Everton Football Club are pioneers of club soccer. So many of the facets of the beautiful game we take for granted today were innovations by the Goodison Park institution, which ranks among the most successful in British soccer.
As well as spending more seasons in the top flight in England than any other club, the oldest team in the city of Liverpool has amassed more points in the highest division than the likes of Chelsea, both Manchester clubs, and Tottenham Hotspur.
Birth Of An Institution
In 1871, the inaugural year of the FA Cup, a church was opened for worship in Everton. Three miles northeast of Liverpool, called Saint Domingo’s. Six years later, the new minister Ben Swift Chambers, was eager to channel the sporting enthusiasm of his congregation and established a cricket club.
To keep the youngsters occupied during the winter, the increasingly popular sport of soccer was given a chance by the Reverend Chambers and church organist George Mahon. Soccer matches were arranged against local church sides on Stanley Park, the strip of land which separates the existing Goodison Park and Anfield stadiums.
The team’s popularity grew very quickly, attracting many players and supporters who did not belong to the church. Therefore, in November 1879, the original name of Saint Domingo’s was discarded, and the district’s name was adopted, Everton.
Just a few days before Christmas of that year, Everton Football Club played their first game against St Peter’s, winning by six goals to nil and beginning a sequence of events leading to fame, glory, and a worldwide fan base.
The Making Of A Legend
Everton FC won their first trophy, the Liverpool Cup, in 1884, playing at their new ground at Priory Road. Yet, with the club rapidly growing in popularity, another move was necessary.
A plot of land – Anfield – was available at the time, and it was here that the club became founder members of the Football League in 1888 and won their first league championship in the 1890/91 season. In addition, the season saw the introduction of penalty kicks and goal nets, the latter invented by Evertonian J.A. Brodie, an engineer to the city of Liverpool.
Everton’s tenancy at Anfield caused a split, leading to Merseyside becoming the country’s most successful soccer city. Everton’s leaseholder, John Houlding, purchased Anfield outright and proposed to increase the rent from £100 to £250 per year. The founding members and the Everton board objected, left Anfield, and moved to Goodison Park.
A Second Club In Liverpool
Meanwhile, with an empty ground at Anfield, John Houlding decided to establish his own football club. In 1892, Liverpool Football Club was born. Everton Athletic was initially called Everton & Athletic Grounds Ltd, but was renamed Liverpool Football Club when the Football Association requested this change. As a result, the city had two clubs, thus beginning the rivalry which still exists today.
Further success followed. Everton Football Club won the FA Cup for the first time in 1906, beating Newcastle United 1-0. Three years later, together with Tottenham Hotspur, they became the first football league club to embark upon an intercontinental tour.
Yet, for all the history-making that Everton Football Club has done over the years, the fates have served to conspire against them.
Everton Football Club Champions
The club and fans celebrated championship-winning sides of 1914/15 and 1938/39. Howard Kendall’s team of the mid-1980s won two league titles, an FA Cup and the European Cup Winners’ Cup. Unfortunately, the European ban on English clubs denied the Everton football team an international platform in the wake of the Heysel Stadium disaster.
Frustrated by the lack of continental soccer, several of Everton’s best players and inspirational manager Howard Kendall departed the club, which has since failed to produce another golden era since the ban on UK clubs was lifted in 1990.
Traditionally, Everton FC has won trophies with style. In 1928, the England striker Steve Bloomer said: “Everton Football Club worship at the school of craft and science. They always manage to serve up soccer of the highest scientific order.”
From then on, the home ground became known as the ‘school of science‘ with every outstanding Everton team dedicated to playing soccer of the highest quality. The club’s motto of Nil Satis Nisi Optimum (Nothing but the best is good enough) serving as a reminder of the high expectation of the club’s fans.
Perhaps the player who best epitomized these values was William Ralph’ Dixie’ Dean, the legendary center forward who scored 60 league goals in 39 appearances during the 1927/28 season, which is still a record. Dixie Dean also holds the distinction of being the world’s first No.9, wearing the shirt when numbers were first introduced at the 1933 FA Cup Final, which Everton Football club (wearing 1-11) won, defeating Manchester City (who wore 12-22) by three goals to nil.
Following a slump after the Second World War, which brought relegation, Everton Football Club began to get into the swing again as Beatlemania swept the world, with a young Paul McCartney visiting the home turf with his family.
Top Flight Success In The 60s
Fine players such as Alex Young, Brian Labone, and Gordon West claimed two league titles in 1962/63 and 1969/70 and an FA Cup success in 1966 in one of the most dramatic finals Wembley has ever witnessed. Everton Football Club recovered from 2-0 down after 57 minutes to beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-2.
