T. Fairfoull, the Liverpool footballer, has sent me another letter on the experience of the Anfield players:
“The weather here has been delightful, and ‘the boys’ are enjoying their holiday. We had a trip by steamer on Thursday into the Baltic Sea. Later on we met a gentleman, a Mr. Olsson, who drove the party all round the city in his motor-car. On the Friday previous to our match he took us in his motor-launch to visit some of the islands on which Stockholm is built. A fine, enjoyable outing it proved to be, and much appreciated by our players. We played our second match on Friday, at the Stadium, in front of a record crowd for a club match. There was an attendance of 16,000 people, and the drawings amounted to over £800. The previous best was Leicester Fosse’s, last year, when the attendance reached 8,000. These figures will give the Liverpool public an idea of how popular the game is and we are in Stockholm. The playing-pitch at the Stadium is very fine and a treat to play on.
“I forgot to mention in my last letter the team that played the first match here. It read: Campbell; Longworth and Speakman; myself, Ferguson, Wadsworth; Sheldon, Banks, Miller, Lacey, and McKinlay. There were four changes from this team on Friday, Crawford, Metcalf, McDougall, and Elisha Scott. The latter played outside left, in McKinlday’s place, and did surprisingly well. We had our hardest match since coming to the Continent. Having lost the toss, we were set to face a stiff breeze. It was not long until we were on the defensive, the Swedes playing with skill and determination. They demonstrated the fact that they knew how to play football. The combination between half backs and forwards was very good. The halves kept the ball low, and some of their ground passing caused the greatest enthusiasm amongst the spectators, who grew wildly excited over their team’s good showing. Perhaps the best forward on the field at this time was the Swedish inside left (Ekroth), a player who has seen service with Leicester Fosse. He gave his partner some very fine passes, and varied his play by pushing the ball up the centre. The right back was also a big success, his recovery work being class. The Swedes played a fine game, and were unlucky not to have been leading at half-time. I may say the spectators were disappointed at Liverpool’s play in the first half. As an excuse I might mention the fact that our boys had been entertained by the Swedish Football Association to a banquet the previous night, and that Swedish punch, ‘the national beverage,’ has a bad after effect!
“Shortly after the commencement of the second half the left back blundered badly, and put through his own goal. Our boys were playing much better now, and began to take the game in hand. McDougall, fastening on to a rebound from the centre half, ran clean through and scored. We were now playing with the Swedes, and they were clearly disheartened. Lacey scored a third, and five minutes later scored the finest goal of the match – from a distance of thirty yards. It was one of Billy’s specials, and he was certainly unlucky to have it disallowed.
“The outstanding man of our team was Longworth, with Crawford running him for honours. They put up a fine defence when pressed, neither making a slip. A feature of their play was the passing back to their goalkeeper. Whenever they indulged in this the Swedish players all stood shock still, seemingly quite surprised that a back should pass the ball to the goalkeeper. I fancy when the season opens at Anfield the Liverpool supporters will see that this Continental trip has improved the understanding between the goalkeeper and backs. Wadsworth played a good hard game, and with some experience should do well. The forwards did not play so well as usual. Perhaps the introduction of so many different players spoiled their combination.”
(Liverpool Echo, 22-05-1914)
Text: Kjell Hanssen