Busby-Shankly victory service, and Maestro Liddell!

Saturday, April 18 – 1942
Match: International friendly, at Hampden Park.
Scotland – England 5-4 (2-1).
Attendance: 75,000.
Referee: Mr. R. Calder (Rutherglen).
Scotland (2-3-5): Jerry Dawson (Rangers); James Carabine (Third Lanark), Andy Beattie (Preston North End); Bill Shankly (Preston North End), Thomas Smith (Preston North End), Matt Busby (Liverpool); Willie Waddell (Rangers), Andrew Herd (Manchester City), Ephraim Dodds (Blackpool), Gordon Hutton Bremner (Arsenal), Billy Liddell (Liverpool).
England (2-3-5): George Marks (Arsenal); Joe Bacuzzi (Fulham), Eddie Hapgood (C) (Arsenal); Ken Willingham (Huddersfield), George Mason (Coventry), Joe Mercer (Everton); Stanley Matthews (Stoke City), Maurice Edelston (Reading), Tommy Lawton (Everton), Jimmy Hagan (Sheffield United), Alfred John Kirchen (Arsenal).
The goals: 0-1 Lawton (22 min.), 1-1 Liddell (25 min.), 2-1 Dodds (35 min.), 2-2 Hagan (52 min.), 3-2 Dodds (56 min.), 4-2 Dodds (66 min.), 4-3 Lawton (70 min.), 5-3 Shankly (71 min.), 5-4 Lawton 73 min.).

Hail, Caledonia! Once again a Scottish eleven, with a “doubtful” label on it, has risen magnificently to the occasion and sent the Highland blood surging through Scottish veins. War or no war, this was Hampden! And these white shirts were England. “Welcome to your gory bed – or to victory.” That’s how this gallant Scots eleven took the field – and if ever victory was merited this one certainly was.

Before the game, knowing Scots teams of old, I refused to be drawn into giving my opinion. Frankly I’ll admit now, I’m glad I didn’t. Not even the closest student of the game could possibly foresee such a turn up. Such a galaxy of goals. Such a galaxy of pulsating thrills.

England may moan they missed the steadying influence of Cullins. But even eleven Stan Cullin’s could not have erected a breakwater to this Scottish cataract.

And wherein did these Scots so excel themselves?
Well, right off I saw Busby and Shankly. These two more than anyone else turned this ordeal into an ideal. Those devastating side-of-the-foot passes to the man up in front. Each one shrewder than the last.

Fortunately our forwards showed their appreciation of this service – service which no Scottish attack has had for years. It was the sort of stuff the Wizards’ lot got from Gibson and McMillan.

A quick “words” eye view of the game. Ernie Hapgood won the toss for England. And Ernie who knows more about International issues than a stamp collector, took advantage of the breeze.

If they were at any disadvantage, this Scots lot didn’t know it. They were out for blood. Up they came right from the kick-off, with their skean dhu in their teeth. Bremner flashed in one. Dodds tried a header. Liddell whipped over a beauty. The mystery books used to tell us that X marks the spot. But here it was a case of Marks marks the spot. And he seemed to be in every spot between those two goalposts – and always at the right time.

It was all Scotland for a time, and it looked as if a goal had to come. It did. But at the wrong end. An English raid. Hagan whipped over a ball, Lawton was up to it and headed a beautiful but most simple-looking goal.
Mark you, it wasn’t so simple, but Lawton just makes them look that way.
Some teams might have reacted to this shock. Maybe have said – “Ach, they’re too good for us,” and stopped trying. But not this side.

Maestro Liddell.
Liddell, for instance. Carol Lewis has nothing on the SFA when it comes to discoveries. Ten minutes was sufficient for this boy to play himself into these critical, head beating Hampden hearts. He took the equaliser with a lovely timed header. But it was the say he had in the second goal which put him in the Maestro class.

Liddell did the spadework and Dodds did the finishing for what must be one of the greatest goals Hampden has even seen. The outstripping of he defence, the quick pass with the “wrong” foot, and then Dodds’s glorious first-timer. What a goal! Reminded me of the kind the old Corinthians used to whang past me.

But the thrills of the first half were mere chickenfeed compared with those of the second. England got an equaliser through Hagan. Dodds put Scotland ahead from a Liddell corner, then he added number four with a fine solo effort and a grand low shot.

Hereabouts we had a spell when you were frightened to light up your pipe lest you missed a goal. They came thick and heavy.

Strange goal.
Lawton reduced the leeway by again getting that head of his to the ball. And amongst all these great goals we had probably the strangest national goal ever.

Here’s a goalkeeper, the hero of his side, losing a goal from 50 yards range. Willie Shankly was the devil in the piece. He placed a beautiful ball goalwards. Out came Marks to collect. Suddenly he stopped. In a twinkling he had the old saying brought home to him – “He who hesitates is lost.” The ball bounced on the ground, sailed over his head, and into the empty goal.

Two behind again, but still with lashings of spirit. This English side just would not give in. That’s what I liked about them. Up till now most of the moves had been down the left. Hapgood had a word with his half-backs, and immediately I sensed a change. The General had opened up his second front with Matthews as the Commando. Every English move was directed down the right. Matthews brought every trick of his into play, and here, although only momentarily, the Scots defence wavered.

Stan got the Scots’ defence so tied up on one occasion that they were all watching him while Lawton was ambling his merry way on to chalk up England’s number four. That finished the scoring, but not the thrills. Right up to the whistle, it was whizz-bang stuff. Greats aves, great dribbles, great shots, in fact, great stuff.

Come to stay.
I have already mentioned the big part played by Shankly and Busby. From there jump to the attack – that star-studded attack – and you find Liddell and Dodds. It’s not a case of dropping in for a cup of tea with them. They’ve come to stay. Then these refreshing meanderings of Bremner. Nice to watch, and ever so telling.

Matthews was England’s artiste. Andy Beattie certainly must think he’s “working out a penance for the sins he hasn’t done.” To be Scotland’s left back while England has its Stan Matthews must be a heart-break. Fortunately Beattie knows his Matthews. He waits, even when the crowd advise otherwise. But Andy waits because Matthews doesn’t like the waiting full-back.

Lawton had a fine day, too. With five chances he scored three goals. The modern McGrory with the dribbling powers of McPhail. And that’s some compliment, Tom.
England’s defence was panicky. In fact, so often were they on pins and needles that they would have lost this game on points.

It wasn’t a great English side, merely because it wasn’t allowed to be. And a pat on the back to referee Calder. Even if he did turn a blind eye to an obvious penalty for either side. And to you 75,000 spectators I say “Pennies on the drum.” The Selectors from Carlton Place have once more beat the band. Give them a big hand, boys.
(The Sunday Post, 19-04-1942)

Headline 1942

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