The “Scarlet Runners” and the “Blues”

November 23, 1896
The return League encounter between Everton and Liverpool furnished the ‘’piece do resistance” in local football circles on Saturday, and the intention feeling which has generated the supporters of both organisations since the tremendous game at Goodison Park a month ago was furnished with a suitable opportunity for exhibition.

Since that occasion the doings of the two teams have been in strong contrast to each other, the Evertonians having bagged in the meantime, but one point, whilst the great rivals have been simple reselling in progress and points have accrued with startling celerity.

Nevertheless, facts of this nature are of little utility in gauging the respective chances of two teams between whom there is great local rivalry, and the presence of an intensified excitement peculiar to games of the nature plays a prominent part in the ultimate issue.

This particular feature was greatly in evidence at Anfield, and many a cool headed artist exhibited tactics of a character altogether different from his customary capability, and general demeanour.

The vast assembling imbued with the mercury of the first meeting of the clubs, naturally anticipated a second equally clever exhibition, and a further opportunity of forming a capable comparison of the real merited of the two sets of players, whilst the supporters of the ‘’scarlet runners” expected the customary couple of points, and the adherents of the ‘’blues” a welcome break in the monotonous run of ill success which has lately affected their team.

Whatever surmising had been indulged in prior to the game, it can be safely asserted that no one of them received substantiation, and the individual who derived any satisfaction from the game must have been imbued with the concentrated essence of the spirit of a Mark Tapley.

The game, in its attenuated state, and divested of all exceptional attendant circumstances, must be classed as one utterly unworthy of the best traditions of both organisations and for this unsatisfactory termination both clubs must be debited with equal culpability.

The play never rose above the standard of mediocrity. Combination and methodical movements were sacrificed to the all-pervading excitement, and in their place tactics, which savoured more of a muscular than a skilful nature, were substituted, to the consequent deterioration of the game.

Those who fervently availed a second edition of the sample of brilliant exhibited in the first meeting of the clubs must now look upon that encounter as a fitful gleam of brightness arousing hopes which flattered, but to deceive, and the unsatisfactory conclusion must be arrived at that in games of this nature, football ranks, but as a secondary consideration.

Whilst making due allowances for the exceptional circumstances under which the game was fought, still what is desired by spectators is to class of game devoid of many of the untoward incidents, which occurred and which need never have been witnessed.

The play alternated in striking fashion, the balance learning slightly in favour of one team, to be quickly followed by an inclination in the opposite direction, though at no time was a distinct superiority shown by either side.

The first quarter of the initial half saw Liverpool busy, Everton responding with the aid of the wind, with a longer period of attack, but this efforts of both sides to score were extremely feeble, and the players seemed to be aiming everywhere but in the direction of the net.

On the whole however, Everton were the more dangerous, but the home backs rarely allowed Storer to be beset, and their display throughout was one of the brightness feature of the game.

Liverpool front rank were not allowed to get their usual mechanism into working order, and Holt stuck to Allan closer than a brother.

The second half was marred by an unfortunate contretemps which led to Alf Milward receiving marching orders and it is evident that football amenities are well understood by Referee Lewis, who fortunately allowed no license in this respect.

Alf Milward, Everton (Lloyd’s Weekly News: January 17, 1892):

From this point the game waned in interest and quality, though to the credit of the Evertonians be it said, that they made their presence felt to an even greater extent with their weakened van than might have been naturally expected.

At the same time, Liverpool failed to utilise the numerous opportunities which fell to their lot, and golden chances of securing a substantial score were allowed to glide away in curious  fashion – curious when compared with their recent doings.

They often worked the ball well up into dangerous quarters, but the final touches were sadly wanting in precision and dexterity and few shots required the interference of Menham. The result – a goalless draw – was thus a fitting termination to a game in which merit and demerit were about equally apportioned.

Coming to the players, the backs on both sides deserves special mention for their work, and little fault could be found with this portion of the two teams.

Neither of the goalkeepers was overburdened with work but of the two Storer had more to do, and the shots he had to negotiate were of a more difficult nature than these, which fell to the lot of his vis-à-vis. It was somewhat unusual to see him rushing out of goal in such a risky fashion, and on one occasion theirs nearly occasioned the downfall of his charge. Otherwise he saved well, and his method of banging the ball at Taylor’s heed and thus forcing the sphere behind the goal line, was as novel as it proved effective Menham made a most successful appearance, and he saved cleanly-with one exception-and judiciously but as a matter of fact he was not subjected to a test of more than moderate severity.

The home backs were in splendid form, and their clean kicking, and effective all round work placed them ahead of those on the opposing side. One clearance of Goldie’s under the bar in the first half was a wonderful performance, and certainly saved his goal from downfall.

On the Everton side Arridge gave a sound display, his kicking being strong and judicious, and Storrier though not so showy as his partner, was equally reliable.

The halves were equally matched, and Holt and Neill on their respective sides ran each other closely for premier honours. The young Liverpudlian was always in the thick of the fray, and he never seemed to lose his head even in the most exciting moments.

Holt was a more startling block to Allan, and the little man gave one of his best display. The others were little behinds in ability, and the exhibition of both sets of halves was one of the chief tamed of the game, though the Liverpool trio were more aggressive than their opponents.

The forward must be written down as comparative failures. Aimless kicking and want of methodical combination were their great failings, and these combined with feeble shooting, accounts for the ultimate result.

The bulk of the play was monopolised by the respective left wings, and this was more pronounced on the Liverpool side than on the opposing one.

Cameron made a capable centre, but Allan was rather slow in his movements, though possibly be increased the inspiriting influence of Captain Ross.

Of the two sets of forwards, Everton can lay claim to superior prowess, and even their four were more than a match for the Liverpool five. Bradshaw and Geary were most prominent for the home side, and the latter might certainly have been afforded more opportunities of erecting his abilities.

There was little to choose between the Everton forwards, and their efforts were of a more finished character than those of the home side.

One result of the match is that Everton can claim three points out of Liverpool in this season’s League engagements, and these slots should excite a certain amount of gratification.
(Liverpool Mercury: November 23, 1896)

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