The misfortunes of Woolwich Arsenal


December 30, 1912
Slowly but surely Woolwich Arsenal are slipping back to the Second Division, and their drawn game with Liverpool on Saturday was the fifth out of twelve home matches with never a victory to cheer the home crowd.

As the result of a long list of injured players and a limited reserve strength they were compelled in this game to reconstruct their team by drastic alterations that were bound to have an unsettling effect. Lewis was moved from outside right to outside left, and Graham, usually the reserve team centre-half, was played at centre-forward. McKinnon, a left half, was at right half, and at inside left and left back there appeared Spittle and Ford, two inexperienced youths, the last-named of whom was making his League debut.

But even in spite of all this I do not hesitate to say that the Arsenal were fully entiteled to the full spoils. Liverpool did not deserve the goal they got, because the concession of the free kick just outside the penalty area from which Peake scored was a hardship that circumstances had not warranted. Mr. Pearson made a mistake in giving a place kick for a perfectly fair charge by Ford on Metcalf, and it was particularly unfortunate for Woolwich that the ruling official seemed to be over-anxious in his desire to control the game properly.

Decisions reversed.
His apparent nervousness led him to make two glaring errors in giving the Arsenal forwards offside when they were on the point of shooting and well placed to get goals, and these mistakes were so obvious that Mr. Pearson himself saw them and had the courage, which we greatly admired, to reverse his decision and throw the ball down. But from the Arsenal’s point of view it was distinctly unfortunate that circumstances of this character should crop up at a moment when they sorely needed a turn of fortune’s wheel.

For the most part Liverpool, who had Lacey for Goddard, played like a jaded side, overworked by the strenuous demands of holiday football. Their forward work in particular was ragged in the extreme, and in the second half the formation of the attack was twice altered without bringing about any appreciable improvement. For the greater part of the time the heaviest work was forced upon the Liverpool defenders, and they came through the test well if not brilliantly.

Longworth occasionally blundered, but Crawford was a valiant force, and both Peake and Ferguson played well in the middle line. I liked Campbell only because he showed such excellent anticipation. He could hardly give us anything better because he was a very lame man, and only his judgment in placing himself to receive the ball enabled him to keep the score down to one goal. I doubt very much if he was really fit to play, but, as the saying has it, “All’s well that ends well.”

A penalty goal.
He stopped splendid shots from Lewis, Flanagan, and Graham, and when he was beaten it was by a stinging penalty-kick taken by Graham and given against Lowe for handling. This occurred when the game was half an hour old, and the equalising goal recorded above followed three minutes later. Both sides missed open goals, and in this respect Parkinson on the one side and Flanagan and Graham on the other were sinners; but Flanagan was the best forward on the field for all that, his trickiness and pugnacity fully entitling him to this distinction.

Behind him were three good half-backs, and Shaw was splendid in defence, but young Ford has yet a lot to learn.

McDonald did his work well. There was nothing more thrilling in the game than the way in which he rushed out and beat down a shot by Parkinson near the end and then took the full force of Miller’s return shot on his head as he fell to intercept a ball that was going straight for the net. McDonald was badly laid out in the process, but his pluck saved the Arsenal. It was by no means a great game, and in all the circumstances Liverpool can congratulate themselves on their escape.

Woolwich Arsenal: Hugh McDonald, Joe Shaw, George Ford, Angus McKinnon, Matthew Thomson, Roddy McEachrane, David Greenaway, Pat Flanagan, John Graham, Billy Spittle, Charlie Lewis.
Liverpool: Kenneth Campbell, Ephraim Longworth, Robert Crawford, Harry Lowe, Ernest Peake, Robert Ferguson, William Lacey, Arthur Metcalf, Jack Parkinson, Tom Miller, Donald Mackinlay.
Referee: Mr. J.H. Pearson (Dudley).
(Athletic News: December 30, 1912)

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