Arsenal v Liverpool 1-2 (League match)


Saturday, May 24 – 1947
Match: Football League, 1st First Division, at Highbury, kick-off: 15:30.
Arsenal – Liverpool 1-2 (0-0).
Attendance: 44,265.
Referee: Mr. G. Tedds.
Arsenal (2-3-5): George Swindin; George Male, Walley Barnes; Paddy Sloan, Alf Fields, Joe Mercer; Ian McPherson, Jimmy Logie, Reg Lewis, Ronnie Rooke, Alf Calverley.
Liverpool (2-3-5): Cyril Sidlow; Jim Harley, Ray Lambert; Bill Jones, Laurie Hughes, Eddie Spicer; Willie Fagan, Jack Balmer, Albert Stubbins, Billy Watkinson, Bob Priday.
The goals: 1-0 McPherson (61 min.), 1-1 Balmer (77 min.), 1-2 Balmer (81 min.).
** Other sources gives Liverpool’s second goal to Priday, but reading the match report it is clear that Balmer was the last player on the ball before it rolled over the line.

An inspired thought by the Liverpool directors helped the club overcome Arsenal at Highbury at Saturday. That is the story behind this latest Anfield triumph. It is the players who win matches not directors, but hand it to the directors this time for contributing to the success.

After 61 minutes Liverpool found themselves down to a McPherson goal which Liverpool thought was offside, and the side was giving few signs apart from wing and down the centre thrust of ever retrieving the position.

Then came the master idea which turned the whole trend of the game and sent the Arsenal home rather unfortunate losers. Directors Messrs. S. Ronnie Williams, W. Harvey Webb, George Richards and Ralph Milne were in the directors box, and five minutes before the interval Mr. R. Lawson Martindale, who had been held up by traffic, arrived. At half-time Mr. Martindale suggested that if there were no immediate improvement in the side that switches should be made in keeping with Liverpool’s pre-war ideas. Well, that leading goal to Arsenal which so dimmed the prospects brought action.

Vice-Chairman S. Ronnie Williams called an informal meeting in the stand and a switch of Jones and Fagan affecting inside left and right half was proposed. The vote was “yes,” and off went Mr. Williams through the Highbury corridors to Trainer Albert Shelley at the touch line. From Albert the change order was passed to Bobby Priday and on to skipper Fagan, and the switch became a fact.

The change was made at the 68th minute and so well did it work – the effect on the side as a whole rather than the actual change – that at the 77th minute had headed a poach of a goal from inside left from Watkinson’s corner, and at the 81st minute Balmer had set the seal on Liverpool’s victory. Two goals in the space of four minutes.

About the winning goal. Definitely it was scored by Balmer although at the time there was doubt because of the goalmouth scramble. Priday was the maker and the man to whom chief credit goes, for he bore inside to shake off Male and Sloan and drive in low. Balmer just got his leg to the ball and it turned over the line as Barnes tried to kick clear but instead turned the ball farther into the net. All the Liverpool players assert that he ball was over the line before Barnes touched it and so Balmer gets the credit and once again becomes Liverpool’s leading goal-getter, one ahead of Stubbins with a match to go.

This victory can be attributed directly to the brilliance of Liverpool’s defence – a complete ensemble of men who were masters of position, tackling, intervention and kicking. The attack was rather a disjointed affair enlivened only when Bill Jones went in to add his height, weight, skill and endeavour. The real effect came from Watkinson and Priday, with Priday as the best forward on the field. That is no reflection on Bill Watkinson, who now he has come through extended trials is, in my opinion, a better proposition than many players for whom the club would have to pay out thousands of pounds. Watkinson may easily be the answer to the prayer for a star outside right. Watkinson has now played in five matches out of which the Reds have collected nine points. Priday’s tally is three game, five points. Nice pickings on the bonus market.

This was not a good game, but it thrilled because Liverpool rose to the occasion so nobly at the vital moment and stayed much better.
(Liverpool Daily Express, 26-05-1947)

Jack Balmer