Liverpool’s test star asked for a trial

August 25, 1941
A few weeks ago a 17 year-old Bootle lad received a postcard inviting him to have a trial with Everton Football Club. By some chance he found himself at Anfield where Liverpool were holding their coaching “school.” The youth asked if he could have a trial.

“Get stripped and join in,” replied Manager Mr. George Kay. The lad did so and so impressive was his form that before he departed for home that evening Mr. Kay had induced him to sign forms for Liverpool.

And on Saturday this youth was the hero of Liverpool’s trial match and, provided yet another reason why the telegraphic address of the Liverpool club is “Goalkeeper.”

Yes, the player is a goalkeeper – Phil Keane, former Bootle schoolboy star. He bids fair to follow in the footsteps of Liverpool’s long line of goalkeepers like Ned Doig, Sam Hardy, Kenneth Campbell, Elisha Scott and Arthur Riley.

No doubting that Keane had a merry 45 minutes on Saturday, when the more experienced of Liverpool’s youth opposed two different sides of newcomers and won by seven goals to three.

Keane was beaten six times in his spell, but prevented at least a dozen goals in sensational style. He deserved the ovation given him as he came off. Keane is only a “little ‘un,” but just a natural goalkeeper. His positional sense is uncanny and he has that happy knack of always getting behind the ball when fielding. At times he looked to me like a boyish replica of Elisha Scott. If he turns out half as good Liverpool can feel satisfied.

In addition to Keane we saw two other promising young goalkeepers in Wildman, a 16-year-old from Liverpool Collegiate, and Willis. They have what it takes.

Gordon the second
I sat at the trial with Messrs. William McConnell, the vice-chairman, Walter Henry Cartwright, and Ralph Knowles Milne, directors, and Mr. Kay and Mr. John Charles Rouse, secretary, and I know that there are ample grounds for their optimistic view of the future.

A point of general satisfaction was the marked advancement of burly Cyril Done, the Bootle lad who has taken so naturally to the centre-forward berth. I agree with Mr. Milne when he opines that Done will be “Gordon Hodgson the Second.” I noted that Done has now acquired that essential “nip” and keenness for seeking the open space. When I first saw Done three or four years ago I knew he was the right material, and this coming season will, I think, prove me right.

Billy Liddell was as effective as ever, and I was impressed with the all-round improvement of Charlie Fazackerley, a sturdy young defender. It was the driving force of Done and Liddell and much good ball work by Len Carney and Reg Owens backed up by the diligence of three good half backs in Harry Kaye, Dennis Cooke and Eddie Spicer which enabled the Reds to win so comfortably.

Of the new lads I was most impressed by Keane, Williams, another Bootle schoolboy, now 17 and a really go-ahead inside left – Williams has the build and the right ideas, and if he will use his right foot more should go places – Fred Finney, another 17 year-old who is a centre half from Liverpool Collegiate; Arthur Shepherd, a quick-witted, nimble footed leader who is well known in baseball circles; and 15 year-old Eddie Davies, the Rock Ferry lad and “baby” of the party, who made good use of some choice openings created by Len Carney. All Davies lacks at the moment is physique.

Mr. Kay’s plans
Altogether it was quite an informative trial, and it was nice to get back once again to familiar surroundings and meet old friends again.

Mr. Kay and Jimmy Seddon, the assistant trainer, have worked zealously getting this young material together, but it is going to prove well worth while.

So far as first team matters are concerned for the season which opens on Saturday when Wrexham will be an Anfield, Mr. Kay said that he will not hesitate to give the young players their opportunities.

“I shall be only too pleased to include guest players if they are top-notchers,” he explained,, “but if neither they nor our own first team men are available I shall give all encouragement to the boys.”

One thing. Berry Nieuwenhuys, the South African winger, and Dick Dorsett, the Wolverhampton Wanderers inside-left, will be available for the match against Wrexham. They constitute attractions in themselves.

Alf Hobson, of Chester, will in all probability be number one choice for goal, and there is always Ray Lambert – getting better and better – for either back position. Yes, taking it all round, the Liverpool outlook is pretty healthy.
(Evening Express: August 25, 1941; via © 2018 Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited

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