January 21, 1901
Amidst a wilderness of slack and swamp, and a wholesome down-pouring of rain, the elect of Everton and Liverpool foundered about for 20 minutes at Anfield and close on 18,000 ardent enthusiasts watched them go through the performance.
A more dismal day for spectators and more trying conditions for the players could scarcely be imagined, and those of the spectators who clamored nosily when a faulty move was made on the field might have had their ardor damped somewhat had they ventured from the comparatively long seclusion of the covered stands.
There could be no doubt as to the damping process being carried out with celerity and despatch whilst the rain came down all the harder, so to speak. But no one could have anticipated even such a capital display as was witnessed under such a drearily depressing downpour, at least no use, whose sanity was above reproach and the players of both sides deserve the greatest credit for their efforts to carry out the League contracts, whilst it is not too much to assert that the better exhalation, under similar conditions, could not have been given.
The soaked surfaces of the ground like a saturated sponge, clung to the men with more than a passing fondness; it held them in its gluiness grip, but varied the proceedings by allowing then to occasionally glint over its treacherous length, only to finally enshroud there with a musky covering that rendered the individual almost unrecognizable.
Similar pranks did the ball play; at times becoming stationary as soon as it touched the ground, and at others quirking over the mud, and ricocheting in every conceivable manner. And all the while the rain kept on raining. What football could there possibly be under such conditions?
Nevertheless, many excellent bits of play were seen, and on one side were made fewer mistakes than on the other. The Everton players tumbled to the situation more nimbly than did their rivals, hence their success. Early on in the game did the former give the impression that they would ultimately emerge successfully from the pudding, and their victory was the outcome of superior methods and better adaption to the prevailing requirements.
What earthly use was it to attempt the short passing game on such a day? Yet this was evidently the chief idea in the development of the Liverpool forwards attacks, but the more they tried to dribble the further they stuck in the mud, and the ball absolutely refused to be dribbled, for it went deeper and deeper into the slush at each propulsion.
Long kicks and succeeding rushes were the only tactics likely to be of avail, on such a day, and Everton by adopting these methods, were decidedly more dangerous all through the game than the home side.
It does seem strange that experienced players are unable to regulate their movements to be in accord with surroundings of a nature like these which were in evidence on Saturday, for it was utterly absurd to attempt on that turf maneuvers which would have possibly been bewildering on a hard surface.
Intelligent football will always prevail, and it was the lack of this, which cost Liverpool the game, their failure to meet the exigencies of the occasion being in marked contrast to the more suitable tactics of their opponents. In having to face such keen rivals, minus both their customary backs, who owing to illness, were each unable to participate in the game, Everton were placed at a serous disadvantage, but the substitutes shaped remarkably well.
George Eccles in particular fairly reveling in the heavy going. The result was that the defence shone as brightly as ever, and though Jack Crelley was hard beset at times, he stuck to his work gamely. But the strongest part of the Everton team was the half back division, and if the trio give Southampton a taste of what they are capable of accomplishing.
Everton will figure in the second round of the English Cup journey. Their work was excellent all round, and indeed on the home side similar praise might be awarded, for Alex Raisbeck and his partner were ever in the midst of the fray, producing opening for their forwards and working consternation in the ranks of their visitors.
Sam Wolstenholmes took John Cox under his wing as it were from the start and having carefully secured him, kept him there until the finish of the game. The Liverpool; outside left did once burst forth from his confinement, and scored an equalising goal, but after that no further liberty was allowed by the Everton right half. This was all that Cox did during the game.
Raisbeck was very prominent, and Charlie Wilson worked hard, but it would be better for the last named youth were he to restrain the habit of fouling an opponent a practice which is becoming too common with the capable, and popular right winger. Wilson is a genuine worker, and has sufficient ability in him to be able to dispense with tactics, which can only harm his reputation.
The backs on both sides kicked splendidly on the uncertain ground, and the mistakes, which were made, were too ludicrous to be taken seriously. On one occasion the home pair dallied with the ball until Tom J. Robertson had to send back to Bill Perkins, and in doing so nearly scored for Everton, for the ball went just outside the upright, and the Liverpool custodian had no possible chance of averting a corner.
Billy Dunlop and his partner are dashing defenders and, although they often clear in exhilarating fashion, they make some inexplicable blunders. Perkins kept a splendid goal, and had far more work to do than his vis-à-vis, Willie Muir, though the latter was almost caught napping twice in the second half, once from a ground shot from Sam Raybould, when the ball struck on the goal line under the posts, and again when a high shot from Raisbeck tipped over the bar. But both man did well to even hold the ball, which was in a terribly greasy state.
Forward, Everton held the advantage, for the sample reason that they did not keep the ball confined and when they did pass, lifted it over to a confreres instead of rushing it along the ground, for in these cases the ball frequently stopped in the mud heap, yards away from the intended billet.
When at the interval the score were equal, it did seen possible that Liverpool with the wind in their favour, would prevail, but the illusion was quickly dispelled. They were more effected by the untoward surroundings, and by failing to utilise the openings that were gained, and Johnny Walker had two glorious chances of scoring with only Muir to beat, had to acknowledge defeat.
It was a case of very hard luck for Liverpool that ‘’the” gate of the season should be thus spoiled and what with losing points, gate money, and some considerable portion of their ground, which was carried away by the players their experience were by no means of an advisable nature.
An attempt was made to put the closure on the game, when the second half had been in progress nearly half an hour, but this was rightly vetoed. The mud larking splashing, and wading through the more continued to the bitter end, and the referee terminated the struggle, which at the best, could only be considered as a hybrid combination of water pole and a skating competition. What was called football did eventually finish, but the rain-kept on missing.
(Source: Liverpool Mercury: January 21, 1901)