October 14, 1894
The great football match
“I am sure, Mr. Editor, that a great number of football enthusiasts in North Wales will be glad to read in your columns a report, by one of themselves, of the great football match played last Saturday at Goodison Park, Liverpool, between Everton and Liverpool.
“I know very well that by the time they read this, these enthusiasts will have read one, if not several accounts of this great historic meeting. I have done so myself, but I have seen no account that punts the match in quite the same light as I saw myself, and perhaps my version of it will be more in accordance with actual fact for several reasons, the chief being that I saw the game through absolutely uncoloured spectacles.
“I had no prepossession in favour of or against either team.
“I was not accustomed, by continual reporting of English matches, to view the play from any preconceived standpoint, and I was not distracted by the necessity of turning out copy for any of the sporting papers at breakneck speed.
“In addition, by the courtesy of Mr. Richard Molyneux, the Everton Club secretary, I was admitted into the Press Box, from which an absolutely uninterrupted view of the whole game was to be obtained.
“Of course, as everyone who takes an interest in football, even in North Wales, knows, the rivalry between the two sets of supporters of the teams concerned has been from the beginning of the most rabid character.
“As a result of this, the match was generally expected to be of the most vigorous, not to say violent, kind, and was looked forward to with extraordinary enthusiasm in Liverpool.
“An element of absolute mystery was imported into the consideration of the result of the match by widely differing performances of the two teams.
“On the other hand, Everton had magnificently won each match it had up to Saturday last been engaged in, while their rivals had failed to notch a single victory.
“In the case of any other club such a state of things would have made a prediction in favour of a victory by Everton an almost absolute certainty, and in fact many thousands of people in Liverpool took that view of it, and backed the Evertonians at almost any price, to win.
“But these ignored the moral aspect of the question.
“Between no other club and Everton (not even excepting Sunderland) could such a feeling as that which exists between Everton and Liverpool be aroused.
“Judging from what I saw on Goodison Road ground on Saturday, I have not the slightest doubt that every man of the Liverpool team was strung up to such a state of determination to win, to beat Everton, as cannot again be aroused against any other team.
“Liverpool was practically playing for life, just as Bootle had done some years ago, with this tremendous difference, that behind Liverpool lies almost as strong directorate as that behind Everton, while the team itself, man for man, and as a whole, is miles ahead of any team Bootle ever had.
“Nevertheless there was good ground for the almost universal feeling that Liverpool was fore-doomed to defeat.
“I saw them the previous Saturday, on their own ground, fail to beat Sheffield United after having had most of a good game, and at the conclusion of the match general voice was that it was 10 to 1 on Everton for the following Saturday.
“Taking all these things into consideration, an enormous crowd was expected to witness the first struggle between the two teams, and this expectation was more than fulfilled.
“I never saw such a crowd. As early as one o’clock all streets, for miles around, leading to Goodison Park began to be thronged with men, women, and boys, all tramping to one place.
“As far away was the Pier Head every tramcar was loaded with excited intending spectators of the game, and these, together with a heterogeneous assemblage of omnibuses, wagonettes, drays, pony carts, handsom cabs, four-wheelers, and every imaginable description of wheeled vehicle, formed a huge possession stretching (to take one route alone) from the bottom of Scotland-road right up to the ground.
“Such was the throng of traffic that paying 3s 6d for a cab brought one no quicker to the scene of battle than threepence paid for a ride on a tramcar.
“The numerous entrances to Goodison Park were packed with throngs of eager applicants for admission, and the click of the turnstiles was for hours incessant.
“In the enclosure itself the spectacle was simply astounding.
“In a comparatively small space were packed (without, however, any approach to inconvenience, so ample is the accommodation of this magnificent playing ground) 44,000 people, the movement of whose faces as each individual turned momentarily this way or that, reminded of of the multitudinous ripples on the surface of the sea, while the hum, or rather roar, of their conversation was like the sound of the same sea restlessly dashing on its shores.
