By Leslie Edwards
Behind the office doors marked “Manager” at Goodison Park and Anfield sit taciturn fellows not keen on saying anything “for the record.” That is why, when I spoken to them last night, they gently, but firmly, steered the conversation away from what, might or might no happen in the eighty-fifth Football League meeting of their clubs at Goodison Park (3.15) today. What Messrs Kay and Britton have thought and talked about in conference with their players is another story. Fortunately individual form-at-a-glance for this match is something of an open book. The only form likely to be unreliable is that supplied by the respective League table records ignore that for a start! It is certain for instance that this will be a game contested in the new sporting spirit which has characterized recent games in the series. The entry of the gladiators two by two, now really means something. There were times when players entering the field shoulder to shoulder took advantage of the opportunity to tell each other just how far they were going to kick each other over the park that afternoon. It is certain too, that O’Neill and others who will be making their Everton v. Liverpool bow will look upon the serried thousands (about 80 of them) and will get the feeling that they would rather be at home helping with the Saturday shopping than showing themselves off to a multitude half of which at least is eagerly awaiting their first sign of nerves.
Shades of W.R.
Certain, also is it that O’Neill will be compensated by knowing that by the accident of birth he happens to be keeping goal against Stubbins (fit to play for Old Etonians) and not someone like William Ralph Dean, who had only to make a few quick pattering strides towards a ball in the air to make brave goalkeepers tremble. Another inevitability today is that Jack Balmer of Liverpool will come out to cries of “Good old Jack-kay.” Whether Jack-kay remains Jack-kay or suddenly fails from graces and becomes plain-Barm-mer or worse depends upon whether he is getting goals or missing them. It is a safe bet than followers of Liverpool will not appreciate what he does however much Evertonians alongside them begin to worthy when he has the ball. I predict we shall see Nobby Fielding (sleeves well down over the hands and shoulders hunched) jog-trotting about plying his almost unique variety of passes –with bits of spin and undercut administered to make the ball arrive at Eglington’s feet “just right.” We shall have Jack Humphreys standing on no ceremony and coughing his orders” with the authority which marks him out as a born captain. And Willie Liddell with those billiard table legs of his will be chasing up and down and if necessary “going inside” o hit a shot which O’Neill may never have seen the like –that is if he catches sight of it at all.
At some stage we shall have hardy Bob Paisley handling. He always does. Also he will inch a few strides up the line before his throw-ins. The Everton crowd will demonstrate against this ruse, but whether he gains a yard or two or three makes no matter. It is the quickness of the throw, not its placement which deceives. Wainwright will have at least one thrilling burst of individualism after which he will toss his long lank hair back into place; Eglington will assuredly try to win his speed test against Lambert though looking much the older will put spry feet forward and even if he is winning the race Eglington may not always pass his man. And the Everton crowd will not be particularly happy about half. And so to other inevitabilities of football between Everton and Liverpool –arguments on the terraces, in the pubs; mascot canned music, the official “proey,” the running commentary of Kay; the poker-face of Britton. What is not inevitable? The result I wouldn’t know a thing about that until 4.55 or thereabouts.
Everton; O’Neill; Moore, Clinton; Grant, Humphreys, Farrell; Buckle, Wainwright, Hold, Fielding, Eglington. Aston Villa; Sidlow; Lambert, Spicer; Jones, Hughes, Paisley; Payne, Taylor, Stubbins, Balmer, Liddell.
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