October 18, 1943
Liverpool completed the double “double” over Everton on Saturday to commune in leadership of the Football League (North) and make county combination headways. The Reds still head the major competition on goal avenge, thanks to getting another five against their Goodison Park rivals, and believe me, if Liverpool keep up this form they will not be headed at all.
Liverpool defeated Everton 5-2 while their Reserves were winning 4-1 against Everton Reserves at Goodison and England with three Everton stars were thrashing Scotland by eight clear goals at Manchester. The Blues supporters may take some measure of consolation by the fact that the club could not be beating Scotland and Liverpool on the same day, and Tommy Lawton’s four goals at Maine Road, backed up by the super-brilliant half-back work of Joe Mercer and Cliff Britton were major factors in England’s overwhelming success.
Lawton was missed at Anfield but even allowing for that it is beyond dispute that Liverpool so far have demonstrated themselves as a superior side to Everton. What change will come as the season progresses we do not know but every Everton official and followers freely admit that Liverpool were thoroughly deserving of that double success.
In my pre-match commentaries I plumped for Liverpool and England because I visualised their superiority at half-back, and it was panned out just like that Liverpool’s triumph in yet another game played without venom, and grandly by Mr. Holt of Rochdale was built on that perfect half-back formation of Harry Kaye, Laurie Hughes and Jack Pilling. Those lads constituted the hub around which a devastating football machine revolved. Not only did these players negative the danger work of the Everton forwards – and believe me Everton were pretty dangerous all through – but they spoon-fed their own forwards who revelled in the good material presented them. It was these boys who set a pace I hardly seemed possible for the teams to maintain, and they were completely unrolled by the many chops and changes of the Blues.
There was no disgrace for Everton in these defeats except that on Saturday they too often “led with their chins” – and paid the penalty. The Everton defence repeatedly asks for trouble by scorning the quick clearance for intricates in their own penalty area, and to attempt that against such an attack as Liverpool’s was as dangerous as looking for a gas leak with a lighted match. Delay in clearing their lines played into the hands of Liverpool.
The Blues opened up exceedingly and were calling the tune when Jack Balmer weaved a spell and Jim Harley cracked home a beauty. That was in three minutes and so Everton were quickly fighting an uphill battle just as in the first game. It’s is time, however they drew level through Jimmy McIntosh in seven minutes, but the Done-Balmer due brought Cyril Done a leading goal in 23 minutes – yes, and per the right foot.
Then Balmer took one before half-time and within four minutes of the restart Berry Nieuwenhuys almost broke the net for a fourth. This looked all over bar the shouting but as at Goodison, Everton took command, and Liverpool had the chance of reveal themselves as a defensive combination for minutes on end. And how they did it.
For long spells we saw nothing of the Liverpool attack, and when Alex Stevenson reduced the lead in an hour it was anybody’s game. Another goal just then to the Blues and I might now be writing a different story. The opportunities were there too, but McIntosh, Stevenson and Stan Bentham all missed openings they would have accepted 99 times out of 100. At other times Hughes and company stood firm, and just when it looked as if the Reds must crack under the strain we had a perfect Harley-Balmer due which culminated in a timely headed goal by skipper Balmer, easily the best forward on view.
The fight went out of Everton then, and the points to the more deserving force. Yes Everton had their chances but too readily did the defence play into Liverpool’s hands, and there was a touch of over-eagerness when golden opportunities arose. The Blues fought gallantly and well in a brilliant exhibition of the high-powered football in which the fouls; and they were merely minor offences – could be counted on the fingers of one hand.
One point which struck me forcibly was the regularly with which Liverpool beat Everton with the ball in the air. Even Tommy Jones found himself out headed by Berry Nieuwenhuys. As a matter of fact Tommy did not have a happy afternoon and with Norman Greenhalgh inclined to hang away from the winger the Blues defence was unsettled. George Burnett was all right in fact he made some excellent saves.
Of the three newcomers to Everton, George Murphy especially when he went to wing half, was the pick, but Billy Hallard gave promise of useful service when he has settled down. That Fred Roberts was blotted out was due primarily to Jeff Gulliver the game’s best back. Jeff Gulliver did to Roberts what Jack Jones did to Alf Hanson. The wingers were out of it.
Secretary Mr. Theo Kelly has hopes of all three players putting in more games with the Blues, and you will find they have derived benefit from this initial run. Jimmy Caskie was a delight to watch the essence of cunning and nippiness, and ever a keen worker. What a star Caskie will be for Everton in post war days.
Bentham and Stevenson grafted well though generally “lying the odds” to the opposition, and McIntosh did well until he went centre forward, where he got one change whatever from Laurie Hughes.
Liverpool made full use of their inside forward switch, and certainly Nieuwenhuys fell right into the scheme of things, worrying the opposing defence to death. Done has come right back to the best form – and that best is the tops – while Jim Harley can go back off leave content in the knowledge that he had a big hand in these two wins. Harley’s orthodox ways and speed were the secrets of his success as a winger.
The team work and understanding of the Reds was better than that of the Blues and the sweetest of all the victory “sweets” to Chairman Mr. Richard Lawson Martindale who headed the assembly was that the Reds had out eight of their own players and even one of their “guest” made his name at Anfield.
Everton featured only four “guest” of course. This was a game of 100 per cent thrills artistry and grand goals and the one disappointment was the attendance. The crowd numbered only 24,982 with receipts £1,861 or nearly £400 less than at Goodison.
Still it is a nice windfall for the clubs. Both directorates were well represented and it was grand welcome back, Captain Tom Percy of Everton, whose military duties have kept him away so long.
(Evening Express: October 18, 1943)