October 12, 1907
By his sterling work during the present season the subject of our sketch this week has rapidly gained for himself a warmer place in the hearts of the supporters of the Liverpool Club than was at one time considered possible. Since he came to Anfield, Percy Saul, has played under difficulties which must have been experienced to be fully appreciated. His style of play is such that he ought to partner a cool, sedate comrade at full back, and at the commencement of last season it was fondly hope that he and Alf West would constitute an ideal pair of full backs.
The injury to the latter completely upset all calculations, and Saul had to play in whatever position was best suited to the requirements of a particular situation, sometimes on the right and sometimes on the left wing. Under these conditions it is not to be expected that a man could show his real form, and if Saul had been adjudged guilty of ostensible blunders, well, who wouldn’t be under similar surroundings?
Percy Saul was born at Kimbworth, a small village about a mile from Rotherham, in Yorkshire, and his first acquaintance with football was with the Thornhill team, which in subsequent years was more familiarly known as Rotherham County. For two seasons he played with them as a right half back in the Sheffield League, but his fine turn of speed suggested that he might be more useful as an extreme wing forward. After a two years’ stay with the County, Saul removed to Gainsborough, and remained with the Lincolnshire team for three years.
It was as a half back that he commenced his career at the Lincolnshire town, but the Trinitarians were none too well provided with players, and when their outside left, Freddie Fenton, was transferred, Saul was perforce obliged to fill the vacancy created. He figured in several League matches in this position, and as a matter of fact, the men attached to Gainsborough at that time had to be willing to take up any post in the team. Consequently it came about that in the home League fixture with Bristol City the Trinitarians were minus the services of a full back. What more natural therefore than that they should press Saul into service as a full blown defender. He occupied the position of right full back with credit, and in many subsequent engagements repeated the performance.
His stay in the Fen district terminated, and Saul was prevailed upon to transfer his services to Plymouth. Here he played half back in his early days, but in a Southern League match at Luton was asked to fill the vacancy at full back, and accepted. From that time onward, Saul was looked upon as a defensive player, pure and simple, and in the South Western naval port he gained more than a local reputation by his dashing tactics in Southern football.
At the commencement of last season he was strongly recommended to the Liverpool Directorate, and was signed on by the Anfielders. His preliminary trials were so satisfactory that it was generally anticipated he would be afforded an early opportunity with the League team. On September 15th West was hurt at Anfield, and the following week Saul was introduced into the team which was beaten by Birmingham in the Midlands by 2 goals to 1. Since the he has scarcely missed a match – at times on the right with Billy Dunlop, at others on the left with Tom Chorlton, so that his experience has been varied enough in all conscience.
He belongs to the vigerous school of full backs who take risks, and either gain fame or disappointment thereby. His performances this season have been of outstanding merit; the mis-kicks and headlong rushes have been substituted by accuracy of return, and watchful manoeuvres. We feel confident that the Liverpool club have secured a first class full back in Saul, whose faults will disappear as the conditions under which he plays improve.
“A more zealous and whole hearted performer could not be desired, and his very failings are the result, not of lack of ability, but of sheer determination to get at the ball, no matter how difficult or how remote possibility of doing so may be. We like to see this trait in a footballer; for there is more likelihood of the player toning down to the absolutely correct game when over zealous than there is of one developing from the plodding performer to the alert and dashing defender. Saul never knows when he is beaten; he is a regular terror for work, and one can excuse an occasional blunder when qualities of this sort are continually being demonstrated.”
(Joint Everton & Liverpool Programme: October 12, 1907)