History of Everton FC

The Beginning - 1878?

Everton FC 1881 in white strip Everton Football Club have a long and interesting history. The club's roots originate with St. Domingo's Methodist Church, which was located on Breckfield Road North, between St. Domingo Vale and St. Domingo Grove. In 1878 Rev. Benjamin Swift Chambers formed a football team to keep the young men of the church active in the winter months outside of the cricket season.

The founding date of the club could be said to be the date the cricket team was formed a number of years previous as the same players largely played in both teams. Many football clubs were formed not originally playing Association Football, however still retain the original foundation date.

Rev. Swift Chambers could not in his wildest dreams have envisaged what he had created, which would eventually be two of the world's most famous football clubs. The football team played on an open pitch in the south east corner of the newly laid out Stanley Park. The team quickly acquired a large following with people outside the parish requesting to join the football club. It was decided that the name should be changed to Everton F.C. reflecting the wider district. The official name change was cleared in November 1879 at a meeting in the Queen's Head Hotel, Everton. The connection with the church had been partially broken. The first official match under the name Everton F.C. was on December 20, 1879, with St. Peter's beaten 6-0.

St.John's church on Brasenose Road, Bootle had an experianced player in curate Alfred William Keeley, having played the game at both Shrewsbury public school and Cambridge University. St.John's and Everton first met on Stanley Park in October 1880 when the Bootle side won 2-0. When the sides met again two weeks later the margin of the victory was increased to 4-0. Everton, to remedy the situation imported players from Scotland. It was not until Tom Evans, a former player with Notts County, joined Everton that the club could compete with the best in the city and surrounding region.

St. Domingo's church was demolished in the early 1970's. The open park pitch where Everton played is now a car park.

Priory Road

Brewer John Houlding, a man to be influential in Everton F.C. and creator of Liverpool F.C., lived adjacent to Stanley Park and was attracted to the club that gathered large noisy crowds. Houlding arranged for Everton F.C. to form their first home ground. In 1882, Houlding negotiated with Mr J. Cruit, who donated land next to his home at the corner of Priory Road and Arkle Lane becoming the club's home for two years. Hoardings, changing facilities and turnstiles were erected. The first match was a representative match vs. Walsall ending in a 3-3 draw. The club grew in strength with Everton F.C. beating Earlestown F.C. 1-0 in the Liverpool Cup final at Hawthorne Road Bootle.

However, Everton were not granted home fixtures with leading clubs such as Blackburn and Bolton resulting with the club failing to make a profit. Two years later Mr Cruit asked the club to leave his land as the crowds became far too large and noisy. Mr Cruitt kept the fittings in lieu of debt. This debt was eventually paid by two members of the Everton Committee. The Priory Road site now is covered with terraced houses.


Everton at Anfield in 1890. Two pavilions can clearly be seen. The ground is outside the city boundary Everton F.C. moved to nearby Anfield from Priory Road, prompted by the now president John Houlding. Everton F.C. played at Anfield from 1884 until 1892.

Everton F.C., experienced a meteoric rise after moving to Anfield. Within seven years the the club progressed from being amateur to a highly successful professional club. Anfield was transformed from a brick field to a 20,000 plus international standard ground with accommodation on all sides. The pioneering work establishing Everton F.C. into one of England's largest and most successful club's was all done at Anfield.



Everton F.C.:

  • Founded Anfield, converting the ground to over 20,000 capacity from a brick field. 
  • Became a professional club while at Anfield.
  • First played in the FA Cup while at Anfield.
  • Were founder members of the Football League while at Anfield. 
  • Hosted an international match while at Anfield - England v Ireland.
  • The club's first major achievement, the Football League championship, was at Anfield.

The landowner of the site was the Orrell family who were brewers and builders. Joseph Orrell junior and John Orrell, owned the site. The Orrell family's land was split near enough equally with one half being used by Everton F.C.. John Houlding paid rent to Orrell and sub-let the ground to Everton F.C. On 28 September 1884, Everton F.C. beat Earlestown F.C. 5–0 in the first match played at Anfield. Everton F.C. formed into a professional club in 1885. Proper covered stands were built. During this period the club turned professional, entered teams in the FA Cup and became a founder member of the Football League, winning their first championship at the ground in 1890–91. The ground's capacity reached over 20,000, with facilities considered so good the club hosted an England vs. Ireland international match and on 8 January 1890 Anfield hosted its first ever match under floodlights with Everton triumphing over Sheffield United 5-2.

