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 rank 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 have amassed more points in the highest division than the likes of Chelsea, both Manchester clubs and Tottenham Hotspurs.
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, eager to channel the sporting enthusiasm of his congregation, established a cricket club. To keep the youngsters occupied during the winter months, 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.
Very quickly, the team’s popularity grew, attracting many players and supporters who did not belong to the church. Therefore, in November 1879, the old title of Saint Domingo’s was discarded, and the district’s name was adopted, Everton. Just a few days before Christmas of that year, Everton played their first game against St Peter’s, winning by six goals to nil and beginning a sequence of events that would lead to fame, glory, and worldwide renown.
The Making Of A Legend
Everton 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 Everton board objected, left Anfield, and moved to Goodison Park.
Meanwhile, with an empty ground at Anfield, John Houlding decided to establish his football club, and in 1892, Liverpool Football Club was born. Everton Athletic was initially to be 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 Hotspurs, they became the first 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’s celebrated championship-winning sides of 1914/15 and 1938/39. Howard Kendall’s team of the mid-80s won two league titles, an FA Cup and the European Cup Winners’ Cup. Unfortunately, the European ban on English clubs denied Everton 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 was lifted in 1990.
Traditionally, Everton 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, Goodison Park 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 Goodison with his family. 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 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 while 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 to being 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 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 also the only club ground in England to have hosted a FIFA World Cup semi-final (West Germany vs. Soviet Union) in 1966. The venue also played host to Pele and Eusebio during that tournament. As Evertonians sing at the stadium today: ‘If you know your history – it’s enough to make your heart go!’
Everton Football Club Facts
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.
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 appearances.
In 1948, Everton hosted Liverpool in a home match that attracted 78,299 spectators.
In 2017, Everton paid £45m to Swansea City for Icelandic midfielder Gylfi Sigurosson.
Romelu Lukaku was sold to Manchester United for an initial sum of £75 million, the highest fee ever paid for a player by Everton.
The club has won nine league titles and five FA Cups. Their only European success came in 1985 when they won the European Cup Winners Cup.
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, Graham Sharp, Kevin Sheedy, Trevor Steven
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