Murmurs from the Mersey (November 5, 1898)


November 5, 1898
Liverpool have waited long and patiently for the smile of victory, and have at length received their just reward, Sheffield United kindly giving them two points of Saturday last. The path pursued by the Anfielders of late has been long and dark, but the end has been reached at least, and now that they have emerged into the glorious sunshine, they should make up their minds to bask in it.

Viewed in the light of their latest display, their previous form appears to be more mysterious than ever. It is no use commenting about the past, however. That is gone for ever, thank goodness. It is to the future we must look, and if Liverpool can produce their Sheffield United form at will, Anfielders will have no necessity to allow thoughts of coming events to trouble them.

It was deemed necessary, and not before time, to make a couple of changes in the Liverpool team, and the directors must have been delighted at the success which crowned their change of front. John Cox, the old Blackpool man, has been given chances galore to earn distinction, but failure has been the only result, and, in making way for Robert Marshall, he is making way for a man who is his superior.

William Goldie, the half-back, was the other youth to be given a short holiday, though truth to tell, this youth has invariably displayed first-class form. Thomas Cleghorn, the old Blackburn Rover, and a prime favourite with Liverpudlians, came into the half-back division, and showed his many friends that football is not a lost art with him. He should be safe for his place for some time to come.

The penalty kick given against Bill Foulke decided the result of the match, beyond all doubt, and whilst granting that it was thoroughly undeserved, it would be absurd to deny that Liverpool deserved their couple of points.

It is possible to drive a carriage and pair through any law ever passed by her Majesty’s Ministers, what is it possible to drive through then penalty kick rule? Phew! The mere thought of the answer appeals one. No two single referees appear to place the same reading upon the rule, and the sooner the Association comes to the rescue and places some clear and concise ruling upon the better. Mr. Thomas, of Burnley, for instance, has his own idea upon the rendition of the much-debated rule, and whilst the said rendition has found great favour in Liverpool football circles, it has raised the ire of Sheffielders, and almost brought about a revolution in the football world. Liverpool v Sheffield United was the means of giving Mr. Thomas this opportunity of distinguishing himself, George Allan and Bill Foulke being the contributing parties to the offence.

The incident happened, so far as I could see, in this manner: Foulke had cleared the ball, despite the attention of Allan, who was more forcible than polite, when, to the consternation of the spectators, the big Sheffielders laid hands upon Allan, who was hovering near him, doubtless with the purpose of giving further trouble, and, turning him round in beautiful fashion, calmly stood him upon his head. It was funny, very funny, except for poor Allan, and as a display of manly strength put the majority of the great Sandow’s feat right into the shade. A consultation between referee and linesmen ensued, and then, wonder of wonders, a penalty kick was given, much to the unconcealed disgust of the Sheffielders.

Mr. Thomas, in a letter to the football writer in the “Sporting Chronicle,” has explained the reasons that actuated his decision, and, whilst they may sound convincing to those who did not witness the incident, they will have little weight with those who were present, and are competent to judge.

No goalkeeper cares to be made a chopping block for every Tom, Dick and Harry opposed to him, and it is not to be wondered at that a man should lose his temper occasionally. Of course, it’s not legal to lose one’s temper on the football field, and punishment is invariably the reward of the player who does so, but not a penalty kick. Besides, is not a penalty kick only supposed to be given when the action for which it is granted is the direct means of preventing a score? I think so, but Mr. Thomas evidently thinks differently, as the ball at the time of the little scramble was yards away, and Allan could not have scored had he had the help of a whole arm of miracle workers, or had even the Fates to aid him. Mr. Thomas acted as he thought best, but it is nevertheless very hard upon the United that he should have visited them with such punishment.
(Source: Lancashire Evening Post: November 5, 1898)

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