The War Years (1939-1945)

The War Years (1939-1945)

Many things were rationed during the war years, but “derbies” against Everton were not amongst them. You might only get 6 rashers of bacon per fortnight, two eggs and a pork chop, but games at Anfield and Goodison were plentiful.

When the war started my old fellah, Billy Brodrick, was only 6 years old and like many young kids of his era, apart from collecting shrapnel there wasn’t much to do. My family at the time lived by the old Bear Brand factory in Woolton, which had changed from making stockings to parachutes.

Hitler’s determination to level it to the ground on many occasions had made all the girls use another form of making their legs look attractive. The ladies of the day had to satisfy themselves with gravy browning on the legs, with their sister or daughter drawing the straightest line she could down the back of their legs to make it give a “Stockings appearance” from a distance.

The fact that most got chased down every street by a pack of dogs, told a different story. Poor beggars, the dogs get a whiff of something like roast beef only to find a pair of spindly legs with knobbly knees for all their efforts.

The name “Woolton” became very well known, not because of the beautiful village, but because of a birk called Lord Woolton, who had invented a vegetable pie and a vegetable stew. Perhaps the stew was the fore-runner of “Blind Scouse”, who knows.

Pocket money and money in general became very scarce as did a lot of local men folk. But some lads and men had to stay at home. Due to Liverpool being the main entry port for food stuffs and other things (the yanks were prepared to lend us) Grampa Peter was a docker which probably accounts for how my old fellah grew so big in those years. Yes food was hard to come by, but where there is a will there is a way. The roaring trade of spivs in the local ale houses, The Grapes and The Vic, always kept the locals in the odd extras.

Then someone, somewhere must have had a brain wave. What about trying to keep football going while the war is on? Ok, it would have to be regionalised due to petrol rationing. Ok, teams would have to draft in squaddies and the like who were stationed locally to fill in the gaps left by players who had signed up. But it was possible.

Most people had had to content themselves with a night at the pictures up ‘til then. Or a night at the local boozer, seeing who could sip the slowest. So on the 2nd December 1939, the first “War Derby” was arranged to be held at Anfield. The Liverpool side:

Riley, Cooper, Tennant, Busby (yes, it‘s Sir Matt), Bush (no relation for those curious), McInnes, Nieuwenhuys, Taylor, Fagan, Balmer and Van Den Berg.

I know, before you say it, who?

You’ll have to get used to reading names you’ve never heard of, because we drafted in players from anywhere we could. The Everton side:

Sagar, Jackson, Saunders, Lindley, TG Jones, Watson, Davies, Bentham, Bell, Stevenson and Boyes.

Again I know, before you ask, who the hell does this fellah Jones think he is having TWO initials? Get used to the idea the Blues were snobs, a very rich club - even Goodison was considered one of the best grounds in the country in those days.

And so the day arrived. Most would get to the ground by “Shanks' Pony”. No Shanks was not the local stable lad, leasing out transport, it meant “walking”. It was hard enough affording to get in, let alone paying for a tram. This combined with people working 6 days a week and the lack of spare cash limited the crowd on the day to 8,000. But those who did turn up enjoyed a well fought draw 2-2. Nivvy (Nieuwenhuys) and Fagan scoring for The Mighty Reds and Davies and Stevenson scoring for the snot nosed Blues.

The event was enjoyed so much, that the Echo ran a story about lifting the gloom from Merseyside. Perhaps next time, more people would scratch the entrance fee together? Perhaps next year the powers that be could arrange more than one game?

1940 saw two games. The first, 30th March 1940, saw the Liverpool team of Riley, Harley, Tennant, Busby, Bush, Paisley, Liddell, Taylor, Nivvy, Carney and Van Den Berg, thrash the Blues 3-1. Now it would be very easy here to draw attention to the fact that the Great Billy Liddell played, on leave from the RAF. But I won't! No, I won't! Ok, he scored one, ok he made the other two for Nivvy, but I refuse to rub the bluenoses' noses in it that Billy was the greatest player the City of Liverpool has ever seen.

The fact that he had no time to train with the team and just turned up, stripped, put his kit on and ripped the Blues to bits, has nothing to do with our magnificent victory. 12,896 turned up for this game at Goodison, the war games were starting to become popular.

The second game that year was on 25th December 1940, psssssttt, guess what? Liddell turned up again. The Liverpool side; Bartram, Harley, Stuart, Lambert (without his butler), Turner, Spicer, Paisley, Carney, Nivvy, Polk and Liddell. The return game at Anfield saw Liverpool once again absolutely trounce the bluenoses with the same score line. This time Carney did most of the damage with two goals and Nivvy popped the third one in for fun (he was enjoying these games).

Little Billy Brod, only seven years old at this time, must have dreamed about watching his favourite Reds beating the Blues, but alas he would have to content himself with his dreams as there was no spare cash in the house for such frivolities. And all the cash he earned doing various jobs here and there was spent on taking his beloved sister Anne to the pictures.

