Articles

Did Liverpool let Chelsea win?

Monday, 31 March – 1913

Mr. Henry George Norris, who is a prominent man in more than the football world, has thrown into the big ball camp a bombshell, the full effect of which none can measure at the present time. He practically accuses Liverpool of allowing Chelsea to win a game on Easter Monday. Meanwhile, let it be understood that the “Express,” in giving such prominence to Mr. Norris serious charges, does not take sides in any way, but feels that if is its duty, for the honour of all concerned, that the matter should be investigated and cleared up without delay.
The Chelsea club, especially, cannot afford to sit still under such suggestions, and they owe an answer to their thousands of supporters. It may be as well to explain here that when Chelsea went to Liverpool last Monday they were by no means safe from relegation. As a matter of fact they were in a dangerous position, and because they came back from Liverpool with two points the “Express” headed its report, aptly enough, “Priceless Points for Chelsea – Eluding Relegation.” The pricelessness of those points is emphasised by the result of Chelsea’s game with Blackburn on Saturday last, which the West Londoners lost by 6-1, while Notts County drew. Now if, as Mr. Norris suggests, Chelsea should have been defeated last Monday had Liverpool played the game, the bottom of the League table would read this morning: -

Played. Won. Lost. Drawn. Pts.
Chelsea 34 7 21 6 20
Notts County 33 6 20 7 19
Woolwich 34 3 22 9 15
But the same three clubs in the League table actually stand now: -

Played. Won. Lost. Drawn. Pts.
Chelsea 34 8 20 6 22
Notts County 33 6 20 7 19
Woolwich 34 3 22 9 15

These tables show at a glance the tremendous value of the two points at this crucial time of the season both to Chelsea and Notts County. Fighting so well and pluckily as the poverty stricken “Lacemen” are, it is obvious that if Chelsea had not got the points it would be slight odds on Notts County saving themselves at the expense of their wealthy brother Leaguers, for they have a game in hand, and are fighting with desperation, as several opponents lately have discovered. Now, in weighing up Mr. Norris’ statement it has to be taken into consideration that he is as far removed from the hysterical as it is possible to imagine any one. Besides being the Mayor of Fulham, he is one of the heads of a most successful London business house and knows the value of words and what words mean as well as most people. He is not one either whose opinions can be dismissed as “noise off,” and all this must be borne in mind when reading his remarks. This is what Mr. Norris says in the Fulham “Times”: -

“Would that I had stayed away (from the Liverpool and Chelsea game at Liverpool), for I should then have been spared the infliction of witnessing the worst game of football it has ever been my misfortune to see.
“It was early apparent to me what was happening, and the final result of a win for Chelsea by the odd goal in three occasioned no surprise either to me or the many thousands who left the field in disgust.
“I have no hesitation in saying that many matches played as this one was would effectually kill professional football in this country as surely as professional running and cycling were killed in the olden days.
“I was told by certain of the Chelsea officials that I was talking nonsense and was prejudiced. Was I prejudiced and was I talking nonsense?
“If I am prejudiced, is the same charge to be levelled at the critic of the Lancashire “Sporting Chronicle”? This is what he wrote on Tuesday morning: -
“Liverpool terminated their Easter holiday engagements by one of the worst exhibitions of football during their career in the premier league. They allowed Chelsea to defeat them by the odds goal of three, after a display which must assuredly cause their faithful followers much food for genuine complaint. It was not merely the fact that they were beaten that aroused dissatisfaction, but the manner in which their defeat was brought about that led to universal condemnation of their methods.
“Never before have the Liverpool first team been guilty of such palpable inefficiency as was the case in this game, and Chelsea’s success was due not to their superiority, but to the pandering of their opponents, who practically added to their own discomfiture by their crude unintelligence and utterly feeble efforts.
“In the early stages, Campbell, Longworth, and Tosswill were sterling strivers, but even during this period there were palpable passengers in the Liverpool ranks, who seemed determined to give the Chelsea men every chance of making headway. Liverpool never appeared desirous of obtaining goal, whereas they allowed their opponents every opportunity of so doing.
“Never in their career have they given a worse exhibition, and few of the team will emerge from the contest with added reputation. Genuine performers on the Liverpool side could be numbered on the fingers of one hand. Their opponents were feeble in the extreme, yet they won.”

