Interviews, Videos — January 30, 2012 21:08

Ron Yeats Speaks To The Asian Kop

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Following Liverpool’s FA Cup triumph against Manchester United, The Asian Kop is proud to present an interview with the first Liverpool captain to lift the FA Cup.

Ron Yeats was the skipper under Bill Shankly when the Reds beat Leeds United 2-1 at Wembley in 1965.

Yeats made 454 appearances scoring 16 goals for the club.

In this exclusive interview with The Asian Kop, “Rowdy” speaks on meeting Shanks for the first time after playing in the Army.

The defender also reflects on the moment in 1964 where he stood in the centre circle at Anfield in the all Red kit.

Yeats also speaks on bringing Sami Hyypia to the club saying the Finn was the best signing Liverpool will ever make.

The interview ends with how Ron would deal with Luis Suarez.


Transcript of Interview

The Asian Kop: We’re here with an absolute legend, if ever the word legend is overused for the gentleman who is sitting with The Asian Kop today, it’s befitting. It’s an absolute pleasure and honour to welcome Ron Yeats.

Ron Yeats: Thanks very much indeed.

The Asian Kop: Ron, the story I want to kick off with is a friend of mine was watch Leyton Orient play Liverpool in the 2nd Division and yourself and Ian St. John had just signed. He said to me “God, that centre half is some player” and that was echoed by Bill Shankly in signing you.  What did it mean to have a person like Bill to build the team around, to bring Liverpool up from the 2nd Division to the 1st Division?

Ron Yeats: Well I’ve always said, without Bill Shankly coming to Liverpool you wouldn’t have seen Liverpool as you see them today. The amount of stuff we have won, he was a tremendous man….really great man. He took to me right away its funny; I was in the Army at the time, the British Army. I was doing two years in the British Army and I thought I can’t believe this, I’m playing for Dundee United and I’m in the Army now, I’ll never get any further than this but it was the best thing that happened to me. I got into the Army team, which was full of internationals, you know Welsh, Scottish, English so my game improved and improved and improved. I don’t know why but most teams I was playing for I was captain of the side, maybe it was because of my height, I don’t know but I enjoyed being captain of the side, I wasn’t a bully, I wouldn’t tell anyone off, I’d encourage them more than anything, so I’ve had a great career I must admit.

The Asian Kop:  When did you first hear about Bill’s interest in you?

Ron Yeats: I was playing, I played…we were such a good team in the army that time. You know we played Tottenham, we played Arsenal and we played Liverpool here (Anfield) and we beat them 0-2. I’ll always remember playing against Roger Hunt, very very good player. Unfortunately for us I never gave him a kick that day so of course Bill Shankly was watching the game and I think from then on he tried to make a couple of bids to Dundee United, I didn’t know but so I was told. I think his third bid they (Dundee United) said yes. I had to meet him, I was stationed in Aldershot and I had to meet him in Edinburgh, so you didn’t get out of the company without putting on your army uniform.

I had to get to Edinburgh and unfortunately for me, I was so big and broad they couldn’t get a uniform to fit him. So what I had on was a World War One uniform…oh I couldn’t believe it, with the buttons all showing and I thought “what am I doing?” And the big boots, I must have gone to 6ft 5, 6ft 6 (laughs) with these boots on. So I get up to Edinburgh and I’m in the station and walking out of the station and this guy…I’ve never met Bill Shankly before and he’s walking towards me and I nearly walked past him. He went (points) “Ron Yeats?” and I went “yea”, he said “Bill Shankly, Manager of Liverpool Football Club”. He said “Jesus Christ, you’re some size son”, he said “let me walk around ya?”

He started to walk around me and I thought “f*cking hell”, everybody in the street going “what’s happening here?”

So he (Shankly) went “we are looking for a centre half, I’ve made a couple of bids”.

I went “well I didn’t know, Dundee United didn’t tell me”.

He went “they said I can talk to you”.

He was a lovely talker Bill and of course he was all for his players and all for his team and he was talking about “Aye we gonna do well if you sign you”, he says “we are in the 1st Division at the moment”.

Now I had been reading the paper that morning, I knew Liverpool were in the 2nd Division and I said to him, “I thought you were in the 2nd Division?”

He says “we are at the moment but when we sign you, we’ll be in the 1st Division next year”.

(Smiling) I thought “bloody hell” and we were, we got promotion to the 1st Division…tremendous man.

The Asian Kop: It wasn’t the only time where he got, not only himself, he got the press to talk around you…

Ron Yeats: Ah yea

TAK: …in the centre circle

Ron Yeats: That’s right, yea. That was the first time…when we played in all red. He got me and said “Ron, this will fit you, go out there, go to the centre circle and just stay there.”

I didn’t know what it was all about so I walked over and he went, “Jesus, you are some size in that red kit you know”. And then he took the press around and said “just got right round him, that’s our centre half and captain of the side…”

TAK: How were you feeling when this was happening?

Ron Yeats:  Well a little embarrassed (laughs). You can imagine they are all walking around “Jesus Christ, he’s some size” because I was a slaughter at the time before I went into the Army. So I wasn’t only big, I was strong because of the slaughterhouse side and I just felt, this is what he (Shankly) wants to do. It really was something else and of course, he started to build a team. I think Ian St. John, either came a week before me or a week after me, one of the two. I played against Ian (Motherwell) when I was playing for Dundee United, so I knew him not very well, but I knew him. It was nice to come to a club where you knew somebody to talk to. I’m an Aberdonian and if you ever heard Aberdonian’s talk, you’d think they were from Europe, honestly. And I was the same; no one knew what I was saying. I soon got the Scouse language to a fine art, well at least with the lads I played with. It was the best days of my life.

TAK: You’ve given such great service to the club, not only as a player but also as Chief Scout.

Ron Yeats: Yea I was Chief Scout for 20 odd years and I really enjoyed very minute of it.

TAK: From my generation of fans, there’s one player who came through from the Dutch League, in Sami Hyypia.

Ron Yeats: Ah yea, well when I went to a game, somebody had phoned me at the club and said “have you seen this centre half” and I was like “no I haven’t” and they said “you ought to go see him”. I said to the boss (Gerrard Houllier at the time), I’ve just had a phone call and this guy is a good player. He (Houllier) said “go watch him”. So I went to watch him the first time and he played very well and he reminded me of myself a little bit but I tell you, he was a better passer of the ball than I would ever be (laughs).

I thought i’m gonna go watch this guy again. So I went again, I think a week after and away from home this time. He played excellent again and I came back and said “look if we don’t sign this fellow” I says “you know get a better centre half than this guy” and I think a week after, we signed him and it was one of the best signings I think, Liverpool will ever make.

TAK: I got a question for you in terms of the current team, how would you deal with Luis Suarez?

Ron Yeats: I’d have to strangle him in the first two minutes. Tremendous player, you don’t know what he’s going to do, tremendous feet. He’s a centre half’s nightmare, he would be my nightmare I tell ya, unless you got a really fierce tackle in the first 10 minutes and he’d go “I’m not going near that guy again”. I would of hated to play against him, I think he’s a super player for us.



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