It was a sight well worth coming a great distance to see, and will rarely be seen again.
“On the entry of the Everton team first on the ground a huge cheer rang out from the dense mass, a cheer of equal vigor pealing forth as the Liverpool team shortly after made its appearance.
“Losing the toss Johnny Holt at once kicked off for Everton, and almost directly Jack Bell on the left was seen sailing down the wing.
“A terrific rush by Andrew Hannah, however, effectually checked that movement, and the next moment Bell left the field limping painfully.
“As far as I could see the charge was a perfectly fair one, and that was clearly the opinion of the referee who, in spite of the perfectly savage hootings of the crowd, imposed to penalty.
“As I took no notes of the progress of the match, I cannot do more than convey in a few words my impression of it.
“It was clear that every man of the Liverpool contingent was in deadly earnest, not merely to avert defeat, but to win out and out, and over and over again the undoubtedly magnificent defence of the home team was haplessly beaten by the magnificent snatches of passing, headlong rushes, or dashing runs of the Liverpool forwards. Neil Kerr in particular shone against the burly Charles Parry, who was frequently penalised for rough play.
“A free kick against Liverpool was sent, ten minutes from the start, right into the goal by Billy Stewart, and Tom McInnes very smartly headed it into the net out of William McCann’s reach.
“Nothing disheartened the visitors rushed away from the kick off, and on four several occasions had the Everton goal entirely at their mercy, having absolutely beaten Holt, Stewart, Dickie Boyle, Parry and James Adams, and having no one to beat but Cain.
“On each occasion, however, the goal was missed in the most disgraceful fashion, the ball being sent high over the bar when it seemed impossible to do anything else than put it into the net.
“Jimmy Ross and Kerr were the chief blunderers in this respect.
“Everton never but once got such a chance, and they made a similar hash of it.
The way the Liverpool men were going it was a wonder, and fairly astonished the vast crowd, and the Everton players.
“Half-time arrived with Everton a goal to nil to the good.
“It was expected that the second-half would see Everton run round the visitors, but for three-parts of the latter fairly rushed their opponents.
“I was amazed, and so I am sure was everybody else. The Liverpool halves completely smashed up the Everton combination, while the Liverpool forwards, magnificently led by Ross, and magnificently following his lead, pierced the home defence repeatedly with some of the prettiest and swiftest passing imaginable, while Adams and Parry was fairly pastered and bothered by Ross, Kerr and the other Liverpool forwards, particularly Bradshaw.
“On one occasion, the latter got past everyone with the ball in front of him. Cain ran out to meet him, and kicked at the ball. He missed it and there stood Bradshaw with an empty goal before him with the ball at his toes. He banged at it, and the next moment fell flat on the ground completely winded from the force of his collision with Cain, which happened at the moment Cain kicked at the ball, and the effect of his great run besides.
“The ball did not go into the net. Everton scored again twice.
“They were not such brilliant goals as one has seen, but they counted. During the last ten minutes of the match Everton rallied, and bombarded the Liverpool goal, but the defence was too desperate to be again pierced, and so it ended.
“Taking the play all through I must express the opinion that Liverpool played a better game all through than did Everton.
“It was not Everton’s defence that saved them from a defeat but the miraculously bad shooting of the Liverpool forwards.
“This was no doubt due to the tremendous excitement they were labouring under, and no doubt the excitement had a lot of effect on the Everton men. Had Liverpool scored once, their chances of winning the match by defeating the champions on their own ground would have been five to one.
“I met Jimmy Ross after the match, and he said, and evidently meant it, that his men will beat Everton when the return match is played at Anfield.
“I doubt it. Everton, despite what I have just written, is a better team than Liverpool, and I can hardly believe that at any following match the Anfielders will or can ever again develop such a tremendous amount of steam as they did last Saturday, and unless they do, they stand no chance against their mighty rivals.”
(The North Wales Chronicle: October 20, 1894, by Mr. John Humprehys of Bangor)