Anne better known in the family circles as “Queen” or “Queenie“, is as much a treasure today as she was in those days. And if truth be known, my Dad got the jobs, but it was Our Queen who actually did them. From delivering papers and groceries to running any other jobs my Dad could find. Meanwhile arrangements were being made elsewhere to make these fixtures more frequent.

Amazingly we played each other SEVEN times during 1941 and I’m sorry but I cannot write about them all as I’d be sitting here typing until I retire. Dates of games:

4th January, Anfield
11th January, Goodison
8th February, Anfield
31st May, Anfield
2nd June, Goodison
25th October, Anfield
1st November, Goodison

Most were crap anyway (honestly believe me here) but for posterities sake I will give you a list of the players who played in 1941 as all deserve a mention. Goals are in brackets:

W Teasdale, Stuart, Owens, Lambert, Turner, Spicer, Nieuwenhuys, Paisley (1), Fagan, Polk, Liddell (4), Bartram, Shafto (1), Patterson, G Jackson, Done (4), Hobson, Seddon, Kaye, Cook, Hanson, Farrow, Taylor, Whitaker, Bush (1), Ainsley, Ramsden, Carney, Dorsett, Gutteridge and Haycock.

Regrettably due to service Busby did not play in 1941. If I was forced to pick a game from that year, for no other reason than it being close to my birthday I would have to pick the October game at Anfield. Another 13,000 turned up for this one where Everton scored two goals and proved to be worthy opposition on the day and very hard to beat but Liddell scored two and Mr Bush scored the other. You've just gotta laff haven't yer!!

In 1942 the two Old Enemies played each other five times. Record attendances so far of 33,445 and 33,780 turning up for the first two games, on the 11th and 18th April. The games were becoming very popular. The Blues edged the first game at Anfield, but Liverpool annihated them in the return game at Goodison 1-0, Balmer doing the damage for the Mighty Reds.

A rare piece of knowledge about Jackie Balmer is the fact that he was the nephew of the two full back brothers, Robert and Walter Balmer, who plied their trade for the lesser side on Merseyside. Jackie also started his career as an amateur for the tight fisted gits across the park. I bet years later when Balmer was scoring week in week out for the Mighty Reds, that decision was queried. Ten goals in three consecutive games “Jackie” once wore the blue of Everton in his youth which might be worth a wind up next time yer in the pub.

New names who played for us in 1942 were Jones, Shankly, Woodruff (I thought that was a school in Speke), McLaren, Wharton, Mills, Westby, Keen, Pilling and Hulligan. The most memorable game of 1942 had to be 30th May and it was a great shame that only 13,761 turned up at Anfield to watch such a dazzling display. Lawton scored for the Blues, but they were totally outclassed on the day. Done, done them twice, Carney scored a screamer and Wharton finished them off.

To be fair, we really did pull a fast one in this game. We unleashed a right half on everton, who chewed iron and spat nails. Every time one of their players got the ball, when he looked up he saw a speeding train coming toward him. They saw “fire coming from his gob” and “steam coming from his ears“, we really did “unleash hell” in the form of Bill Shankly that day.

We have always accredited ourselves with inventing “pass and move”, but for once let’s give some credit to the Blues. When their players saw Billy coming “they passed”. And when they had passed “they moved” like lightning to get out of his way. So Billy only played one game for Liverpool and in that game we beat the “woodentops from woodison” 4-1! Ah, treasured memories of what’s to come. Liverpool also beat Everton 1-0 at Anfield on 12th September, Mills scoring the only goal on the day.

Ok breaktime for a coffee and a re-read lads, won't be a mo ....

After reading the story so far, I regret I feel it’s leaning toward a slight bias for The Reds. A story is not a story unless it tells all sides of the equation, and so I must try and balance the story with a good game for Everton. Sorry lads, but that’s the way it’s got to be. A true hardened Red fan would read this upcoming passage, some of the weaker hearted had skip it.

Goodison was to hold the last game of the year in 1942, 19th September was the date. The Blues had drafted in some pretty tasty “ringers” and it would be difficult for us to “keep up with the Jones’s” in this game. The sides:

Burnett, Cook, JE Jones, Bentham, TG Jones, Watson, Jackson, Mutch, H Jones, Stevenson and Anderson.

They really did play well in this game (I would suggest the squeamish, close their eyes). The bluenoses scored four goals against us. I know, difficult to read lads, but now as all the feint hearted supporters have skipped this and are reading the next paragraph let me tell you some good news .... so did we. Our team of Hobson, Westby, Gutteridge, Kaye, Keen, Pilling, Liddell, Dorsett, Hulligan, Mills and Boon (sorry Done) traded goal for goal with them. Dorsett scored twice, Done and Liddell scored the others for the Reds and everyone went home happy, the balance redressed.

