Kop Legends

Legend – Jimmy Case


0702200P CHARITY SHIELDA bargain buy from local side South Liverpool, Jimmy Case managed to establish himself extraordinarily quickly in the top tier of English football during the 1970s with Liverpool. He made his full league debut in a 3-1 win over QPR on the final day of the 1974-75 season playing on the right hand side of midfield. It would take 20 year old Case another seven months before he firmly established himself in the starting eleven. Replacing Brian Hall in the first team reckoning, he managed to score 12 goals in 39 appearances, including a special hat-trick against Slask Wroclaw in the UEFA Cup at Anfield. He went on to score a goal against Dynamo Dresden in the quarter final and a crucial score in the first leg of the final at home versus FC Bruges, coming on for John Toshack and dragging the team from a two goal deficit to a 3-2 advantage, wreaking havoc in the Belgian defence and scoring the equalising goal himself. In his first full season at Anfield he had won a league title and the UEFA Cup, he could not have asked for much more.

Case was widely known for his tough tackling and was highly regarded for his work rate, but he also had a powerful shot which on more than occasion led to some spectacular long range goals. Many of the 45 goals he scored for Liverpool came from outside of the box and this combination gave Case the unique qualities of being a threat going forward as well as being able to defend with gusto. Although he had to battle with Terry McDermott for a place in the side, from 1977 to 1980 Case was an ever present member of the team, playing in the team’s first European Cup success and winning two more in subsequent successes, as well as four league championship medals in total . He also scored one of his trademark spectacular goals in the losing FA Cup final of 1977, swivelling on the half volley to score past Manchester United keeper Alex Stephney.

His penultimate season with the Reds saw him only miss five games in the 1979/80 campaign but the following year he was replaced in the team by the equally industrious Sammy Lee and had to settle for a place on the substitute’s bench. In the prime of his career at 27, such a situation would not do for Case and he moved to Brighton in a £350,000 transfer in the summer of 1981 as part of the deal that saw Mark Lawrenson go in the opposite direction. The second season at the Goldstone Ground was a very successful one for Case, reaching the FA Cup final with the South coast team after he scored at Anfield to knock his former club Liverpool out in a previous round. Brighton had a chance to win the Cup in the final through with that infamous chance for Gordon Smith but the 2-2 draw only led to the Seagulls being thrashed 4-0 in the replay.

After the best part of four years with Brighton, Case moved along the coast to Southampton for a small fee, seemingly with the best days of his career behind him. Nothing could have been further from the truth though as he quickly won over the fans with his tough tackling. During his time at the Dell however, something else became apparent, he had developed and matured as a player and his passing and vision became crucial to Saints’ game under both managers Lawrie McMenemy and Chris Nicholl. He began to play as a playmaker during the twilight of his career, finishing fifth in his first season at the club. He was prevented from playing in Europe however due to the Heysel disaster, but in subsequent years at the club, he continued to lead the Saints to great success. He helped them get to the FA Cup Semi final in his second season where they lost out in extra time to his former club Liverpool, and he was named Saints player of the year in 1990 after he played in a 4-1 victory over Liverpool helping them to a seventh place finish in the league that season.

His honeymoon with the South coast club however ended in the summer of 1991 when new manager Ian Branfoot sold Case to Bournemouth. For the first time in his career he was playing below the top two divisions in England, and he had spells after Bournemouth with Halifax, Wrexham, Darlington and Sittingbourne before returning under Liam Brady as a player coach with Brighton in 1993. In 1995, at 41 he became the oldest outfield player playing in the Football League but his best playing days were over. He took over as manager at Brighton after Brady left but he only led them to relegation to Division Three where he was sacked after the Seagulls were rooted to the bottom of the table.

Since then, he has managed a non league club Bashley but he has mostly been a radio pundit summarising Southampton matches for Radio Hampshire and for BBC Radio Merseyside when Liverpool were playing in South England. More recently he has done studio punditry for LFC TV and has gone on tour in 2007 to celebrate the 1977 European Cup victory with fellow former team mates Tommy Smith, Ian Callaghan and Joey Jones. He was also named 45th on the “100 Players who shook the Kop” poll taken by the Liverpool FC website.

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