Derby County v Liverpool 4-1 (League match)

Saturday, April 3 – 1937
Match: Football League, First Division, at Baseball Ground, kick-off: 15:00.
Derby County – Liverpool 4-1 (1-1).
Attendance: 13,417.
Referee: Mr. E.V. Gough (Stoke).
Derby County (2-3-5): Ken Scattergood, David Bell, Jack Howe, Jack Nicholas, Jack Barker, Ralph Hann, Sammy Crooks, Ronnie Dix, Dai Astley, Charlie Napier, Dally Duncan.
Liverpool (2-3-5): Dirk Kemp, Tommy Cooper, Ted Savage, Matt Busby, Tom Bradshaw, Jimmy McDougall, Jack Balmer, Harry Eastham, Fred Howe, Vic Wright, Alf Hanson.
The goals: 0-1 Eastham (3 min.), 1-1 Nicholas (25 min.), 2-1 Dix (60 min.), 3-1 Napier (64 min.), 4-1 Astley (66 min.).

Change of tactics that won the Rams an easy victory
Direct methods bring the goals.
County’s total might have been larger.
It was a pity that Saturday was not April 1, for All Fools’ Day would have been most appropriate for the match at the Baseball Ground. Derby County certainly fooled Liverpool, and they fooled their supporters as well.

From the way the Rams played in the first half it looked as though, once more, the tale would have to be reiterated of how they outshone their opponents by streets as far as the science of football was concerned, but defeated themselves by being too clever, and finishing dismally.

However, as it was, I have been spared writing another leaf, and readers have been spared the mortification of reading another page in the saga “How the Rams drop so many points at home.”

Improved attack.
In the second half the Rams forwards proceeded to show that their first half exhibition might have been a lot of April fooling. The attack revealed improvement beyond recognition, and with the Liverpool defence wilting before its brilliance, all the Rams’ supporters had to do was to hold tight and conjecture what the ultimate result would be in the County’s favour.

During this lengthy period the Rams did almost as they pleased. Liverpool’s attack was practically non-existent, and the defence, gallant but far from brilliant, was run off its feet.

So outplayed were the Merseysiders that the Rams might easily have registered half-a-dozen goals or more. Only rashness and a certain amount of bad luck stopped them from recording a higher total, for Duncan struck the post, Crooks hit the cross-bar, and Astley and Duncan let gilt-edged scoring chances go unaccepted.

Changed tactics.
What brought about the amazingly different state of affairs between the first half and the second? The answer is nothing new. It is the simple statement that after the interval the Rams took the shortest route for goal, whereas in the first half they had been making two moves where one would have been more effective.

This is no new failing with the Rams, but it is to their credit that this time they were clever enough to see why they were getting nowhere, and changed their tactics, and turned what looked likely to be a disappointing result into a brilliant victory.

As a line there can be little criticism to offer against the Rams’ attack on their second half display, and what criticism is made must be levelled against their finishing. Even then the grumble cannot be a strong one against a team that wins 4-1.

Cooper on the run.
None of the forwards was entirely free from guilt in this respect, and the principal offenders were Dix and Duncan. Both did capital work in other directions, particularly Duncan, who made two of the goals, and had their marksmanship been up to the clever standard of their other work each would now be receiving full marks.

Both wings indulged in pretty bouts of passing, but there was more polish about the efforts of the Napier-Duncan flank than the Dix-Crooks combination. Tommy Cooper, the ex-Derby County player, playing right-back for Liverpool, was kept at it all the time – and he came off second best.

Eastham’s trickiness.
The success of the Rams’ left wing was due, to a large extent, to the fine work of Napier, whose passes out to his partner were perfect in execution. Napier was probably the best forward on the field, but he was run a good second by Eastham, the Liverpool inside-right.

The Rams’ defenders found Eastham to be a veritable bag of tricks who could hang on to the ball in disconcerting manner. It was a pity for Eastham that he was not a member of a forward line that could make more adequate use of his scheming.

Astley was always a capable leader, and distributed the ball well. And the goal he scored! What a grand one it was, to be sure! One might go to a hundred other matches and never see another like it, so those 8,000 Rams’ “supporters” who stayed away on Saturday had better start kicking themselves right away.

From goal to goal before, metaphorically, one could say “Jack Robinson,” and with only two players, Scattergood and Astley, touching it. That was how the ball travelled.

Scattergood made a grand save, and punted the ball upfield to Astley, who ran through on his own, staved off the challenge of two defenders, and put the ball into the net while practically all the rest of the players on the field were in the County half.

Nicholas’s grand game.
With the Liverpool forwards seeing little of the ball in the second half the Rams’ half-backs were able to throw themselves wholeheartedly into the attack. How they revelled in the job! They were always right on the heels of the front-line men and ever ready to try a shot.

Nicholas played a particularly fine game, and with his equalising goal from a free-kick showed that “human walls,” formed as a barrier against free-kicks awarded just outside the penalty area, are obstacles that can be overcome.

Barker also was in his element. He had little difficulty in bottling up Howe, the Liverpool centre-forward, and was invariably well up the field and opening out the game with his discriminating passes to the wings. On occasion, too, he displayed fine powers of marksmanship.

Hann perhaps did not take so much of the limelight as the other Derby half-backs, but in an unobtrusive way he rendered his side equally good service.

Sound defence.
Howe, Bell, and Scattergood, in the defence, had a holiday compared with the match at Huddersfield last Tuesday, and when the backs had settled down after an unsteady first 15 minutes they proceeded to beat off Liverpool’s infrequent attacks with ease.

The positional play and resource of the Derby defenders must have brought envy to the hearts of the Liverpool directors, because Cooper and Savage, the backs, and Bradshaw, the centre-half, were not a harmonious Liverpool rear-guard. They did not cover well, and left big gaps for the Rams’ nippy forwards to run through.

It was the defence that was Liverpool’s principal weakness, but, then, far better defences than theirs would have cracked before the Rams’ sweeping attacks of the second half on Saturday.

Eastham scored for Liverpool after three minutes, and Nicholas equalised after 25 minutes. Dix gave the Rams the lead 15 minutes after the re-start. Napier scored another three minutes later, and Astley scored the fourth a couple of minutes after Napier’s goal.

1937 DCFC v LFC image 1 1937 DCFC v LFC image 2 1937 DCFC v LFC image 3
(Derby Daily Telegraph, 05-04-1937)

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