Competing in the F.A. Cup

The first seasons of Everton F.C. competing in the FA Cup was marred by withdrawals and disqualifications. The first FA Cup match was to be at Anfield against Glasgow Rangers on 30 Oct 1886. Everton F.C. withdrew from the competition as the only chance of progressing to the next round was to field a number of ineligible players. The teams played a friendly match which Rangers won 1-0. The first FA Cup match played at Anfield was on Sat 29 Oct 1887. A replay against Bolton Wanderers ended 2-2. Everton F.C. were disqualified from the competition for financial inducements to players, after Everton F.C. won 2-1 at Anfield at the third replay. The next season Everton F.C. were not seeded and were drawn at home in the qualifying rounds against Ulster on 6 Oct 1888. Everton F.C. again withdrew from the FA cup competition. On 18 Jan 1890, Everton F.C. beat Derby County 11-2 in the FA Cup, being eliminated by Stoke City away 4-2 in the next round. This was the first season that Everton F.C. contested the FA Cup without a hitch. Sunderland F.C. eliminated Everton F.C. 1-0 away in the FA Cup in the 1891 championship season. The last FA Cup match Everton F.C. played at Anfield was against Burnley on 23 Jan 1892 losing 3-2.

Founding Member of the Football League

Everton F.C., 1891 Championship team in ruby shirts and light blue trim. Founder members of the Football League in 1888, on the opening day of the Football League Everton F.C. beat Accrington F.C. 2-1 at Anfield with Everton F.C. finishing 8th in the first season and second the following. The 1890–91 season started in magnificent form with five consecutive victories, with Fred Geary scoring in each of the first six matches. By mid-January, Everton F.C. had completed all but one of their fixtures and amassing 29 points, while Preston North End F.C. were eleven points behind with seven matches still to play. Everton F.C. sat out the next two months as Preston North End completed their remaining matches until they were only two points below Everton F.C.. With one remaining match each left to play, both teams played the final matches of the season on 14 March 1891. Everton F.C. lacking match practice lost 3–2 at Burnley F.C. with Geary scoring both goals. Preston North End F.C. lost 3–0 at Sunderland. Everton F.C. were champions for the first time and second club to win the competition, preventing Preston North End F.C., the Invincibles, completing three consecutive championships. Fred Geary had played in all 22 matches being the club's top goal-scorer with 21 goals. The season ended on a sad note, goalkeeper John Angus, died before the season's end.

The internal discord at the club through the 1891-92 season made an impact. Everton F.C. from champions dropped to 5th place. The last match Everton F.C. played at Anfield was on 18 April 1892 with Bolton Wanderers F.C. wining 5-2. Geary and Milward scored for Everton F.C..

Anfield - The Split in the Club

Contrary to popular belief Everton were not evicted from Anfield being unable to pay a rent increase. The issue was more complex. A deep and bitter dispute emerged on how Everton F.C. was to be owned and run between the Everton F.C. Committee and John Houlding, Anfield's land owner and Everton's president. The dispute culminated with Everton F.C. leaving Anfield and the creation of Liverpool FC. The flashpoint for the dispute was when adjacent landowner to Anfield, Mr Orrell, proposed to legally run a road through the land where a new main stand was erected, to give a right of way to his land. In order to prevent demolition of the new stand, initial disagreement emerged on:

  1. The club purchasing the land at Anfield from Houlding and the adjacent land owned by Mr Orrell.

  2. Renting both plots of land.

John Houlding This snowballed with allegations of personal financial gain, by Houlding, by holding the club to ransom. The dispute panned out to a crux of a principled disagreement of how the club was run. Both sides were entrenched in firm political and social ideologies. Tory councillor and brewer Houlding on one side, the Liberal minded anti-alcohol Everton F.C. Committee on the other. For a number of months the Everton F.C. Committee were negotiating with two parties, Houlding and Orrell, considering whether to buy two plots of land or rent both.

