Seventy years ago this winter, two footballing giants from Liverpool and Everton shook hands before a floodlit charity match at Holly Park.

Leading the former stars of Everton that night was William ‘Dixie’ Dean, arguably the club’s greatest ever player. He scored an astounding 60 league goals in the 1927-8 title-winning season.

Everton footballer Dixie Dean, who set a record when he scored 60 league goals in the 1927-1928 season, pictured here at Goodison park in April 1933.

Captaining Liverpool was none other than Matt Busby, who made 115 appearances for the Reds from 1936 before earning international renown as the manager of Manchester United.

Sir Matt Busby playing for Liverpool FC 1934.

It was said that the Liverpool half-back line of Busby, Tom Bradshaw and Jimmy McDougall was one of the best the club ever had.

Standing between Busby and Dean on that January evening in 1950 was the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Alderman J. J. Cleary. The Liverpool Echo, who organised the game, sent a photographer to record the occasion.

Liverpool football team pose for a group photograph during their tour of the Balknas.
They are back row left to right: Trainer Chas Wilson, Matt Busby, Ben Dabbs, Nivvy, Ted Savage, Hobson, Syd Roberts, Norman Low and Tommy Bradshaw.
Front row: Eastham, Blenkinsop, Howe, Alf Hanson and Phil Taylor.
12th June 1959.

Fans were delighted to see their heroes back in action. Centre forward Dean played his final game for Everton 13 years earlier in 1937. Busby last turned out for the Reds in 1941.

Born in Laird Street, Birkenhead, in January 1907, Dean’s first love was always football. He played for Pensby United and Tranmere Rovers before signing for Everton in March 1925.

He was so keen to put pen to paper that he ran the 2.5 miles from his Birkenhead home to the Woodside Hotel where Everton secretary Thomas H. McIntosh was waiting for him.

Dean was just 18 at the time, but made a massive impact in his first season, scoring 32 goals.

A major setback nearly ended his career in the summer of 1926. A motorcycling accident left Dean with a fractured skull and jaw, but his spirit was indomitable.

He bounced back to score a record 60 league goals in the 1927-8 season, steering Everton to the First Division title.

Harder times followed in 1930 when Everton were relegated, but Dean stuck with them. In a remarkable four years, Everton gained immediate promotion from the Second Division in 1931, were First Division champions in 1932 and won the FA Cup in 1933!

1933 FA cup final at Wembley.
Everton 3 v Manchester City 0.
Everton’s Dixie Dean holds the FA Cup trophy on a lap of honour after the match.
29th April 1933.

Dean, of course, scored in the FA Cup final and went on to make 433 appearances for Everton before joining Notts County in 1938. His club record of 383 goals is more than double the tally of his nearest challenger – Graeme Sharp on 159.

January 24, 1950. The Liverpool Echo
Reunion of Everton and Liverpool Stalwarts, a floodlit game at Holy Park, between sides composed of former stars of Everton and Liverpool such as William “Dixie” Dean (pictured left) and Matt Busby right).
Here they are pictured withThe Lord Mayor Alderman J.J. Cleary before the match.
25th January 1950.

Our photo from August 1928 shows him heading one of the four goals he scored against Southport in Everton’s 9-1 FA Cup tie victory.

Staunch defending rather than goal-scoring was Matt Busby’s forte. After joining Liverpool from Manchester City for £8,000 in March 1936, he quickly established himself as a lynchpin of the Reds’ defence.

Sir Matt Busby and Bob Paisley salute the crowd at Wembley 1983
before the Charity Shield match at Wembley between Liverpool v Manchester United

The Scot’s consistency and leadership qualities soon earned him the captain’s armband. He went on to make 115 league appearances for the Reds before the Second World War cut short his playing career in 1941.

Along with many other Liverpool players, he signed up for national service in the King’s Liverpool Regiment.

After the war, Busby was offered the job of assistant coach at Anfield, but without the amount of first team control he wanted. Instead, Busby took the vacant manager’s job at Manchester United.

But all was not lost for the Reds. In 1939, Busby took a new left half from Bishop Auckland under his wing. The latest signing was clearly destined to have a bright future at the club – and not necessarily on the pitch.

FA Cup Quarter Final match at Goodison Park.
Everton 9 v Southport 1.
Everton forward William “Dixie” Dean shows the power of his heading as he scores one of his four goals in the match.
28th February 1931.

That young left half was Bob Paisley.

The pair not only became lifelong pals – but two of the greatest managers the game has ever seen.

*Hundreds of pictures from an unforgettable decade are packed into Clive Hardy’s fascinating book Around Merseyside in the 1960s. It’s available at £9.99 plus postage and packaging.

Just go to inostalgia.co.uk to place your order or ring the hotline on 01928 503777