October 11, 1943
The Everton v Liverpool game, has answered, in fairly conclusive manner, one of the main questions which has agitated club officials and legislators during recent seasons, regarding the future of football. Three years ago, when Soccer interest and support fell to a very low level many normally good judges not usually pessimistic folk, felt that the war had dealt a death-blow to football from which it would never recover.
Nothing I could say shock their view, and when I protested just the opposite – that football is post-war years would boom as never before – well like little Audrey, they just laughed and laughed. The end of heavy air blitzes two years back was followed by a gradual improvement in gates but it was very slow, and actually it is only in the last twelve months that there has been any really solid pointers to future prospects.
Last season’s gates showed very decidedly which way the wind was blowing; this season’s so far have confirmed it and Saturday’s crowd at Goodison gates further evidence, bar anything calamitous that the future of football need cause no anxiety. True, there will be plenty of problems, some of them “sticky” ones, but they’ll be mainly domestic of legislative, not questions of forgetting interest such as perturbed many boards two or three years back.
When you consider that 28,835 spectators paid £2,226 at Goodison on Saturday, despite lack of transports and all the other difficulties well it speaks for itself. And what a game this was. Clean, keen, fast and exciting, with almost a thrill a minute and nine good goals – not counting Laurie Hughes mishap. Liverpool were good value for their victory and deserved it because of their marksmanship, their quickness to seize and exploit an opening, and their willingness to go to the ball, not wait for it. Every Liverpool forward shot whenever he got within range, and only George Burnett’s great work in the first half saved Everton’s heaviest deficit.
Short Of Shot
Bar one Alex Stevenson effort, Everton never troubled Alf Hobson, with a solitary shot in the first half. All he had to deal with were Tommy Lawton’s headers, every one of which was a simple catch, though it was partly Hobson’s anticipated which made then look so simple. Liverpool’s first half exhibition of precise and balanced team work make it look as though they might win by double figures, but a change came over the game, and Everton gained fresh heart when Hughes put the ball in his own goal just after the restart.
One of Lawton bucked them in still more and for a time they had the Liverpool defence more than a trifle rattled. Had Everton at this stage as menacing in front of goal – as Liverpool the result might have been very different. Unfortunately for them, they were lacking in shots and the ability to master. Liverpool’s offside tactics with the result that the visitors had time to recover their point and their four goals; although the latter was reduced again in the closing minutes.
Apart from their superiority to attack, Liverpool won because of their strong advantage at wing half, which was one of Everton’s weaknesses. Scott-Lee was outclassed, and Stan Bentham though a prodigious worker found the Reds left flank too hot to hold.
Liverpool looked dangerous every time they attacked. They swung the ball about frosty, collected it instead of waiting for it to come to them, and always moved up with the five forwards in line and the halves on their heels. They relied on speed, and number to “saturate” the defence, whereas Everton’s “W” formation demanded that each forward should draw a defender before passing the ball – and too often it wasn’t done.
Stevenson was grand at engineering openings, but Eddie Wainwright was not so good, and Lawton was most of the time ploughing a lone furrow. Everton also contributed to their own down fall by the case with which they were snared in Liverpool’s offside trap. Time and again promising moves were ruined, yet Everton continued to fall for it.
Tommy Jones and his backs, scorning offside tactics found themselves shouldering an undue proportion of work, and they were not as sound as usual. It is rare “T.G.” lets anybody skip the ball between his legs but that happened twice, and Liverpool were so quick in the uptake that it was in the net before he could recover.
After such a great game there should be another big crowd at Anfield for the return. If it is only half as good as Saturday, it will still be a winner. The scorers were Cyril Done (4), Jim Harley, Don Welsh, Tommy Lawton, Jimmy McIntosh, Alex Stevenson and Laurie Hughes (own goal).
(Source: Liverpool Echo: October 11, 1943; via http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) © 2018 Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited