September 5, 1908
Tuesday evening witnessed storming times at Anfield in more senses than one. Firstly, the elements seemed to have fallen out with themselves, so boisterous were the windy spasms. Then those determined Villans were seen storming Sam Hardy’s citadel for goals. Gradually, the somewhat thin red line of home vanguarders succeeded in beating back the opposing defender, and, setting up a counter attack, a big gun was eventually captured just prior to the signalling of the half-time truce.
Then it was that the delightful onlookers hurled out a volume of deafening applause, which later increased to a hurricane and on to a tornado, if there is any difference, as the Livers first gained a lead, and finally increased it. Subsequently a less desirable storm arose. The Villa took a penalty inflicted by judge Barker, and for ever afterwards they showed their teeth nastily.
Fouls against them were frequent, and one Villan once acted as though he imagined Tom Chorlton’s leg was the ball. Candidly, in recent visits to Anfield the Villa have not shown themselves the good losing sportsmen they were in the regular captaincy days of Howard Spencer and Jack Devey. Yes, we had a thrilling, storming 90 minutes opening at Anfield, and the sixteen year-old lads who got in at half-price (as being “under thirteen”) surely never received better value.
We were all thrown into a ferment, however, when it leaked out prior to the start that all manner of changes in personnel were likely to happen to Liverpool – as though it were not bad enough to have John Cox and James Bradley’s names missing when the team was chosen last weekend! The critical condition of Jack Cox’s mother precluded his appearance, whilst Bradley’s ankle was voted a trifle unsound. But to learn on the day of battle that both Maurice Parry and Alex Raisbeck had broken down, and that Alf West also would be unable to turn out, was disquieting indeed, spite of the fact that Villa were minus little Harry Hampton at centre forward.
In the end Bradley was pressed into service, although not fit; Jim Harrop was installed at centre half, with Chorlton on his right, whilst Tom Rogers was set to partner his new captain, Percy Saul.
Although winning the toss Liverpool did not secure any advantage of a cross wind in the first half. The start was sensational, in all conscience. James Logan was instantly prominent in feeding his forwards, and from one right wing pass Charlie Wallace centred prettily. Possibly, had the ball been unmolested it would have curled out of play behind the far goal post, but Sam Hardy, to leave no doubts on the matter, punched it into play, only to find the wind a bad energy, for the ball suddenly rose high and then made a parachute-like descent to the foot of the waiting visiting captain, J. Logan, who made no fuss about driving it into the rigging – a fair amount of incident to crowd into 65 2-5 seconds.
Following this the Villa were much superior in attack. Liverpool’s combination was sadly deficient, whereas the visitors were continually menacing Hardy’s charge. But Samuel was resplendent; Samuel proved a real hero, bringing off repeated saves, which not only bordered upon, but were centre-pieces of the miraculous.
During this trying period Hardy’s right-hand man was certainly Rogers, whose work against the great Albert Hall and Joe Bache wing was positively pulse-stirring. At length the Reds opened out matters. Jack Parkinson was working hard and centring ably, but as yet Ronald Orr was not happy at close quarters, whilst Joe Hewitt had not succeeded in shaking of his close-season legs, being inclined to slowness and fatal hesitancy. He should certainly have scored in one instance, when given the ball by Bradley from one of Parkinson’s corners.
After Hardy had brought down his audience with a save from Bache, Liverpool rallied, and it became Billy George’s turn to display his agility. The heaviest goalkeeper in the League repeatedly made light of kicking clear – methods nowadays seldom witnessed. The Reds were on the scent hereabouts, and after Arthur Goddard had brilliantly tested George, Hewitt came into possession ell out. His forwards were nicely in line. The crowd shouted for him to pass, and the Villa halves hung back in this expectation. But seeing this, Joseph brainly manæuvred, on and on, Ernest Needham-like, for position, and finally let fly with an excellently-judged low shot, to give the ball lodgement in the net just two minutes before the interval. That all Hewitt’s previous shortcomings were quickly forgotten goes without saying.
The further they went the better Liverpool played in the second half, which fact would seem to indicate that their men were benefiting from the early start made in training, which I referred to a month ago. Fifteen minutes after the resumption, Chorlton, who had rendered an admirable account of himself, worked the ball right up to the goal-line, where he was tripped by either Bache or Rowland Codling when inside the “box.” The referee signalled a penalty, and even a Jimmy Lindsay could not have driven it into the net more forcefully or accurately than did Chorlton.
Soon afterwards Robert Robinson capped smart advance work between Harrop and Hewitt with a characteristic third goal. Liverpool were now the masters, although the Villa created some little uneasiness near the end, after Alec Logan had succeeded in reducing the adverse margin from one of Wallace’s pretty centres.
Taking all things into consideration, it was an admirable victory, especially when we recall Liverpool’s big absentee list, and the fact that Saul was a lame ‘un in the second stage. Hardy’s custodianship was par excellence; but a genuine surprise packet was Rogers, who played the game of his life. His kicking, tackling, and recovery work proved really brilliant, and he time and again came to the rescue. Rogers, I consider, was a trifle unlucky in losing his League place last season, after having played himself into the team.
Another reservist, Chorlton, also proved an unqualified success, and, was with Rogers, such form should win him a permanency. Harrop rather fell below expectations, but it was asking him a great deal to fill Raisbeck’s boots. Harrop found the wind a troublesome pill. Bradley did well indeed for a semi-fit man.
The attack was not altogether satisfactory. That oneness we should like to see was not in evidence. Goddard and Robinson made a capital right wing, however, and Hewitt steadily improved. I was disappointed with Parkinson after the interval, whilst Orr had not the best of luck, one way and another; but at least it can be said that “wee Ronald” (why “wee?”) was a hard worker.
It was a gruelling game. Even George cried “enough” – in goals! – before the finish. The Villa backs were not brilliant; nor their halves, although Captain James Logan was a rare worker, feeder, and intervener at centre half. Forward, there is something admirable about Wallace, whose centres were pictures of accuracy; he is a man with the true Villa cult. Joe Walters is a fine upstanding forward, who should make a name as an insider; whilst Hall and Bache are sure to make some defences they meet sit up. They will not always encounter a Rogers and a Chorlton. Bache was occasionally unlucky with surprise hurricane shots. But why do Internationalists such as he show temper?
(Cricket and Football Field: September 5, 1908)