February 18, 1895
The Fates were not propitious to the “Dicky Sams” on Saturday, in the football cup firmament, as, whilst Liverpool’s star disappeared, that of Everton twinkled slowly and shone dimly.
It was unfortunate that Liverpool should be deprived of the services of two such valued recruits as Davie Hannah and John McLean, whose absent told in favour of Notts Forest; but Liverpool’s failure may prove a blessing in disguise, for the team can now give more attention to the League campaign, the success or non-success in their remaining matches being of more vital importance than cup winning.
Liverpool did not survive their victory over Barnsley in the English Cup competition very long, and their downfall on Saturday came as a great surprise to most of their supporters, while loud and expressive were the execrations and expletives hurled at this and that member of the team for their rather weak efforts in the early portion of the game; but upon reflection these enthusiastic spectators must admit that the result is about the best thing that could happen, for little beyond empty honour is gained by following up cup competitions.
As at present placed, the Liverpool club cannot afford to play for honour. Honour in the shape of winning the English Cup did more than good to Notts County, and when the precarious position of the titular club of the city in the League is remembered, all true Liverpudlians should have a feeling of satisfaction that their club has finished with such a doubtful and likely to be dangerous enterprise.
The whole life and soul of the club is in remaining in the first division of the League, and to do so will require all the energies of both players and committee, without having the bother and anxiety of cup ties, with its attendant evils in the shape of injured players and undue excitement, which has a most paralysing effect in after matches.
To escape the test matches is the club’s aim, and this can only be obtained by the concentration of all forces. To come to the cup tie itself. Liverpool in having to take the field with reduced power was decidedly unfortunate, and this, coupled with the “forlorn hope” style with which the forwards did their work, and which, early on, was grasped by their opponents, led to the disaster.
That the Forest meant winning could be seen right off, but they hardly expected that the victory would come so easily, and having rather fortunately a substantial lead in the first half they, as old cup fighters, played for all they were worth, and, despite the incessant bombardment of the Reds’ goal after the interval, came out scatheless and deservedly triumphant.
As is usually the case in cup-ties, the element of luck was very conspicuous by its presence on Saturday, and without doubt both of the points scored received the smiles and approval of the tickle jade. What William McCann was doing to let the second shot pass is incomprehensible, and it can only be put down to an entire loss of nerve and command of himself.
Jimmy Ross in the second half suffered extremely hard lines with a clinking shot, which was almost through, and entirely out of the reach of Dan Allsopp, when Harry Bradshaw jumped up, and with his head diverted the ball outside the post. Right up to the finish the pace was rarely slackened, and although fouls were numerous none of a dangerous character occurred.
With the exception of Bill McCann the Liverpool defence acquitted themselves with credit, and, strange, as it may appear, the more brilliant of the reserve brigade was none other than Matt McQueen, who, in spite of being in the idle position of goalkeeper for a couple of months, proved his sterling worth and condition by “staying” the game right out to the finish, and being the most prominent man on his side.
Duncan McLean literally left his bed, after being confined there for almost the whole of the past week – to take the field, and he deserves every praise for his temerity in thus coming to the assistance of his club. John Curran gave a very fine display on the whole, but both he and McLean will not bear comparison with their vis-à-vis for heavy and clean kicking.
Joe McQue did an immense amount of work during the first half, and then it was required, but the effects told upon him afterwards. John McCartney got along in his usual plodding style, and was more than usually successful in the second half.
The absence of Davie Hannah in the front rank was the real cause of the lamentable display of the forwards. Jimmy Ross and Malcolm McVean from the outset were the only real triers, but as McVean had been such a great success against the Forest team in the previous match both Peter McCracken and Adam Scott so played upon him that he did not shone to any extent.
Jimmy Ross, as of old, with his marvellous judgment and dexterity gallantly led up his attack, but their feebleness was so pronounced in the early part of the game that it was nothing short of exasperating to see the left wing, and at times Harry Bradshaw, miss or wantonly turn aside the many chances offered to them. Bradshaw’s deterioration of form is completely mystifying. Up to the Burnley match he was playing in really good style, but since then he has not played a decent game. He has introduced too much flashy work and individuality, and as the same time is not the ardent trier of old. For his own sake and the sake of his club in the coming League matches, it is to be hoped he will try and amend these shot comings.
John Drummond seems to be one of those professors who cannot play when the pinch comes. His exhibition on Monday was distinctly good, but on Saturday’s show he deserve little recommendation. Hugh McQueen, although at times rather wild and over-anxious, did some good service in accurate centring.
Allsopp had several warm shots to deal with, but so well was he shielded by Scott and Archie Ritchie that he always had time to clear. None too much praise can be given to the latter players. Their determined, vigorous, and undaunted tackling and clean kicking caught the eye of all, and to them more than any others do the Notts team own their victory.
McCracken, it was apparent, had a mission to fulfil, and right royally did he do his duty. He shadowed McVean and Ross throughout with success, but a further meeting between this trio will not redound so much to his credit. John McPherson and Alec Stewart, as was the whole of the team, were full of go, and never flagged till the whistle blew.
As compared with their previous exhibition, the combination of the visiting forwards on Saturday was much in front of that on their late appearance. Tom McInnes, a big burly forward, was always a dangerous man; whilst Albert Carnelly (inside right) and Thomas Rose (centre) were ever on the alert for the slightest opening.
Although beaten, Liverpool have a big pull over their Notts rivals, as in the three times they have met, Liverpool’s record reads – Liverpool, two wins and one loss, with 5 goals in their favour and 2 against them.
(Liverpool Mercury: February 18, 1895)