January 7, 1959
The match that has turned Worcester into a Cup-crazy City is in danger. Rain threatens to wash out their glamour Third Round clash with Second Division giants Liverpool on Saturday. The Worcester pitch is already waterlogged. If there is more heavy rain or a snowfall in the next couple of days the match may have to be called off.
Referee Les Tirebuck, a Halifax policeman, will inspect the pitch on Saturday morning before making the most ital. decision of the round. In fact, the state of the ground has worried promotion-chasing Liverpool far more than the prospect of facing the Cup-killing part-timers of Worcester.
They didn’t bother watching their Cup opponents’ Southern League match at Bath last Saturday. Instead, they sent a spy to look at the condition of the Worcester ground.
It was ankle deep in mud. It still is.
Worcester officials told me: “We have an army of men standing by to work on it on Friday, and have borrowed drying equipment from the county cricket club.
“We are anxious about it.”
Worcester manager Bill Thompson has trekked 1,000 miles – including trips to Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Merseyside – to study Liverpool and plan their Cup defeat.
Poor Phil Taylor, the Liverpool boss, travelled once to Worcester and saw the game called off after forty-five minutes because of the astrocious ground conditions.
Two matches were never even started in previous weeks because the ground was awash.
That is the big bogey of this all-ticket clash which has attracted 5,000 more fans than have ever watched Worcester before.
Manager Thompson’s 1,000 mile slog has produced a plan which he hopes will sweep Liverpool out of the Cup. But he cannot reveal the details of his scheme until Saturday – when his team all get together. Three of them – Roy Paul, left half and captain, left back Reg Potts, and goalkeeper Johnny Kirkwood – all train away from Worcester. That presents another ground problem. The eight other players are scheduled to train on the pitch tonight and tomorrow.
“I know the condition the pitch is in,” an official told me. “But if we don’t train there we can’t do any training.
“There is nowhere else in Worcester equipped with floodlights, and being part-timers the players have got to train at night.
“Either we risk making the pitch worse – or we go into the greatest match of our history without proper training.”
They will make no decision about this until the last minute tonight. Apart from that worry everyone I spoke to is optimistic about Worcester’s chances in their first-ever Third Round tie. Trainer Jack Lewis told me: “If it’s on – or whenever it’s on – I think we’ve got a great chance.”
Star-strategist Paul said: “We have a wonderful chance. We are a team of experienced players, but also young enough.”
Manager Thompson said: “Liverpool are the tallest and biggest side I’ve seen in League football since the war. I still think we can do it.”
Last word comes from Liverpool. Manager Taylor said: “I know Worcester aren’t Second Division class, but they will be difficult to beat on their own ground.”
(Daily Mirror, Bill Holden: January 7, 1959)