Resourceful Liverpool manager Bill Shankly knew just what to do when the Big Freeze of 1963 buried the Anfield pitch under a thick sheet of ice. He called in a local tractor owner with a disc harrower to split the ice so it could be bulldozed away before a Fourth Round FA Cup replay against Burnley.
The agricultural solution worked a treat. The match went ahead on February 20th and Liverpool triumphed 2-1 after extra time. The goals came from Ian St John on the stroke of half time and a dramatic penalty in the 119th minute converted by Ronnie Moran. Liverpool then went on to beat Arsenal and West Ham before going out 0-1 to Leicester City in the semi-final at Hillsborough.
The winter of 1962-3 was the coldest the North West had known since 1684. It played havoc with the sports calendar. Heavy snow fell over the Christmas period, particularly on Boxing Day, bringing the first blast of cold air that would linger until March.
A blizzard swept across England and Wales on December 29th and 30th, driven by gale force easterly winds. Snow drifts were 20 feet deep. Roads and railways were blocked and planes grounded. Towns and villages were cut off and left without electricity as powerlines were brought down.
There was no let-up in January with an average temperature of -2.1C. The sea turned to ice a mile out from shore in Kent and freezing fog swept the North West. Three-foot icicles hung from roof gutters as temperature plummeted to -19.4C before more blizzards struck in February.
March 6th was the first morning of 1963 without any frost in Britain. The remaining snow finally disappeared and sport caught up with a long backlog of fixtures.
Shankly was back on ice-clearing duty before Liverpool’s First Division match against Sunderland in December 1964. He joined volunteers to rake the touchlines free of snow. Their labours paid off as the match went ahead on December 28th. The result was disappointing though – a 0-0 draw.
Everton players found their own way of training in the snow and ice ahead of their Third Round FA Cup match against minnows Kings Lynn in January 1962. They jumped over chains strewn across the pitch to try to stay fit. Our photo shows Billy Bingham, Bobby Collins, Alex Young, Roy Vernon and Jimmy Fell all taking to the air. Everton won 4-0 and beat Manchester City 2-0 in the Fourth Round. They then went out to Burnley 1-3.
Liverpool players kicked up their own snow storm in the First Division match against Nottingham Forest in February 1969. The match ended in a rare home defeat as Liverpool lost 0-2. Our photo shows Ian St John sliding into a tackle with Joe Baker and Ronnie Rees of Forest.
Everton forward Bob Latchford looked like he was playing on an ice-skating rink when the Toffees took on Wolves at Molineux in February 1979. They lost the hard-fought Division One encounter 0-1, but bounced back the next week to beat Bristol City 4-1 at Goodison Park. Everton eventually finished fourth in the table with 51 points; Liverpool were champions with 68 points.
Finally, Liverpool’s Speke Airport learned to deal with its own fair share of wintry weather during the cold spells of 1960s and 70s. Our photo shows jets leaving tracks in the snow after taxiing to the terminal under the Art-Deco control tower in January 1979. Speke was renamed John Lennon Airport, after the famous Beatle and musician, in 2001.