Merseyside’s biggest day


March 24, 1950
Tomorrow is the biggest day on Merseyside sporting annals for over a generation, with the Grand National exerting its appeal upon racing enthusiasts and the semi-final between Everton and Liverpool at Manchester just as thrilling a tit-bit for the football folk.

It was a great pity that something was not done earlier, when the inevitable clash of interests began to be obvious to ensure that a separate date was not fixed for the Maine Road semi-final.

Happily, the F.A. by bringing the semi-final dates forward a week next season, have made such an occurrence impossible in future. But it may be a long time before we have the double-barreled interest in the semi-final that we have tomorrow.

It is 44 years since our two city sides fought their only previous semi-final battle, when Everton were victorious. This is only the third occasion in 57 years of football history that they have both got to this advanced stage in the same season.

Tomorrow will be Everton’s eleventh appearance in the semi-final and Liverpool’s sixth. The Goodison club has fought a final tie on five occasions, two of them successfully, while Liverpool’s only Cup final venture was he ill-starred match at Crystal Palace, which saw them fall victims to Burnley through a goal scored by a former Evertonians.

What of Tomorrow?
What of tomorrow’s Maine Road prospects? At one period of the season few would have given much for Everton’s chances against the Anfielders whose 19 opening games without defeat set up a set up a new modern record. But Liverpool have been slipping a little lately, whereas, Everton, though far from being a thoroughly convincing side in some aspects, have been playing recently with a vim and determination that makes them opponents worthy of respect.

It was a big blow to Liverpool when the specialists report last Monday put Laurie Hughes out of the team. While Bill Jones is a most capable deputy and there is little or nothing to choose between them in the pivotal position, most of their followers feel that had Hughes been fit and Jones available to cross to left half, the side would have gained in strength.

Though Liverpool have had an easier passage to the semi-final than Everton, the Reds have not always given the tip-top displays in Cup-ties that we knew they can at their best. They made heavy weather of it against Blackburn Rovers and Stockport County, left it very late before clinching matters against Exeter City, and had a fairly close call in the last round against Blackpool. Their followers need not be unduly upset over that.

The Reds are notoriously an unpredictable side, often producing only a mediocre and uninspired performances when it seems that their task is easy, yet contriving to pull out something especially good when it is most needed. The effort will be required tomorrow if they are to realize their long-cherished ambition of a Wembley appearance. Liverpool supporters can rely on them for it, and there is a feeling of confidence in the Anfield camp as the outcome.

Surprise Packet.
Everton also have a belief that they can do the trick. They have been the surprise packet of recent rounds. They put an end to the hopes of Tottenham, by general consent one of the finest sides of the season, and emphasized that this victory was no flash in the pan by their splendid win against Derby County, all the more meritorious when we remember they were a goal down at one time and without Eddie Wainwright in the closing stages.

Games which seem reasonably certain to produce a thrill-packed struggle do not always live up to expectations. On the face of things tomorrow’s semi-final should be a close fought and exciting tussle, which will keep the crowd on tenterhooks from start to finish. It may pan out that way, or it may develop into something not quite so enthralling. Here will be 75,000 people there to give it “atmosphere,” anyway.

How To Get There.
On arrival at Manchester, Liverpool people will find a service of buses leaving the Piccadilly bus station at one minute intervals from 11.30 onwards. At Albert Square the ordinary service will be considerably augmented by direct buses to the ground, and there will be special transport from Miller Street for Victoria Station arrivals.
(Source: Liverpool Echo: March 24, 1950)

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