After one year of occupation of Anfield and renting from Mr Orrell, in 1885 John Houlding bought the land of the Anfield site from his fellow brewer and friend for £5,228, with legal fees increasing the figure to £6,000. He secured a mortgage of £4,000 with an interest of 3%. Orrell retained the adjacent land to Anfield to the side of the Main Stand. After one year of being at Anfield Everton F.C. were now paying rent to their president. In 1890 Houlding increased the rent from £100 to £250 after the team finished second in the second Football League season. Club president, Houlding was not on the Everton F.C. Committee. The committee offered a compromise rent of £180, basing the figure on Houlding's purchase of £ 5,228 not £6,000. Although £250 was a small amount to the rapidly increasing income of the club, this was the thin end of the wedge between the Everton F.C. Committee and president John Houlding. Also, no football league or local club paid over £100 rent for their home grounds. Despite the ongoing negotiations, Everton F.C. were investing in improved spectator facilities at Anfield, indicting the committee considered a solution would be found.

Flashpoint - Road to Run Through New Main Stand

However, the flashpoint was a covenant in the contract of the land purchased by Houlding from Orrell causing further and deep friction. A strip of land at the Anfield ground bordering the adjacent land owned by Mr Orrell, could be used to provide a right of way access road for Orrell's landlocked vacant site. Orrell's land had no direct access from Anfield Road, except via the back of a family builders yard. In early 1891 the club erected a stand on the proposed roadway, which was also overlapping Orrell's land. In August 1891 Orrell announced intentions of developing his own land next to the football ground and building an access road on the land owned by Houlding and occupied by Everton F.C.. Orrell had legal right to do so. Everton FC had also built the new main stand overlapping Orrell's land, unbeknown to the Everton F.C. Committee that he land was owned by Orrell.

The contract of sale of the land in 1885 was between Orrell and Houlding, not Everton F.C. The club rented from Houlding. Everton F.C. stated they knew nothing of the covenant, Houlding stated they did. Many questions are raised:

  • Did Houlding inform the club of the covenant?

  • Was the club aware of this covenant?

  • Was Houlding knowingly allowing the stand to be built to hold the club to ransom and sell his land at a large profit at a time of depressed land prices?

  • Did Houlding know the stand was built overlapping onto Orrell's land?

  • Did Orrell know that the stand was overlapping his land? Such a large structure would alert the landowner to his own boundaries.

  • Was Orrell in league with Houlding to force Everton FC's hand to buy all of Orrell's and Houlding's land at an inflated price? The land was valued at 60% less than what Houlding was asking.

  • Houlding had plans to convert Anfield into a large football and athletics ground for both summer and winter use, merging the Anfield plot and Orrell's adjacent land. Was Houlding forcing Everton's hand for personal gain on may fronts to gain a large sports venue?

This situation created great distrust and friction between Houlding and the Everton F.C. Committee. The rift and distrust between the committee and Houlding was on three levels: Houlding's personal business intentions, politically and morally. Nevertheless, the club faced a dilemma of having to destroy the new revenue generating stand or compensate Orrell in some manner. The green line is the proposed road by Mr Orrell through Everton's stand.

Suggestions by the committee were put forward to pay Orrell rent and occupy his land to prevent him building the access road, land not particularly wanted by the club. Orrell agreed in principle to allow the club to rent all of his land for 10 years at a rent of £120 per year. The club then would be paying rent to Houlding and Orrell.

Houlding's way around the problem was to propose a limited company with floatation of the club creating 12,000 £1 shares, with the money raised used to purchase both Orrell’s and Houlding's land, creating a very large club owned plot. He wanted a cash payment of £3,000 and the club take out a mortgage from him of £3,000. A cash payment of £1,875 to Orrell for all of his land, not just the sliver of land the stand covered, and a mortgage of £3,000 from Orrell. A total of £4,875 cash to be found and a £6,000 mortgage. Houlding justified this approach by his ambitious plan to double the size of the ground installing an athletics track, staging football in winter and athletics in the summer months. This promised to increase revenue throughout the year to pay the two mortgages. A joint football and athletics venue may have been prompted by the success of the Liverpool Olympics festivals from 1862 to 1867, which were the foundation of the modern day Olympics.

