Phil Chisnall: The last man to swap Manchester United for Liverpool

The Manchester-born striker swapped Old Trafford for Anfield back in 1964.

Jamie Carragher playing for Liverpool.
Jamie Carragher A heated encounter between Liverpool and Manchester United Image Getty

The rivalry between Manchester United and Liverpool is unlike any other in English football.

Going far beyond the beautiful game, it’s an enmity that dates back to the industrial revolution, and one that lives on through homegrown players and pundits like Gary Neville, Jamie Carragher, Ryan Giggs (more player than pundit) and Steven Gerrard.

As a player, Gerrard refused to swap shirts with any of the United team, so opposed was he to the idea that a Red Devils kit should find its way into his home.

Plenty of Liverpool players have donned the rival red of United over the years though with Paul Ince, Peter Beardsley and most recently Michael Owen all fine examples of the phenomenon.

Try to find someone that moved directly between the clubs, however, and you may run up against a brick wall.

“Fans would come up and say ‘why did you do that and you should have done that'”

So intense is the animosity between the two teams that it’s been 52 years since the sides completed a direct transfer deal.

One previous attempt in 2007, which saw Liverpool bidding for Manchester United defender Gabriel Heinze, fell on deaf ears with the Old Trafford club but it was a different story with Phil Chisnall in 1964.

A pacy young attacker who had come through the Old Trafford youth ranks alongside future World Cup winner Nobby Stiles, Chisnall more than held his own in a United side containing the likes of Bobby Charlton and George Best, making his transfer to one of their biggest rivals all the more surprising.

“When we played you signed a contract, stayed loyal to your club until it was finished and regarded your wife as your agent,” explained in an interview with The Guardian nearly a decade ago.

This time around was different though, with the close friendship of then-managers Matt Busby and Bill Shankly resulting in a deal that saw the 22-year-old Chiswell leave his hometown club of Manchester United for Liverpool.

Sold for £25,000, which was a princely sum in those days, Busby had given the deal the go-ahead amid doubts over his long-term suitability at the club while Shankly saw the youngsters potential in a return that  that had seen him score 10 goals in 47 games for United as well as countless assists.

Chisnall never really got going in three years at Anfield though, making just six appearances for the first-team, scoring once before moving on to Southend United and later Stockport County.

Having run several betting shops after his retirement, Chisnall eventually took up a job as a factory processor in Manchester – not the sort of thing you would imagine Wayne Rooney doing once he retires.

Looking back on it all, the attacker still had a sense of pride at playing for both teams – even if he did get a fair amount of flack for it.

“Fans would come up and say ‘why did you do that and you should have done that’,” he told The Guardian.

“I used to think ‘bloody hell, a window cleaner’s telling me my job’ but you felt privileged to be a footballer and had to keep your mouth shut.”

Now in his early 70s, Chiswell suffered a serious stroke a couple of years back only to have his old club, United, come to the rescue with a charity fundraising match against Manchester City.

Sometimes there are more important things than football.

Previous Post
Next Post