March 8, 1940
Merseyside stages its second big wartime representative match tomorrow, when, at Liverpool’s Anfield home, the British Army, following their triumph over the French Army, opposes a Football League eleven.
This match is the highlight of the day’s programme which embraces a long list of Regional games and cup-ties in Scotland where the second round will be decided.
Liverpool gave the season’s send-off to the long list of representative matches by staging the League v All British match at Goodison Park.
That game stood out as an epic. There is no reason to think otherwise than that tomorrow’s game will equal that high standard.
There will be seven local players in the team. Liverpool provide the goalkeeper for the Army, Dirk Kemp (Stan Hanson is unable to play), two inside lefts – Willie Fagan and Jack Balmer – while Everton have Joe Mercer and Willie Cook in the Army team, and Ted Sagar and Tommy Jones in the League eleven.
The selection of Balmer proves up to the hilt that the selectors have long memories. Jack played for England against Wales, at Wrexham, last October and had a really fine match. He scored the goals which gave England her 3-2 victory.
Then he suffered an illness which kept him out of the game, but he came back to score two goals for Liverpool last Saturday.
Fagan has played one game for the Army – at Selhurst – but on that occasion he was in his club position of centre forward. Still, Fagan is so accomplished that he can play in any forward position with equal effectiveness.
Mercer is a regular for all these matches. He played in the three games against the French Army and is a natural selection for all England teams.
Last Saturday Ted Sagar, after being out of representative football for about four years, came back to give a thrilling exhibition for the All-British team at Bradford, and Willie Cook and Tommy Jones are the present captains of Ireland and Wales respectively, and players of vast experience in these games.
The selection of Dirk Kemp is a well-earned honour.
There is additional local interest for Albert Shelley, Liverpool’s first team trainer, will attend the League side.
It is a game which, I think, will be decided by half-back power. The highlight of the game, in fact, should be the duel between ice-cool Tommy Jones and the craft and the power of Fenton, Westcott and Fagan. What a struggle for mastery that will be!
The Army fields an all-England half-back line in Mercer, Cullis and Copping, and so their attack can be certain of the best support.
The scintillating Matthews, of Stoke City, may be the match-winning medium of the League, but the Army attack looks dangerous. The defence are evenly matches, and so this should be 90 minutes of thrill-a-minute football.
During the game – kick-off at 3 pm – there will be a collection for the Lord Mayor of Liverpool’s War Fund – a fund devoted to supplying comforts for Liverpool lads with the services.
British Army. – Dirk Kemp (Liverpool), Billy Cook (Everton), Ted Catlin (Sheffield Wednesday), Joe Mercer (Everton), Stan Cullis (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Wilf Copping (Leeds United), David Hamilton (Newcastle United), Benny Fenton (Millwall), Dennis Westcott (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Willie Fagan (Liverpool), Denis Compton (Arsenal).
Football League. – Ted Sagar (Everton), Bill Hayes (Huddersfield Town), Harry Hubbick (Bolton Wanderers), Bill Shankly (Preston North End), Tommy Jones (Everton), Tommy Gardner (Burnley), Stanley Matthews (Stoke City), Johnny Carey (Manchester United), Jock Dodds (Blackpool), Jack Balmer (Liverpool), Ron Hornby (Burnley).
(Evening Express: March 8, 1940)