December 22, 1930
Cup rehearsal in name only.
Football of the most insipid type was served up at St. Andrews. Possibly the teams were disposed to play warily in view of the Cup-tie in which they will be concerned, but really it was tame in the extreme, neither side showing any great skill in combination.
It would scarcely be fair to say that Birmingham won luckily, but it was their dash in the closing twenty minutes that gave them their triumph.
The first goal was very lucky indeed. The official decreed that it was legitimate, but the onlookers regarded it with suspicion. Briggs was clearly offside when he took the ball, and there was not a cheer when the referee pointed to the centre. That was one reason why the crowd were so grateful when a deserved goal came two minutes from the end from the same player, for it was felt that it would have been hard on Liverpool to have been beaten as the result of the first dubious point.
That spell of dashing work in the closing stage alone accounted for Birmingham’s much needed and highly acceptable triumph, for up to that point Liverpool had been slightly the better balanced combination. With reasonable finishing power they might have established a lead, but it would be impossible to show the slightest appreciation of the forward work of either side.
Birmingham’s need was clear from the start. They wanted a leader, and Briggs earnest and enthusiastic as he may be, does not fill that role. Bradford does, and it was Bradford who was so much missed. Briggs does well on the wing, and he is keen and volatile everywhere, but he scarcely aids combination, and he has a fatal habit of dallying with the ball or waltzing straight across rather than up the field.
That he is a splendid worker is perfectly true, but a leader he is not.
Fillingham, in the centre, with Briggs at inside left, would conceivably have been a better arrangement. It is a long time since Birmingham have fielded a more sparkling outside right than Briggs, but leadership of the best type is essential if a side is to succeed in the First League.
Bradford has the gift of leadership. No other Birmingham forward possesses that attribute.
But Briggs’ dash won this game clearly and unmistakably. The other forwards, apart from clever and scintillating flashes by Thorogood, were impotent, Curtis and Crosbie were unconvincing.
Crosbie made a terrible mistake when he failed to score from a chance such as never again came to another Birmingham forward.
Macpherson missed one quite as simple, but Liverpool in front of goal were very feeble.
The Birmingham half-backs’ feeding of their forwards was of an elementary type. Briggs never had a single accurate pass in the opening half. He was always foraging for the ball, and when a forward has to do that he can scarcely shine, but the work of the backs, Liddell and Randle, was beyond praise, and Hibbs gave a magnificent show.
Liverpool were stereotyped in their methods. They controlled the ball better than the home forwards, and their passing up to a point, was better, but there was a fatal lack of accuracy when shooting, which was unexpected from a side of their reputation.
Hopkin and Barton were the best forwards, but Hopkin did not centre with his usual skill. The half-back work was reasonably good. Bradshaw stood out as the finest performer in the game, his passing being practically perfect.
Jackson excelled, and Lucas was little his inferior, while Riley had as much to do as Hobbs and did it well. The attendance did not exceed 20,000.
Birmingham: Harry Hibbs, George Liddell, Jackie Randle, Jimmy Cringan, George Morrall, Alec Leslie, Bill Horsman, Johnny Crosbie, George Briggs, Ernie Curtis, Jack Thorogood.
Liverpool: Arthur Riley, James Jackson, Tommy Lucas, Tom Morrison, Tom Bradshaw, Jimmy McDougall, Harold Barton, Gordon Hodgson, Jimmy Smith, Archie Macpherson, Fred Hopkin.
Referee: J. Tate (Greetland).
(Athletic News: December 22, 1930)
George Briggs, Birmingham F.C.