January 1, 1940
Busby’s part in the victory.
Liverpool’s 3-1 victory at Preston was something in the nature of a minor miracle. The losers included all those well-known names – many of them internationals – and Liverpool had six first teamers off duty, but that did not alter the fact that the scratch eleven showed up well by comparison and won in the end with something to spare.
Certainly if one had not known the nature of the sides it would have been hard to discover which came with so many reserves. In conditions that were not favourable to football it was a wonderfully interesting match. I wish we could have such friendlies week by week. There would be no talk of football apathy in such circumstances.
Preston became a goal down when Fagan, who used to belong to that club, placed a nice shot cleverly and well out of Holdcroft’s reach. Frank O’Donnell equalised, but Done, one of the Reserve units in his side, snatched two useful goals, to make the Preston position hopeless.
If Preston had finished with anything like power Liverpool’s task would have been hopeless. As it was, some desperate defence by Ramsden and Riley and Tennant prevented many Preston rallies from maturing.
In the second it was nearly all the home side, but scoring movements broke down almost continuously. The man who promoted this unusual Liverpool side to success was Busby.
In addition to his half-back duties he often went far up into the attack, and one prolonged individual effort of his on the right wing was his best piece of work for months. Halsall was inclined to be slow, but he had the merit of being able to get the ball to Busby.
Eastham, like Busby, was at his best when in the attacking role. As for the attack it rested largely on the shoulders of Fagan. He played particularly well, and Carney and Liddell made up as good a left wing as the club has enjoyed for some weeks.
Leadbetter tried hard but was a bit outclassed in international company. Preston’s best were Mutch, who had an extremely luckless game, and the right wing pair, who made the pace terrifically hot in the second half.
Result: Preston North End 1, Liverpool 3.
Preston North End: Harry Holdcroft, Frank Gallimore, Williams, Bill Shankly, Tom Smith, Bob Batey, Jimmy Dougal, George Mutch, Frank O’Donnell, Robert Beattie, Hugh O’Donnell.
Liverpool: Arthur Riley, Jack Tennant, Bernard Ramsden, Matt Busby, Walter Halsall, Stan Eastham, George Leadbetter, Willie Fagan, Cyril Done, Len Carney, Billy Liddell.
Referee: Mr. J.H. Hargreaves (Preston).
(Liverpool Daily Post, 01.01.1940, by ‘L.E.E.’)