Bridge view: Half a century looking on (by Frisby Duke)

November 5, 1955
“Frisby Dyke” (once a familiar Liverpool stores-name) is the chosen ‘nom de plume’ of a famous sea captain. All sailors love a football match when they’re ashore, and he is no exception. For half a century he was watched both Everton and Liverpool at play, although admittedly “an out-and-out Red.” His remarks about great games and great players of both sides will be found as breezy and buffeting as an ocean gale, his picture of football is easier times positively refreshing.

One Saturday afternoon about 50 years ago, my father took me on the Kemlyn Road stand to see Liverpool beat Newcastle United by three goals to nil. I have been going there ever since. Out of these 54 years we had a team that played tip-top football in perhaps eight seasons. The rest of the time it hasn’t been too good.

No team in the country gets the loyal support year in year out that Liverpool does – not even Everton. Everton draws support from further afield than Liverpool, and many people make quite a long trip to see a match at Goodison, but they are not dyed-in-the-wool supporters like the Anfield crowd.

After the Middlesbrough game this season I thought: after this next Saturday’s gate is bound to be down, but it wasn’t – it was bigger! Someone once said to me it was just a habit and that Liverpool folks wouldn’t know what to do with their Saturday afternoons if they didn’t go to the match.

Jugglers and acrobats.
Since that first Saturday things have changed a lot at Anfield.

Then we would have a juggler or an acrobat performing along the touchline for half an hour or so before the kick-off.

Boys in white overalls would be selling “Bovrill Chocolate” – nothing else – and I never remember seeing this chocolate on sale anywhere else outside of Anfield or Goodison.

The programme for a penny was a very good one – “The Liverpool and Everton Official Programme.” After the “Bovrill Chocolate” boys vanished, we had the gentlemen with the fierce red moustaches who sold gingersnaps.

During the first war, many uncensored novelties were sold. I remember one rather clever puzzle called “I wonder what my Best Bot is thinking now.”

Yes, whether we like it or not, a lot of colour has gone from Anfield.

I remember once during the first war being on Spion Kop. We had a grand centre forward then, Tommy Bennett, who seemed to scored hat-tricks every Saturday.

A reverend gentleman stood near me and told everyone that Bennett would get a hat-trick.

Well, Liverpool were losing by 1-0 with ten minutes to go, and a group of Kopites got at His Reverence and told him in good Liverpoolese that Bennett would not score.

His Reverence took it all with great dignity.

In the last five minutes Bennett scored three times, and I shall never forget the look on the reverend gentleman’s face as he said: “NOW, YOU B….B…s.”

A lot of laughs.
We have had a lot of laughs with Liverpool. In one of their championship years they had gone, I think, thirteen matches without defeat, and were playing at Middlesbrough. Danny Shone scored in the first minute. He scored again a few minutes later, but the referee disallowed the second goal for offside – a very bad decision.

At half-time most of the team got the news that a “double” they were on had come up; whether this affected the play or not I don’t know, but Andy Wilson got the winner for Middlesbrough.

After the game Donald Mackinlay told me what he hoped the referee would get for a New Year present. It was very funny, but quite unprintable!!

At Newcastle that season Liverpool drew 1-1. In the dressing-room after the match the then Liverpool manager, walking up and down like a caged lion, told the team: “We have the best defence in the League and the worst forward line in the whole world.” (That day it included William Lacey, Dick Forshaw, Harry Chambers and Fred Hopkin at their best.)

I once heard John McGraw talk to his New York Giants like this, but I don’t think it happens anywhere to-day in this effete world of ours.

That Liverpool team finally broke up after the last great bare-knuckle fight in Liverpool, which took place at the Everton Baseball Park before only a few of the “fancy.”

Goddard’s winner.
I saw Arthur Goddard score the winning goal in the great 6-5 Newcastle game, and I also saw the Everton – Sunderland extra-time classic, but I think the best game I ever saw Liverpool play was when, with a team that “Bee” had not given a chance to, they beat Bolton in the Cup at Burden Park 4-1.

Tommy Lucas and Donald Mackinlay gave the best full-back display I have ever seen, and David Jack that day was at his brilliant best.

On the great day that Everton first won the Cup, I was at Goodison Park watching Everton Reserves play Earlestown in the Lancashire Combination.

When it was announced that Everton had scored, the scene was indescribable, and when the boy with the blackboard went round with the one word on it – “YOUNG” – the whole crowd automatically started to chant “SANDY YOUNG SCORED THE GOAL.”