Houlding's involvement was multi-faceted. He stood to make a substantial profit on his land and have a major stake, and control, in a high revenue generating football and athletics club in which he would have sole rights to sell refreshments all year around. Being president of a high profile, nationally known, successful football club would further enhance Houlding's political and business aspirations.

The club stood to be in debt of £6,000, with a promise of increased revenues via athletics meetings to service the debt. It was also not clear if £12,000 could be raised by floatation. If it could it would not be from the immediate communities of Everton and Anfield, as previous attempts to raise money from the community was abysmal. Shares would more likely be purchased in blocks by rich investors, and almost certainly Houlding amongst them, putting the club in the control of a few rich people. Then there was the problem of financing the expansion of the spectator facilities on a ground that would be nearly twice the size.

After initially accepting Houlding's proposal in principle, on 15 September 1891 the Everton Committee voted against. The committee proposed renting Orrell's land, however Houlding would need to reduce the rent on his land to keep overall rent of the combined rentals lower. Houlding and John Orrell considered the Everton F.C. Committee's offer. On 12 October 1891, at a meeting in the college in Shaw Street, John Houlding and John Orrell offered non-negotiable terms of a combined rent of £370 per year. This nearly four times what other football league clubs were paying in rent.

The initial rent increase from £100 to 250 per ann. was not a major issue as £250 was a small sum to what the club was earning being a Football League member and reigning champions. The club was now facing a hyped rent of £370 per year had to reassess the position. If Anfield was expanded into a year round sports venue and revenues increased accordingly then the £370 rent would not be a problem. Would Houlding and Orrell increase the rent if Everton F.C. became richer? After all, Houlding had already increased the rent 150%. Distrust deepened.

Houlding had exclusive rights to sell refreshments at the ground, although no alcohol had ever been sold. The selling of alcohol was opposed by many on the Liberal minded Everton F.C. Committee. With many members in temperance societies, a liquor license application by Houlding was feared. In the late 1800's drunkenness was a major problem in the Liverpool area with 10% of the UK's alcohol related crime recorded in the city. The club being financed by a brewer was an uncomfortable situation to be in. Houlding's nearby Sandon Hotel being used both as the club’s unofficial headquarters and a changing area for the team on match-days was also an emotive issue for the Everton F.C. Committee. The affair caused the Everton F.C. Committee to re-assess the principles on how the club was to be run. The root crux of the matter was:

  • The Liberal minded Everton F.C. Committee wanted a more democratic structure of a wide spread of shares amongst the fans. They saw the club as central to the community and an influence in behaviour and sobriety.

  • Houlding wanted a small group of owners, owning the majority of the shares giving returns in the corporate model. The control would be in the hands and dictates of a few people.

Timeline of Events

  1. 1884: Everton F.C. move into Anfield - Everton rent the ground for £100 per year from Mr Orrell, a landowner, builder, brewer and friend of John Houlding. Orrell owns the land adjacent to Anfield site.

  2. 1885: John Houlding buys the land of the Anfield ground - Houdling buys land from Mr Orrell, for £5,228 a total of £6,000 including fees, unbeknown to the Everton Committee. Everton F.C. now pay rent to the club president. The contract stated that Houlding was to pay donation to a local hospital.

  3. July 1888: The Everton F.C. Committee requested a long-term lease from Houlding. - Houlding refused, however stating that Everton F.C. could stay indefinitely if the club paid a fair rent.

  4. 1890: Houlding increases the rent from £100 to £250 - The Everton F.C. Committee offers a compromise rent of £180, based on the interest Houlding is paying for his loan to buy the ground. Rent is an ongoing negotiation. In the meantime Everton F.C. improve the facilities of Anfield.

  5. 27 July 1891: Everton F.C. approach Orrell to buy some of his land - Everton F.C. offer to buy a strip of his land 56 yards wide for a ground extension.

  6. August 1891: Orrell wants to run a road through new stand - Land owner Mr Orrell invokes a covenant in the sale of the Anfield land to Houlding to build a legal right of way access road to his land through the club's new stand.

  7. 27 August 1891: Everton F.C. Committee agree in principle to buy Houlding's and Orrell's land - The committee agreed to a proposal put forward by Houlding to form a limited company to buy Anfield and John Orrell's land.

  8. 15 September 1891: Everton F.C. reject Houlding's proposal to buy Anfield and Orrell's land - The Everton F.C. Committee voted against Houlding’s proposals to sell the ground to the club and buy the adjacent land owned by Orrell, installing an athletics track. The Everton Committee prefers to rent Anfield and Orrell's adjacent land. Orell's land they do not need however were forced to rent the land.

  9. 17 September 1891: Everton FC negotiate a rent with Orrell over the new stand overlapping his land - Everton F.C. negotiate with John Orrell over the land the new main stand overlapped. Orrell agreed in principle to allow the Club to rent all of his land for 10 years at a rent of £120 per year. The club would be paying rent to Houlding and Orrell.

  10. September 1891: Everton F.C. proposes that Houlding drop his part of the rent - The Everton Committee proposes to Houlding he drops the rent on his land to keep the total rent low.

  11. October 1891: Everton F.C. Committee attempt to obtain a written commitment from Houlding setting out the rent and the terms of lease of Anfield - Houlding had consistently raised the rent on Anfield as the club's income increased. Houlding refused a contractual lease.

  12. 12 October 1891: Houlding and Orrell offer a non-negotiable combined rent of £370 per year - At a meeting in Shaw Street Houlding is rigid on the rent. Houlding gives an ultimatum. If Everton F.C. did not agree to the demands the option was to leave Anfield on 30 April 1892. George Mahon of the Everton F.C. Committee proposed that Houlding be told Everton F.C.were quitting Anfield, which was rejected. The Everton F.C. Committee investigate the possibility of renting or buying Anfield and Orrell's land.

  13. 19 October 1891: Houlding refuses a reduced rent offer - The Everton F.C. Committee offer a reduced rent of £180 per year on a 5 year lease. All buildings belonged to Everton. Everton F.C. look for another ground.

  14. 30 November 1891: Houlding refuses reduced rent offer, offering to sell Anfield & Orrell's land for £8,734.- Houlding refused to accept the reduced rent offer responding with an combined offer to sell Anfield and Orrel's land.

  15. 7 Dec 1891: Goodison Road site identified - The Everton F.C. sub-committee had acquired particulars of the Goodison Road ground.

  16. 21 January 1892: A site in Lower Breck Road identified - The land used by Walton Breck F.C. was offered for rent at £100 per ann.

  17. 25 January 1892: Option to acquire Goodison Park site - A plot of land on the north side of Stanley Park had been identified, 25% larger than Anfield, to initially rent for £50 per ann. prior to purchase if Everton F.C. needed to move due to Houlding's intransigence. Everton F.C. were now in a position of strength. Houlding was given seven days to lower the rent from £250 to £180 per ann. and an option to purchase the ground within two years at the inflated price Houlding was asking.

  18. 26 January 1892: Houlding attempts to hijack Everton F.C. - Houlding registered the company, Everton Football Club and Athletic Grounds Ltd, number 35668, in an attempt to hijack the club. The Athletic in the title was indicative of a multi-sport club. Houlding attempted to take over Everton's name, colours, fixtures and league position. Two Everton football clubs now legally exist.

  19. 27 January 1892: Everton F.C. are refused to form a limited company - Houlding had already registered a limited company with Everton in the title the previous day.

  20. 4 February 1892: Hijack fails - The Football Council ruled against membership of a new club with the same name as an existing member. Only Everton F.C. are recognised as the vast majority of members were still with the club.

  21. 8 February 1892: Houlding does not respond to reduced rent demand, Everton F.C. now firmly moving to Goodison Park - Houlding had not replied to the Everton F.C. Committee's offer of the 25 January. Everton F.C. move to lease the Goodison Road site, identified by the Everton F.C. sub-committee for £50 per ann. with a view to purchase. Everton F.C. inform Houlding they are to remove stands from the ground.