Any talk of Everton’s in the new century must begin with the appointment of David Moyes in March 2002. Inheriting a side seemingly destined for relegation, he achieved his first objective by keeping the club in the Premier League before embarking upon a period of rebuilding.
Under Moyes, Everton FC has established themselves as a top-eight side, regularly qualifying for Europe and reaching the final preliminary stage of the 2005/6 UEFA Champions League after finishing fourth in the Premier League in the previous season.
David Moyes was named Manager of the Year twice at Everton Football Club. However, during his time at Goodison Park, Moyes did not pick up any silverware, with an FA Cup Final appearance in 2009 the closest his team came.
In 2021, Carlos Ancelotti returned to Real Madrid after leading the club to a 10th place finish in his only season as manager. Former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez was named his replacement, subsequently becoming only the second person to manage both Liverpool and Everton.
Goodison Park: The Stadium
Goodison Park is the first-ever purpose-built football stadium, opened by the then President of the FA, Lord Kinnaird, in August 1892. It graduated as the first club ground in the country to stage an FA Cup Final (in 1894).
The first four-sided stadium with two-tier stands and the first with a three-tier stand when the current Main Stand was completed in 1970. Everton soccer team was also the first English club to install dugouts, undersoil heating, and a scoreboard.
The tradition of producing and selling matchday programs also began with Everton. Goodison Park is the only club ground in England to have hosted a FIFA World Cup semi-final (West Germany versus the Soviet Union) in 1966. The venue also played host to Pele and Eusebio during that tournament. As Evertonians fans sing at the stadium today: ‘If you know your history – it’s enough to make your heart go!’
Everton Football Club Facts
- The club has won nine league titles, five FA Cups, one European Cup Winners’ Cup, and nine Charity Shields.
- With 751 first-team appearances between 1981 and 1997, Neville Southall holds the record for the most Everton Football Club appearances.
- Brian Labone, who played in 534 matches, comes in second.
- Founded in 1888, the club has been a member of the Football League for 118 seasons, missing just four top-flight seasons (1930–31, 1951–52, 1952–53, 1953–54).
- The main rival of Everton is Liverpool. The stadium at which they play is just under one mile from Goodison Park, the home ground of Everton football team. It is the Merseyside derby that pits the two clubs against each other.
- During his 23-year career between 1929 and 1953, Ted Sagar was the longest-serving goalkeeper. During this time he served on both sides of the Second World War and made a total of 495 English football appearances.
- In 1948, Everton FC hosted Liverpool in a home match that attracted 78,299 spectators.
- In English top-flight football, Everton is the second-longest serving club.
- Both in the Premier League and in European competitions, Everton regularly take large crowds away from home.
- Supporters of the club are called “Evertonians,” “Blues,” or “The Toffees.”
- In 2017, Everton FC paid £45m to Swansea City for Icelandic midfielder and Premier League star Gylfi Sigurosson.
- Romelu Lukaku was sold to Manchester United for an initial sum of £75 million, the highest fee ever paid for a player from the Everton football team.
- The only European success came in 1985 when they won the European Cup Winners Cup.
- 1995 was the most recent major trophy (FA Cup) won by the Everton first team.
- In terms of points, it ranks third all-time in the UK.
- There have been more red cards in Merseyside derbies than any other fixture in Premier League history.
- Historically, on match days, players walk out to the tune “Johnny Todd” as the theme song for Z-Cars, played in its 1962 arrangement.
- Four Everton strikers have been top scorers five or more times – Cottee (5), Latchford (5), Sandy Young (6), and Dixie Dean (10)
Everton Football Club Legends
Dixie Dean, Gay Linekar, Peter Beardsley, Neville Southall, Pat Jennings, Alan Ball, Tommy Lawton, Joe Mercer, Peter Reid, Gary Speed, Ray Wilson, Howard Kendall, Mark Hughes, Paul Gascoigne, Harry Catterick, Kevin Ratcliffe, Graeme Sharp, Kevin Sheedy, Trevor Steven, Gary Stevens, Brian Labone, Alex Young, Dave Watson, Ted Sagar, Gordon West, Tommy Wright, Jack Sharp, Sam Chedgzoy, Bob Latchford, Joe Royle, Duncan Ferguson, Dave Hickson, Derek Temple, Adrian Heath, David Unsworth, Roy Vernon, Bobby Collins, Pat Van Den Hauwe, Seamus Colman, Jordan Pickford, Tony Cottee, Mikel Arteta, and Premier League defender Leighton Baines.
Rhett is an Australian-born, globe trotter who is a UEFA ‘A’ Licence Soccer Coach. With his family, he has traveled and coached soccer in more than 30 countries, while attending World Cups, European Championships, and some of the biggest local derbies in the world!