125 years ago, in 1887, patrons of the unassuming industrial city of Liverpool witnessed the first competitive game of football played by a Methodist Church called St Domingos. Anybody who suggested that the very same football club would embark on a sporting rollercoaster spanning over a century, might have ended up in one of Victorian England’s horrifying mental hospitals.
1887 saw the professional beginnings of a club who as we today know are currently the 7th most successful club in England. 9 league titles, 5 FA Cups, 1 Cup Winners Cup and 108 years of unbroken top flight football is a admirable haul considering the vast shadow of it’s younger brother hanging over them during the latter half of the 20th Century.
In 1878 the club was formed, and was made up of amateurs, each holding down part-time jobs, before playing their first professional match 125 years ago today.
If it wasn’t for the avaricious brewer John Houlding hiking up the price for the Anfield leasehold, which was Everton’s original home, Liverpool FC might not have existed. Would we have missed our boisterous neighbours if that dispute would have been resolved...? Without question!
The Merseyside clubs can claim to have the most historic and eminent family-dividing rivalry in world football, surpassing the Manchester derby, the Della Madonnina in Milan, Amsterdam’s Klassieker and the Glasgow derby.
Families are divided come derby day, before going home to watch Match of the Day together…the word “unique” doesn’t quite do it justice.
Everton’s history is littered with legendary players and emotional moments from Graham Stuart’s bobbler to keep the club afloat in the Premier League in 1994, which even had hardened dockyard workers wiping a tear from their eye, the historic win against a star-studded Bayern Munich team en-route to the securing the European Cup Winners Cup in 1985 and not forgetting the magical “Holy Trinity” of Howard Kendall, Alan Ball and Colin Harvey in 1970.
To shamelessly steal the words of Everton’s 1995 FA Cup Final song: The spirit's stronger in the blues today gonna play the Everton way, The Golden Vision, Dixie Dean The school of science, by far the greatest team.
Was there ever a more apt verse to symbolise Everton FC? What will the next 125 years have in store for the club? Will David Moyes, Mo Fellaini and Leighton Baines be chronicled alongside Evertonian legends Dixie Dean, Bob Latchford and Neville Southall? Even Mystic Meg would struggle to formulate a prediction.
If at the end of the current campaign, Everton have had a successful FA Cup campaign and finish above Liverpool FC for the second successive season, it would be just the start our illustrious forefathers would have wanted. It isn’t easy being an Everton supporter but that is why people gravitate towards this fantastic club.
In the words of Alan Ball “Once Everton has touched you, nothing will ever be the same”. So raise a respectful glass of your local’s finest ale for the granddad of English football’s 125th birthday.
image: © zawtowers