Saturday, October 20 – 1906
The same old story! “Pressed hard enough in the first half to have score four goals and thus set up a strong winning position, but nothing saved missed opportunities recorded. Second half, the usual marked inability to last the full 90 minutes, with the attending consequences – defeat.”
Such, in brief, was the tale told at Anfield on Saturday. Truly Liverpool, as the 1905-6 League champions, constitute the biggest conundrum of the season. “Their behaviour has been too bad for words and the team’s repeated failures must have knocked some of the enthusiasm out of their now big band of adherents.
Liverpool partisans are lying very low indeed, and are taking the banter of Everton’s supporters as meekly as ever men did. Fact of the matter is, Liverpool’s wretched work has dumbfounded them. A year ago, when Newcastle United (after annexing the 1904-5 championship) won one only of their first seven engagements, people marvelled. Still it was asserted the Novocastrians would “come,” the “talent” being there. But Liverpool are in even worse case: Matches played 8, points out of possible 16 – 4!
And in this instance people are beginning to doubt the Anfielders’ ability to “come.” Liverpool’s bad start in 1905 was the talk of the town, but even then the Reds were two points ahead of this morning’s figures for the same number of matches; and what was still more cheering, they were knitting together and moving well within themselves, which certainly is not the case this season.
Lack of staying power.
The question of fitness seems to be the most important subject, reviewing the season as a whole. Nearly every match has been lost in the second half. It was so on Saturday. Liverpool were quite a changed team after the interval, alike in raiment and body. They re-opened terribly sleepy-like; and even before Andy Wilson got in with that first goal, Sam Hardy’s citadel had several narrow squeaks, and one instinctively felt that a goal to Wednesday would not be long delayed. If intervals are to thus cool down the ardour of the Reds week by week, I would advise their trainer to keep them on the field at half-time to practice goal-scoring.
I don’t consider Sam Hardy is the sound-to-brilliant custodian he was last year; he simply paled by comparison with Jack Lyall. The former tipped over the bar several times rather luckily, and his grip of the ball would not bear comparison with Lyall’s. I don’t know a better man to cope with corners than the latter. On Saturday’s form a hundred corners would not avail a side a goal.
Percy Saul played splendidly for over an hour, when he, too, caught the infection and died away to nothing. Saul is a peculiar sort. Undoubtedly he is a great roamer and I have heard it suggested that half-back is his best position. But see how beautifully and powerfully he kicks from any position. Look, too, how successfully he tackles. Billy Dunlop alternated even more pronouncedly than Saul.
The Liverpool half-back line was only moderately successful. Maurice Parry distinctly led the way, playing his best game of the season. Alex Raisbeck’s return did not bring with it the International Raisbeck, whilst James Bradley failed to fill the eye as one would like.
Forward, Arthur Goddard swung across delightful centres until wearied in so doing. On a heavy ground William Macpherson played a useful part, some of his deflections to Goddard (taking the ball when full on the run) being masterly strokes indeed. When you state that Joe Hewitt sent in two splendid shots the bones are picked very bare. Last season’s pivot has been a sad disappointment to the writer.
The left wing again failed, not so much individually as collectively, and one cannot help thinking the time has arrived for the dissolution of the Sam Raybould / John Cox partnership. The latter began as though he intended making an example of Willie Layton. Far better would it be had he set out goal-hunting. One hesitates to condemn Raybould, for it is possible that one might thus be punishing the innocent for the guilty.
On Monday an improvement was wrought when, with a mixed team which included Ned Doig, Tom Chorlton, John Carlin, Robert Blanthorne, Robert Robinson and Jack Lipsham, the Reds qualified for the Lancashire Cup semi-finals with a 6-0 victory over Rossendale United. Blanthorne – the giant local – scored thrice and Macpherson twice.
The disease this morning was desperate, but we are hoping that at the worst desperate remedies will assist in bringing about a cure. The club’s supporters want a team that will go the full ninety minutes, and not a record-breaking lot who will descend from a First League championship into the running for Division II.
(Cricket and Football Field, 20-10-1906)