LFC Advent Calendar 8 – Jimmy Case
In today’s edition of the FOAR LFC Advent Calendar, we look back on an often-forgotten legend that thrived when Liverpool were going through arguably their best era.
Jimmy Case was born and raised in the south of Liverpool, and after joining his beloved Reds, he, like many other lads, still had to work in the trade. He worked all day as an electrician, and then on top of that, he’d train two mornings and two nights a week with Liverpool. Perhaps modern young footballers would benefit from such a pathway.It’d keep their heads screwed on while providing them with practical skills if things didn’t work out as a footballer.
“They asked me to go for a two-week trial at Liverpool. I took two weeks off work because I was an apprentice electrician as well.
“At the end of the two weeks they asked me to sign full-time, but I actually turned them down because I had done two years of my electrician’s apprenticeship which is a four-year term and I wanted to continue that which in the end I did.
“Liverpool took over my semi-professional contract at South Liverpool and I did that for two years until I was twenty, signed full-time pro and by the time I was just short of 21 years of age that’s when I made my debut.”
Case made his debut in 1975 for a Liverpool team that featured the likes of Kevin Keegan, Ray Clemence, Phil Thompson, Emlyn Hughes, and John Toshack, just to name a small handful. During his time for the club, he became known for his aggressive tackling, ferocious shot power, winning trophies, and enjoying a few pints down the pub with fans. The midfielder affectionately became known as Jimmy ‘Hard’ Case.
He made an immediate impact during his first season, impressing many who doubted the 20-year-old’s credentials in such a star-studded squad. During the following season, he was able to nail down a starting position and scored 12 goals in 39 appearances. At the end of this season, Case became a UEFA Cup winner after scoring invaluable goals along the way in that competition, including the final, as well as a League champion.
Case and the Reds followed this up by nearly winning the treble the following season. Unfortunately, Manchester United won the FA Cup in a final that ended 2-1, but Case had equalised for Liverpool earlier in the match. This didn’t concern him too much though, as they won the League again, and he helped Liverpool win their first ever European Cup in Rome, 3-1 against Borussia Monchengladbach.
Manchester United and England captain Bryan Robson said of Case,
“I won’t say he was dirty but certainly the hardest opponent was Jimmy Case. He could certainly look after himself. He was very clever about it as well.”
Case won both the European Cup and the League twice more in his disappointingly short Liverpool career. But all was not well with the cherished midfielder. Manager Bob Paisley grew tired of his off-field antics with fellow teammate Ray Kennedy, as the pair often stayed out drinking in pubs and getting into trouble, including an assault charge in 1980.Case was also caught fighting in a pub in Wales, as well as failing a breathalyser test.
The manager was also concerned by the fact that whenever Case would walk into a pub, he’d be immediately swamped by grateful fans who’d buy him a pint each. Finally, Paisley had enough and replaced him with another legend, Sammy Lee, shifting Case on to Brighton.
In terms of play style, Case was most unusual. He was a skillful, goal-scoring right midfielder, but he would never hesitate to put his foot in a batter anyone foolish enough to get in range of him. This is particularly curious as in those days fullbacks were granted the freedom to batter any wingers that tried to get around them, but Case would take the knocks and give it back twice as hard.
Aside from the fact that he was a good player who won plenty of trophies in his time, it’s slightly bizarre how highly Case is still regarded among Liverpool fans given the way his time on Merseyside ended. Perhaps it’s because he’s a local boy turned good, or maybe it’s because he reminded fans of themselves, just another bloke who loved the club and a few pints.
Either way, Jimmy Case is a true legend of the club and is fully deserving of all the respect and accolades he continues to receive to this day.