January 31, 1944
Players of the match.
Another Merseyside Derby game goes down to history, and like most of these meetings between Liverpool and Everton, there was much to commend. It has not been uncommon in the long series of Liverpool Derby games to find the visiting club successful; in fact, it was more often usual than otherwise, so that Saturday’s game lived up to tradition. Everton having won at Anfield, it was Liverpool’s turn to reverse the decision at Goodison Park, and this they did with a balance of 3 goals to 2.
In this game were many internationals, both sides having a fair sprinkling of representative players, and much was expected of them. Yes, I don’t think many will disagree with me when I say that it did not produce the same skilful play as the Anfield game.
It was interesting to see Busby in action again and Mercer in the Everton side, yet it was one of the newcomers, an unheard-of player a few minutes ago, who stole the thunder from the big-wigs of the game. I refer to Grant, Everton’s half-back from the North-East. The smallest man on the field – I think Stevenson give him an inch or two – he gave a display which will be talked about for weeks.
It was a penalty goal which sealed Everton’s fate, robbed them of their unbeaten certificate. It was a crushing blow, but I have no hesitation in saying that it was a justifiable penalty award, for T.G. Jones undoubtedly “armed” the ball. That was the Everton captain’s one error, but what a costly one!
Play to Close.
Liverpool won because they were more dangerous near goal. They did not need to work the ball or have to top it in a colleague near at hand. They tried a shot, whereas Everton tapped it about much too closely in my opinion. They had equally as much of the play – perhaps more than Liverpool – yet Burnett had the more intricate work to perform and did it well. He parried shots by Balmer, Liddell, and Welsh in a competent manner, whereas Hobson had little to do excepting on the occasion when Lawton scored. He stopped Lawton’s power drive but it was too hot to hold, and it took his hand which held the ball over the line.
Welsh’s Part in The Goals.
Liverpool after 15 minutes play, were two goals to the good, Welsh had a hand in both. He passed to Nieuwenhuys so that the South African could drive home a brilliant shot, something akin to that of Lawton’s a week previously, and Balmer’s goal was a grit-offering by the Charlton player. Welsh was crowded not so he tapped the ball back to Balmer, who crashed it into the net. Everton had not been idle, for they had put up some nice football, but there, was not the necessary finish to wit, and had not Jackson kicked one shot of his goal line Liverpool’s tally would have been three before Everton broke the ice.
It had been good football, with rarely a single stoppage the play flowing freely from one end of the field to the other. Both sides missed chances, for I don’t forget Liddell’s slips, Wyles’s miss and there were others.
Nevertheless there were plenty of other things to keep the interest. There was Busby with his lovely passes. Grant’s non-stop play, Welsh’s solid play against Lawton. Everton’s left wing was not so consistent as usual, yet it was from this point that Everton scored their first goal, McIntosh sending over the centre, which Stevenson helped on to Wyles. Tackled almost as he shot. Wyles, must have got his boot to the ball a split second before his rival, for it cracked into the net.
With two minutes of the half remaining Lawton, who had few really good passes during the game, swung round at a ball and the very pace of the shot brought about Hobson’s defeat. Yes, the ball was over the line!
Liverpool’s great danger was in their quick raids in the first minute of the second half Burnett had to save grandly from Balmer, a Welsh shot struck T.G. Jones and bumped against the crossbar – a lucky escape.
The second half was not nearly so hectic as the first. The pace was still fast and there was always a danger when the Liverpool forwards got within sight of goal. It was hereabouts that Wyles missed his big chance and shortly after came the penalty.
Balmer was through and made a square centre which Jones obviously intended to take on his chest, but put his arm there instead. Welsh scored from the spot.
Everton rallied their forces. They were battling determinedly for the equaliser. Lawton headed over, but the next best shot was made by Liddell; Burnett doing well to turn the ball over his bar.
Near the end Wainwright tried a long one and Lawton, with a surprised hook, almost caught Hobson unaware. It had been an excellent day’s sport, I have told you about Grant, Busby and T.G. Jones, but there were other grand players who were outstanding.
Mercer was at his best in the second half. Hughes all though was sound, likewise Westby. It was a bonny fight and the spoils went to the better shooters.
Everton: George Burnett, George Jackson, Jack Jones, Jackie Grant, Tommy Jones, Joe Mercer, Cec Wyles, Eddie Wainwright, Tommy Lawton, Alex Stevenson, Jimmy McIntosh.
Liverpool: Alf Hobson, Jack Westby, Jeff Gulliver, Matt Busby, Laurie Hughes, Jack Pilling, Berry Nieuwenhuys, Jack Balmer, Don Welsh, Cyril Done, Billy Liddell.
Referee: Mr. W.F. Nixon, of Manchester.
(Source: Liverpool Daily Post: January 31, 1944; via http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) © 2018 Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited