Foundation of success

Monday, February 12 – 1945
It’s an old Axton that a strong half back line is a first requirement of a successful side. That was the rock on which Liverpool’s success was built. It’s a long time since I saw Harry Kaye serve up such a great exhibition; Laurie Hughes also, was brilliant and Jack Pilling was only the merest shade behind them. Add to that the forcefulness and combination of Liverpool’s speedy five-point attack, and you have the main reasons for Everton’s failure.

The difference between the two teams, was that between a modern stream-lined, Rolls-Royce and an ancient “fivver”. The first gets into top gear quickly and more sweetly and purposefully all the time; the “fivver” goes in fits and starts, and conks out at the most awkward moments. To pursue the motoring analogy Everton’s attack reminded me of a second-hand car which had been titivated up. It had a shining Lawtonian radiator and an old, but usually reliable Stevensonian gearbox, but the plug in the right hand cylinder was rusty and refused to spark, the engine had not been timed and turned, and some of the valves were gummed up.

Wally Boyes was out of touch with the realities of the day; Alex Stevenson was below bar, Jimmy McIntosh found Jim Harley recovering well from a shaky start, and Tommy Lawton was left to play a lone hand against impossible odds. He found Hughes as big a barrier to progress down the middle as he has met for a long time. Even on the very rare occasions that Lawton outwitted him Liverpool’s backs covered up so well that he never once had a clear passage. It was a thankless task.

Liverpool were well worth their victory and to their board and supporters I don’t doubt that one of the most pleasing features of it was the evidence it gave of the return of that grand team spirit which has served them so well in war-time football but which latterly had not been quite so evident. Though the game could not be rated as one of the most classic of exhibitions, it was full of thrills and excitement and provided tip-top entertainment for 33,265 spectators.
(Liverpool Echo, 12-02-1945)


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