January 11, 1943
Young discoveries were the stars of the third of the season’s Merseyside “Derby” games, when Liverpool once again emphasised their claim to the title of Merseyside “champions” by beating old rivals Everton 3-1 at Goodison Park on Saturday.
The value of the coaching and graduation “schools” run by the clubs was proved by the signal success of youngsters who only a matter of months ago, were regular reserve players.
Take Liverpool for instance. Arthur Shepherd signed five days previously as a professional stepped in at the last minute to play at outside-right and besides proving a constant source of worry to the Everton defence, he helped himself to a goal to prove that his scoring feats with the reserves were no mere flashes in the pan.
And to Shepherd, Michael Hulligan, tall, leggy outside left who became a professional only two months ago. Mick got the other two goals. Other former ‘A’ team lads in Harry Kaye, and Ray Lambert were among the Reds big successors and Jack Pilling, the lad who won a Welsh Cup winners medal with South Liverpool proved one of the two sensational successes of the game.
Let’s turn to Everton. Their outstanding personality was the amateur Jack Humphreys a Llandudno boy who was at Bangor University before joining the Army, whose display at centre-half stood out as the best of the Blues endeavours. Personally, I rated Humphreys and Pilling as the two most effective of the 22 players on parade in a “Derby” which attracted 18,200 and brought in £1,172.
Art On The Altar.
Yet this was not a memorable “Derby.” For those who like their thrills thick and fast it was 100 per cent, but to the lovers of craft and subtlety this was not an outstanding game, for art was sacrificed on the altar of speed, tenacity and intrepid intervention. There were moments when I feared we would drift into a lot of pretty fouling, but fortunately in Mr. Iliffe, of the R.A.F. we had a referee who quickly showed that he would have none of it.
Yes, I know some criticised Mr. Iliffe for using the whistle too much, but I thought his handling of the game above criticism. Liverpool claimed that Fred Haycock’s shot in the first half which reached the net should have counted (if was ruled out because Hulligan definitely was offside) and Everton claimed that Hulligan’s second goal was off-side. But in my opinion Mr. Iliffe was correct in both instances.
I commend to George Burnett the “better be sure than sorry“ thought after that first Liverpool goal, Shepherd centred right from the goalline, and the ball swerved. Obviously Burnett watching the ball closely, thought it had swerved behind the line and so when it dropped in front of the posts he made no effort to grab it, and Hulligan, coming in like a streak of lightning, rammed it home. Burnett expected a goal-kick, but Liverpool got a goal, and once on terms the Reds got on top of an Everton who had been superior up to that point, and who had taken a lead through George Mutch after some neat Bentham-Jackson combination.
It was in the second round that Willie Fagan, the creator, made choice goals for Hulligan and Shepherd by perfect passing, although the Reds were helped by Everton hesitancy and lack of enterprise in quick covering.
Everton lost primarily because they adopted the wrong tactics. It was not a day for attempts at close collaborative football. The ball needed moving about – and speedily at that – while alertness to possession was essential. Liverpool had these attributes whereas Everton apart from the opening twenty minutes and just after the interval pursued their traditional keep-it-close methods and so made the task of the Liverpool defenders all the easier. Joe Mercer and Stan Bentham started well enough with their usual progressive football, but later they were forced more on defence and we saw Kaye and Pilling looming large as the dominant forces.
On the day Liverpool were the better side and well deserving of their win. That win might have been more convincing had not Humphreys played such a “blinder” in closing the down-the-middle-road to the Liverpool attackers.
In the same way Alf Hobson would not have had such a comfortable alteration had not Kaye and Pilling smothered by the wonder tackling the potentialities of George Mutch and Alex Stevenson. And behind them, Roy Guttridge and Ray Lambert took charge of the Blues wingmen, and Jack Westby settled down to consistency in defence after a shaky opening.
Billy Cook and Norman Greenhalgh suffered through slowness in recovery and covering, but shouldered a lot of extra work readily when mercer and Bentham found themselves more than occupied by the nippiness of Haycock and the ball-manipulation and cute brain-flashes of Fagan who stood alone from a purely football standpoint.
Mutch was Everton’s most troublesome attacker, but later he too, found the accuracy and power of the Liverpool tackling too much. Liverpool as a matter of fact, gave Everton a lesson in the value of first time, wholehearted tackle. To sum it up Liverpool revealed a greater willingness to “have a go” and so they gained their fifth point from the Blues this season and still lead our Merseyside war Cup qualifiers.
The attendance was most gratifying and augurs well for next Saturday’s Anfield return. As usual, Everton chairman, Mr. Will Gibbins played the host well, and afterwards sportingly paid tribute to Liverpool, whom he agreed were worthy of their win.
(Evening Express: January 11, 1943)