After winning promotion back to the 1st Division at the first attempt, Liverpool’s players got ready for the new season by playing two ‘Blues versus Whites’ practice games at Anfield.
The first game took place on Thursday 20th August 1896 and attracted a crowd of 15,000, higher than all but one of the regular league fixtures in the 2nd Division the previous season. The ground was reported by the Liverpool Mercury to be in capital condition and players were said ‘to have showed evidence of careful training’, but the result was not recorded.
It was apparent looking at the line-ups though that each side was a mixture of 1st teamers and reserves, with the regular forwards playing together and trying to score against the first choice back line, with the reserve players doing the same. The reason that it was blues against whites was because at that time Liverpool still hadn’t adopted red shirts.
The next practice game was on Friday 28th August, by which time new secretary-manager Tom Watson, had officially taken up his role having travelled down to Liverpool from Sunderland the previous Sunday. This time, the forward lines were mixed up somewhat meaning that the ‘Blues’ were comfortably expected to win as their side contained more regular first team players. However there was an upset when the Whites won 3-0, the Mercury commenting that it was hoped the efforts of some players would be ‘more judiciously directed’ when the season proper began.