December 17, 1894
The improved form of the Liverpool team as shown of late culminated on Saturday in a grand victory, fully deserved, over their late second League rivals – Small Heath. In spite of the much better position of the Birmingham club in the football tourney, most of the critics who weigh up form carefully were of the opinion that the Liverpool club would prove too good, and repeat their last season’s feat, which they did exactly, by defeating the nimble “Heathens.”
The game turned out to be a most exciting affair, and despite the high wind a skilful exhibition of football was shown. The result was practically settled early on by the play of the Liverpool forwards. Their display was marked by skill and soundness.
When Duncan McLean lost the toss the pessimists looked glum, thinking that the prolific scoring “Heathens” would pile on a score which the home team would never be able to overtake; but a surprise was in store for all, as Jimmy Ross, Harry Bradshaw and Davie Hannah, putting their shoulders to their work in earnest fashion, and delivering their passes with low and well-timed accuracy, completely turned the advantage the visitors possessed, and gained such a lead as could not be lost unless a terrible falling off took place among the backs.
Gradually but surely Ross’s influence and tactics are being adopted and assimilated by the other forwards, and the three inside men at present possessed by Liverpool will compare favourably with that of any other organisation. Since Bradshaw has been promoted to the onerous position in the centre his career has been one of the unvarnished brilliance.
Now that the team have at length got into their stride, so to speak, a much brighter future can be looked forward to, and although it may not be in accord with some to deprecate certain members of the team in their hour of triumph, it is most patent that if the club is to emerge from the last three – a position it seems almost under ordinary circumstances bound to fill the defence must recognise their weakness at once.
For the greater part of a game Duncan McLean is excellent, and cannot be censured in the last; but at times his discretion flies away with the wind, and he is guilty of the most glaring discrepancies. Throughout the history of the Lancashire League, followed by that of the second League, fully two-thirds of the goals obtained against the club came from his side of the field, and yet he seems unable to see his faults and weaknesses and endeavour to amend them. He is much too slow for the general average. First League forward, and instead of adopting a waiting policy against faster men he gives the every opportunity of running away from him by lying too far up the field.
Again, to point out another failing which has not shown itself till this season is the marked falling off in the stamina of the team in the later stages of the game. In the two previous seasons a distinct specialty was the great staying powers of the men in the last twenty minutes or half-hour; but now, as an antitheses, the team are at their worst when the final passages take place; and this, unfortunately, has not happened on one or two occasions only, but occurs with persistent regularity, and is a point which must be attended to.
Criticising the players, Matt McQueen must be complimented upon his good work against such dangerous forwards. John Curran was not so good as the previous week, being too rash and trusting to chance when endeavouring to stop his opposing wing, although he saved finely on one occasion when McLean was completely beaten. D. McLean throughout was much in evidence but for his unthinking mistakes, which almost proved disastrous.
John McCartney, Joe McQuen and John McLean were about equal in the work they did, but McQue was handicapped by the particular attentions paid him by Caesar Jenkyns and others over the unfortunate incident which happened last year.
The whole of the forwards did the brunt of the work, and were in tip-top form. As previously noticed, the three inner players, by working close together and copying the effective style of the old famous North End, who invariably played as it were three centre forwards, completely nonplussed Jenkins and his confreres time after time, and if it happened that this trip were so hampered that no progress could be made, Malcolm McVean and John Drummond were always on the qui-vive for the slightest chance. McVean, it is pleasing to note, is rapidly coming back to form, and will be difficult to remove from his position.
Coming to the visitors, Charles Partridge, the Smallheath goalkeeper, was fairly good, but both William Purvis and Sid Oliver were very erratic. Like their opponents, the “Heathens” were strongest at half-back and forward. Jenkins did a lot of service, especially with his head, in the goalmouth, but he was led a merry dance in midfield by his antagonists.
Ted Devey was the most successful of the middle line trio, while Billy Ollis put in an amount of useful work. Among the forwards Jack Hallam was always a shining light, and the whole quintet were dangerous when set going, their best efforts coming about in the last portion of the game.
(Source: Liverpool Echo: December 17, 1894)