Saturday, November 3 – 1906
The one back game
The victory of Liverpool over Manchester City has been much debated event this week. “Was Billy Dunlop’s injury a blessing in disguise?”
This and other queries have been set up. One is safe in saying that no club or captain would prefer ten men and the one-back game to having the complement of players. In fact, what is there to prevent a full eleven being set out with one back and six forwards? Nothing. Some would call it unsportsmanlike. I can hardly see this. For willful kicking out there is a remedy – take the time off; for foul play, there are penalties.
Then, if the one-back game is unsportsmanlike, how is it the FA councillors in their wisdom have never sought to check it by framing some deterrent punishment? Granted, the one-back tactics often spoils a match from a spectacular standpoint. But why? Simply because opposing forwards in a general sense, either do not use their brains sufficiently, or do not know the rules (simple though they be) well enough to successfully combat the more.
I have seen the one-back game met with such startling success by intelligent forwards (i.e. re the off-side rule) that the side putting it into operation have been very glad to revert to the usual formation for their own comfort’s sake. The one-back game is perfectly legal, then why non-sporting? Let us rather blame the “denseness” of forwards for the “ruined spectacular” and oft quoted “farcical” football. The Villa are not reputed as one-back players, but has the reader not noticed Howard Spencer’s “strategy” in putting his opponents off-side?
Liverpool’s narrow win.
All this, by the way. At Anfield on Saturday, Liverpool played the one-back game during Dunlop’s absence; but I don’t think it benefited them save one instance – when offside v Jimmy Conlin, near his own goal-line, led to a goal for the Reds from the ensuing well-placed free-kick.
Liverpool lost four goals, and it is pretty safe to say they would not have done so with Dunlop in his usual place. For in no previous match had Liverpool lost more than half this number. My impression is that with Dunlop in his place Liverpool’s defence would have been tightened and thus compared very. Very favourably with that of the Cits, but the Mancunians on the other hand were slightly cleverer in attack. Thus should the Reds’ much superior defence have pulled them through. Under the circumstances, therefore, poetic justice was done in the case of Liverpool’s 5-4 victory.
Mancunians must not overlook that Percy Saul was nearly a passenger – crippled – in the last twenty minutes, and that Liverpool had two splendidly worked-for goals disallowed in the second stage, and one of these at least looked perfectly legitimate – an exquisite square centre from Goddard being headed by Sam Raybould past William Hall as clean as a whistle. Surely, these facts, coupled with Dunlop’s breakdown, more than compensated for City’s generally superior behaviour before the interval, when Liverpool’s 4-2 lead admittedly a somewhat inaccurate reflex of the play.
Again reverting to that one-back game, I give the City forwards great credit for the manner in which they played at particularly after about 15 minutes experience. In proof I would state – (1st) the game as a spectacle could not have been beaten throughout; (2nd) the City were seldom pulled up for offside after the interval. Their speedy wingers took the ball down at a great rate, and usually centred well. Each of their four goals was deserved, but they had the heart-breaking experience of finding goals readily dropped by their own erratic defenders.
I wasn’t impressed with Hall. Tommy Kelso was the better of two moderate backs, and Alex Steel far and away the most noticeable half. Bill Eadie (or Heady) as one might call him died away to nothing after the interval.
In the way of attack I want nothing better than Conlin’s wing work, and particularly his solo efforts. He gives a direct negative to the query, “Is dribbling a lost art?” He has the neatest way imaginable of beating his man. George Stewart on the other extreme is scarcely a whit less capable, and commended me to Irvine Thornley for a clever thrustful pivot. Lot Jones, who made his debut for the City on this ground, was also a success.
With a defence equal to their attack, the Mancunians would make a close fight with – shall we say? – Everton for the championship.
Although victors, Liverpool again failed to entirely satisfy. But what team does? Sam Hardy kept a good goal – that, and nothing more; and I cannot understand the praise lavished upon him in certain quarters. Billy Dunlop’s breakdown and Percy Saul’s condition might easily have spelled disaster. The latter played splendidly until damaged.
The home half backs really couldn’t hold the splendid vanguard opposing them. Maurice Parry was to be seen wearing the look of the greyhound making repeated and futile attempts to pick up an especially tricky hare, whilst Alex Raisbeck and James Bradley were equally unsuccessful.
Forward, the men got a lot of goals, but they cannot expect to get them so easily every day. John Carlin was disappointing until the interval; Sam Raybould was a hard worker, even if lacing Jack Parkinson’s speed; Arthur Goddard produced his usual finished display; but I feel inclined to divide the palm between William Macpherson and Robert Robinson. The latter’s “hat-trick” was indeed splendidly timed.
(Cricket and Football Field, 03-11-1906)