The finest Liverpool v Everton of all time

March 27, 1950
Pardon me while I search for more superlatives. Not to mark Liverpool’s first entry into the F.A. Cup Final since 1914; nor to mark the twenty minutes of Everton’s combined operations to shower on both teams for the magnificent spirit in which they fought. Because it is so much more difficult to lose than win with grace; Everton, beaten surely as they were, will never lose with greater credit.

If there had been a gentleman’s agreement to decide the issue purely on football, it could not have been kept more strictly. Because this was so and because so much was at stake I rate it as the finest of all city inter-club matches. There have been others fuller of fire and of drama and good football, but none so to inspire our admiration by the good conduct and good sense of all, who played.

Fouls, none serious, numbered about five decisions, except one went unquestioned; players injured in tackle or collision found opponents with regard for their hurts. And when players walked off at the end shaking hands to the accompaniment of a sound which can only be likened to the noise of 10,000 tons of granite chippings dropping on 10,000 Nissen huts (the cumulative effect of 10,000 whirling rattles) it was almost poignant moment for anyone with even the remotest interest in either club.

Liverpool won because they had greater punch and because their defence had one of its particularly brilliant days, Everton lost, I thought because they seemed to want, in their twenty minutes supremacy, to beat Liverpool by too ornate forward movement in which the final thrust never came in short Liverpool were strictly utility (until they lead 2-0) and Everton were frailty and fine to watch until the will to fight wore off and they retrogressed to the stage when they were not even tentative.

Discussion Points three points, two of them producing goals, make the game’s discussion points. Was the ball over the line when Stubbins header was stopped by Moore after it had passed Burnett? Liverpool appealed for a goal; the linesman’s flag was raised. The referee said; “Play on.”

From where I sat I got the impression Moore was some distance from the line when he dropped on the ball. Let us accept the referee verdict. Point number two; Who scored for Liverpool at 29 minutes? Paisley returned in lobbed form. Burnett’s punch-away from Payne’s centre and up went the bold Liddell challenging Falder and Burnett with Moore and Hedley both standing guard on the line. The ball seemed to take a sharp dive downwards, but neither Liddell nor Burnett admits making contact with it. Goal to Paisley.

Point number three, the tragic error of judgment (if it can be so termed) which created for Liddell the opportunity to get his side the confirmatory second goal at 62 minutes. Baron twists and turns at outside left to find space to centre. The ball strikes an Everton defender and spins on the goal-line short of the post and almost over it Wainwright merely to save a corner flings his left foot at it and screws it back into play, but straight to the eager feet of Liddell, who finds the inside of the post off a none too easy chance. And then the sound again of a few tons of granite chippings on a few more Nissen huts.

Paisley’s Secret.
There is always an inside story to a match like this and I make no apology for intruding into a little secret between the scorer of a vital goal. Paisley and his manager Mr. George Kay. Times without number Paisley in the past has followed up his own forwards, as wing half-backs to pick up the unconsidered trifle in the way of the headed clearance or punch away to make his shot. Results have not been encouraging. Mr. Kay therefore chatted with Paisley and suggested that he might profitably elect in future not to court glory and marry failure, but to bring his forwards into play. Paisley said on Saturday night; “I was just going to have a stab at a shot when I remembered what you told me and thought better of it.”

Did you sense his hesitation?

I did. And so We go on, without your leave (because thus, above all Everton-Liverpool games) is the greatest of all time to make note of all facets of an occasion appropriately bathed in sunshine and by its sea of faces and its colour making an unforgettable scene.

Let us dwell on the work of Liddell, on his feet which had magnetic influence on the ball, on a man who surely went as far as most (I have not yet touched on Jones) to make triumph possible. At close quarters with Liddell almost at the standstill. Moore succeeded wonderfully in his negativing work it was when Liddell came surging through in full flight, that Moore was beaten, but only occasionally. No full back could have done more. The outstanding contribution from the losers. Moore could not follow every Liddell wandering. And Liddell’s goal and his share in Paisley’s, his nuisance value against Burnett, was notable on a ground on which he once scored three times from outside left as a boy of 18.