1943, saw the two teams meet FIVE times yet again. The bad news: it was an absolute tragic year. The good news: for THEM! 9th January at Goodison, saw Liverpool beat Everton 3-1. Much was said about Mutch scoring for them, but Hulligan scored twice and Shephard scored once for the Reds. To be fair here we were great and they were shite. Let’s not dwell on their early depression in 1943, cos there’s loads more to come. 16th January saw Liverpool win at Anfield 2-1, Balmer and Done turning them over. 26th April saw Liverpool rip them to bits 4-1, also at Anfield.

Three wins on the trot in the same year, boy were we living high on the hogs back. Time to redress the balance again? 9th October 1943, the fourth game of the year was played back at Goodison saw Everton score another four against the Reds. Stuff redressing the balance this time, Liverpool scored SIX! That’s right S-I-X, SIX! Harley scored one, Welsh scored one, but Done done ’em big style and scored four. The team that day; Hobson, Westby, Gulliver, Kaye, Hughes, Pilling, Harley, Balmer, Done, Welsh and Hanson. Four wins on the trot, four, it couldn’t get any better than that. Could it?


The final game of the year 16th October saw Liverpool triumph once again. 25,000 at Anfield lapped up a 5-2 win. The men who did the deed were Harley, Done, Nivvy and good old Jackie Balmer scoring a brace. Five victories against the old foe in one year. My old fellah was 10 years old and had seen Liverpool smash the bluenoses five times in one year scoring 20 goals.

I’ve never been envious of my father’s youth, all that cottage pie without mince, steak egg and chips without the steak or the egg. Drippin' (wait for this lads, you know that scum in the bottom of a roasting tin after cooking the Sunday joint? Well when it’s cold, that’s the stuff) spread liberally over a piece of toast. Porridge made with water and the good old Sunday morning fry up. 1 piece of fried bread, ½ a sausage, dried scrambled egg and tinned toms (anyone thrown up yet?).

Can you imagine sitting down this Sunday and being greeted with that. I can hear you now, “Kinell darlin, what’s that”? In them days she would answer, “Get used to it, by the way, there’s no milk or sugar for yer cuppa tea and the tea leaves are on their sixth run". But if I could watch my beloved Reds stuff the Blues 5 times in one year, I think I could put up with a few shortages on the table, couldn’t you? Aggregate score for the year, Liverpool 20, Everton 9.

There follows a note if you do associate with any Blues, something which I do not do or recommend others to do unless they are family. Remember the next time you’re at a do and you’ve got a glass of plonk in yer mits, hold it up to the light, have a good look at it. Sniff at the bouquet (pronounced bucket I think), give it a good neckin' and say mmmmmm, that was a good year. With a bit of luck, they'll ask “which one”? 1943!! And say it with relish.

New names for 1943; Charlesworth, Hall, Eastham, Pope (hurrah the Pope played for the Reds, no wonder the results all went our way), Low and Gulliver (back home from his travels).

1944 was the year of chickens and hens (I’ll explain later). Also the year of EIGHT derbies.

Everton were determined to do something about being trounced for a full twelve months and started 1944 with a win at Anfield on 22nd January. Sorry boys, but shit happens, rare as rocking horse shit it may be I know, but nevertheless it happens. Good news is we only had to wait one week until 29th January to exact our revenge at Goodison where a new record war time derby attendance of 45,820 watched. Nivvy, Balmer and Welsh scored in a very entertaining 3-2 win.

I use the phrase “entertaining here” - well at least it was for one half of the city. The only entertainment the bluenoses were getting at this time was watching Flash Gordon at the local flicks. The third game that year on 10th April saw Everton again topple the Reds, but luckily we wouldn’t have to wait too long to restore our pride. 15th April at Anfield saw Liverpool run out comfortable winners 3-0, Hulligan getting a brace and Done doing what Done does. 22nd April at Anfield also saw Liverpool trash the opposition 4-2. Done done it not only once, not even twice, yes Done done them thrice and Polk, poked in a fourth. These sentences are getting harder by the minute, I think it’s time we rested Done, do, doing, done, is becoming a nightmare.

As the Blues are also becoming so easy to beat I also think it’s time we give them a break too. Let them regroup, let them try and find some more talent because what they’ve got can hardly be described as talent. “School of Science”? Yer 'aving a laff, the only thing they’ve got in common with the School Of Science is the initials SOS which they’re sending out after each trouncing.

So six months later on 21st October, battle would recommence. The Everton line up; Burnett, Jackson, Greenhalgh, Grant, Lindley, Watson, Rawlings, Wainright, Wyles, Stevenson and Peters.

They faced the Red Army of; Kemp, Harley, Gulliver, Busby, Hughes, Pilling, Nieuwenhuys, Taylor, Smith, Balmer and Cumner.

