23 November 1946
The footballing headlines of November 1946 belonged solely to one man as Liverpool inside-forward Jack Balmer embarked on a unique scoring feat that would earn him a place in the history books and an everlasting niche in Kop folklore.
With the club in the midst of a post-war attendance boom, 43,525 were in attendance the day Balmer began his hat-trick of hat-tricks.
Portsmouth, then considered one of the biggest clubs in the land, were the visitors to Anfield on November 9 but Balmer single-handedly saw them off with an impressive three-goal blast. Remarkably, there were still a few dissenting voices who claimed he should have had five!
A week later, away at FA Cup holders Derby, the Reds' vice-captain shoved these words down their throats by becoming the first Liverpool player since Fred Howe in 1935 to score four goals in a game. Legend has it that on the morning of the match, he also won three billiards games in a row at the team hotel in Buxton. Balmer, it seemed, could do no wrong.
Seven goals in two games was a notable achievement in itself. Now he stood on the verge of footballing immortality.
Not since Dixie Dean scored his 60 goals in 1927-28 had the goalscoring exploits of one man caused so much interest. Dixie was in fact the last player to score three hat-tricks in a row, hitting a treble in each of the final two games of his record-breaking season and then another on the opening day of the following campaign.
No player had managed the feat in the same season and all eyes, and ears, were on Anfield on Saturday, November 23, 1946. Arsenal provided the opposition, as they had done at Goodison on the occasion Dixie scored his momentous 60th goal, and an equally memorable afternoon was anticipated.
Balmer duly delivered. He scored one from the penalty spot after 15 minutes, and although the Londoners went in at the interval 2-1 to the good, the record-seeking forward was determined to claim his moment of fame.
With just over an hour on the clock, he plundered an equaliser. Seven minutes later, 'the biggest cheer Anfield has ever known' (as reported in that night's Football Echo) greeted the completion of his third successive hat-trick.
Not since the title triumphs of the early 1920s had Liverpool fans had reason to celebrate and the fickle Anfield crowd rose as one to acclaim the hero of the hour.
In the remaining six years he spent on the Anfield playing staff, Balmer never scored another hat-trick.
He died aged 68 on Christmas Day 1984, his record still intact.