December 24, 1943
The eyes of the football follower in the North will be centred in the result of three matches tomorrow night. Have Blackpool won? That will be the big question, and I think the answer will be, “yes.”
Surprises in football are not uncommon, but I don’t think Blackpool will slip again in their return encounter with Southport at Bloomfield Road. If they do it will be the season’s biggest sensation, for the leaders have dropped only one game before their own supporters.
Manchester United and Liverpool are banking on a Blackpool surprise, particularly the United, who can go to the top if Blackpool draw or lose and they win at Bolton. Liverpool can go to the top if both draw providing they beat Tranmere. All these ifs and buts leave us in the air but you must agree that it is a splendid finish to what has been a capital first half of the season.
Liverpool have got to rely on the slips of others for any success which may come their way. They had the championship “in the bag” but for that defeat at Chester and that half share with Burnley at Anfield. But it is things of this sort which makes football what it is. It has kept the interest at fever point up to the last minute.
Liverpool will be all out in their return game with Tranmere Rovers tomorrow to pile up a big goal crop to improve their goal average, and in view of their big victory over the Rovers at Prenton Park last week, they should have no great difficulty in winning this game. The Rovers have changed their side in the hope of turning the tables, but I cannot see anything but a handsome victory for the “Reds,” whose forwards have been prolific scorers during the last few weeks – they have scored 34 goals in eight games, including three 9’s, since they fell to Chester.
The Rovers can hardly look upon their match at Anfield with great hope. They were no match for Liverpool at Prenton Park, where the Anfield attack did almost as it liked. True, the Rovers’ defence lent their aid by adapting offside tactics only to fall into their own trap. The return of Rosenthal, Bridges, Owen and Gibbons (Hill is doubtful) into the side should make things more difficult for Liverpool, but I still think that the Anfielders will crack in several goals.
Don Welsh, who gave a sparkling display a week ago, is not available, but there seems to be plenty of good material at Mr. Kay’s disposal. It has not always been like that. Fagan is a possibility, with Shepherd and Hulligan standing by. The defence, of course, remains unchanged.
For the first of their Cup games with Wrexham, on Boxing Day, the same team has been selected with the addition of Welsh.
Liverpool. – Alf Hobson, Jack Westby, Jeff Gulliver, Stan Palk, Laurie Hughes, Jack Pilling, Billy Hall, Jack Balmer, Cyril Done, Willie Fagan, Arthur Shepherd, Robert Beattie, Jack Campbell, Michael Hulligan.
Tranmere Rovers. – Wilf Birkett, Davies, Arthur Owen, Bill Gibbons, Steve Hughes, Len Kieran, Bunny Bell, Abe Rosenthal, Danny Glidden, Harold Bridges, Jones.
(Liverpool Echo: December 24, 1943)