Tom Saunders

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Tom Saunders (1921 - July 8, 2001) was a famed figure in Bill Shankly’s Boot Room organisation at Liverpool FC, and served 30 years with the club.

Biography[edit]

Tom Saunders was born in Liverpool in 1921. He joined the Territorial Army as a 16-year-old and spent four years in North Africa. He played amateur football for New Brighton, Burscough, Fleetwood, Marine and Prescot Cables. [1]

He then took up a teaching post at Olive Mount Secondary School in Wavertree spending 17 years there before becoming head of the lower school at West Derby Comprehensive. He became interested in schoolboy football and managed Liverpool Schoolboys. He then went on to become England Schoolboy coach and held the position for 10 years.

With Liverpool FC[edit]

He gained the necessary coaching certificates and after a spell running courses at Lilleshall he was, upon recommendation from Tony Waiters who was a youth coach at Liverpool, offered a job as Youth Development Officer at Anfield by Bill Shankly in 1968. It was the first appointment of its kind in British football. [2]

He oversaw the development of more or less every player from 1970 to 1986, including such legends as David Fairclough, Jimmy Case and Steve Heighway. He also spied for Liverpool in Europe, making dossiers on unknown opponents from across the region. He was also appointed Liverpool's Chief Scout.

He also brought Frank Skelly into the Liverpool set up. Skelly began scouting for the Reds at the request of Tom Saunders in 1973 when Bill Shankly was manager. He discovered Bruce Grobbelaar who played for Crewe Alexandra while on loan from Vancouver Whitecaps.

Tom Saunders finally retired from his position as Youth Development Officer in 1986. He returned to Anfield after being elected to the board of directors in 1993. Although his principal task was in administration, he helped the likes of Graeme Souness and his fellow bootroom legend Roy Evans through their work as managers. Saunders recommended Phil Thompson to Gérard Houllier for appointment as Assistant Manager at Liverpool. [3]

He died on July 8, 2001 after a long illness.