January 6, 1906
Great changes have taken place since the beginning of the season in the First Division of the League. Probably it will be remembered that the Rovers opened their campaign at Anfield Road, and before the Merseysiders had get properly into their swing pulled off a surprising victory on September 9th.
Whether this setback was the means of stirring up the Reds or not, there has been no mistaking their brilliant consistency ever after, and although the Ewood Park representatives had the advantage of ground this afternoon it was universally admitted that they would have their work cut out in the return encounter.
Liverpool were yearning for revenge, and seeing that they triumphed on the occasion of their last visit by scoring three out of the five goals recorded, they had hopes of success. Nine times have they been to Ewood under the auspices of the League, winning twice, drawing twice, and losing the rest.
Blackburn Rovers: Bob Evans, Bob Crompton, Arthur Cowell, Sam Wolstenholme, Jimmy Moir, Billy Bradshaw, Arnie Whittaker, Jimmy Robertson, Bill Davies, Adam Bowman, Miles Chadwick.
Liverpool: Sam Hardy, Alf West, Billy Dunlop, Maurice Parry, Alex Raisbeck, James Bradley, Arthur Goddard, Robert Robinson, Joe Hewitt, John Carlin, John Cox.
Liverpool won the toss. It was wretched weather. The wind blew the watery element, which fell in torrents, in all directions, and few there were who ventured out in the open. Consequently the covered stands were very freely patronised, but the crowd at such a “Derby” day as this undoubtedly was, was very disappointing.
From a financial standpoint, it was decidedly unfortunate for the Rovers Executive, who had expected great things, for what fact could have proved a better attraction than a club which has never been defeated on its own ground this season opposing the leaders.
There were plenty of Liverpool’s supporters present, and each side had a good reception. Davies kicked off, and the Rovers immediately assumed the aggressive, Bradshaw putting a cross to the right were a struggle for supremacy took place between Whittaker and Robinson, and Dunlop and Bradley, Bowman eventually spoiling a chance through getting offside.
The Reds retaliated, and Crompton had to put in an over-head kick to avert danger, when the opposing forwards looked extremely dangerous. For quite five minutes following this, the Rovers kept up a continuous attack. They passed and re-passed in front of the Liverpool goal, and Hardy, judging by the way in which he jumped about, was having an exceedingly anxious time of it. He had to gather a terrific ground shot from Robertson, the pace of which was interrupted by a pool of water directly in front of him, and Dunlop and West had repeatedly to kick out.
Though they were playing against the stormy elements, the home men pressed vigorously, the forwards being very lively. At this stage the rain slackened somewhat, and Liverpool had a turn. Goddard putting in a solo run, and tricking Cowell beautifully. Crompton, however, came across and mis-directed the outside’s man final effort.
The Rovers then indulged in some pretty footwork, and again threatened danger, but Parry tackled splendidly, and again set Goddard on the move. The latter centred to Carlin, who volleyed in a lovely ground shot, at which Evans had to throw himself full lenth to save with difficulty.
The Goddard won a corner, but he put this behind, and at the other end Davies fired over. Cox lost a chance through selfishness but the Reds had now found their feet, and kept the Rovers penned in their own half.
Combination played a prominent part amongst the visiting quintette, but their shooting was miserable, though perhaps the heavy state of the ground had something to do with this. Robinson sent over from close quarters, and after a heavy bombardment of the Rovers’ goal, a couple of free-kicks brought the home me some relief.
A corner kick to the Blue and Whites was unproductive, and Liverpool were once more seen making their way towards Evans, Robinson trying to force himself between the backs. Crompton, however, was not to beaten, and cleared amidst cheers from 12,000 spectators. Cox, who had done little up to this, put across a characteristic centre, and Evans’ powers were extended to the full in saving a beautiful effort by Hewitt.
The Rovers’ halves kicked weakly, and fed poorly, and the forwards, when they got going were equally ineffective. The Blackburn part of the crowd urged them to give of their best, but hey failed to exhibit the good form which had marked their efforts at the opening, though once Davies came very near putting the Rovers ahead, after Whittaker had centred. West only just succeeding in holding him off, whilst Hardy cleared.
End to end play followed, and Crompton was seen uttering some words of advice to the forwards, who put more spirit into their play. Chadwick hurling a beautiful shot at Hardy, which the custodian powerfully fisted out. The visiting custodian had his hands full at this period, but he was not found wanting, a save from a free kick against Raisbeck, put in by Moir, being exceedingly fine.
Hands against Carlin when West had taken a free kick for a foul on Parry spoiled a favourable opportunity, and following a throw-in on the home left, Whittaker put over. From Bradley’s pass, Cox hampered by Crompton, put behind. All the trouble at the Rovers end was coming the right wing, where Goddard was playing a truly magnificent game, but the inside men could do nothing with his centres, everyone of which bore the half mark of perfection.
It was a long time before the Rovers could force their way back, Hewitt putting in a dashing run, and although harassed by the backs, he got in his final effort, at which Evans jumped up to perfect a magnificent save. When the Rovers did get going there was too much individually and not enough co-operation. They had chances enough, but their exhibition in front was poor.
Hands against Bowman again set the visiting forwards going but they could do little against Crompton and Cowell, the latter being awarded a free kick for an attempted trip by Robinson. Fouls against Liverpool were becoming pretty frequent, and Cox spoiled a golden opportunity by pushing Crompton in his anxiety to get to the ball. Both sides attacked in turn to the interval, but the defences prevailed, and the score sheet at the interval was blank.
Goals a scarcity.
The second half opened in spirited fashion, the Rovers continuing to put in the greater amount of work. A clever shot by Davies whilst on the run was not far off the mark, whilst from a free kick, Crompton lifted the ball in close vicinity to Hardy, who cleared under difficulties, Davies being in close attendance. Shortly afterwards the ex/Chesterfield man had to clear the ball right under the bar from a shot, which Davies sent in after receiving a well/placed centre from Whittaker.
Carlin had broken through the Rovers# defence when he was fouled by Wolstenholme. It was doubtful whether it might not have been better to let the play proceed, but the Rovers were awarded a free kick which availed nothing, and once more the Rovers made progress towards the Liverpool goal. Chadwick got away and sent in a beautiful centre, which made matters look very serious, but all the Rovers’ forwards were unable to get at the ball before Hardy had got it away.
His vis-a-vis, Evans, had to negotiate a hard shot from Cox, and thus the game continued with one team attacking and the other retaliating, but on each occasion the defence prevailed. The sudden turf detracted very much from the sport of the afternoon, and the play become quite commonplace. It was ragged and disjointed, and though the Rovers were more frequently on the aggressive. Liverpool were perhaps entitled to the point they gained.
Final, Blackburn Rovers, 0, Liverpool,0.
(Cricket and Football Field: January 6, 1906)