September 2, 1907
The opening day.
The opening day of the 1907-08 season has dawned at last. This season it is the second not the first which is the eventful day, for the First fell on a Sunday, and thank goodness most of us in England do get a spell of rest on that day.
For a wonder there is no League match in Liverpool today. Both the premier elevens are away – Everton at Bristol, and Liverpool at Nottingham, where they meet the Foresters newly promoted, after a season of the fiery ordeal of the Second Division.
Like Liverpool the Foresters buckled to, and were fortunate in having to spend but one season below, their companions in misfortune – the Wolves – not having the power to do likewise. The Lacemen will doubtless prove formidable antagonists, for no club desires to go down again if it possibly can avoid it.
The fare provided
But the respective managers of the local teams have not left us quite comfortless. They have provided a kind of minor Derby in arranging for a meeting between the Combination teams. There is quite a rivalry between them, and last season both games were drawn. With such strong elevens as the clubs have at command it ought to be a battle royal, but it would be unsafe to predict a victory for one or other until we know something of the form. Personally I think the Livers are stronger than they were last season when they so nearly secured the Championship, and I am quite prepared to see them at least draw as they did when they last met.
The form of the men
The two practice matches have been good pipe openers for the players. The first was disappointing. The League eleven – or a good imitation of one – was pitted against the Combination, and succumbed by 3 goals to 2. The youngsters won by sheer dash and determination, several of the more experienced men being lackadaisical in the extreme. As this was a fault much in evidence last season, it was disconcerting – especially as Percy Saul revived his old penchant for giving goals away needlessly. Several of the Combination however, betrayed an intimate knowledge of the game, and that was some consolation for the poor form of the seniors.
The second time out, however, there was another tale to tell. Perhaps the men had received a hint or two from one or other of the Directors. Perhaps it was that the introduction of the two Hewitts made a difference. Whatever the cause, there was a decided improvement, and the Leaguers won comfortably by five clear goals. It may be that there was not so great a difference between the teams as the score would indicate as far as midfield play was concerned, but near goal Hewitt and Co were very deadly, and left the poor goalkeeper standing helpless.
Just a word about the men. Everybody welcomes the fact that Alex Raisbeck is himself again. The captain had a nasty jar early this year, and could not shake off the effects of influenza. But now all traces have gone. And Alf West, whose injury made such a difference last year, seems quite sound, although he had not yet fully let himself go. Percy Saul must not make mistakes, and I would fain see him sacrifice some of his brilliancy for a little more consistency. Billy Dunlop should prove a rare stand by, and with experience Harry Griffiths Tom Rogers and Harry Wightman should be of great worth.
At half back the old firm will operate, but Maurice Parry cannot afford to take things to easily, for there are one or two reserves to be considered. If a good attack is the best defence then Liverpool should be well served. They have the material to form one of the strongest lines they ever had. Arthur Goddard and John Cox as fast as ever, and Charles Hewitt should make the former just such a partner as George Livingston did, and William Macpherson shows an inclination to nurse Cox like another Edgar Chadwich. Sam Bowyer, Harry Fitzpatrick, Jack Parkinson, Robert Robinson, Allan Ramsay, and Mike Griffin, are all players above the average, so that if aught should befall a member of the League team, there is a substitute waiting to take his place.
The new stand is not yet up, but there are indications that it will be proceeded with. All the formalities in regard to the ground at the back have been completed, and the stands should be one of the finest in the country. With it in its place, the appearance of the ground will be improved 50 per cent.
Spion Kop is a sight for the gods when covered with humanity, and its appearance from Oakfield Road is equally admirable. The green at the back makes it quite an oasis in the midst of a wilderness of bricks and mortar. (No allusion to a favourite song.) The playing portion is in splendid condition. Few grounds in the country can compare to it, and it should lend itself to some very fast football.
It is anticipated that the stand will be completed by Xmas. Mr. Arthur Parr, one of the Directors, is resigning his position on the Board, but I have yet not heard who will take his place.
(Source: Joint Everton & Liverpool Programme: September 2, 1907)