A tough start to the new year


January 2, 1914
Liverpool supporters hoped that their side would produce the rallying form and finish they showed against Blackburn Rovers on Saturday, but they were disappointed, the game ending with Bradford victorious – and deservedly so, for the Yorkshiremen played prettier football than their rivals, were more dangerous in front of goal than the Liverpool forwards, and played the right type of game with the ground conditions treacherous. They slipped the ball out to the wings sharply, and allowed Logan, Fox, and Bond to use their speed.

Considering the way Robert Pursell played, and the way he was backed up by Kenneth Campbell’s brilliant goalkeeping and Ephraim Longworth’s rushing defending tricks, Bradford did well to score at all. At half time there had been no register, and it seemed ten minutes from time that no goal would be scored by either side.

However, a linesman made an appeal for a foul on Bond, and the referee, not having seen the incident, granted the appeal. This appeal cost Liverpool their goal, as, after Campbell had made a grand one-hand save, the ball was not got away and Bond, rushing up, scored through a ruck of players. It was no more than Bradford deserved. They had been pegging away and running up against a seeming stone-wall, but they were not deterred, and their forwards eventually gained their reward.

Liverpool’s forward line was not to be compared with the opposition. The home quintette hugged the ball and made short sharp passes, and fell right into the hands of Torrance, who revels in such tactics. The right wing was particularly sinful by reason of its being bound up in itself instead of remembering the left wing and the centre forward, and the left wing in the first half made misses from close range that should, if taken properly, have meant goals.

James Dawson over-dribbled, and Tom Miller was the most level forward of the lot. Gracie had another run at centre forward, and made no deeper impression than earlier. He was hasty in getting rid of the ball to the wings before drawings a single adversary on to him. Jack Sheldon was damaged twice, and once in the penalty area, an offence which should have caused a penalty-kick to be given. It must be said, in fairness to him, that he had nasty kick on the side of the face early in the game, which may have upset him.

Further, Liverpool lost Bob Ferguson for a time, and when he returned he was so lame that he had to play at outside left, Dawson being his partner, and Miller dropping to half back. The one great success of the losing side was Pursell, who with heading and footing was simply marvellous. He held Bond for a long time, tricky customer though the captain was, and on the Bradford side McIlvenny, a North Shields boy who has been playing with Bradford’s second team for two years, showed a delightful conception of football and footwork that was artistic and very effective.

There were sinners on either side so far as shooting was concerned, but Campbell was far more frequently worked than Ewart, who had but two hard shots to stop throughout the match. Liverpool by losing again at home have made their position serious. They have slipped down the League chart, and their away fixtures are so stiff that if they do not win all their remaining home engagements the Second Divison bogey will stare at them hard.

The defence is not to blame – they played capitally yesterday – and the half-backs are big, useful players, Thomas Fairfoull improving each match, and Harry Lowe and Ferguson keeping a nice level each week. Forward there is need for more shooting, and the left wing and right are not reliable in front of goal. Sheldon and William Lacey must remember they are but links in a forward line, and at centre another man must be brought into the side.
(Liverpool Echo: January 2, 1914)

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