September 3, 1894
Liverpool’s opening encounter in the premier league, singularly to remark, took place upon the ground which was the scene of their momentous victory over Newton Heath at the close of last season. Recognising the caliber of the visitors and anticipating a keen fight, a tremendous crowd assembled, the number being estimated at 15,000.
Very little alteration was noticed in the personnel of both teams, being nearly the same as faced each other in the Lancashire Cup tie (last season), the sides being:
Blackburn Rovers: Adam Ogilvie, John Murray, Tom Brandon, Geordie Dewar, George Anderson, Harry Marshall, Harry Chippendale, James Whitehead, Ted Killean, Jimmy Haydock, Coombe Hall.
Liverpool: William McCann, Andrew Hannah, Duncan McLean, John McCartney, Joe McQue, Matt McQueen, Patrick Gordon, Malcolm McVean, John Givens, Harry Bradshaw, John Drummond.
Hannah opened auspiciously by winning the choice of ends, and without any delay the real work commenced. By their finished forward play the Rovers were early in their opponents’ quarters, only to find that Hannah and McLean were fully alive to their responsibilities.
Liverpool then roused up, and after a brief dash McVean put behind. A brief stoppage followed owing to a slight disablement to McQue, after which Whitehead and Chippendale broke away, causing McLean to kick out. McCartney then earned a round of applause for some fine defensive work, Brandon next pulled up the Liverpool vanguard, and a free-kick being awarded to the Rovers, a terrific bombardment of the Liverpool goal was witnessed, but the great coolness of Hannah eventually foiled the attack.
Although the defence was doing magnificent work, the forwards shaped but indifferently, Drummond in particular missing his kick when a glorious chance presented itself.
Fed by the three splendid half-backs, the home forwards were given innumerable openings, Haydock and Hall being most noticeable. From a teasing shot from the former, McCann had an opportunity of proving what kind of material he was made of, and to his credit, he was more than successful.
Givens then raced off after a lengthy return by McQue, but Brandon just beat him in the nick of time, and so fast was the game carried out that in a moment the ball was put pass McCann, but a previous infringement nullified the point.
Keeping at it in ding-dong fashion, Liverpool carried the game into the Rovers’ half, and McQueen getting in one of his characteristic “throws,” the Anfield brigade rushed the leather into the net after 25 minutes’ play, McCartney deserving a full share of the honour in having given the final touch.
This success was just the fillip needed to spur on the visitors, who then came out in their well-known dashing style, and frequently the Rovers’ defenders were anything but comfortable.
Again Haydock, Killean, and Whitehead tripped along the field, and once more the former suffered very hard lines with a terrific shot, which struck the upright.
Half-time at length arrived, and on resuming the pace was maintained to its highest pitch, while the excitement was intense.
A groan of disappointment is heard as Hall misses an easy thing, and the Givens breaks away in fine style, but is tackled in the act of shooting, and the ball rolls harmlessly over the touch line.
As time goes on the Rovers supporters become desperate, and urged on their team in a most frantic manner. To their credit they responded grandly, and subjected McCann’s charge to some heavy pressure, ultimately being rewarded in earning a goal, obtained in a similar manner to that of Liverpool, 15 minutes from the finish.
This welcome point sent the crowd into jubilant cheers.
The struggle now became more accentuated than ever, and as a result of Liverpool playing a more open game the latter potion was the best display of the day.
The Liverpool quintet exhibited fine combination and confidence, and almost brought about the downfall of the Rovers’ goal again. However, the whistle blew, leaving the result unaltered, and a most exciting match ended in a draw of one goal each.
(Source: Liverpool Mercury: September 3, 1894)