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Elisha Scott - 1915-34: Derby Days (Published in the Official Liverpool FC Matchday Programme)

Updated: Feb 18, 2021


As Elisha Scott entered the home dressing- room at Anfield before one of his 20 derby days between 1915 and 1934, the story goes that he was greeted by a brown paper bag with his name written on it. Inside was a bottle of aspirin with a note attached that read: "I think you might be needing these — yours, Dixie."

Bill 'Dixie' Dean is of course an Everton legend, but back in the day Ulsterman Elisha was idolised just as much by Liverpool fans. They were pals, too: when not duelling at Anfield or Goodison between the wars they could occasionally be spotted nursing a pint or two of Guinness in city- centre pubs. Either that or role- playing for fun: when they met on the street Dixie would feign to shoot and Scott would pretend to dive, much to the amusement of onlookers.

These two men helped to define a whole era of Merseyside football. Scott's own Anfield career spanned 21 years and 468 games and he holds the honour of being the first name chanted by the Spion Kop. Derby-wise, there are several games that stand out on his illustrious CV.

His first could have easily been spent guarding the opposite goal. Elisha's elder brother Billy had played between the sticks for the neighbours. Billy had recommended to Everton that they sign Elisha, but they declined on account of his small stature. Billy duly told Liverpool about his kid brother and Elisha joined them ahead of the 1912/13 season. Within a couple of years he was a key figure in the Liverpool defence marshalled by Bolton-born Ephraim Longworth, once described as "a prince among full- backs" and the first Reds player to captain England.

Elisha was 21 when he made his first derby appearance, on Saturday 6 February 1915, for a Liverpool team struggling in the lower half of the table against an Everton side that would ultimately win the title. The unfancied Reds travelled across Stanley Park for what would prove to be the final such fixture before the commencement of the First World War.

As has often been the case, form went out the window. Earlier in the season Everton had won 5-0 at Anfield, but this time an expectant Goodison Park was stunned by manager Tom Watson's young Reds side.

The hosts went ahead through Joe Clennell in the first half, but after the interval Liverpool were rampant. A Jackie Sheldon penalty drew the visitors level before Jimmy Nicholl and Fred Pangham made it 3-1. But just as crucial as Liverpool's attacking prowess was Scott's brilliance in goal over the 90 minutes.

The match also proved to be Watson's last derby after 19 years at Anfield — he passed away in May 1915 a few months before a scheduled trip to America that was postponed indefinitely by the Great War. Four years without domestic football was a small price to pay for such a huge sacrifice by so many people.

Scott's next notable derby experience came in October 1922 at Anfield. Champions Liverpool went into the game as huge favourites with an average of five goals scored in each home game. They were top of the league and if anything over- confidence seemed to seep into their performance in front of over 50,000 hopeful supporters.

Everton found themselves ahead from a blooper by Scott, of all people, who was caught out by an over-firm back-pass from skipper Donald Mackinlay, allowing the quaintly-named William Williams to score.

Liverpool were suitably shook and went in at half-time in a position that few had foreseen. They were now forced to attack the Toffees, who were more than happy to absorb any pressure and defend their lead.

Wave after offensive red wave meant that there was little need for a Liverpool defence — indeed at times they too joined the onslaught.

Eventually there were errors between the posts at the other end. Everton keeper Tommy Fern was playing in his eleventh derby and he was at fault for two of five Liverpool goals scored by Harry Chambers — with a hat-trick — Tom Bromilow and Jock McNab.

During their lengthy spells of dominance Liverpool took liberties at the back, with half- back Mackinlay often left alone and vulnerable to the counter- attack. On one such occasion the Scottish defender was pressured The title-winnin class of 1921/22 on the ball and poked it back to Scott. A back-pass had led to Elisha's earlier error for the first goal but this time he pulled off a great save from his own player to avoid a repeat outcome. A playful wink from the captain did little to calm the indignant Irishman. It ended 5-1.

Scott earned quite a reputation for his temper and choice language, and he could often be heard from the terraces bellowing his colourful vocabulary. On occasion Tom Jackson, defender and parson, asked him to desist as he was offending team-mates and spectators alike! Elisha would always apologise but immediately repeat his actions. This comical back-and- forth only helped to endear him to the Liverpool fanatics even more. Despite his language, Liverpool (pardon the pun) swore by Scott and he was a mainstay of the team for many years.

He'd come close to leaving, though, a few times prior to his eventual departure. In the 1928/29 season Liverpool offered Scott plus E9,000 for Preston striker Alex James, but the move fell through. In 1930 they even accepted a £5,OOO bid from Everton, but Scott injured his ankle and the sensational deal never materialised — to this day only nine players have ever moved from Anfield to Goodison. Instead he'd feature in five more derbies for the red side.

The final time he strapped on his customary kneepads at Anfield against Everton, was another to remember.

No one was to know it was his farewell home derby but the drama of the day made up for the lack of sentiment. By then, Saturday 11 February 1933, he had established himself as not just a fan favourite but also one of the greatest players ever to wear a Liverpool shirt. An eleven- goal thriller was the perfect parting-gift.

That 1932/33 campaign was not a vintage one for the Merseyside clubs with both finishing mid- table, but this meeting was anything but mediocre. Scott's old pal Dixie Dean again lined up for Everton and, against a young Liverpool side which hadn't won a derby in six years, he had the reigning champions ahead inside ten minutes.

The home side responded with quick attacking play and clawed themselves back into the game. In a 20-minute spell Harold Barton lobbed Everton keeper Ted Sagar, then Alf Hanson and Tom Morrison scored to make it 3-1.

When Tommy Johnson pulled one back for the Blues two minutes before half-time, they were back in the match. But Liverpool continued to attack at pace in the second half.

Harold Taylor duly restored the two-goal lead and Barton's second put Liverpool back in control. With the score at 5-2 and fifteen minutes remaining, Dean nodded another home from a corner. But within seconds of the restart Syd Roberts scored to restore the three-goal buffer, and Barton's hat-trick was completed with five minutes left.

There was still time for Jimmy Stein to get another consolation for Everton. Seven-four.

It was surely the most thrilling derby game that had ever been seen, and a result that may never be matched for goals and excitement. Victory for Elisha, two more goals past the legendary keeper for Dixie. Plenty to talk about over the next pint of the Black Stuff'!

In early 1934, and now playing at the age of 40, Elisha was transfer-listed by Liverpool, for sale for the princely sum of E250. This caused uproar among fans, one of whom wrote to a local paper declaring: "He is the world's best. The 'owld man' would do for me if he came out and played in goal on crutches."

Such sentiment ultimately changed the club's mind and Scott was again kept on at e Anfield. He would eventually leave later that 1933/34 season, heading back to his hometown of Belfast, but he was unfortunately The great man in later years 58 injured for the last Liverpool game of the campaign.

A special microphone was installed in the Main Stand to commemorate the occasion and Scott briefly addressed his fans. His speech was short-but-sweet: "We have always been the best of friends and shall always remain so. I have finished with English association football.

"Last, but not least, my friends of the Kop. I cannot thank them sufficiently. They have inspired me. God bless you all."

A true testament to the impact he had upon the fans was a poll conducted in 1939 to establish Liverpool's greatest-ever players.

Elisha Scott, the adopted Scouser, came top.

Words: Peter Kenny Jones

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