Stray leaves: Liverpool mastered

October 8, 1918
Father Euclid declared that a line is length without breadth. Most good goalkeepers are built on that pattern. There have been exceptions, such as William I and II – that is to say, William Foulke and Billy George. They were great custodians in every sense. On the other hand, some little men have proved wonderful guardians. There was one Tom Hacking, who stood between the bare poles for the Olympic of Blackburn in the days when they showed the Old Etonians a measure of endurance, and a degree of skill that opened the eyes of the aristocracy.

Obviously when a man is trying to cover an area of 192 square feet he is all the better if he be a Daddy Longlegs, and likewise has a span from finger-tip to finger-tip of extended arms level with the shoulders of 12 or 13 feet. The small goalkeepers of reputation are the exception – not the rule.

Now Billy Connell, the Liverpool keeper of Saturday, did his best against Everton, but as he trooped on in his green jersey my first impression was that he was not freely endowed with length. For his position his measurements are small. I had never seen him before, and did not at once jump to conclusions.

Measuring their man.
Everton, I suppose, had knowledge of their man, for it was seldom that they plied Connell with low shots. Miller’s first goal was clearly intended to be a centre or a long pass to the left. The ball, however, was arrested by an air-current and curled and dived under the bar in the far angle formed by the crossbar. Grenyer, who is in the vicinity of six feet of length, with breadth, headed the second goal just beneath the same crossbar. Gault got the third with a left-foot crosswise, slantwise drive – from left to right – that went away from Connell – and again a shade below the bar. About half a minute before the conclusion Grenyer dribbled for a position, and drove straight just under the bar.

Thus came Everton’s four goals – all from high shots that a small keeper would have difficulty in reaching unless he were like a certain notorious Marquis of Waterford, who was called Spring-Hell Jack. Connell did not suggest that he was a jumper, or he might have saved two of these shots.

However, it is good to see a team which has the nous to note the possible weakness of an opponent. It used to be said that the best way to dish Ned Doig was to pester him with sharp, low shots on his left side. Most players have their vulnerable points if they can be found. Everton seemed to me to have concluded that Connell had not the length and the elasticity to parry drives near the bar. And they did not spare him. Hence came tears and anguish of distress.

Too many weak spots.
Considering the position that Liverpool hold in the Lancashire Section, they were even more disappointing than Everton. For instance, Ephraim Longworth, the captain, and the right back, had to play a cover goal kind of game, being generally behind the left back, and conscious that there was a custodian to protect. Jenkinson is the kind of back who plays better with his head than his feet. Heading should be the last resource of a defender. He may come on; so may Connell, but from what I saw in this match it was in the main, so far as defence was concerned, Longworth v. The Others. One man, however able, and he is able, cannot keep so many at bay.

Donald Mackinlay was clever on the left flank, but he, too, had to think of the man behind him. Could he trust him? These flaws upset an eleven, especially when facing experienced players. Walter Wadsworth and John Bamber were useful in their way, but I have seen them to greater advantage.

If we glance at the Liverpool forwards we are compelled to say that they fell below our great expectations. Tommy Bennett was very eager in the centre, but he only got in one really telling shot. Possibly he was not allowed any scope. The great scorer was very subdued. Someone said that he was not fit to play – that he should not have played. On the principle that a live dog is better than a dead lion, he should not have turned out. I have never seen him so very harmless. Harry Lewis and Arthur Metcalf were fairly good. Metcalf got a goal by a well-directed example of heading, and Lewis forced Frank Mitchell to make the best save of the match.

On the right wing Harold Wadsworth is as yet very immature, and George Schofield, who was skilful in the first half, obtained few chances in the second half. When he did get one he cut in and shot for goal – almost like a protest against the indecision of his comrades. Schofield was very near scoring, too. There was little reciprocity between the home half-backs and the forwards. Thus, all things considered it appeared as if Liverpool did well to fight so strenuously and only fail by so small a margin.

Harmless marksmen.
Even the winners, Everton, disappointed, me, of course, they deserve their points, and they were the better set of players, but their inside forwards were nearly as indifferent as those of Liverpool. Where was Joe Clennell? As a marksman he was no more prominent than Bennett. Here were on view the two best goal-getters in Lancashire. Since his first match against Everton, two years ago in December next, Bennett has shot about 80 goals for Liverpool – a splendid record! In the three seasons of geographical or sectional football – from 1915-16 to the present – Joseph Clennell has registered 104 goals for Everton in tournament matches. Yet, neither of them rarely looked like netting on Saturday.

Clennell seemed more disposed to go and help a half-back who did not need him. Grenyer is quite capable of looking after any wing now playing. I like to see a forward in his place, although, of course, in times of great pressure he can lend a foot. But it was not necessary, and all that happened was that Clennell got knocked about. This happened, too, once when he was forward.

Gault is a good centre, but rather too self-possessed, too self-conscious, and inclined to retain the ball too long. Jefferis is a forager, but not a marksman. With plenty of pace Miller proved a dashing raider, but he lacks resource. It is a mistake to rash into difficulties near the corner flag and then doubled back to make the centre, which should have been sent in while on the run.

One never saw Joe Donnachie doing work twice over, or rendering his men off-side. There was no wing-player to compare with the versatile Scotsman, who has a command of the ball that others should try to acquire. His footwork is football, with brain behind the boot.

The Everton middlemen are a hefty, tireless and skilful set. I should doubt if there be a better trio of English lads at present. Fleetwood, a host in himself, generally had the left wing in subjection. Wareing, a dour and calculating player, did not give any liberty to Bennett, while Grenyer appealed to me as a player of the James Galt type without his angularities. Like Liverpool, Everton had one good back in Thompson, who has quite recovered from his operation.

I was sorry to hear of the death of Mr James J. Ramsay, one of the Liverpool stalwarts since the club was created, and while the match was in progress Mr. Ben Kelly, one of the first of the Everton directors, passed away. When we recall that Mr. J.S. Roscow, Mr. John James Bentley, and Mr. Albert Duckworth have also crossed the bar within a short time, Lancashire football has indeed grievously suffered.
(The Athletic News / Sporting Chronicle, 08-10-1918)

Everton, 1918-1919.
Everton 1918 1919
Standing: Fleetwood, Grenyer, Mitchell, Wareing, Smith.
Seated: Miller, Jefferis, Robinson, Gault, Clennell, Donnachie.

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