A plaque has been unveiled at Liverpool Parkway train station to commemorate a charity match featuring Real Madrid legend Ferenc Puskás.
On Merseyside, where football is practically a religion, people still talk about the day the great Ferenc Puskás paid a vist to take part in a charity match over half a century ago. Yesterday, a commemorative plaque was unveiled at Liverpool South Parkway station – the site where Holly Park stadium, where the match took place, once stood.
Pelé declines, Puskás accepts
It was Brian Taylor, a director at a community centre in Gartson, who came up with the idea of inviting some of the biggest international stars to take part a football match – the proceeds of which would go to local charities to help deprived children, pensioners and the disabled. Taylor audaciously invited Pelé but his request was politely turned down by Santos. He expected a similar response from Real Madrid when he posted an invitation to Puskás but was amazed when a few days later, a telegram arrived from the great Cañoncito Pum himself, written in pigin English: “All I wait is you send me plane ticket”. Other top names, including former Juventus star John Charles and Bert Trautmann said they’d come along too, forming part of the International All Stars side who would take on a Select XI led by Liverpool captain Billy Liddell at Holly Park stadium on Monday 8 May 1967.
Puskás arrives with gifts
Puskás arrived over the weekend, his suitcase stuffed with Real Madrid memorabilia and souvenirs which he generously handed out to his hosts. Tickets for the match, costing 3/6 (the equivalent of just under 3 euros today) sold out almost immediately – 10,000 fans packed the stadium and according to urban myth, a similar number were outside the ground, hoping to find a way in. Liddell’s side ran out 3-5 winners and the 40-year-old Puskás hit a hat trick, thrilling the crowd with one of his trademark banana shots from a full 35 yards out. It would be one of the last competitive matches he would play.
The game was a huge success. Spectators were delighted to have seen football legends like Puskás and John Charles in the flesh and over 1,000 pounds (equivalent to 16,000 euros in today’s money) had been raised for charity. Holly Park stadium, home to South Liverpool FC, was demolished at the start of the new millennium to make way for a new train station and bus interchange to link Liverpool airport with the city centre. On Tuesday morning, Tarlós István, Mayor of Budapest performed the honour of unveiling the new plaque – a permanent reminder of the day the great Ferenc Puskás came to town.