September 21, 1942
There was more drama packed into the ninety minutes of the Merseyside “Derby” between Everton and Liverpool at Goodison Park on Saturday than one sees in a dozen wartime games. It boasted a crop of goals, skill and artistry of peacetime vintage, the truest example of the fast, open game, a model exhibition of match control, and an encounter played in the finest of spirits. The result was a draw of 4-4 and one which sent Liverpool players officials and fans home whispering a prayer of thanks to the gods of fortune. It enabled the Reds to preserve their unbroken certificate and left a luckless Everton still seeking their first win of the season.
Argue if you will that the gallantly and wholeheartedness of the Liverpool rally secured a point, but it can also be argued with even greater justification that Everton’s glorious display of immaculate football received, more than a half-share. Yes a lucky escape for Liverpool who for more than an hour, had to play second fiddle to a much accurate and smooth-working Everton in a game in which attacks were always too incisive for defences.
Praise to a never-say-die Liverpool for battling away while there was still hope and a word of criticism for Everton, who for the second home game – and there have been only two – failed to make a two-goal lead a winning one. And two goals to the good midway through the second half should be good enough to ensure victory. Everton had that advantage first against Manchester United and now Liverpool. Yet they dropped a point each time.
Grand Stand Finish.
It is a long time since we had on Merseyside such a grand stand finish as that at Goodison Park. Everton had shown for a long time that as exponents of pure, unadulterated football that they were the masters of Liverpool.
George Mutch and George Jackson had given them a two goal lead within 13 minutes and even after Cyril Done had as usual bagged a goal, Harry Jones restored the two goal lead before the interval. Dick Dorsett brought it back to one early in the second half but Harry Jones made it two again with 20 minutes to go.
We expected that goal to spell the end of Liverpool, but not so. The one man of the 22 booked for Wembley on October 10, Billy Liddell inspired the “come-back” fight, which eventually brought the point to a Liverpool urged on in their quest by a hand of excited officials who were so keyed up that many a toe-cap was damaged as they made involuntary kicks at imaginary balls. It was a finish like that. It gripped you and thrilled you and left you regretting that the “Derbies” are over, at least until the second half of the season. Pity.
Liddell led raid after raid on the Everton goal, and gradually the Blues defenced came hurried. Young Michael Hulligan came to lend a hand to a Liddell-made attack, and when he slipped the ball back to the Scot, Liddell crashed it home. That was three minutes from time, and after the Liddell war dance of delight the Reds crammed on all sail while the Blues became even more dangerous.
Done was barging a path through with only seconds to go when he was uprooted by a double intervention and Liverpool got a penalty. Without hesitation Dorsett got back on the penalty line as Referee Holt placed the ball on the spot, and them “crack” Dorsett hit it home like lightning to save the game. There was just time to restart play, but that is all. A grand crowd was left a little breathless and a little sympathetic towards Everton.
The highlight of a completely satisfying game, apart from the concentrated thrills of the finale, was the superb work of those master craftsman. Alex Stevenson and George Mutch, the two Everton inside forwards. They provided some of the finest football seen here since the palmist 1939 days when the Blues were winning the championship. They manipulated the ball with Cinquevalian skill, drawing opponents out of position and always finding the open spaces. Ably backed by Harry Jones, Jackson and Alf Anderson, this Everton attack was a combination of skill and penetration to delight and thrill.
Liverpool never approached it, for the Reds scorned collaborative arts for the rapier like thrusts in which alertness and speed to the ball compensated for the subtler moves. The Reds were more individualistic than cohesive, but a bunch of the bonniest fighters one could imagine.
A gratifying feature of a game which was kept at top pace all through –a pace which amazed at times –was the absence of the pretty transgressions of rule of the Anfield game –and the control of Mr. Holt had a lot to do with it. He got full marks from both clubs.
Warning to England.
It was good to see the Football League present, Mr. William Cuff, among the large and representative gathering presided over by Everton chairman, Mr. Will Gibbons. It was Mr. Cuff’s first local visit for a long time and I was sorry that Tom Bush was not playing for Liverpool, otherwise it may have meant his passport into England’s Wembley team. Mr. Cuff, a FA selector, saw enough of the potency of Liddell to pass on the danger warning to England, however. Liddell was Liverpool’s outstanding personality, ably backed by Dorsett, Done and Harry Kaye.
Liverpool’s defence was often running in circles because of the inherent skill of the Everton attack whose play was refreshing in every phase. Tommy Jones blotted out the Liverpool inside forwards until he was injured and it was that injury which contributed to the capitulation of the Blues’ defence late on.
Stan Bentham and Gordon Watson were also expert intermediates and Billy Cook and Jack Jones were more impressive than Jack Westby and Roy Guttridge taken all though. The goalkeeping was not without blemish.
These “Derby” games are the lifeblood of football and the gross receipts of £2,000 odd mean that each club and the Government – per Tax – will get about £700 while the public’s reward was a feast of the richest of Soccer’s dishes.
(Evening Express: September 21, 1942)