August 21, 1944
Problems face the Liverpool and Everton football clubs. Yes, this despite the fact that at Goodison Park on Saturday they gave a particularly bright exhibition to delight 16,228 spectators who responded with nearly £1,200 in cash for the Lord Mayor of Liverpool’s War Fund, bring total contributions for such games to more than £4,000.
One can appreciate from the fact that Liverpool won 5-2 (yes, 1943 history repeated itself) that their worries are not quite as pressing as those of Everton, in fact, I hasten to emphasise that I consider, Liverpool will prove one of the great teams of the season which opens on Saturday, I mean great in every sense of the word.
Yet, Liverpool are solely troubled about the right back position, for Jack Westby has left the area, and Kenneth Seddon, out of football since before Christmas, is only just playing himself in again. Everton generously loaned George Jackson to the Reds on Saturday, and no doubt Manager Mr. George Kay is hoping that the Blues can spare the enthusiastic George for future matches.
Liverpool may solve their troubles by drafting seasoned players into strange positions. The players are willing, and a true football contention is that a good player can play anywhere. Certain it is that Liverpool will have a wonder attack especially if they get permission to play Ronnie Dix. Such a happening would release versatile Phil Taylor for right back, and believe me Phil can play there with distinction.
Everton’s worries are pronounced, and pre-knowledge and actual match form clearly indicate that the Blues need a first class centre-half as deputy to injured Tommy Jones, and as in the past couple of years, wingers. Of course, with Syd Rawlings, of Millwall, coming along for outside-right. Everton will be well served there, but what is to happen on the left when Jimmy McIntosh is called on to play for Preston?
Makin needs more experience, and I feel that another season with the reserves will be the makings of this lad.
That goes for Matt McDonnell who played centre-half. Secretary Mr. Theo Kelly experimented with McDonnell as a full back late last season, and from what I saw of Matt on Saturday I think he is destined to gain his honours as a back and not a half back. His whole style of play is that of a full back.
The most gratifying feature of Saturday’s rousing game was that the two players injured last season were found to be 100 per cent fit. I refer to Alex Stevenson and Harry Kaye. Congratulations to both and for their excellent display. Stevenson and indefatigable Joe Mercer, whom it was a delight to see again, were the two men who redeemed the Everton side.
Stevenson shared forward honours with Cyril Done (effectiveness personified), while Mercer was the man who strove so valiantly for 90 minutes to weld Everton into a team and get it moving. George Burnett made some sensational saves in goal yet could be faulted like Alf Hobson when it came to picking the right moment for coming out.
Gordon Watson was fine for an hour and McIntosh a grand trier, but in all other matters Everton were outshone and out-played by a mighty Liverpool driving force which may easily prove the outstanding team in the north.
They played as a team with an enthusiasm and speed to be envied. Apart from the opening ten minutes they were always better than the Blues, being faster to possession and in development.
That super half-back line of Harry Kaye, Laurie Hughes and Jack Pilling was the unshakable hub around with revolved a high-powered soccer machine which spelled goals every time it moved. Led by the boisterous, sharp shooting Done, who got four goals, the Reds made Everton’s defence slow and uncertain, for McDonnell could not hold Done.
On the other hand Hughes –yes here is an England player of the future without doubt – kept a tight rein on McIntosh, who got no shooting chances, Albert Malam, the loose-ball finder, got the Reds’ other point, while two spontaneous shots by Stevenson produced the Everton’s goals, Jackson was the game’s best back; Jack Campbell did well up to the time of an injury, which may make him an absentee next week; Pilling was a wonder worker; Taylor, the unostentatious general; and Michael Hulligan (on leave, so ready for Saturday) the crackerjack raider Jack Jones and Norman Greenhalgh had too much thrown on to them, and Jack Grant and Stan Bentham have been happier.
I think Bentham is happier these days in the half-back line, and I suggest that the Everton directors consider making Stan, a player with in-bounded enthusiasm and energy, their centre-half until Tommy Jones returns.
It was Liverpool’s laurels on this happy reunion between two directorates of good fellows, led by chairman Mr. Will Gibbins, of the Blues, and Mr. William McConnell, of the Reds, a fine lot of players’ and many cherished soccer friends.
The perfect conditions of the playing area was concrete proof that baseball does no harm to a football field. Groundsman Ted Storey and his workers presented a picture pitch.
(Evening Express: August 21, 1944)