“The Lancashire ‘Daily Dispatch’ and the London ‘Express’ (continues Mr. Norris) commented in much the same way, but no good purpose would be served by repeating what the above extract clearly indicates; and it must be remembered, too, that Liverpool had only played once prior to the Monday, viz. on the Saturday – they had not played on the Good Friday.
“My own view is that, had the Liverpool team, as a whole, desired to win the match, they could have done so quite readily. It is not for me to suggest reasons for this display on the part of a section of the Liverpool team. One is, however, tempted to ask why they acted in the way they did, and echo answers, “Why?”
“Such of the Liverpool directors as were present did not hesitate to express their heartfelt disgust at the whole wretched business; their faces during the second half of the match were a study. Knowing them intimately as I do, I felt sorry for them in having to see what they did; sorry for Notts County, who should have been one point nearer their opponents, instead of one point further away; sorry for the genuine triers in the Liverpool team; and sorry for the 30,000 holiday-makers who had to pay their sixpences and more to witness a football match instead of which they saw _”

The questions that ought to be answered without delay are: -
What have Chelsea to say about the charges?
What have Liverpool to say to them?
What do the League management Committee intend to do?
What part will the Football Association take?

It will be useless to attempt to ignore the article as the offspring merely of a prejudiced mind. One cannot forget that Woolwich would, for gate reasons, wish to have as companions in distress in the Second Division such a great drawing club as Chelsea in preference to Notts County, but I do not entertain for a moment that such a preference would have induced Mr. Norris to make his remarkable charges. I, for one, am convinced of his sincerity. In fact, he told me yesterday afternoon that he adhered to all he had written.
Professional football has more than enough malicious and venomous enemick as it is, and if the parties concerned in this alleged scandal do not tresh it out to the very bottom the game will deserve all, and more, that has been said and written against it. Accusations of “selling” matches have been often made without so much evidence to back them up as would remain in a topless hat, but here we have as I have said before, plain statement published by a director of two League clubs against the players of another League club, and an immediate investigation is imperative.
It is to be hoped that no attempts will be made to burke a full and impartial inquiry.

(Daily Express, 31-03-1913)

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Did Liverpool “lie down”?

Monday, 31 March – 1913
Liverpool Football Sensation
Did team “lie down”?
Commission to hear grave charges

“In the interests of the game and of the clubs concerned I shall at once ask the Football League Management Committee to inquire into the grave charges.”
This is Mr. J.McKenna’s statement. He is chairman of the Liverpool Football Club, and we give his reply to the grave charges made against Liverpool F.C. in connection with the Chelsea match.
Did certain Liverpool players “allow Chelsea to win”?
That’s the question.

The football air has been charged with electricity for some days, and the “current” has been caused by the Cup-ties and exceptionally keen matches at the head and at the foot of the League. Unfortunately, there has also been much comment over a match played on Easter Monday at the Liverpool Football Ground. The Liverpool men have been practically invincible at Anfield this season, the month of November excluded and they had a capital chance of gaining some of the talent money that is allowed by the governing body had they continued in their “homely vein.” Suddenly the club lost its form, and the match against Chelsea was the climax. Letters from correspondents have been published in the “Echo” columns, and plainly nearly every one of the 30,000 spectators believed that Liverpool didn’t show their true form, and, further, laid themselves open to the grave charge of “allowing Chelsea to win.”

State of the League chart
The position was this: Chelsea, by beating the Reds, gained two most valuable points. Had the London club failed at Anfield Notts County would by now have had a very fair chance of scraping through and retaining their membership of the First Division – which is something of a habit with the Notts club. However, Chelsea’s gain of two points at Anfield looks like proving of mighty important to Chelsea. With football form admittedly unreliable one might say, “The result was just what one could expect.” But there are other matters concerned with the game. Certain players, it is alleged, were not trying to do their best. And to-day, Mr. H.G.Norris, who like Mr. John McKenna, is a member of the Management Committee of the Football League, has made a statement which coincides with the statements heard from Liverpool supporters for some days. Hence, the allegations of Mr.Norris do not cause the sensation in Liverpool, but elsewhere in the football firmament. Mr.Norris practically accuses Liverpool of allowing Chelsea to win the game.

The complaint
This is what Mr. Norris says in the “Fulham Times”: -
“Would that I had stayed away (from the Liverpool and Chelsea game at Liverpool), for I should then have been spared the infliction of witnessing the worst game of football it has ever been my misfortune to see.
“It was early apparent to me what was happening, and the final result of a win for Chelsea by the odd goal in three occasioned no surprise either to me or the many thousands who left the field in disgust.
“I have no hesitation in saying that many matches played as this one was would effectually kill professional football in this country as surely as professional running and cycling were killed in the olden days.
“I was told by certain of the Chelsea officials that I was talking nonsense, and was prejudiced. Was I prejudiced, and was I talking nonsense?
“If I am prejudiced, the same charge can be levelled at the critics of the Lancashire papers. One of them wrote: -
“ ‘ Liverpool terminated their Easter holiday engagements by one of the worst exhibitions of football during their career in the Premier League. They allowed Chelsea to defeat them by the odd goal of three, after a display which must assuredly cause their faithful followers much food for genuine complaint. It was not merely the fact that they were beaten that aroused dissatisfaction, but the manner in which their defeat was brought about, that led to universal condemnation of their methods.
“ ‘ Never before have the Liverpool first team been guilty of such palpable inefficiency as was the case in this game.
“ ‘ Liverpool never appeared desirous of obtaining goals, whereas they allowed their opponents every opportunity of so doing. Never in their career have they given a worse exhibition, and few of the team will emerge from the contest with added reputation. Genuine performers on the Liverpool side could be numbered on the fingers of one hand. Their opponents were feeble in the extreme, yet they won.”

