January 21, 1901
The second tit-bit of the season promised to be an interesting event, seeing that the two Liverpool clubs were so close together in the League table, and an additional fillip to the match was the meritorious win by Everton on the previous Saturday. It is, therefore, to be regretted that the weather was in such a bad humour as to spoil the event from football point view. Pitiless rain fell from early morn, and in its trail, came a stiffest breeze, which swept down the ground from the Anfield Road goal. The turf as a result was soon a quagmire, and, of course, correct football was out of the question.
That the game was played to a finish is satisfactory as far as it goes, but it was noticed that the two captains held a consultation after the interval, which no doubt had reference to the advisability of abandoning the game, but, whatever came of it, the game was resumed. Then after Taylor had scored the second, and what proved the winning, goal, Mr. Scragg, the referee, had an interview with the linesmen as to the necessity of concluding the proceedings, but the game went on. I only mention this incident to show under what conditions the game was played, and, so far as criticizing football is concerned, the effort, how good in itself, must of necessity fail to justice to what otherwise would have been an interesting theme. You all know that Everton won by 2 goals to 1, and whatever decisions the officials came to in regard to the conditions under which the match was played, the result stands in favour of Everton. And rightly so, for at the interval they were on level terms, with the elements against them, yet they go on and win.
How it was done.
There was only one style of play possible, and Everton took it on from the start. There was no shilly-shallying in the mud any more than could be helped, but the ball was kept going, not on the ground, but bobbed about, now across from one wing to the other, and from half-back a swing forward, and generally there was a comrade handy to take the ball. The bulk of the play rested with the half-back’s and forwards, as it is well to note that both backs were reserve men, and for the greater portion of the first half they had nothing to do.
In passing I may say that Eccles and Crelley came out of the ordeal very well, and compared favorably with the Liverpool pair. But the half-backs bore the brunt of the battle, and right well all performed. It is not their fault the Liverpool forwards played the short passing game, but this gave them a fairly-even task, and whatever came their way they invariably managed to get in before danger threatened the goal. Wolstenholme played a great game, but all three did very well, and were seldom at fault in feeding the forwards. And the work was not thrown away. No matter how the ball was placed, the forwards got it and made progress in the only way that was possible. As a matter of fact, they used their brains to the full, and any dribble that was undertaken was to the benefit of their side, and certainly their all-round play was more to the purpose in view. Sharp and Taylor were the more prominent, but others were always on the alert, and splendid work was done by Proudfoot and Settle. The secret of their success lay in the manner of adapting their play to the existing conditions of the ground, and putting forth every effort to obtain the desired result.
The cause of Liverpool’s defeat
Whatever the effect may be, the cause of Liverpool’s defeat was the unaccountable way they floundered with the ball in the mud. They never really appreciated the fact that they were playing a game under exceptional conditions. View it in what way you will, their tactics were wrong, and what must be more exasperating to their followers was the absence of any attempt to fit in their work to suit these exceptional conditions. They all played a hard game, but to dribble the ball and then pass alone the ground was courting defeat, as the ball seldom travelled as desired, and the quick Everton halves had always a pull in these bouts for possession.
Still Raybould and Walker kept it up, with the result that the move was turned against them. The Liverpool halves were just as hard-working as the Everton trio, but the strain was more severe, in-as-much as they never knew where the ball would be placed, and they were continually on the move. They had to deal with a more intelligent lot, for Proudfoot and his extreme wings were always well advanced, and after going through a lot of gruelling tackling, they had often to make off in defence of goal. Raisbeck played well, and tried to alter the style of play his team worked on, but his long passing was lost through a want of conception of what was intended. Further behind, the backs were not at their best, Dunlop evidently tried to do a lot too much, and on the day Robertson was the more reliable. Perkins kept a good goal.
The teams were:
Liverpool: Bill Perkins, Tom J. Robertson, Billy Dunlop, Charlie Wilson, Alex Raisbeck, William Goldie, Tom Robertson, Andy McGuigan, Sam Raybould, John Walker, John Cox.
Everton: Willie Muir, George Eccles, Jack Crelley, Sam Wolstenholme, Tom Booth, Walter Abbott, Jack Sharp, Jack Taylor, John Proudfoot, Jimmy Settle, Joe Turner.
Referee: Mr. Scragg.
(Source: Athletic News: January 21, 1901)