September 10, 1898
Rhyl United: Glass, Vernon Jones, Ike Williams, C. Totty, Alf Vaughan, Alf Williams, Will Jones, Wilfred Hall, R. Simcock, Sam Parry, Harry Meredith.
Liverpool: Matt McQueen, Tom Wilkie, General Stevenson, Thomas Cleghorn, Charlie Wilson, Barney Battles, Arthur Kelly, Frank Becton, Fred Geary, Robert Marshall, Andy McCowie.
Referee Higginson, of Chester sounded the whistle for the commencement of hostilities at 3-45, some quarter of an hour after the advertised time. Rhyl won the toss and elected to defend the Vale Road goal, and if possible to storm the heights of the Gladstone Bridge fortress.
Geary, the celebrated forward, started the ball for Liverpool. For a few minutes the ball was kept well out of reach of the backs at either end. But Liverpool were not long before finding an opening and with magnificent combination came down upon the Rhyl goal. A plucky attempt by the home backs to arrest their progress availed nought, and the ball was shot straight into goal, Glass luckily intercepting it and sending it and sending it behind. The corner kick was taken by Battles, and was beautifully placed. The Rhyl men, however, crowded into goal and formed an impregnable barrier to the besieging Liverpudlians. Cornered and hemmed in though they were they resisted the onslaught with grim determination.
Three times did the backs concede corners in as many minutes, and though the clever forwards from Liverpool put in all they knew, they could not find the vulnerable spot they were seeking. The tension was at last relieved by Ike Williams, who cleared magnificently, and then there was an outburst of popular enthusiasm at the first visit of the Rhyl men to the fortress of their doughty opponents. Will Jones was fouled in dangerous proximity to the visitors goal, and the free kick was taken by Totty. But there was no sting in it, and Stevenson made amends for his slip by sending the ball flying to the Rhyl end. The forwards were upon the ball with wonderful smartness, but they had a watchful pair of backs confronting them, who effectually spoiled the little game of combination.
Several times did Ike Williams and Vernon Jones rob the advancing forwards, and with the assistance of the half backs, who were also playing a grand game, they succeeded in momentarily easing a terrific spell of pressure. The spectators breathed again and once more burst into enthusiasm at another plucky advance on the Liverpool goal mainly through the efforts of Will Jones, who crossed nicely to Meredith. That player made a capital attempt at goal the ball falling short of the upright by only a few inches. By way of showing that this attack was not an accident the Rhyl men came up again with a rush. Simmock got possession of the ball and very cleverly dodged a couple of the Liverpool players. Having done this he evidently thought he could trick them all. Visions passed before him of a magnificent sprint past all the crack Liverpool players culminating with a splendid goal. Full of confidence in his own ability to do this he retained possession of the ball and ignored the calls upon him to rid himself of it. He was easily robbed; the visions vanished, and some of the spectators said a naughty word.
Liverpool then began to realise that they could not afford to treat their opponents too lightly and there ensued a bit of play which was one of the most masterly expositions of scientific football that it has been my pleasure to witness. Geary got hold of the ball and having beaten Vaughan he got his forwards well into line. They came down upon the home goal in the form of a crescent the ball passing from one to the other with clock-work precision, and almost before the spectators had ceased to admire this perfect bit of work, the ball was sent flying through the goal by Becton, first blood being drawn ten minutes from the start.
From the centre kick the home forwards went off with a rush and by dint of sequence of pretty passes they got within easy reach of the Liverpool goal, Hall nicely centred to Simmock who shot straight into goal. But McQueen was all there and cleared with ridiculous ease. Play for a few minutes was of an even character, both ends being visited in turns.
The came another spell of pressure by Liverpool. Kelly had the goal at his mercy and sent in a shot which seemed certain to score, but Alf Williams rushed up in the nick of time and saved by giving a corner. Nothing tangible resulted from this but the home backs were continually on the defensive and time after time kept the attacking force at bay. Alf Vaughan was conspicuous for some very fine half back work, ably supported by Totty and momentary relief was afforded by a brief visit to the other end. But the ball was promptly returned and reached the foot of McCowie who appeared to be palpably offside. He raced away with the ball and sent it flying through the goal posts. The home team loudly clamoured “off side,” but the referee pointed to the centre and the teams were once more at it “hammer and tongs.”
The Liverpool men now seemed to have their less experienced opponents at their mercy. They kept up a continuous fusillade upon the Rhyl citadel. It must have fallen time after time with a less reliable pair of backs. Ike Williams and Vernon Jones seldom failed. They offered an unfailing barrier to as determined an attack as ever I have seen in my life. They conceded corner after corner, but kept their goal intact. When they were beaten Glass was to the rescue, Geary was especially in evidence by his smart play and one of his lightning “daisy cutters” was cleverly turned outside the uprights. Just before half-time Rhyl had a turn of pressing and when the whistle sounded for the suspension of hostilities the ball was at the Liverpool end. At half-time the position of affairs stood thus, Liverpool, two goals, Rhyl, nil.
The players having refreshed themselves recommenced hostilities, the early exchanges being in the favour of Liverpool. Then Rhyl began to exert themselves and to the delight of their supporters made a vigorous attack upon the Liverpool goal. The half backs were playing a fine game and time after time upset the combination of the visitors forwards. Hall who had been noticeably lazy during the first half began to “buck up” in this, and several times did some smart things with the ball. McQueen was several times called upon to defend his charge and altogether things were progressing as well as the most enthusiastic Rhylite could wish.
When Liverpool became dangerous the home backs were alert and ready and made no mistake and fed the forwards with commendable judgment. Most of the play was made on the left wing Hall and Will Jones playing with much dash. Sam Parry on the right was also not a miss, but Meredith failed conspicuously once or twice. He had the goal at his mercy on two occasions and his final efforts were distinctly weak.
After about twenty minutes genuine hard work, during which they had if anything the best of matters the home men began to fall back and the Liverpool men found their way to the Rhyl end. The ball was fired into goal by Becton, but it might easily have been intercepted by Williams, and if he failed there was Glass behind then. While they hesitated as to who should negotiate it up rushed Geary and kicked the ball between Glass legs through the goal.
This did for Rhyl. Already the pace had begun to tell upon them, the sun was scorchingly hot, the men were not in training and against them they had an eleven in the pink of condition. The last twenty minutes saw a fagged out team gallantly fighting against the inevitable. Goal after goal was scored some of which ought to have been stopped. Everybody was glad when the whistle sounded for hostilities to cease. The referee made up the sum, and announced the result as follows, Liverpool, seven goals, Rhyl, nil.
(Source: Rhyl Record and Advertiser: September 10, 1898)