Why?
“My own view is that, had the Liverpool team, as a whole, desired to win the match, they could have done so quite readily. It is not for me to suggest reasons for this display on the part of a section of the Liverpool team. One is, however, tempted to ask why they acted in the way they did, and echo answers, “Why.”

“Such of the Liverpool directors as were present did not hesitate to express their heartfelt disgust at the whole wretched business, their faces during the second half of the match were a study. Knowing them intimately as I do, I felt sorry for them in having to see what they did; sorry for Notts County who should have been one point nearer their opponents, instead of one point further away; sorry for the genuine triers in the Liverpool team; sorry for the 30,000 holiday makers who had to pay their sixpences and more to witness a football match, instead of which they saw -.”

League commission
In an interview with Mr. McKenna, chairman of the Liverpool club, and President of the English Football League, I learned that the club had not allowed Easter Monday’s match to pass without inquiry. Three directors were present at the match, but Mr. McKenna and Mr. Watson were not present. The match and the play of the team were considered for some time, and the directors present, with one exception, were of the opinion that “they had never seen such a display before.” Certain players were called before Mr. McKenna, and were requested to make answer to certain charges, and their reply was an emphatic denial that they had done other than their best. It was significant that the Reds attack on Saturday contained but one member of the attack that played against Chelsea. I have reason to believe that certain forwards were not dropped because of their want of form, but because the directors feared the crowd might become restive. The effect of the game played on Monday was seen on Saturday, when the crowd was unusually small for an attractive match.

I pointed out to Mr. McKenna that one of my correspondents had hit the nail on the head when he said “an inquiry should be held.”
Mr. McKenna said: “In the interest of the game, and of the clubs concerned, I shall at once ask the Management Committee to inquire into the grave charges made by Mr.Norris.”
“I am determined,” said Mr. McKenna, “that the obnoxious matter shall be sifted to the bottom.”
“Faked matches” have been absent from football in recent years, and this si well, for a greater death-blow to the popular game than players “lying down” cannot be found.

By “BEE” in Liverpool Echo, 31-03-1913

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An inquiry raised
Friday, 4 April 4 – 1913

A meeting of the Management Committee of the Football League was held in London last evening, Mr. J. McKenna presiding. With regard to the statements made recently concerning the defeat of Liverpool by Chelsea on Easter Monday, the committee decided as follows: – The Football Association, having received a request from Notts County to make a full inquiry into the alleged indifferent play of certain members of the Liverpool Football Club in the match with Chelsea on Easter Monday, the Football League report will be withheld until the Football Association inquiry has taken place, so that both reports may be issued simultaneously. (Liverpool Echo, 05-04-1913)

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Unfounded allegations

Friday, 11 April – 1913

The joint Commission of the Football Association and the Football League, appointed to inquire into allegations by Mr. H.G. Norris as to the conduct of certain Liverpool players in the match between Liverpool and Chelsea, Liverpool, on March 24, sat at the offices of the Football Association, London, on Friday. Messrs. Crump, Pickford, Davis, and Skeggs represented the Football Association; and Messrs. Lewis, Keys, Dickinson, and Hall the Football League. Mr. J. McKenna attended on behalf of the Liverpool Club, and Mr. W.C. Kirby on behalf of Chelsea.
The deliberations extended over three hours and a half, and at the close the following report was drawn up and issued to the Press: -
“The Commission is satisfied that no inducement was offered to the Liverpool players to influence the result of the match. Indeed, Mr. Norris assured the Commission that he did not suggest any corrupt or ulterior motive. There is evidence that the form displayed by the Liverpool players was unsatisfactory, but the Commission is satisfied that the allegation that they did not desire to win the match is unfounded.”
Mr. Norris admitted that he was indiscreet in giving publicity to the Football Association and the Football League.
(Derby Daily Telegraph, 12-04-1913)

Transcribed by Kjell Hanssen

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