On the following Monday night, with a lot of other youngsters, I was given a drink of port wine out of the Cup at the Plough Hotel in Rice Lane, an Everton director being the licensee at that time.

At Dingle Lane.
When Liverpool got to Crystal Palace in 1914, I was at the South Liverpool ground (Dingle Lane) also watching a Lancashire Combination match.

At half-time somebody put up the score “Liverpool 3, Burnley 0,” and again there were great scenes of joy, only to be dashed to despair when we got the real score.

I made my way over to Birkenhead at midnight that Saturday to sail at 2 a.m. from the East Float for South Africa with a very heavy heart.

A Goodison final.
In the 1910 final at Goodison Park, when Newcastle United won the Cup for the first time, I was on the newish Goodison Road stand. It was a terrible day. The rain came down in sheets.

Barnsley had beaten Everton in the semi-final replay in which several Everton players had been badly injured. Nobody liked Barnsley in Liverpool then, and everybody let Barnsley know it.

All the way up Scotland Road, all the ladies with their shawls over their heads booed everyone wearing a red rosette, and I am sure all the local fans wore a black and white one – I know I did!

Well, the great Albert Shepherd scored two goals and Dickie Downs gave his usual acrobatic performance.

On the Wednesday of the replayed Everton – Barnsley semi-final I was at a matinee at the “Star” watching “Sexton Blake.” Towards the end, as the villain was about to be trapped, he said: “Give me a paper – let’s see what ships are sailing.”

As he opened the paper, a voice from the “gods” yelled: “EH, MATE, HOW’S EVERTON GETTING ON”

To-day, a lot of matches are ruined through one side having only ten men. The sooner we allow one substitute to each side the better.

In the old days it very seldom happened. The players, I think, were tougher then.

I can remember one local centre half who used to knock back Guiness wholesale at the “Union” on Friday, and still play a blinder next day.

Then there was an Everton inside forward who used to arrive regularly for the match with a glow on.

Out-and-out Red.
Though I am an out-and-out Red, I will admit I have seen ore good football at Goodison than I have at Anfield, and that Dixie Dean was the greatest footballer I have ever seen.

In my fifty-odd years of watching there was no one to compare with him.

I remember taking the Rangers to Canada once – the great Rangers of the days of Alan Morton, Tommy Muirhead and Sandy Archibald – ad they thought as I did.

I can see Dixie now heading the ball down, controlling the first two bounces with his knee, going all the time at top speed, with Frank Hudspeth of Newcastle hanging on, and then smashing the ball in the net.

Against Oldham in his Second Division year, I can still see Dixie at the angle of the penalty area watching the ball come over, then looking at the goal and HEADING the ball into the far top corner.

Yes, sir, it was a great privilege to see Dixie Dean at his best. I saw a lot of great players, including Steve Bloomer at his best, too.

No personalities.
We lack personalities to-day. We had a lot of colourful players in this city in yesteryears.

Jack Parkinson from Valkyrie. (What happened to Valkyrie. They used to have two buses with the wheels off – the tops served as grand stands and the insides as dressing-rooms. It doesn’t seem to blow as hard at Roversdale Road these days as it did when the Vals played there!)

Then there was “Silent Sam Hardy,” the nonchalant Jock Maconnachie, the classic Warney Cresswell, Dicke Downs the Indiarubber Man, Harry “Smiler” Chambers, and John Cox with the vaxed moustaches and the shortest of shorts. He could usually be seen playing billiards in the local pub half an hour before the kick-off.

I read somewhere that Everton gates this year were down by 80,000 and someone asked what had happened to them. Well, they were probably people who used the “coronary thrombosis” or Goodison Road stand, and they are all dead.

The climb to the top of the mountain and the skid down the other side must take its toll!!

But joking apart, Goodison is a fine ground with an air of shiny polish, dignity, decorum and discipline, whereas Anfield is a homely sort of place where “anything goes,” but I wish I could see the following team trot out there next Saturday.

Sam Hardy, Tommy Lucas, Donald Mackinlay, Matt Busby, Alex Raisbeck, Tom Bromilow, Arthur Goddard, Robert Robinson, Sam Raybould, Harry Chambers, Billy Liddell.
(I hate to leave HOPKIN out and split our all-time best footballers: BROMILOW, CHAMBERS and HOPKIN, but I must put BILLY LIDDELL in.)
(Source: Liverpool Echo: November 5, 1955; via © 2018 Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited

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