Reds relegated from top flight

24th April 1954

One of the darkest days in Liverpool Football Club's history came on April 17, 1954, as 50 consecutive seasons of top-flight football came to an end.

A 1-0 defeat at home to Cardiff City, a game in which the legendary Billy Liddell missed a penalty, consigned Don Welsh's Reds to the dreaded drop.

The writing had been on the wall for some time. As club captain Bill Jones commented: "Things didn't go right for us and I want to forget that season."

Five straight losses early in the campaign made things difficult ¿ then a disastrous December saw the Reds ship five goals in three consecutive games.

There were 3-0 defeats at Highbury and Blackpool's Bloomfield Road, though neither summoned the humiliation of a 6-0 reverse against Charlton at the Valley in September.

A late rally of four victories in six games gave fans hope, but Liverpool's fate was effectively sealed by gaining just a single win from 20 over winter and spring. The stats said it all: 97 goals conceded and just 68 scored en route to a scant tally of 28 points.

The crux of the problem was a lack of anyone able to net goals on a regular basis. Even the iconic Liddell could only manage seven in all competitions, while the club's top scorer was Sammy Smyth with 13 from 26 appearances. Depressingly, he wouldn't stick around to help the Reds bounce back.

Eight years languishing in the obscurity of English football's second tier followed, in which time Kopites were forced to learn the way to unglamorous destinations such as Leyton Orient, Rotherham, Brighton, Doncaster and Lincoln.

Manager Welsh lasted until 1956, with Phil Taylor proving a three-year stopgap until the Shankly revolution began in 1959. Within three years Liverpool were back where they belonged and they'd soon dominate British and European football in a way no Liverpudlian of the 1950s could ever have envisaged.