December 4, 1905
There are few clubs, if any, more welcome in Liverpool than Aston Villa. No need here to recapitulate their wondrous deeds in the football arena; sufficient to say their record probably surpasses that of any other existing organisation. Since the one-time glory surrounding proud Preston became dimmed, the Villa have undoubtedly become first favourites in the affections of the great B.P. Their football is always of the highest class, and has never suffered in style or quality since the days when Archie Hunter led the van.
With the best of weather, and the Villa as the attraction, small wonder then that some 25,000 people assembled round the Anfield enclosure with the double object of witnessing what promised to be a fine exposition of the code and of patronising so deserving a player as Sam Raybould, whose benefit it was.
The Villa, unfortunately, were below strength, and the absence of such players as Billy Brawn, Harry Hampton, and Freddie Miles must not be passed over too lightly. With two such teams in opposition one might have reasonably expected a scientific exhibition, but as much the match was a failure. For the nonce both sides dropped the finer points of the game, and gave the crowd ninety minutes’ keen, vigorous, and exhilarating football.
Liverpool: Sam Hardy, Alf West, Billy Dunlop, Maurice Parry, Alex Raisbeck, James Bradley, Arthur Goddard, Robert Robinson, Joe Hewitt, Sam Raybould, John Cox.
Aston Villa: Billy George, Howard Spencer, Albert Evans, Joe Pearson, Alex Leake, Jack Windmill, George Garratt, Billy Garraty, Charlie Millington, Joe Bache, Albert Hall.
It was in truth a hard, slogging game from start to finish. Not that the famous “claret and blue” brigade had left their best form at Birmingham; rather was it that they were unlucky enough to tumble across Parry, Raisbeck, and Bradley with that formidable trio right at the top of their form.
From the start the Aston attack became disjointed through the attentions of the Liverpool halves, and that close footwork associated with the Villa front rank was conspicuous by its absence.
Sixteen minutes had gone when the Anfielders, chiefly by the aid of Goddard, obtained the first point, Cox crashing a centre into the net, while at the end of half an hour Hewitt had added another. This was the state of affairs at the interval, and was a pretty correct reflex of the run of the game, for the Reds had certainly obtained the measure of their supporters.
A quarter of an hour after resuming Goddard shot in, and the ball went off Raisbeck’s head on to Howard Spencer, who put through his own goal. This settled the issue, and a lot of interest in the game evaporated.
A nasty spirit crept in, and for a time a lot of unnecessary roughness developed and fouls were frequent. Before the finish a penalty was given against Parry, but Hardy saved from the usually sure-footed Garratty, and the end came with Liverpool very comfortable winners by three clear goals.
From Hardy to Hewitt there was not a weak spot in the Anfield eleven. As we have already indicated, the greatest praise is due to the halves, who gave the Villa forwards few chances of scintillating. Besides dealing so effective with the Villa attack, Raisbeck and Co. found plenty of time to employ their own fire, and it was refreshing indeed to watch the home forwards heading for goal. Once there, they shot on every conceivable opportunity, and but for the excellence of George, that terrible flouting at Birmingham in September might easily have been wiped out goal for goal.
Where all played so well it would be invidious to single out any man for eulogy. On the Villa side George stood out by himself, and his keeping undoubtedly saved his side from a more severe thrashing. Spencer lasts well, and behind beaten forwards and halves showed much of his old resource. The Villa were weak at half, even Leake being out of the hunt, for the pace the home forwards set was a cracker. Forward the Villa was best represented by Bache and Hall on the left, the last named being a difficult customer to hold.
(Liverpool Daily Post: December 4, 1905)
George Garratt, Aston Villa F.C. (Athletic News: December 25, 1905).