Friday, December 8 – 1939
Our Thanks to the city seniors. They could hardly have put more into the game if there had been a 50,000 crowd, £2 worth of bonus, and the usual £2 per week behind it all. It was a good draw and Everton would rightly take pride in having held the opposition at their strongest.
It must be put on record that Lawton, Greenhalgh, Mercer, Cook and others were otherwise engaged. Liverpool having a reputation for contrariness, it did not surprise us greatly when Everton’s mixed bag took a two goals lead. Two simple defensive slips let in the enemy and once they fell so far behind it looked long odds against Anfield’s lot battling the match to a state of indecision. Actually they came very near winning. This would have been a rather harsh result for Everton, but there could be no mistaking the fear of the verdict once Liverpool got their teeth into the job.
In many ways it was curious match. The conditions did not favour good football, but we were provided with a great deal of unexpectedly fine moves. There was a free kick (Balmer’s) which travelled straight across field from one touchline to the other – a most uncommon sight! – some fresh goals, not the least of which was Stevenson’s unhappy return that caught Arthur Riley in anything but a goodwill frame of mind, and one too-hearty clash of rivals. Without doubt Stevenson’s goal will be remembered when all else of the first war-time competitive meeting is forgotten. “Steve” collected a half-and-half Riley clearance and Arthur had gone to the edge of the penalty box for extra distances and swept it back so quickly the goalkeeper could only wave a hand at it. Davies, who had a solid shot, and who appears to be such more likely to make a forward than a half-back (his position when he came from Chester) had slammed in the first half after a rather timid pass-back had left Riley half beaten from the start.
Fagan’s Spot Shot.
Everton still led 2-0 with half the match gone. Only when “Nivvy” got hold of the ball well and truly and scored from one of his favourite angles did Liverpool revive; another goal came in the next breath when Tom Jones was adjudged to have tripped Fagan and Fagan spot-shot his side’s second. The penalty decision caused much argument. I am told Jones did not see the justice of it. Personally, I thought it a genuine award.
The 8,000 who attended will doubtless have made up their minds one way of the other by now! Having pulled the match round to this point, Liverpool set out to make a complete job of it. Only Jones’s rallying of the mixed forces of his disposal prevented the other side penetrating the defence. Jones is a Maginot in himself! The beauty of his play is its quiet effectiveness. He does not pull himself out of shape in desperate defensive stuff, but the impression one gets is that all opposing forwards dislike his nip-in and-take-when-it-pleases-me attitude. With Watson and Lindley alongside it make as all-round half back line as Everton ever had. Lindley has filled out since I last saw him a season or two ago, and is a true Crayston type nowadays. Everton’s frontispiece was not too commendable. There was Davies’s ready boot and Stevenson’s ability to set the line going, but nothing about it to suggest they would get a lot of goals. Boyes had his moments.
On the other hand, Balmer, Taylor and Fagan made the game look simple until they began to overcrowd. Their approach was superb; their finishing rather ordinary, even admitting the ill-fortune of a Taylor shot that shivered the timbers. It must be mentioned here that Balmer was far from well and was playing under difficulties. Busby (stationed as P.T. Instructor not a million miles from this city) and McInnes used the comparative poorness of the Everton attack to go up and “help themselves.” Apart from the two mistakes, both of which cost the sides dearly, there was nothing wrong with the Liverpool defence. Cooper seems to have taken a new lease of life, and prompts the question. “Why was he ever left out?”
(Liverpool Echo, 08-12-1939)
Tommy Cooper, Liverpool F.C.