course of three years. During his time at Liverpool he won two league titles and kept goal for the club during their historic FA Cup win of 1965.
Ray Clemence: 1967-1981, 665 Appearances
Signed from Scunthorpe at the age of 19, Clemence would have to wait almost three years to establish himself in the Liverpool team due to form of the aforementioned Tommy Lawrence. When he did finally establish himself, he set the standard against which all future Liverpool goalkeepers would be measured.
Clemence was a goalkeeper known for his ability to make acrobatic saves that only years before would have seemed improbable. He was also noted for his fantastic ability in one-on-one situation with advancing strikers and did not have a notable weakness to his game.
Total Football ran a poll a few years back and Clemence was voted the greatest goalkeeper of all time, beating out such legends as Gordon Banks, Lev Yashin and Pat Jennings. He was also chosen No. 11 in the "100 Players Who Shook The Kop" poll taken on the official club website in 2006, making him the highest-ranked goalkeeper.
Clemence left Liverpool in 1981 to join Tottenham Hotspur after the Reds signed Bruce Grobbelaar, who put his place in the team under threat after 11 years of fantastic service. His honours list makes impressive reading with five league titles and three European Cups the obvious highlights, and to date he holds the record for the lowest number of goals conceded per game in an English league season at just 0.38 goals which he accomplished in the 1978/79 season.
Bruce Grobbelaar: 1981-1994, 628 Appearances
They say goalkeepers are crazy and if Bruce Grobbelaar is anything to go by, that saying is most definitely true. From sitting on his own crossbar when bored during games, to his wobbly knees routine in a European Cup final penalty shootout, to smacking Steve McManaman in the face after Shaggy dared to question him, Bruce Grobbelaar was all kinds of crazy.
He was also a brilliant goalkeeper capable of making highlight-reel saves, whilst also commanding his defence to perfection. Grobbelaar made his debut for the Reds at the beginning of the 1981/82 season following the departure of the aforementioned Ray Clemence, having signed for the club from the Vancouver Whitecaps in March of that year.
His career at Liverpool did not start promisingly unfortunately, as Liverpool struggled and Grobbelaar made a number of individual errors which cost the Reds goals, and ultimately points. Thankfully things would improve, as Grobbelaar and Liverpool found form and the Reds' stunning second half to the season, 43 points out of a maximum 50—impressive baring in mind it was only two points for a win at the time—saw them finish the season on top of the table and earn Bruce his first league winner's medal.
He would add five more to that first title, as well as a European Cup, three FA Cups and three League Cups. Grobbelaar would leave Liverpool in 1994 having lost his place to David James for the second time after initially winning it back due to the first known sightings of Calamity James. We won't get into what happened to Bruce after he left Liverpool because as far as I'm concerned, he retired the day he left.
Pepe Reina: 2005-Present, 329 Appearances and Counting
What can I really say about Pepe that you don't already know? Signed from Villarreal by Rafa Benitez in the wake of Liverpool's famous Champions League success of 2005, he established himself as first-choice goalkeeper immediately and relegated the hero of Istanbul, Jerzy Dudek, to the bench.
Reina would immediately repay Benitez's faith in him with a string of outstanding saves and a heroic performance in the penalty shootout at the 2006 FA Cup Final, which he ultimately won for his new club. While that remains the only honour the club have won since his arrival, none of the blame for that can be laid at his feet as he had been a model of consistency in terms of top-quality performances.
At only 29, Reina likely has many years left at Liverpool and could one day become the all-time leader in appearances by a goalkeeper for the club, currently held by Ray Clemence at 665. Reina is almost halfway there and is only halfway through his seventh season for the club. Baring injury or a drastic loss of form, it's not hard to imagine him sticking around for another seven seasons.
So there you have it, my five nominations for the title of the greatest Liverpool FC goalkeeper ever. I've included some footage of Clemence Grobbelaar and Reina for your viewing pleasure. Unfortunately I am unable to provide footage of Scott and Lawrence.
So I've done my part; I now turn the power over to you, the reader, to make your selection and vote for your choice. As always I invite your thoughts and comments below. I'd also like to hear what your thoughts are on the idea of this Reader's Choice series.
Thanks for reading.
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