Trial game give good satisfaction

Monday, August 24 – 1914
Having seen Liverpool F.C. play well last night we may term the club as “Passed by censor,” a term which when placed upon a letter I received this morning, made a curious-looking black-edged envelope. Liverpool have given satisfaction to their numerous censors, and their style of play seems to have improved if last night’s game is any criterion, although there is still a surfeit of close an mazy passing between partners. Partners should recollect that there are other spokes in the football team’s wheel, and wings should not be locked together inseparably, otherwise the opposing half-back knows before the game has gone five minutes how to master his rivals, inasmuch as the wing not spread itself, and the back and half-back can each take a man.

The attendance was not a huge one, and there was a subdued air creeping over the game at times, showing that important things were not forgotten. The attendance was probably 4,000 strong, and the receipts £43 17s; which, added to the previous sum of £173 0s 9d and the money that will be taken at the third game on Thursday, will make a total of £250 for the Prince of Wales’ Relief Fund. The Liverpool directors last night decided to alter their plans and make a third public practice game, and if it is as interesting as last night’s trial it will do. Everton, it should be mentioned, give their receipts from trial games to the Stanley and Bootle Hospitals an the Hospital Saturday Fund, and these charities were advised of the club’s decision before was was thought of.

Remembering Metcalf’s ill-fortune in the matter of injuries last season, it was good to see last night that he was fit as a fiddle, and had recovered his skill in shot. He is one of the best shots on the Liverpool books, and with Banks challenging hard for “a place in the sun” – otherwise among the first team men – the position of inside right will perplex the Liverpool directors pleasantly. Metcalf’s turning of the ball was neat and effective, and he twisted the game round sharply by pulling a ball hither and thither in a manner that Bache delights in. But best of all, Metcalf slammed in slinging shots, as was his wont two seasons back. On yesterday’s form he would be hard to keep out of the forefront, and such a plucky, whole-hearted player deserves congratulations upon his return to form. Trial games are very deceptive, and reliance cannot be placed upon them. Yet, having seen trial games one is bound to make deductions. One time a Liverpool centre by pluck, speed, and shot made us believe we had found a Shepherd in embryo, He never lived up to his trial game standard. Then last season my view of a trial game led me to tip a certain club to win the championship. The talent as there, but somehow it did not reveal itself later on, and finally the team was nearer the foot than the top of the ladder. Maybe Liverpool’s form last night will prove a slippery rock when League games come to be played, but I content myself with the remembrance that the men are skilled, earnest, and “all out.”

I feel that the Anfield team will have a good, if not a record season. Their junior element is of a variable kind. In goal they have reserve of reserves in Elisha Scott. What a lottery football transfers are. Elisha Scott would have been at Everton, I expect, if William Scott had been kept on guard at Everton. Liverpool have had their bits of luck in finding “stars” of the brightest character, but they have also shown a lot of sound judgment in picking up cheap players. Clubs must have some fortune in their dealings over transfers. One might cite the cases of Stirling, of Middlesbrough, and Nicholl. Liverpool went for Stirling, and could not, or finally, would not, take their man. They booked Sheldon, and what a good bargain was made everyone knows. Later they turned their attention to the other wing of Middlesbrough, and booked Nicholl, who will ever be remembered as the man who scored two goals against Villa in the semi-final. Stirling, by the way, has just been transferred to Bradford Park Avenue – a surprise transfer so late on in the summer. He learned his football with Clydebank, and had been with the borough for three seasons. The price paid by the Yorkshire club is a stiff one in times when money is being hard held.
Reverting to Liverpool’s juniors, I must give Wadsworth, a local, praise for his improvement. He continues to learn – that is generally a failing of juniors; they never get past the ordinary stage because their heads won’t let them. Wadsworth is willing to learn and his game is improving. At back Liverpool have stalwarts in Speakman and Grayer who can be called on any moment and trusted every moment. Macdougall did not show up well, but he is built for centre forward, and can play better than he did last night. Terris has a good recommend, and once last night showed spirit that I feared was not in him. He and Hafekost are with their half back, making a wing that will work things out on and off the field, and the Gillingham fellow ought to be of more lasting service than Tosswill was. Hafekost and Tosswill are very much alike facially and in build, by the way. Bratley and Bartrop will be very sound and useful members to call upon, I’m sure.

There can be little to say about the first team men. Campbell and his backs are as of yore. Pursell has not lost a yard of his speed, and at one point of the game he gave an opposing forward three yards in ten. Longworth, after a season of cricket, and fresh air – whether he has brought his golfing-handicap down to plus four, I am not certain – is in prima order, and is playing his customary robust and clever game. At half-back the three “lads” show up well and big. Lowe has recovered from his Aprilitis, and Ferguson – he of the Royal hand – must have a good season, for he is scouring Wallasey for a house and health!
Fairfoull’s injured ankle being right, this player came in at right half, and showed his canny way once more. As he wrote from Scandinavia, the Liverpool defenders are finding it a paying game to pass back to the goalkeeper. The pass looks worse than it really is, and the effect of the pass cannot be misjudged, the dangerous situation becoming cleared in a trice by a safety kick by the goalkeeper. Forward, Sheldon pleased by his Dan Leno runs and twists, and Lacey was in the fore with hot drives that showed how Scott can guard the goal. Miller was slightly damaged, and Banks hardly pushing enough. However, trial games must be tinged with players who “take care,” knowing that their game and form are known by the officers.
(Liverpool Echo, 25-08-1914)

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