February 12, 1894
At length the much-talked-of, and eagerly-looked-forward-to Cup fight between Liverpool and Preston North End is decided. For the last week or so nothing but the one topic has occupied the attention of all local sportsmen while, the pros and cons of the probable chances of the two teams have been eagerly and animatedly discussed.
But, now the battles is over, and the laurels of victory adorn the Liverpool team, things generally will resume their normal state – at least till the next round. By emerging from a trying ordeal in such an eminently satisfactory manner Liverpool have immensely added to their already good reputation, and the success of Saturday undoubtedly settles the future success, financially and otherwise, of the club, and the proud and honourable position which the team now occupies is the due reward for a consistent season’s work.
Throughout the team as shown real nerve and grit, and by rising to the occasion on Saturday they have greatly increased the number of their admirers. That the better the team they fight against, the better they themselves play, has often been quoted of the Anfielders, and their performances against the Rovers and the North End fully justified this opinion. Although on a headlong, downward course, and in a most unenviable position, North End even yet is a name to conjure with; and their wonderful popularity, and the great respect in which they are held, was proved by the enormous crowd who congregated and the magnificent reception they received. The capacity of the Liverpool ground, officially admitted to be about 17,000, was fully tested, so much so that hundreds were turned away a quarter of an hour before the game started.
There is no denying that Liverpool’s victory was a popular one, and it must be allowed, when the game is calmly reviewed, that they thoroughly deserve their success. Andrew Hannah’s “proverbial” stood by him when most required, and, in having the assistance of the wind in the first half, Liverpool were materially aided in their efforts to give the coup de grace to North End.
Consequently the “Blue and White” monopolised the greater part of the game, and, if not showing such scientific and pretty play as their more renowned rivals, were by far the most effective and dangerous team, especially during the second half. Dame Fortune bestowed one of her rather unlooked-for favour in the shape of a goal to Liverpool when the game was but four minutes old, and its encouraging influence was at once apparent upon the home players, who ever afterwards displayed a confident and winning attitude.
The real struggle began when North End equalised, but Liverpool buckled to their work with more vigour, dash, and determination than ever, and exhibiting adaptability to the circumstance under which the game was played, virtually drew the match out of the grasp of the visitors.
The style of forward play of the combatants was a distinct contrast. North End at lengthy intervals displayed all their old and marvellous combination, and fairly bewildered the opposition, but as a rule their final touches lacked finish and sting. On the other hand Liverpool, contrary to their show at Blackburn, wisely stuck to their own game, in which none of the brilliant passes, as shown by the visitors, were to be found; but instead there was the irresistible dash always present, the promptness to benefit by a little slackness on the part of an opponent, the vivacity of the forwards and half-backs, which seldom allowed North End to do any telling work, and by timely and judicious attention extended to the visitors’ attack combined to secure victory.
The play can be summed up in this way – “Youth will be served,” and, train and finesse as they like, players of the stamp of Bob Homes, George Drummond, and Jack Gordon must eventually give way to younger blood.
Coming to the players, one and all must be complimented upon their pluck, dash, and, what is another most important factor, their excellent condition. If any portion stood out better than the other it was the half-back trio, who were ubiquitous.
William McOwen was so well shielded by his captain (Andrew Hannah) and Duncan McLean that he had occasion to use his hands only once throughout the game. Hannah’s display was almost perfection, and that, too, against two of the finest forwards in England (Frank Becton and John Cowan). Against the wind it was a treat to see his coolness, now covering the impetuosity of McLean, and anon making virtually a second goalkeeper with his foot and head. McLean did magnificent work, and played one of his best games, his terrific kicking being of great advantage to his side when playing against the wind.
Patrick Gordon and Malcom McVean were the best wing, both excelling themselves in the second half. David Henderson fully deserves every praise awarded to him. He was the coolest player on the field, and against tried players like Moses Sanders, Bob Holmes & co, his exhibition is all the more gratifying. Harry Bradshaw and Hugh McQueen did not combine too well. The former did a lot of clever work, but was rather inclined to ramble towards the finish. H. McQueen has often shown up better, but having to face William Greer perhaps had something to do with his partial success.
North End are not the famous team of a few years ago. At times they did some beautiful work between the halves and forwards, but immediately the whole would be upset by some incongruity of a player, and then they would shape no better than second-class experts.
Jimmy Trainer did his work in his own inimitable style. Holmes and Drummond did fine work against the wind, but it appeared as though they had shot their bolt then, for when Liverpool livened up in the second half they were both very unreliable. Greer, Sanders and James Sharp are all first-class men, and completely mastered the home attack at the beginning, but they, like their rear guard, went off their play terribly, and kicked very wildly towards the finish.
The whole of the forwards worked harmoniously together, and were often dangerous when supported by the half-back line, but Jimmy Ross did not get many opportunities to shoot, being too well attended to by Joe McQue. Becton and Cowan, with Ross, did the major portion of the forward work, and but for being well attended to by Matt McQueen would have, without doubt, increased their score. Ross got excited and consequently his play deteriorated, while Jack Gordon is not the Gordon of old.
(Liverpool Mercury: February 12, 1894)
James Sharp, Preston North End (Lloyd’s Weekly News: January 27, 1895):