Alan Hudson’s iconic Stoke City debut against Liverpool in his own words

Alan Hudson, the darling of Stoke City fans in the 1970s and again for a second stint in the 1980s, gave a glimpse of his genius in his update autobiography The worker’s ballet.

Here we dive into the pages of his memories of two special matches against Bill Shankly and Liverpool, against whom he made his debut on this day in 1974.

My new side were third from bottom in the old Premier League, and it was already January, with mighty Liverpool the next game and my debut pending.

What did I do by signing for this lot?

Like most ex-Chelsea players, I tended to be shipwrecked. I looked forward, however, to a period of escape, trying to rebuild my career.

The Thursday morning training session was where Tony Waddington really put me under the most intense pressure and put me in a situation that caused a bit of animosity among a few in the locker room.

In a full-scale game against the second team, he put a different color top on me and told our players not to change to any color other than mine.

Right away our left-back Micky Pejic was my number one enemy and he would do the complete opposite.

Players like John Ritchie, Jimmy Greenhoff and Jimmy Robertson were all experienced players and didn’t like being told to give the ball to a 22-year-old Smoke troublemaker.



Alan Hudson in imperious form against Liverpool with a drunk looking Boothen End

This Saturday was one of the most exciting and rewarding of my career. It is still talked about to this day in terms of the best performance ever on a ground already famous for so many of Matthews’ virtuoso displays.

Had I failed that day, I would have been called a burnt-out, overrated Smoke star who, in his first four days in town, had spent more hours at The Place than at the training ground. .

My first passes were at the feet of the front players so I could pace myself, always staying behind the ball, never having to run backwards.

The tone was heavy, but it was my tone, and I started to hear the buzzing around the floor getting louder and louder. I knew this was going to be my day, the day I conquered them.

The match ended 1-1 after our keeper John Farmer dropped one at the feet of Tommy Smith in the dying seconds. It was probably the only mistake he made while we were playing together and it had to be that day.



Bill Shankly... adored by the masses and a master psychologist
Bill Shankly… adored by the masses and a master psychologist

The following season we beat Liverpool 2-0 in an important league game during that grueling Easter period.

The Liverpool players arrived and went straight into our tunnel to check out what boots they would need. The look on the faces of Keegan, Toshack and Clemence and everything was a sight to behold.

Keegan came out with his church brogues covered in mud. “What’s going on here, Huddy, we haven’t gotten an inch on the road?” I just shrugged and couldn’t tell him that the local rainmaker was really the local fire chief, a lifelong Stoke City fan and a good friend of Mr Waddington.

What are your memories? Have your say in the comments section

We overwhelmed the Anfield men. I finished the match by smashing down Tommy Smith, a hard tackle, just outside the directors’ stand. ‘This is for the guv’nor’ I thought.

As I sat in front of my locker, covered in mud, there was a knock on the door. A head appeared around her and it was Shanks.

As I took off my right boot, Shankly stood over me with his hand outstretched. “Son, I thought Peter Doherty’s performance would never be topped, but you just did”

It was the sweetest sound my ears have ever heard, and don’t forget I’m a Frank Sinatra freak.

The Working Man’s Ballet is available in paperback and hardcover, priced at £12.28.

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