Honours easy at Anfield


September 16, 1907
There was a serene sense of satisfaction in the atmosphere at Anfield shortly after five o’clock on Saturday afternoon for the all sufficient reason that 30,000 people had witnessed a magnificent struggle between Liverpool and Everton and everybody went away satisfied for it was felt that the draw of two goals each was a fitting termination to an Olympian struggle. Just towards the close, when the minutes were fleeting away, McGuigan made a tremendous effort to give his club the winning goal, but there was a sigh of relief when his final shot failed, for it was generally recognized that honours easy was the best possible termination to a pull-devil-pull-baker kind of battle. If the standard of play in all League matches were as high as in the game between these fierce rivals there would never be any cause for grumbling as to the quality of professional football.

The game was clean and honest, each scored two goals and both sets of forwards missed chances, so that it were well to dismiss all “if’s” and “but’s” to award each an equal mead of praise on the play, and to look forward to the return next January.

The story of the struggle
The commencement was sensational, for the players were off at a merry rattle, Liverpool losing no time in attacking. Raisbeck, the fair-haired, placed the ball beautifully to Bowen, who dashed into the corner, and beating Watson, centred right off the line, where White scored the first goal for Liverpool this season with an upward shot that crashed into the roof of the netting before Muir could raise his hand. Seldom was a point better deserved, and this at the end of three minutes roused the latent fire in Everton, who rallied splendidly.

The heavy-weight Abbott tested Perkins, and he fisted out, but did not clear his lines. Dunlop tried to kick away, but Jack Sharp’s foot was there also, and the ball cannoned back with the rotary motion peculiar to such shots, and went through the allotted space, so that at the end of seven minutes the teams were one all.

Still, Liverpool had the better of the argument, and McGuigan spoiled a certain goal by Rayhould when he stepped in front of him and became off-side’ as he finally touched the ball. Raybould made an excellent pass, and McGuigan ought easily to have placed his side one up, and again a grand centre by White passed right along the front of the goal without any forward taking advantage of it.

But from this point the Evertonians began to make their presence felt, and in the last quarter of an hour neutralized much of the dashing work by Liverpool. Sharp was prominent for several beautiful dribbles at top speed, but Settle was annoyed with himself for missing a rare opportunity, while a header from Bell was fisted out so that Sharp’s attacks came to naught. However, two minutes before the interval Settle took a nice pass from Abbott. The ex-Bury man feinted to pass to the right, but shot swift and low – and the ball went home like a bullet to its billet, so that Everton led at breathing-time by 2-1.

But the opening of the second half was very like unto the first, for the ball was swung in from the Liverpool right wing, and Raybould, with a similar shot to Settle’s, made the scores level once again. A tremendous struggle ensued, Bowen and Bell being the leaders in the attacks, but the backs and goalkeepers reigned supreme, and the game was left a draw.

Criticism of the players
As I have said, a finer display of determined football could not be seen, and if I were asked for a candid opinion I should say that there is the material for a splendid side in the Liverpool team. At first sight it seemed a great swooping of horses while crossing the stream to rearrange the whole forward line, but, as Tom Watson said, with a merry twinkle in his eye, on Saturday: “You must give us credit for knowing something at Anfield.”

Liverpool are entitled to all praise, and I should not be surprised if Bowen and McGuigan made the right wing of the season. They have speed and mastery of the ball, and if Liverpool had made more use of this wing, especially as Bowen was speedier than Watson, they might have won outright. In this way Raybould might have given the right wing more work, but beyond this and too a great a tendency to keep the ball in the air the old New Brighton man played remarkably well. He is a good shot, and can put in a rare ball when travelling at top speed.

A good word may be said for Cox, and had his partner, White, the ex-Queen’s Park Ranger, escaped an accident just before the interval he would have given Cox more opportunity. In a loose scrimmage White was charged down, and Muir accidentally kicked his right shoulder and fell on him. The result was that White’s right arm hung limp by his side, he was unable to run much, and could hardly kick without feeling the concussion. One regretted the accident the more as White had scored a fine goal and was showing promising form.

A valuable trio were the half-backs, with Raisbeck head and shoulders above all – especially in defensive work. In midfield he invaluable in breaking up combination and stemming rushes, while when fell in the rear he was quite as useful as a third back. And yet for a man of his reputation he does not place to his forwards as he ought to, many a ball sailing over their heeds to his opponents. This was not so when he first came from Edinburgh, and is the only criticism to which this grand player is liable. Both backs showed resolute defence, but I preferred Glover to Dunlop. Perkins was a host, for he seemed to anticipate where danger was coming from – and yet Muir was equally able.

To my mind, Balmer is the mainstay of the Everton defence, and he did several daring deeds with surprising ease and cleanliness. Although Tom Booth was in fair form the workman among the Everton half-backs was unquestionably Abbott, who is always the move despite his 12st. 9lb.

The Everton forwards did not appear to me to possess quite the vivacity and the tenacity of Liverpool, although in the last quarter of each half they made gallant efforts – but they just lacked the nippiness of their antagonists, who were the quicker on the ball. On the whole, Bell was so so, Settle played by fits and starts, Proudfoot was slow and mastered Raisbeck. Taylor energetic but often beaten, and Sharp very speedy and smart in his passes, but lacking in bustle and hurtle. And yet every now and again the Everton front tank showed grand play, but the general impression left on my mind is what I have set down without fear, favour, or affection. I enjoyed the game, and generally commend the two teams as well worth watching.

Teams:
Liverpool: Bill Perkins, John Glover, Billy Dunlop, Charlie Wilson, Alex Raisbeck, William Goldie, George Bowen, Andy McGuigan, Sam Raybould, And McGuigan, William White, John Cox.
Everton: Willie Muir, William Balmer, John Watson, Dan Boyle, Tom Booth, Walter Abbott, Jack Sharp, Jack Taylor, John Proudfoot, Jimmy Settle, Jack Bell.
Referee: Mr. John Lewis.
(Athletic News: September 16, 1901)

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