Liverpudliana: By Richard Samuel (December 29, 1906)

December 29, 1906
Not a goal – But a funeral note.
If Everton have failed to carry everything before them, what shall be said concerning Liverpool? Three matches played; goal for, nil; goals against, three; and one point out of a possible six. This is a poor return indeed in this the season of plenty.

Liverpool’s Christmas box has thus been of the scariest description.

There was not much disgrace attached to a 1-0 defeat at Bramall-lane; nor to Tuesday’s goalless draw at Bank-street, but what can one say of the Boxing Day heavy fall before Bolton Wanderers on the adamantine surface of New Anfield?

This is the unkindest cut of all. At Manchester, Liverpool were sadly outplayed by United, and it is fairly evident the men don’t appreciate risking their bones on a ground full of bone – or possibly they have not been so happily shod as their opponents. Both Manchester United and the Wanderers moved far more confidently, and kept their feet better than did the Reds.

At Clayton the majority of the Anfield contingent were McOustra-like in demeanour – gave their supporters an impression they were not quite sound and conscious of the fact, or that they were making a first appearance (and thus were feeling gingerly) after a long spell of idleness.

In lesser degree perhaps this was also true of their work in the Bolton match next day. But in this instance it was not so much a case of fighting shy of the conditions as their seeming inability to turn quickly when needed. Beyond all doubt Bolton kept their feet better.

At Manchester, Sam Hardy was the saviour of his side – keeping a most brilliant goal. Alex Raisbeck and Percy Saul also played the part of protectionists very ably. Yes, Liverpool had a stormy defence to thank for their one little Christmas point.

Apart from this the most interesting feature of the match to Merseysiders was the constitution of the Liverpool team. James Bradley missed his first match since joining Liverpool over a year ago, and in his stead appeared one James Hughes, a well-built promising young half-back, who has been in Liverpool’s service three years. Hughes adds one more link to the chain of local players identified with the Livers’ team. He came to the Reds from a Bootle district junior team, I believe.

Then again in the absence of John Cox, Joe Hewitt and John Carlin. Jack Lipsham was also called upon to make his League debut. Lipsham is a younger brother of the Sheffield United outside left Internationalist, and hails from Chester. He is young, promising and anxious to make a name for himself. It is rather a pity he is so small and light.

The Wanderers’ match.
Lipsham received a further trial against Bolton Wanderers, but Hughes gave way again to Bradley. The Wanderers were quicker into their stride, although once Sam Raybould experienced vile luck in striking the crossbar. Jackie Owen’s maiden League goal was a beauty; and with scarcely a weak spot in the Bolton team, Liverpool seldom looked like averting defeat. Then George Latham gave a penalty, but Wattie White was needlessly hurried in taking of this the first such concession to Bolton for 1906-7. Coolness and greater deliberation are the best qualities in a penalty artist.

Eventually Liverpool looked like equalising, and as the bar was struck Dai Davies returned thanks, particularly as Marshall McEwan crossed prettily from the breakaway for Captain David Stokes to journey along and try a fine shot, which was travelling wide of the posts when Tom Chorlton deflected it past Sam Hardy.

The last half-hour proved particularly hard fought and interesting, but the home attack was always held up at the finish by Bert Baverstock and Co., with one exception – when Robert Robinson crashed the ball hard against the foot of the upright.

The better team.
The Wanderers deserved their victory, and one must express wonderment that such a team should have gone for six weeks without a victory. Davies did splendidly, whilst Baverstock’s defence was of the best – and cleanest. He surely is a back worthy of high honours.

Bob Clifford was all pervading at centre half, whilst McEwan repeated his splendid 1905 Anfield form. Stokes is equally good, and as clever as Preston’s Dicky Bond, I should say, without the latter’s “touchy” qualities.

Chorlton and Bradley shone in defence for the losers, but one cannot say much for their forwards. Lipsham occasionally centred excellently, and can also shoot, but the right wingers were seldom in the piece. Robinson – like Raisbeck – was, on the whole, quite out of it, and William Macpherson tried to do too much on a treacherous surface.

Sam Raybould worked hard, but the line as a body failed to blend, and there was too much indiscriminate passing and feeding of the opposition full backs.

Bolton can claim credit for being No. 1 to stop the Reds’ scoring propensities at home. But what a falling off in scoring power by the latter!

Three matches have failed to produce a solitary goal to the team which had been such prolific net-finders earlier on. The defence has held out admirably in losing but three goals in these last three hard games.

The troubles of the Liverpool management seem to alternate between their defence and their attack. It is a curious and yet the usual – order of things.
(Cricket and Football Field: December 29, 1906)


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