September 3, 1894
Perhaps it was only natural that most people out Blackburn way considered that the outcome of their opening match at Ewood Park on Saturday would be a couple of points for the time-honored Rovers. That such a thought was in the minds of the larger proportion of the spectators who assembled round the enclosure to give the old Cup-fighters a hearty send off in their winter’s campaign I have not a shadow of a doubt, and I am just as certain in observing that their disappointment at the result – “honours divided” – was keen to say the least of it.
Liverpool have every reason to be satisfied with the result, for have they not fairly justified by their performance in their first encounter their selection among the first-class League clubs. But I am disagreeing somewhat. To get back to the start I may say the ground was in splendid condition, the weather very suitable, and the wind in such a kind mood as to not interfere with the fortunes of the game. Each side put its strongest eleven into the field.
The Liverpool skipper won the toss, and the Rovers started the game, in the presence of 12,000 spectators, towards the town goal, and in the first minute Chippendale had a shy for McCann’s charge, but it was wretchedly wide.
It took some time for the players to find their feet, and to infuse anything approaching determination into their play. The Rovers showed the way in the matter of attack, and at this early stage of the game they exhibited their old fault of inaccurate shooting. Liverpool were not long before they showed up at the other end, where, after Brandon had unsuccessfully tackled Gordon, Murray came to the rescue.
And so the game proceeded, first one side and then the other claiming the advantage. The most chances of scoring fell to the home lot, but with the exception of Haydock there was not a man who could with them.
The game was twenty-five minutes old when Liverpool from a throw in from the corner flag formed a lively bully round the home goal, and the ball was scrimmaged through, with Ogilvie helpless to impede its progress.
This was the only point scored up to the interval.
When ends had been changed the Rovers infused more determination into their play, and there was a marked improvement in the combination amongst the forwards. Still they had not matters all their own way for all that, and many dangerous rallies were made by the Liverpudlians which caused the home defence some anxious moments.
The time was getting on before the Rovers equalised, the goal being obtained in a similar fashion to that of Liverpool. With a quarter of an hour to play both sides tried hard to gain a leading point, but the whistle blew with the score standing at one goal each, a fitting termination to the game.
The Liverpudlians were on the whole the smarter lot, and had they had the chances of scoring that fell to the Rovers, they undoubtedly would have won. The goalkeepers could not be blamed for the points scored against them, for they were gained from scrummages which gave them no chance of dealing with the shots.
Ogilvie had next to nothing to do in fact, speaking from memory, I think he had only one dangerous shot to stop during the afternoon besides the one that scored. McCann had one or two clinkers to deal with, especially one from Haydock in the first half, and he proved himself full of resource and coolness.
Brandon and Murray, while they defence well, did not kick with their usual judgment. The half-back line of the Rovers was far below its best form, and time after time failed to cope successfully with the smartest of the opposing forwards.
Hall and Haydock played a smart wing game in the first half, combining very successfully, and after the interval Chippendale and Whitehead showed a much better front. Killean was disappointing in the centre, and he will have to smarten up considerably if he is to keep his placed in the team. He is slow and does not make up his mind with sufficient promptitude, and he evidently lacks experiences. Of course, this is his first match, and he may shape much better when he knows more of the style of the other forwards. I only hope he may.
The shooting of the forwards, seeing the excellent openings they had, was wretchedly poor, the only exception being Haydock, whose splendid shots met with the hardest of lines.
As to the visitors, I was most pleased with the particularly fine defence they put forward. I have already spoken for McCann, but had it not been for the grand – I was almost going to say brilliant – play of Hannah and McLean he would not have come off with such a creditable record. McLean was as safe as a rock, and though he relied on his weight a great deal in meeting Chippendale, his play was “fair and above board.”
McQueen was the most noticeable among the halves, though his two partners were not far behind him. The two outside men, Gordon and Drummond, were the shining lights among the forwards, though Givens gained many admirers among the spectators.
Liverpool are to be congratulated on their plucky play away from home in their first match, and if the front rank smartens up a little they should do well this season.
The Rovers are notably bad starters, but if they can make their centre forward position strong there is no reason why the team with a little more training should not have a successful season. There will, however, have to be an improvement on Saturday’s form.
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.
(Source: Athletic News: September 3, 1894)