February 29, 1908
Liverpool’s Good Bye.
It is an ill wind that blows nobody good. Newcastle United will hear me out in this – as witness their good fortune again in the draw during the current week! Liverpool have never shown themselves great fighters when the wind has been much in evidence, and only so recently as the preceding round we saw them fail wretchedly to take advantage of Brighton and Hove Albion, which time the latter hand the “breezes” to contend with.
The Reds at Newcastle should certainly have made more use of the gale in the first half, and it is a sorry reflection on the judgment of our Anfield forwards that it was left to Percy Saul – a full back – to score their one goal. Against Derby we recall two of Liverpool’s goals came from the half-back line. Against Brighton the forwards could do everything but score, and it was really the mud which brought back an otherwise mild shot by John Cox sufficiently for it to enter the net.
In the Brighton replay we recall that two of the three goals were notched by James Bradley, and then on Saturday – retribution! Thus have Liverpool bidden good-bye to yet another FA Cup competition, after so many of the club’s supporters had almost coaxed themselves into the belief that Joe Hewitt and Co. would pull off the victory. This will be some little compensation to the “Geordie” for losing in the second stage at Anfield some seasons ago – on the self same afternoon that Nottingham Forest visited Goodison Park and threw out Everton most unexpectedly by a goal to nil.
We all should have like to find Liverpool pulling off the good thing a week ago, or at least making a draw, for the sake of the club’s finances, for the sake of Merseysiders’ interest, and for the good of the County Palatine as a whole.
Of course the team was fairly and squarely beaten, but I am convinced they would have done better under normal conditions, for if there is one thing the Reds lack, it is adaptability. There is none in the League to equal them on the score of pressure minus goals, taking one season with another – and all this the result of lack of judgment and calculation when at close quarters with the enemy’s citadel.
Alex Raisbeck won the toss, but I for one felt sorry to learn that such had been the case. The men were instantly thrown into an over-anxious, “we-need-at-least-three-goals-this-45” frame of mind, and it was this, I fancy, which led to their many failures and ultimately undoing.
Then in the second stage even Sam Hardy, the safe man, seemed a trifle nervous, although on such a day a custodian’s is not a duty to be envied. The backs played with their parts well, Alf West especially, in defence, with Percy Saul also prominent in attack! Of the middlemen, Maurice Parry demonstrated to George Wilson and Finlay Speedie that he was the same in name only, compared with the Parry whom the pair made rings round at Anfield in December; nor could fault be found with either Alex Raisbeck or James Bradley. Forward, the only men to even reasonably please were Joe Hewitt and John Cox. Of course the gale was an outrageous factor, and helped to bring about their discomfiture, but the extra bustle and dash, on which we had built as likely to trip up the dainty Tynesiders, was seldom in evidence.
Liverpool have not been trying nearly 15 years to lay hands on the coveted Cup, but are apparently no nearer this happy realisation than at the outset.
But there is no need for despondency. Were not Everton almost 30 years in capturing the FA’s captivating will o’ the wisp, and what of our Bruce-like Trotters of Bolton? In all one’s troubles, it is ever an easy matter to turn round and find others even more unfavourably placed.
(Cricket and Football Field: February 29, 1908)