September 3, 1894
Liverpool’s debut as First Leaguers took place at Blackburn on Saturday, before one of the most critical audiences in English football. The reception, and particularly the result, is a most gratifying one to the Anfield club, especially so as they were unable to place their full available strength upon the field.
Neil Kerr is not thoroughly recovered, and Jimmy Ross does not yet seem to have made up his mind what he will do. The vast concourse of people was a proof of the esteem the Blackburn people hold of the Liverpool club, and despite the acknowledged superior style of forward play, the game never lacked in interest.
Owing to the powerful defence of the seaport team being in extremely good form, the display of the Rovers’ forwards was not so deadly and incisive as usual. Certainly for the first quarter of an hour or so they carried everything before them, but after Joe McQue had recovered from his injury, and Matt McQueen and John McCartney had taken the measure of their opposing wings, the sting was taken out of the Rovers’ forwards and had the visiting attack kept their positions better and hampered the Rovers’ backs, especially in the first half, they probably would have given a better account of themselves.
The issue was mainly fought out between the Liverpool rear-guard and the Rovers’ undoubtedly clever forwards; and the fact that the former kept the latter at bay for 75 minutes proves the sterling material under the command of Andrew Hannah. Too much praise cannot be given for the excellent condition of the players, who were full of go right up to the finish. William McCann proved himself to be a cool and clever custodian, two of his expositions being nothing short of marvellous.
Andrew Hannah and Duncan McLean showed to great advantage, the great experience of the former extricating him out of the most difficult positions. McLean has never done so well against First League forwards before, but this may be accounted for by the great assistance he received from Matt McQueen. The pair between them made very small fry of the Rovers’ champion wing, Harry Chippendale and James Whitehead.
The half-backs opened in their very best style, and it is greatly due to them that the result is so satisfactory. But there was just one weak point noticeable, and which showed itself in a marked manner when comparisons were made with the Rovers’ halves. It was the lack of cohesion between the middle line and the forwards. The Liverpool halves were almost invincible when purely on the defensive, but were behind their vis-à-vis in the matter of closely following up the play behind their own forwards and on judiciously feeding them at opportune moments.
The Liverpool forwards were not greatly in evidence till the latter stages of the game, when they set to work in real earnest, combining cleverly, with the result that frequently the Rovers’ backs were beaten, John Murray especially being compelled to kick to save his lines. Patrick Gordon was not given enough work owing to Malcolm McVean’s peregrinations and over-anxiety to find work. John Givens made a creditable substitute in the centre, and can be voted a success. Harry Bradshaw was only occasionally conspicuous, being prone to exhibit selfishness, which he ought at once to get rid of. John Drummond did some nice work, and got in some fine runs, but failed lamentably to swing the leather across the goal mouth at the right moment.
Summing up, the forwards but require a little attention to small details and an earnest desire and intention to eliminate all individual play, to bring about an improvement. The Rovers are a finely-balanced team, but, like Liverpool, excel at half-back.
Adam Ogilvie did what was required from him perfectly. Tom Brandon and John Murray opened brilliantly, but fell off very much when the opposing forwards began to play on to them. The three half-backs, George Dewar, George Anderson and Harry Marshall, are indeed a splendid trio, being always on the ball, and, having great experience, make the utmost of all opportunities.
George Anderson, Blackburn Rovers (Lloyd’s Weekly News: March 3, 1895):
The well-known line of forwards were very conspicuous at the outset, but failed to sustain their superiority later on. Ted Killean is not an improvement upon Jock Sorley or Mitchell Calvey, but Jimmy Haydock and James Whitehead were as tricky as ever. Taken altogether, it was a fiercely fought-out-.game, in which Liverpool lasted the better, and are to be congratulated upon a result most clubs will be well satisfied to gain.
(Liverpool Mercury: September 3, 1894)
The Blackburn Rovers goalkeeper, Adam Ogilvie (sketch from Dundee Evening Telegraph, April 20 – 1895).