Result? The usual, we stuffed ’em 2-0, Smith scored both our goals. Busby played an absolute blinder on the day, ran the game throughout, the Everton players returned to their own dressing room with their heads firmly between their legs. Questions had to be asked. The games were becoming so one sided and the results so obvious, there had to be a re-think.

Can we let them play with 12, my dad asked his father? No son. Can we give them a goal start? No son. Can we play them with one hand tied behind our back or only let us use our right feet? No son.

Something had to be done though as even the Reds were getting bored with stuffing the Blues. A decision was taken in Anfield. Done can’t play any more, he scores too often. Busby can’t play any more, he’s too good. Liddell can play, but he can only use his right boot. (A lot of good that’ll do, he hits them just as hard with either foot).

And so 1944 came to a close with two draws, 0-0 at Anfield on 29th October and 2-2 at Goodison on Boxing Day. Liddell scored both Liverpool goals, one with his right foot, the other was a header. The games ended that year, Liverpool 4 wins, Everton 2 wins and two draws. Evertonians with a pair of drawers (there’s a bloody novelty)!

Just to relieve the boredom here, I’ll give you some bad news and some good news on the war front. The Junka’s (german aircraft to you and me) had successfully hit the chippy on Halewood Road missing their intended target “Bear Brand” by a country mile. The good news: “chickens”! Yes chickens had arrived in the Brodrick household.

No, you don’t eat them soft arse, they lay eggs. Egg and Chips with runny yokes mmmmmm, I can smell them from here. Dad's job? To look after them of course. Funny, thinking about it now, but my Father became a Union Delegate later in life and a bloody good one at that. The only reason I mention that is,of course, he delegated the job to Our Queen. I wonder whether he foresaw his future career very early in life, I’ll have to ask him that when I next see him. His motto? Why do a job yourself when you can delegate it to someone else. Pretty clever for an eleven year old. He’s obviously gonna be the brains in this family.

1945, the final year. New names for the final year;
Campbell, Blood, Kinghorn, Shannon, Easdale, Nickson, Finney (don’t ask if it's Tom, I don’t know, perhaps someone can ask the club) Baron and Priday. 3rd February was the first game of the year and the least said about it the better. Captain Blood played by Errol Flynn was a hero to many in the flicks, but the Blood who played for us in his only game plundered no treasure.

A week later on 10th February with Captain Blood probably ransacking the Spanish fleet somewhere in the Caribbean, Liverpool got back to winning ways with a tremendous 3-1 victory, Cumner the tricky winger getting two goals while the consistent Nivvy got a third. A single goal by Lawton was about as much use as a fag without a match for the Blues.

March that year brought two games, on the 24th and the 31st, Liverpool winning both 1-0 and both goals were scored by Liddell. Another record gate for the war period had been set in the second game, 51,512 turning up in the “Theatre of Wood” to watch Liverpool and Liddell outplay Everton, but there was a cost.

Due to Liddell scoring the goal with his left foot, it was decided by the powers that be within Anfield that he should be punished with a one game suspension. "We can’t have Liddell running around the park scoring with his left foot, it upsets the native Blues" must have been the train of thought.
So on 2nd April Everton won their second game of the year.

The penultimate game of the series was held at Anfield, 12th September. Liddell played, Liddell scored, bugger all new there then. Liverpool ran out comfortable winners 2-1, the winning goal scored by Shannon. “The Bells of Shannon” were certainly ringing that night.

And so our story comes to a close. The war was over. Rationing would still be in place for a long time but, between the Yanks, the Spivs and The Glorious Dockers of Liverpool, not many would go hungry in our city as long as you had a shiny shilling in yer pocket. There was many ways of earning a shiny shilling in those final days of 1945, and who am I to knock anyone who found some lead lying around, not being used. Who am I to say, that kids climbing over the back of the Co-op wall to grab empty pop bottles and return them through the front door for the deposits are wrong. As I said, pocket money didn’t exist and if the only way of getting into the ground to watch a derby in the war years was by a little bit of pilfering or light fingered trickery so be it.

Now I did say a “little bit of pilfering”, but bloody hell lads. December 1945, must have been like the riots in Toxteth. Anything that wasn’t nailed down must have been either pawned, flogged or weighed in. 60,296 fans found themselves with enough cash to go and watch the final war game. And quite fitting to bring this story to a close, all fans went home happy. The 2-2 draw at Goodison saw Boyes and Catterick score for the Blues, with Liddell and Baron keeping the Reds happy.

I cannot imagine how hard life was in the war years and I don’t suppose there are many around who can. But God bless every one of you who still somehow treasure the memories of those times. And God bless all the lads who never returned home, Red and Blue.

Lest we forget, while they were in Europe kicking Hitler’s arse, Liverpool were kicking Everton's.

© Wooltonian 2004


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