Echo’s Bee on the match winner Bert Freeman

Monday, April 27 – 1914
All is over. Liverpool lost to Burnley at Crystal Palace by a goal scored by Freeman. So ends the greatest of all knock-out tournaments. It was a blow to Liverpool – unexpected, galling, yet bearable. Therefore we smile. The chance of victory was Liverpool’s just as much as Burnley’s, and Burnley accepted. Liverpool can bear their “final” defeat with manliness. They have many plesant recollections and rewards. The King of England was present, the players receive their medals at his hand, the final of 1914 will go to the records as the cleanest tie ever witnessed, and will be remembered for its essence of sporting spirit. The last pleasure is a golden one, in which players, directors, and other officers of the Burnley and Liverpool clubs will delight. The match formed a direct contrast to the meeting of the Aston and Sunderland clubs a year ago, when football’s good name was besmirched and cynics were provided with a large hook on which to hang a pile of abuse on football. Everyone following the annual event at the Crystal Palace has tired of expecting a really great exhibition of football. It is perfectly true to argue that a footballer should be able to adapt himself to circumstances, and yet b???age that if he finds his feet slipping he fears to trust himself in a rush in or a sudden twist round. Better football would be provided by finalists were the last stage  played at the end of March. The “cobbly” Palace ground is always baked, and the ball to frequently beats the man It is an important point this, and it was brought home to me early in the game on Saturday Sewell and Taylor slipped on the glassy surface and nearly conceded a goal After the match I determined to walk the Palace ground and try the turf A friend had challenged my statement that the ground was “glassy” The wingers’ portion was just a triffle moist, and I fear my friend was not convinced that I was right when I took him to the goal-end nearest the scenic railway Of course the different action of an ordinary boot will be appreciated.

At night I happened to run across Bert Freeman, who was arming his father through the crowd. Congratulations to the scorer were hearty – readers know that my interest in Freeman has been exceptional; in fact, folk have chided me with being afflicted with Freemanitis. Freeman, full of delight, paid tribute to Liverpool, and the said, “I think we were just a trifle the better side. The ground was awfully awkward If you feel you got a jarring, and it was hard to keep up on the hard going. Here – look at this thing on the palm of my hand. It looks nothing more than a scratch, yet I can tell you it is most painful.” The pain was as nothing when the joy of scoring the goal was mentioned. “Freemaan did little but score the goal,” said some of the critics. It’s a very funny argument. Look at it in this way. Freeman did what none of the other forwards did. He shot fast and true, and left the goalkeeper with the agonising duty of taking the ball from the back-netting. That was the main factor in Burnley’s success. Freeman did little, eh? Well, nearly all the other forwards had similar chances and did not take them; therefore, the honour is not theirs. In Burnley’s case the shooting was poor, albeit one shot hit the crossbar; and in Liverpool’s case – sad to relate – the shooting was ill timed or the position ruined through the player refusing to shoot instanter. The successful shot was due to the ball being taken first time, and it was a sort of half-volley that Freeman drove home. I told the scorer that he was a “Villan,” and that fact recalled to my mind Freeman’s career. It is a romance, and shows that he is a player with whom one must be patient, spells of inactivity and lack of success cropping up periodically First he was ith Aston Manor, a little club playing near the Villa ground The Villa took him in hand at the same time that they took that valued servant Fred Miles Hampton “got there first,” and so Freeman served a pretty long apprenticeship with the Villa Reserves. I had an idea that if he were sandwiched between Settle and McDermott he would learn more in one season than in ten years between other partners; and in this column I pointed out his virtous, and urged Everton to sign him. They sought his transfer, and, while they could not come to terms, Woolwich stepped in and claimed him. He joined there in January, and by April was the Arsenal’s top scorer.

Critics Criticised
Well do I recall one of his games for Woolwich at Anfield. Certain critics said, in effect, “We have not had the chance of seeing the much-boosted Freeman, and he played a very poor game.” Later Everton signed Freeman, and the same critics said, after seing some two or three displays from him, “While Freeman is at centre forward we cannot see how the forward line can be effective.” Freeman’s reply was a total of 38 goals. The following season he was a marked man; nevertheless he scored 20 odds goals – not a bad season’s work – and the following season he had trials and tribulations that put him off his game. He had a shoulder injury that bothered him. The Everton crowd’s idol was now a player at whom arrows should be thrown. Everton listened to Burnley’s appeal for the transfer of Freeman and Mountford, and the Burnley club joyfully paid a sum of £800. I met the two players as they were making their way from Everton to Burnley and know the feeling of regret that was theirs at leaving our city. The memory of that parting, placed alongside the memory of Freeman’s smile on Saturday night, is very vivid I have gone into the goal-scorer’s matter lengthily because – because it suits me? Yes; true. Also to show how this gentlemany player’s lfie has been cast. He has had some lean times at Burnley, but the offcials of the club knew he would return to his goalgetting form. On Saturday he was bobbing about, apparently without aim or reason, and when the second half had been going ten minutes he had been “dosing,” as it were. He is always dangerous when he has deluded the opposition into the belief that he has “finished work for the day.” A throw in; the ball was crossed to the centre forward; Freeman crashed the ball  to goal. It was all done in a few seconds, and of his 104 goals scored for Burnley Freeman will treasure the Cup goal greatest.
(Liverpool Echo, 27-04-1914)

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