September 11, 1899
Consternation reigned supreme at Anfield during the progress of the match with Sunderland, for were not the Reds, whose skill last season gained for them an enviable reputation as runners-up in the two most popular competitions in the country, trounced most decisively by the team from the banks of the Wear? There were certainly one or two important changes in the personnel of the eleven from that which did duty in those noted struggles, but these were not sufficient to account for the vast difference in the style of play.
Possibly too much may have been expected from Billy Dunlop, Alex Raisbeck, and Co., but whatever was anticipated fell tremendously short in realisation. The team could do nothing right throughout the game. First of all the toss was lost, which meant facing a boisterous wind for 45 minutes, and such was the effect that they could scarcely raise a run in the succeeding moiety, when the breeze favoured them.
The most disappointing feature of the game, however, was the languid tone which pervaded the majority of the home players. There was no energy, no combination; in fact, no feature that commands success was discernible in their endeavours. To be beaten at Stoke was pardonable, for even when dealing wuth supposedly weaker teams away from home allowance is always made for the strange surroundings, but the dose which Sunderland dished up on Saturday afternoon was extremely unpalatable, and suggests the necessity for a much-needed tonic.
As a whole the team lacked cohesion, each departement acting independently instead of intertwining with those fore and aft and presenting a unity of purpose, which was such a distinguishing feature in last season’s campaign. The forwards particularly were weak, and could make no headway whatever. When in possession of the ball their passing was slow and ill-timed, and as often went to an opponent as to a confrere, but, as a matter of fact, there was too much of this attempted transferring from man to man, and when on one occasion Raisbeck dashed in front and appeared as if he was going for goal the crowd could not but cheer, so anxiously had they waited and watched for someone to test the Sunderland custodian.
Finessing in midfield, without any advantage in position being gained, was the result of the bulk of the forwards’ efforts, and in the majority of cases the Sunderland halves, after calmly admiring these useless movements stepped in and audaciously transferred the ball to one of their own side. The shooting was on a par with the rest of the play, and it was wearisome to witness the Liverpool attack during the greater part of the game.
In comparison the Sunderland van appeared vastly superior, and, although there was nothing much to boast about in their play, they were active and bustling, ever anxious to obtain the ball, and waster no time in useless dallying with the ball. They went straight away for goal, even brushing off with impunity an interefering defender, and usually finished up with a stiff shot that wanted attempting to.
The pick of the bunch was James Crawford, whose runs and fast centres were always dangerous, but the whole line was ever on the alert, pouncing on a stray opportunity and making the most of it. A vast amount of tall kicking was indulged in, but, sungularly enough, whether by chance or otherwise, a Sunderland man was usually on the spot, a state of affairs that Sheffield United are often guilty of exhibiting. And herein was the difference between the teams, whilst on the other they were waited for. The Liverpool defence was likewise not so reliable as one could wish to see.
That Bill Perkins possesses undoubted abilities as a custodian was proved by the manner in which he tipped a terrific shot from Sandy McAllister over the barm, checked a fast grounder at the same goal from Billy Farquhar, and cleared on other occasions in good style, but, on the other hand, earlier in the game he was equally unreliable, and the second goal, which should never have crossed the line, was completely mulled. Dunlop might have got the ball away, but Perkins was even moe at fault.
The half backs were not in accord with their front-line, albein Raisbeck managed to shine in defence, but faulty placing often nullified many clever bits of work. Sunderland were also seen to advantage in defence, the full-backs kicking strongly even against the wind, though one would have preferred to see them submitted to a more severe test than that set by the Liverpool forwards.
Locally the season has commenced in startling, and were not the capabilities of the Anfield brigade well-known there might be a feeling of despair at those two successive defeats. They were distinctlively overplayed by the Wearsiders, Dunlop alone showing any of his real ability, and a considerable amu nt of smartening up will be necessary to ensure against further defeats. They will be pretty well tested at Stoney Lane on Saturday next, for points are not easily earned on the Throstles’ peculiar terriority.
In one particular, however, can praise be applied. The Liverpool executive have done all in their power to provide ample accommodation for the spectators, and by increasing the means of ingress and ogress the stand patrons have been judiciously considered. Nowhere, however, have changes been more gratefully appreciated than in the press box. Here extra accomodation and cushioned seats have replaced the previous uncomfortable structures, and the officials deserve commendation for their improvements in this direction.
(Liverpool Mercury: September 11, 1899)
Alex Raisbeck, Liverpool F.C.