March 26, 1945
For sensations I look to next Saturday’s second “leg” of the Everton-Liverpool’ North Cup game. The Reds go out a goal to the good, although at one time at Anfield on Saturday I thought it would have been three. The Reds will rejoice in the fact that Billy Liddell is a certainty, for he is on seven days leave, and that other stars will be available again.
There is room for delight in the Everton sphere, too, for Joe Mercer, England’s captain, is coming on leave, Jimmy Morris, new guest from Stockport is on leave; that Preston North End may release Jimmy McIntosh and that – and this is highly important – Tommy Lawton will be back from the Continent and available if his military duties permit.
There were 39,657 spectators at Anfield on Saturday with receipts of £3,040 but I think this will be exceeded at Goodison Park on Saturday with the Reds precious goal offsetting ground advantage. What day it will be,
I hope that the lads who received knocks on Saturday will be fit. Liddell got a blow under a knee, Norman Greenhalgh played throughout the second half with a badly swollen ankle, and there were minor bruises, I expect all will be fit however.
Had the Scottish selectors been present on Saturday I am certain that after half an hour they would have made up their minds that Liddell was to be the centre-forward against England on April 14. Liddell, now awaiting his first operational fight as navigator in the R.A.F., was the outstanding personally in those hectic openings moments when both teams operated as such a breathing-taking pace that a lot of the “fire” went out of things later on.
Liddell repeatedly cut through the Everton defence like a knife through butter, his speed in nipping to a position or a pass being amazing; withal Liddell repeatedly glided to the vacant spot ready for the winning pass. Blame not Liddell that he failed to get it so often. Real expatiations of Liddell would have decided this tie once and for all.
The Reds failed to spot the “ace” in their hands and in the second half left Billy to languish on his own. Liverpool may pay dearly for this error and for failure to make almost continuous pressure pay in the first half.
The Reds should have been three up at half-time instead of that “off-side-tainted” point which Liddell snapped up s eagerly. To be candid I would not at the interval have given much for Everton’s chance had I not been aware of the fighting spirit of the Blues. And believe me the old spirit brought a remarkable transformation in the second half.
From a struggling side Everton became the dictators. From almost continuous defence they changed to concentrated attack, and it became Liverpool’s turn to destruct instead of construct. And the fact that Liverpool neglected the right flank of their attacked helped in Everton’s cause.
Everton were well content that they held Liverpool to their one goal but had they equalised –and they went oh so near – few would have grumbled. It was one of those curious games which Liverpool should have won hands down and yet in the end were deeply grateful to have established even a slender lead.
Apart from Liddell another fine contribution from Alex Stevenson and a lot of glorious work by Harry Catterick the forward work was not good. Don Welsh opened well and then lost heart after he had struck the bar with a smasher so that Jack Grant worried him like a terrier worries a rat. Don had no rest from Jack, and this robbed Liddell of the vital short ball.
Defences took the honours, and here a good word for Laurie Hughes who smashed up attack after attack; to Morris, who had a fine last hour; to all four backs for impeccable play. George Burnett and Alf Hobson also did finely, with Burnett getting more colour because he had more work to do. Everton did not shoot as readily as the Reds.
All the wingers found the backs far too good, but the wing half play of Gordon Watson – a masterly display – Harry Kaye and Jack Pilling took the eye as did the solid grafting of Phil Taylor and Stan Bentham.
I have enjoyed many “Derby” games much more than this, but many football days far worse than this.
It opened well with a reception given to the Press by the Liverpool Chairman Mr. William McConnell and with Mr. Wilf Gibbins, Everton’s chairman and Mr. Cuff as guest. It was a happy thought and function deeply appreciated by “the lads from the Press box,” and further cemented the strong ties of friendship among us. Mr. Albert Booth on our behalf, acknowledge the tribute paid by Mr. McConnell, but here let me again say “Thank You.”
The match drew a 100 per cent directorial attendance provided us with abundant thrills and did a world of good to Cup Pool, the Exchequer and the clubs I noticed Mr. John Green of the Orrell club present, but nothing definite has yet been decided about Liverpool’s post war junior ground. It’s in the air.
(Source: Evening Express: March 26, 1945)