  22. February 1892: Houlding issues a notice to quit - Failing to hijack the club, Houlding attempts to force the hand of the Everton F.C. Committee.

  23. 22 February 1892: Everton request Houlding buy stands - Everton F.C. request that Houlding give an an offer for the stands.

  24. 15 March 1892: A move to Goodison Park by Everton F.C. is confirmed - At a meeting in Royal Street the Everton F.C. Committee responded to the attempted hijack and eviction notice by firmly moving to the north side of Stanley Park and be rid of Houlding, expelling him as president. Houlding was at the meeting. Of the 500 present at the meeting only 18 voted to remain at Anfield.

  25. 18 April 1892: Everton F.C. play their last match at Anfield - Bolton Wanderers F.C. was the last club Everton F.C. played at Anfield.

  26. 3 June 1892: Houlding creates Liverpool F.C. - After Everton F.C. had moved from Anfield, Houlding officially changed the name of his company from Everton F.C. and Athletic Grounds Ltd to Liverpool F.C. and Athletic Grounds Ltd. The 26 January 1892 registration still remained with the same number.

  27. 24 August 1892: Everton F.C. open Goodison Park - Goodison Park was officially opened by Lord Kinnaird and Frederick Wall of the Football Association, in time for the new season.

The Liverpool Daily Post on 19 March 1892 wrote on the committee's decision to move from Anfield:

Messrs Mahon and Clayton … took upon themselves a big task in trying to rid the Everton Club of an influence that had apparently grown stronger year after year … This independent action of Mr Mahon and his friends might be said to have produced the chaos the club found itself in, but having shaken off the incubus their action is now clear and defined …and it was gratifying to find that neither publicans nor moneylenders had been appealed to for assistance.

As landlord of the ground, he [John Houlding] declined to meet them [Everton F.C.] on any but his own terms.

    Liverpool F.C. Created

    Houlding and his new Liverpool F.C. had an international standard ground, but no team. The new club was rejected from competing in the Football League despite having an international standard ground, being professional and well financed. Liverpool F.C. started in the Lancashire League. Players were sourced from Scotland as Houlding managed to poach only three Everton F.C. players by offering higher wages. Houlding's new club initially played in blue and white. Anfield was not converted into a football and athletics venue.

    In June 1894 the land issue which plagued Everton F.C. now faced Liverpool F.C., who seriously considered a move from Anfield to a superior site. Whether there still was a collusion between Houlding and Orrell over land we will never know, although the pair could have been colluding on the rent they wanted from Everton F.C.. Orrell was now pressing Liverpool F.C.. The Athletic News wrote:

    The Liverpool FC is face to face with the same difficulty as beset the Everton Club, and which led to the latter club going to Goodison Park. As most people know, the Liverpool ground is cramped for room, and would be to the extent of ten yards more if the landlord of the adjoining land cared to insist on his right.

    We don’t know that he is bent on putting his claims to the full, but the Liverpool Club want to secure the land and the owner’s price is really exorbitant and cannot be entertained. That is how the case stands at present, but the Liverpool Club have taken the precaution of securing another ground thus early.

    We don’t know whether there is any secret in its locality, but it is on the Old Swan tram line, and is easily accessible by rail – in fact, in this respect it is better situated than even Goodison Park. Of course something will have to be done for the accommodation of spectators, and if the worst comes to the worst this will be accomplished. Still, if the club can possibly come to some arrangement they will stay where they are, but matters can be pushed too far.

    Liverpool F.C. bought the land of Anfield from Houlding and Orrell's adjacent land. The Athletic News wrote:

    “While the Everton shareholders were up in arms, the Liverpool directors were quietly concluding agreement with Mr Orrell, the owner of the land adjoining their ground. This means that the Liverpool Club will remain at Anfield, and today will see the commencement of the improvements of the ground. These will comprise the erection of additional stands on what is known as the old stand side and the land taken in will allow plenty of scope for the undoubted energies possessed by the executive of the Liverpool Club.”

