THE Untouchables was the nickname given to Liverpool’s all-conquering football team of the early 1920s which featured, way out on the left wing, a player who started and finished his career at Darlington.

A book is being written to commemorate the centenary of the Untouchables winning back-to-back league titles in 1921-22 and 1922-23, and the authors are looking for information about the players, particularly Fred Hopkin who missed just two matches in those heady seasons but finished his days working as a physio behind his wife’s hairdressing shop opposite Darlington’s North Road railway workshops.

Fred was born in Dewsbury in 1895, and joined Darlington as an amateur in the North Eastern League before the First World War – it looks like he scored in a 6-0 thrashing of Newcastle City in February 1914. During the war, he made guest appearances for Tottenham, and after the war he was transferred to Manchester United, who were then a midtable First Division side.

Fred made 70 appearances for the Red Devils, scoring eight goals, but he was clearly hot property – United were fined £350 for paying him more than the maximum wage and offering him an illegal slice of his transfer fee.

In May 1921, he signed for a substantial £2,800 for Liverpool, and one of his earliest appearances was at Ayresome Park against Middlesbrough in November 1921, where he was photographed by the Evening Gazette.

“Unemployment has told its tale on football attendances on the Tees-side,” said the Echo’s sister paper, the Evening Despatch in its match report, “and when the game commenced there were not more than 20,000 spectators present, a much lower figure than would have been the case on such an important fixture in normal times.

“Some amusement was caused prior to the match by the appearance of a black kitten, which frolicked about the net at the east end of the field. Was it a good omen for the ’Borough?”

It was indeed, because Boro won 3-1, but Liverpool recovered to win two successive titles with Fred practically ever-present out on the left, hugging the touchline, and using his speed to make progress before delivering telling crosses for others to score.

In fact, he did not find the net for 78 matches, but his debut goal is now part of Anfield folklore, because almost as soon as he scored against Bolton Wanderers, a fire broke out in the Kemlyn Road stand. Smoke choked the field of play, but the fire brigade extinguished the blaze just as Fred had extinguished Wanderers’ hopes, and Liverpool won 3-0.

He stayed at Anfield until 1931, making 360 appearances and scoring 12 goals, before returning to the Quakers at the age of 36. They were in the 3rd Division (North) and he made 26 appearances for them in the No 11 shirt, scoring twice, before the following season he became the coach at Redcar Borough.

After that he spent his time as a physio, armed with a big heat lamp and an even bigger tube of smelly black ointment, working from behind his wife’s hairdressers.

He died in Darlington in 1970, aged 74, and we don’t know if he left any children or family. We’d love to hear from anyone with any connections to Fred. Please email

  • The new book, The Untouchables: Anfield’s Band of Brothers, by Jeff Goulding and Kieran Smith, is due out in September