January 18, 1909
Nobody took Saturday’s defeat at Liverpool very seriously to heart. A few there were, ultra-enthusiasts, who thought the Cite might conceivably bring off a coup, and who talked of Trinity’s achievement at Sunderland and that of Crystal Palace at Newcastle. They even went so far back as to be reminiscent over the David of Burslem Port Vale and the Goliath of Bramall-lane. Far be it from many of us to decry such enthusiasm; it is the very salt of the earth.
But as soon as we got to Anfield and saw the state of the ground we became aware there would be no football. Twenty two mudlarks wallowing in the mire there might be – and were – but no football match. Here again, the Lincoln trippers were not confronted with the unexpected. The weather was all right at Lincoln, but between Sheffield and Manchester the train ran through a series of snowstorms, driven before bowling gales of wind, and though that zone was eventually cleared there had been sleet at Liverpool, and the ground was in a wretched state.
We were told on the field that large sums had been spent in draining the playing piece, since the enlargement and improvement of the Anfield ground. Yet the fact remains that a quagmire is the only term to apply to a stretch of land that soon began to rise up and cling in patches to the garments of the players, and render them spotted spectacles. When to these conditions was added the fact that an absolute hurricane was sweeping over the ground, and that Lincoln had to face it in the first half, the task of the visitors is shown to have been manifestly a big one.
Yet they made headway against it, and there was not prettier movement during the afternoon than when, exactly eight minutes from the start, Morris tricked Harrop on the Lincoln side of the centre line, and, making his way through the mud, ran well clear of the opposition, Bradley and Harrop ploughing after him, and choosing his time and putting his whole heart into the drive Morris let fly at twenty yards’ range straight as a die for goal. Hardy leaped across for it, but the pace was too great, and it beat him to the world – a really magnificently conceived and completed score.
So far so good. Eight minutes gone, and Lincoln one up in the teeth of the gale. But gradually the Liverpool front line came into the picture, and Saunders soon found Cox lobbing across those well-judged centres of his, and all the inside men ready to volley at the target. After this Saunders was never out of the spectators’ eye. He fought the fierce forwards for what seemed quite a long time, and had repelled one great shot from Hewitt, falling full length in doing so, when, before he could rise, Orr got to the ball, and banged it into the net, though here it seemed as if Wilson should first have got rid of Parkinson’s centre and then barred Orr’s way.
Twenty minutes ticked off, and the teams level. Still, there was nothing much the matter, seeing that the wind would be in favour of Lincoln the next half, if only the Reds could be prevented from scoring again. But the Anfield men had now tasted blood, and, apparently enjoying the conditions, charged down upon the Lincoln goal irresistibly. The extreme wing men could get along comparatively well, the mud area not extending quite to the touch line, and Cox and Goddard were constantly flinging over long centres for the Lincoln defence to deal with.
In three minutes from their previous success there came a rare tangle twelve yards from Saunders, and after the keeper had saved in astonishing fashion from Parkinson, Hewitt came out of the scrum to drive the ball obliquely into the net, and give his side the lead. Saunders had no more chance with this shot than with the previous one, and thus in twenty-five minutes Liverpool had not only recovered from their bad start, but had established a lead, and were going strong.
Still the Liverpool forwards seemed to be able to pierce the Lincoln half backs and to drive away at Saunders as often as they pleased, and still the keeper continued to kick and fist and tip away all manner of shots from all angles. Watches has been consulted. And more than one person had announced that half-time had arrived when, from a determined dash through the mire and right along the centre of the field, Orr found the net for the third time with a fast, very low shot that Saunders flung himself at, but just failed to reach. How near a thing it was in the matter of time may be judged from the fact that before the ball could be restarted the whistle sounded the interval, Liverpool then leading by three goals to one.
The interval was prolonged, and wisely so, because the work had been exhausting, especially for the Lincoln men. Indeed, almost as soon as the game was resumed, it could be seen that what they had to do in the first half had taken too much out of them to have a chance of success in the later moiety. The gale did not appear to greatly trouble the Reds, who were soon swarming in front of Saunders, and though Fraser stopped one rush, and Hewitt fired over the top from another. Parkinson eventually touched the right spot, and gave Liverpool the fourth goal with the second half ten minutes old.
At the other end Foster, for almost the only time in the match, was given a real chance, and called up Hardy, but very quickly the homesters were in front again, and Orr scored their fifth, and as it proved their last goal. The rest was an exhibition – a real exhibition – of goalkeeping. It is hardly fair to the other defenders to say it was a case of Saunders against Liverpool, but it was very little less than that.
Liverpool: Sam Hardy, Tom Chorlton, Billy Dunlop, Maurice Parry, Jim Harrop, James Bradley, Arthur Goddard, Jack Parkinson, Joe Hewitt, Ronald Orr, Jack Cox.
Lincoln City: James Saunders, Richard Hood, Wattle Wilson, George Fraser, Andrew Ormiston, George Nisbet, Bertie Foster, William Watson, Morris, Henry McCann, Harry Grundy.
(Lincolnshire Echo: January 18, 1909)