    Everton F.C. Create a Democratic People's Club

    On moving to Goodison Park Everton F.C. issued 5,000 shares for fans only. The Everton F.C. directors owned only 6% of the club, while at Liverpool F.C. the directors owned 52%. Liverpool F.C. stayed largely owned by a few people in the corporate model and has remained so throughout its history. The difference in the running of the clubs was clearly seen by the mid-1930's, with Goodison Park offering vastly superior spectator facilities brought about by the largely democratic structure of the club. With a similar sized fanbase as Liverpool F.C., Everton F.C. had built four double-decker stands at Goodison Park having returned profits back into the club to provide superior facilities. The contrast with Anfield was marked. Apart from a roof on the Spion Kop goal terrace in 1928, the ground had not been improved since 1906. Only in 1963 when the small cantilevered Kemlyn Road stand was built was there an attempt to install modern facilities with the ground being outdated and largely Victorian for over 70 years. In the same timeframe Everton F.C. had developed Goodison Park to be the country's finest club ground, hosting a World Cup semi-final three years after Liverpool F.C. built its first modern stand.

    Move to Goodsion Park Justified

    It must be emphasised that John Houlding did finance Everton F.C. in the very early days propelling the club in a meteoric rise to a top English football club. Mr Houlding being solely responsible for the rise of Everton F.C. would be disingenuous to the Everton F.C. Committee, which was not short of respected business brains amongst its members. It is a major decision to move home and leave behind extensive spectator facilities Everton F.C. had paid for. Were the Everton F.C. Committee justified in moving from Anfield at that point in 1892? It appears so. If the committee had accepted John Houlding's proposals, the club would have been £6,000 in debt purchasing all the land for a total of £10,875 and having to borrow further to improve the facilities of the much larger site. They would also be in the control of a few people, and one of them Houlding who had shown to be totally dictatorial and intransigent in the negotiations leading up to the departure of Everton F.C.

    Purchasing Anfield from Houlding and Orrell's adjacent land would have consumed a large percentage of the £12,000 gained in a floatation, as Orrell's land would require developing and merging into the Anfield football ground with most certainly demolishing the newly built stand to accommodate the athletics track.

    Everton F.C. had many wealthy backers during the dispute not relying solely on John Houldings money to finance the club. The Hartley family of Hartley Jam fame was amongst the backers. The wealthy backers was the reason why the club easily moved within months creating the world's first purpose built football ground at Goodison Park. After the disagreements, Everton F.C. did form a limited company, as Houlding had initially proposed. This was taken up by George Mahon of the Everton F.C. Committee with the club moving to Goodison Park, which was 25% larger, at a cost of over £3,000 for the construction plus the rental until purchase of the land in 1895. There was an initial financial benefit in moving.

    Importantly, Everton F.C. were totally in control of their own more democratic club. Alcohol and tobacco was not sold, the team changed at the ground not in a pub, the club was headquartered at the ground, profits on refreshments were kept by the club, and a large spread of shares was issued to fans, enjoying the facilities of the finest football ground in the world, so good it staged FA Cup finals.

    John Houlding Recognised by Everton F.C.

    Everton F.C. did appreciate and recognise the initial contribution John Houlding made to the club. At Houlding's funeral in 1902, three players from Everton F.C. and three from Liverpool F.C. carried his coffin.


    • Football Grounds of Britain by Simon Inglis
    • Across the Park by Peter Lupson
    • Community Politics in Liverpool and the Governance of Professional Football in the late Nineteenth Century by Kennedy & Collins - Link to Cambridge University Press
    • Association Football in Victorian England - A History of the Game from 1863 to 1900 by Philip Gibbons
    • Dr. Everton's Magnificent Obsession by David France
    • The Essential History of Everton FC by Mark Platt
    • Everton F.C.: The Men from the Hill Country - The Development of Everton Football Club During the Reign of Queen Victoria by Tony Onslow
    • The History of the Everton Football Club, 1878-1928 by Thomas Keates


    Rapid-transit for Everton FC, Liverpool FC and Arena


    **** work in progress *****