December 5, 1908
A double disaster at Anfield
Even an out and out Everton partisan could not refrain from sympathising with Liverpool in their plight of a week ago. To lose a custodian of Sam Hardy’s abilities at an early stage in their game with Manchester City was the worst individual disaster that could possibly have visited the team.
It has for long been acknowledged that the unassuming Chesterfield expert is the strong, or the strongest man of the side. Indeed, were it a matter of choice, I opine the Reds would rather forfeit any two members of their eleven during a match’s progress than lose their goalkeeper’s services.
Outside of goal teams can, in some measure, patch up any breaks made in their ranks, but when the goalkeeper is numbered among the slain it is a serious business and one that can scarcely be remedied. It appeared to practically present the match to the City on Saturday when Hardy was seen to hobble off, and so it proved.
Yet in general play Liverpool were the reverse of outplayed. They held their own manfully, and ten minutes from the end seemed the more likely side to win. But the last five minutes clearly showed that decently accurate firing alone had been needed for the Mancunians to earn goals with marked regularity against one back and a goalkeeper with little or no aptitude or liking for the post.
More execrable shooting than that indulged in by Jimmy Conlin and Co. I do not wish to see! They certainly weren’t looking themselves. But one had best be charitable and write it down to their own charitable nature towards weaker brethren. They couldn’t hit the proverbial haystack, which was a good thing for Liverpool – and Billy Dunlop.
How such a crew obtained five against Bristol is a puzzle indeed. I was not enamoured of Herbert Broomfield, but his backs were a sturdy pair. I also liked Tom Holford’s football, whilst George Dorsett put across quite a sufficiency of centres during the first stage to have paved the way to several goals, given decent shooting. Dorsett also livened the business up when he went centre. I should say that John Wood, Jimmy Conlin and Billy Jones have unmistakably trained off; also that if Saturday’s form be true the City attack, reading from the right, ought to be Charles Webb, Irvine Thornley, Dorsett, and a new left wing.
But let me give credit where it is due. I never saw forwards operate so successfully against the one back game as did Wood and Co.- this, for the simple reason that they as often as not were found working across the field or towards their own goal, instead of forward. Non-aggressive forwards seldom violate the offside rule.
Liverpool’s programme and position.
Liverpool’s position is not an altogether enviable one. The Hardy incident is the sorest wound of all. The collision with the City’s left winger didn’t look at all serious at the time, but it turned out that the muscles at the back of the leg and knee were strained, and consequently Liverpool’s keeper is due to take an enforced absence from duty. We all join in the hope that his ticket-of-leave may be a brief one, for he can only ill be spared – certainly not well.
Two points were confidently expected on Saturday, but were of course denied the club. So that with 15 points for 16 matches to date Liverpool were in no sense lavishly fed. Then came the fact that a series of exacting matches are in store, beginning with to-day’s visit to Owlerton. Next Saturday the Anfielders have to tackle the recently improved Bury team at Gigg Lane, and a visit to Aston Villa is due for Christmas Day.
The team played reasonably well in the main last week, but there were at least a couple of weaknesses in attack. For instance, Joe Hewitt behaved disappointingly upon his return to centre. Slowness in turning is fatal in a centre, unless his feet possess double the ordinary cunning. I hear good account of William Hunter, the reservist, as a pivot. Possibly here is a young recruit worth of promotion consideration.
Ronald Orr’s return to duty did not strengthen the attack quite as one had hoped. His partner, Sam Bowyer, opened moderately but improved later, to qualify as one of the two best forwards in a moderate line. What he needs, though, is to cultivate a clear working understanding with whoever happens to be his partner.
Footballers somehow are all to prone to make their passing a lottery. They are also prone to passing to their partner instead of pushing the ball to some positon of advantage ahead of their partner, having this object in view – that it is a position concerning which there is a reasonable chance of their partner reaching. This little remark doesn’t merely apply to Bowyer by any means. I should like to see forwards passing the ball after the manner in which say James Bradley or Harry Makepeace as half-backs serve it up.
Much interest was vested in Bertram Goode’s first home appearance. Unfortunately the day’s circumstances were against him. He also had a heavy-weight back to face. These things militated. His shits were not too plentiful, but I like his tendency towards daisy-cutting. Goode, on Saturday, however, was inclined to persistently pass “inwards,” instead of opening out the game with passes to either extreme wing. It is much easier for a defence to negative attacks which tends towards closing their own mouths as it were.
The Liverpool halves played a capital part, Jim Harrop’s alert display at centre half being especially good. Tom Chorlton did nicely again at full back, and seems to be taking kindly to the position, whilst Dunlop’s back play was up to the old time standard. It was most unfortunate that he should have to be called upon to contract a chill in goal, directly he had got warmed to his old work.
(Cricket and Football Field: December 5, 1908)