Everton were much the better team


October 18, 1897
The second of the annual struggle for supremacy between the two premier teams of the city, ended in as decisive a fashion as its predecessor, with this important differences that the vanquished in the first game being now conquers.

This changes was manifested to an equal degree in the play of the respective teams for whereas at Anfield, Liverpool were seen to make advantage at Goodison Park Everton enjoyed the same distinction, and achieved a victory which their play fully deserved.

There was the usual amount of hustle and activity prevalent from an early hour outside the gate, but the interest was even greater than in previous games, victory of Liverpool having rested the contest with a great amount of uncertainty, the question as to whether the Anfielders would repeat their earlier success or Everton would reverse that verdict being debatable points that could furnish no satisfactory solution prior to the game. They were, however, definitely settled by the afternoon’s proceedings, and Everton have reasserted themselves once more.

The crowd which must have numbered fully 40,000, found all the arrangements for their convenience as well nice perfect as possible, and the proceedings were not marred by the slightest check, everything working smoothly and effectively.

The directors also deserve commendation in another direction, for the engagement of Gossage’s prize band gave the early arrivals the pleasure of hearing some capital music- something more than a mere stopgap, as usually the case.

The ground presented a truly remarkable sight immediately prior to the commencement of hostilities the vast concourse of faces which lined the popular sides, and the well filled stands, surrounding the enclosure which was arrayed in its brightest raiment of green, and the lithe, bounding figures donned in scarlet and blue – a truly vivid contrast-completed an ensemble sufficiently stirring to rouse the pulse of the most inert.

The game fell far short of the standard reached in the previous contest at Anfield, and at occasional intervals there was far more kicking of the man than of the ball. Everton were the chief offenders in this respect, and although the majority of fouls awarded were against them, and deservedly so, the referee might easily have added many more and some reprehensible bits of work passed unnoticed.

In the first minute almost Peter Meehan lashed out at Harry Bradshaw, the left winger fortunately dodging the base attack whilst later John McCartney managed to avoid the referee’s eye with a similar bit of work, and John Tait Robertson, though very effective, adopted questionable tactics at time which, might have been avoided.

In the early stages dirty work was most apparent, but afterwards the players controlled themselves more, and later proceedings worked with comparative smoothness. It was a decided stroke of bad luck for Liverpool to lose the services of Frank Becton after ten minutes play, this leaving then with but ten men for the rest of the game, for though the inside wingers returned he was absolutely useless. He injured himself whilst turning to shoot at goal, and his absence had an undoubted effect upon the subsequent play of the Liverpool front rank. Even with four forwards a good stand was made, and in the latter part of the first half the Anfielders missed an easy chance of scoring. In the second moiety they had no chance whatever, and were literally overbelmed by the dashing work of the Evertonians.

The display of the home team was satisfactory in every department. The forwards in particularly deserve chief praise, for their movements were marked by dash and precision and though they in many instances dallied when near goal, at other times they put in more telling shots, and Harry Storer was kept busy almost without intermission particularly in the second half, the while Rab MacFarlane looked on with an overburdened air of loneness.

The whole front rank moved in harmonious fashion, and the same set of forwards should carry the Everton colours to more victories than the one at present under notice. Every individual appeared to put all his energy into his work and, although there was nothing of exceptional brilliance executed, there was an average of merit, which reached a most satisfactory standard.

This unity of method is bound to assert itself during a long season, although as on Saturday there was weakness apparent in one position, but when wholehearted efforts are made, even this defect is excusable. It would be manifestly unfair to compare the work of the Liverpool front rank with that of their opponents. Up to a certain point, even with Becton’s depletion, there was little to chosen, and probably the extra exertion of keeping up this equality in the first half told its tale in the second, when their position was absolutely hopeless. Bradshaw got through a tremendous amount of work, some of which was totally unnecessary, and what advantage attempts to dodge through the whole defence of an opposing team possess appear more ostentatious then effective.

They certainly effect one result-namely that of deluding the uninitiated into rounds of applause. It would perhaps be appropriate to call attention to the fact that games are won by goals, and the effectiveness of gallery play has long since been consigned to oblivion. With the exception of this occasional deterioration the left winger stove hard to avert disaster, and was far away the best of the forwards off his side. The right wing got along well in the first half, but their later play suffered in comparison.

The Everton halves were as a body superior to their opponents and displayed great judgement in attending to the wants of their front ranks. They broke up the combination of their rivals in decisive fashion, whilst further behind Storrier rendered able assistance and was rarely at fault, tackling most successfully.

Cleghorn had no superior on the field, but as a whole, the trio did not attain their usual standard of excellence. The Liverpool backs played capitally, their kicking being very clean and judicious, and, considering the tremendous amount of work they were called upon to perform, deserve great commendation for their display. Storer kept goal in grand style, and his position was a most emerous one.

Throughout the greater portion of the second half the Everton forwards fairly bombarded his charge, and the two shots which beat him in this portion of the game were almost impossible to have been cleared. He had a tremendous amount of work to perform, and he accomplished it credible, but his vis-a-vis was rarely called upon, through two saves in the first half were very fine, one when on the ground, with Bradshaw and Cunliffe around him, showing his sterling ability.

Everton fully deserved their victory, and a continuance of Saturday’s form should pull them successfully through future engagements. They were scarcely recognisable as the team, which played at Anfield, and the changes since made have undoubtedly proved to be a step in the right direction. Their now occupy a prominent position in the League table, with a fine prospect of doing even better.
(Liverpool Mercury: October 18, 1897)

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Harry Storer, Liverpool (Lloyd’s Weekly News: December 1, 1895):

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