IT'S NOT A MATTER OF LIFE OR DEATH; Chisnall Recalls Days When United Rivalry Wasn't So Fierce
Byline: ANDY MITTEN
IT'S almost half a century since Manchester United and Liverpool did transfer business together, when Mancunian Phil Chisnall moved to Anfield for a PS25,000 fee in April 1964.
"It amazes me that no player has moved since," says the former inside forward, now 70, "but the rivalry was not the same then. Liverpool were champions in 1964, but they were only promoted in 1962 and United were a much bigger club."
A United fan, Chisnall signed as an apprentice for his local club two months after the Munich crash, having represented both Lancashire and England schoolboys. He played in United's youth team with Nobby Stiles, before breaking into the first team at 19. "We stopped for steak and chips before the game," he recalls of his debut at Everton in 1961. "Then we lost 5-1. I kept my place in the side, though."
Chisnall would play 47 times for United over the next three years, scoring ten goals. "It was an achievement playing so many games amongst the likes of Law, Herd, Charlton, Best, Stiles and Giles," he offers.
"I'd watch Best beat players for fun in training and I played in his debut against West Brom. Charlton was a joy to play with too. If we were struggling then we would look to Bobby to change the game, he was that good."
Chisnall lost his place during the 1963-64 season, prompting Liverpool to make an offer. "Busby told me that he had received an offer from Shanks, but that there was no pressure for me to go. I was only 22 and, rightly or wrongly, made the decision to move. I thought that I would get in the Liverpool team and my career would pick up again. It was special sitting in the room with Busby and Shankly as they negotiated my future between them. They were like father and son and thought the world of each other."
Chisnall's transfer west wasn't headline news and he received no abuse from either set of fans.
"Shankly had brought them up out of the second division and then won the league. They only used to get crowds of about 15,000 before he took hold of them, but he made Liverpool great and things really got going in the city. With the Beatles coming through, Liverpool was buzzing.
"Like United, Liverpool had a great young team as well with players like Ian St John, Ian Callaghan and Peter Thompson."
Unfortunately, Chisnall couldn't become a Liverpool legend. He played just a handful of games in three years under Shankly (inset, below), including Liverpool's first ever European game against Reykjavik in 1964.
"Maybe I wasn't aggressive enough," he muses. "I saw football as a game, as a nice way of getting paid and as a way of enjoying yourself - not a matter of life or death. …