If Liddell was the fire of Liverpool’s attack, Jones was the water of a defence which drenched and quenched Everton after a great 20 minute battle to decided which should be master. With Fielding spreading the ball beautifully and Buckle at his best the Everton line for awhile made forward movement look absurdly easy.

It was then the almost casual Jones did his greatest job, with fine support from those about him. When Liverpool had the game pocketed Jones still went on doing the right thing, measuring his passes and his intervention like a passes and his interventions like a Freebooter measuring his fences. But, unlike Freebooter, he never put a foot wrong. Not even when he strode to the wings to put the ball out of play. There may have been better exhibitions of the art of the centre half-backs but if there have been I have not seen them. This was Jones match.

Add Paisley’s best game for seasons, even allowing for his construction not equalizing his destructive havoc, how could it? and the confidence his colleagues must have gained from Phil Taylor’s quiet assurances and un-hurled wing half-back play and you have a Liverpool solid as a rock with Spicer and Lambert at top form.

Allow Everton credit for their smooth attack until the game slipped away beyond hope, and the Liverpool attack never moving as a five some but Liverpool still contrived to work the chances and smash in shots. By comparison with Sidlow, Burnett needed two pairs of hands. Sidlow almost sat the game out.

Came and Went.
Everton’s big chances came and went too quickly. Again Eglington was best placed to hit the back of the net for the important leading goal again he could not do it. But chances missed and defeat and the absence of any fight back when Liverpool went 2-0 are of little importance.

We shall remember Catterick and the way he retrieved and placed the ball for a Liverpool free kick, and Everton’s refusal to do other than go out sportingly long after we have forgotten any of their football fallings. People rubbed their eyes and could not believe the well-contrived man-to-man moves Everton employed for a time. and even when Liverpool became uproariously confident and full of fire, Everton ironically produced, perhaps the best of the game’s long-distance attacks.

It might be said with more than a grain of truth that a defence which played as well as Everton’s –and they were never overwhelmed even with Liverpool riding easily, hardly deserved to lose by two goals. Certainly Wainwright’s trap is pass was the invitation to one. The other was not of the spread-eagled defence kind. Eglington and others may have lost some of the fire they needed when they tried to pull the game round through having gone back so often and so far to help defensively, although Everton’s safety-first policy in other circumstances, might have paid better.

No Fight.
Moore had a great match and so did Falder, but once the side became a goal down few others touched their best form. The team did not carry through with it’s new-found fighting qualities and one sensed the hopeless outlook of players who had put all into their early play and had found it countered.

There was scarcely a moment when an Everton revival seemed imminent, try as Catterick and Wainwright did. As at match it too soon became one-way. But no matter. It pedestalled Everton and Liverpool as Cup fighting forces and enabled them to reach a new high level of prestige in good conduct and sportsmanship.

We are proud of them both. Manchester, too, must be proud of their admirable transport arrangements and of her Billy Meredith (cup finalist with Manchester United and Manchester City) who joined Tosh Johnson (formerly Everton and Liverpool and Cup finalist with Dixie Dean and company) and William Lacey (ex-Everton and Liverpool Cup finalist with Liverpool in 1914) at this match. They tell me that now Liverpool meet Arsenal at Wembley a discreet word may be dropped that Joe Mercer the Arsenal captain should not train at Anfield. Surely this cannot be true in these enlightened times?

Liverpool: Cyril Sidlow, Ray Lambert, Eddie Spicer, Phil Taylor, Bill Jones, Bob Paisley, Jimmy Payne, Kevin Baron, Albert Stubbins, Willie Fagan, Billy Liddell.
Everton: George Burnett, Eric Moore, Jack Hedley, Jackie Grant, David Falder, Peter Farrell, Ted Buckle, Eddie Wainwright, Harry Catterick, Wally Fielding, Tommy Eglington.
(Source: Liverpool Daily Post: March 27, 1950)


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