A fine earnest match and a point

October 11, 1915
Another sample of “friendly” football was given to the large crowd that attended Anfield on Saturday. It was a fine, earnest game, in which no quarter was given or asked, and the football, if at times erratic when judgment was needed, was certainly exhilarating and entrancing. The crowd was raised to a high pitch of excitement, and one of the number was so carried away by the friendly match that he begged the referee to “take the time off” when players were injured. This only goes to show how excellent the fare and how like a cup-tie the game became. It was very hot football and the players are deserving a special clause to themselves. Every man did his duty.

If ever the cynic of the game received a very severe blow – in fact, a knock-out blow – surely the footballers have delivered him the goods this season. Professionals have for many years been trying to live down, without squealing, the allegations made against their class, such fault-finding generally resolving itself into this complaint: “The principal footballer is a hired servant. He is a mercenary creature, and will only play for money.” The anti-everything brigade on the showing of Saturday’s match, should hide their heads for their gross slander on the game, its rulers, and the players. I don’t want to see any more League matches for another twenty years if Saturday’s style can be kept up. It was a better game than most cup-ties have been, and there were many incidents to show the side-line of sporting instinct, one case being worth quoting.

A Stockport player had foolishly kicked the ball away after the referee had ordered a free kick. This childish action was silently rebuked by Tommy Waterall, who called for the ball to be returned. Waterall taking the trouble to place the ball in the right place for Ephraim Longworth. Here’s to ‘em!

Should a game end without a score it is generally voted dull football. The visit of Stockport will be remembered as a contradiction of the poverty of football in goalless draws. There was a lot of strong resolute back-play, and two escapes for either side. Stockport can rightly claim that their narrow misses of the Liverpool goal were the more patent, but Liverpool can justifiably claim that the County defence was fortunate to escape a penalty kick when Fred Pagnam was pushed off the ball. Stockport’s greatest piece of misfortune came as a point when they had got Liverpool into a tangle, thanks to our forwards failing to combine smoothly. Norman Rodgers and Albert Waterall crashed the ball against the crossbar in succeeding seconds and Kenneth Campbell had no idea where the ball had gone to. This was sheer good luck for Liverpool, who, however, had only their forwards to blame for not winning outright. James Dawson failed, with five corner kicks, to centre reasonably accurately, and there were many times when he dribbled himself into a maze. Further, he centred too low for the ball to be taken by his comrades. George Ritchie, who has yet to find his football form, did not shine, and I thought William Banks below par. Arthur Goddard and Pagnam were quite the best of our line, and it was galling luck for Pagnam to go so near and yet so far from the goal-line. I am pretty confident that the grass growth at Anfield has been kept on too long. The ball has to be pushed hard if it is to travel along the ground, and there is a drag on a low pass that is disconcerting. Goddard’s centring was ideal, and revealed the graceful play of the outside right and his excellence of loft and kick. At half back, Walter Wadsworth got into the wars, but he is plainly still coming on the right way. He is inclined to Harropian heading, and must be careful it does not become a fetish. Charlie Roberts does less heading than most centre half backs. Let Roberts be his ideal. Donald Mackinlay was the best of our half-backs, and there was not a fault to find with the full backs or the goalkeeper. To the latter we extend our sympathy in his loss – he has lost his brother in law (killed at the front) and his younger brother has just been transferred from the front with a bayonet wound in his hand and shrapnel wound into the bargain.
(Source: Liverpool Echo: October 11, 1915)

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