The Forgotten Blue of Ruhleben Prison Camp

When the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia, her ally Germany immediately closed her borders to prevent all British nationals from leaving the country. The date was June the 28th, 1914. They were then rounded up and placed in a civilian internment camp at Ruhleben race course on the outskirts of Berlin. Amongst them were several former professional footballers who, prior to the outbreak of war, had been helping to improve the standard of play at several German football clubs. It has been believed, by the certain historians, that three of these individuals had once played football with Everton before accepting a coaching position in Germany. There was however, a fourth who, unlike his former teammates, was the holder of Football League Championship winners’ medal. Perhaps the two most noted of the footballers, held at Ruhleben, were England internationals Steve Bloomer and Fred Spikesley. The latter had won a Football League championship medal with The Wednesday club of Sheffield. The three former...
Read More

 Archibald Leitch – The Man Who Shaped Goodison Park

At the start of the 20th Century, Goodison Park was arguably, England’s premier football stadium. Today, for better or worse, it is one of the most historic in the land. As you sit in your seat and look across the famous “Old Lady”, two of the stands you see can be credited to Archibald Leitch — stadium designer extraordinaire. Glasgow-born Leitch was an architect specialising in the design of industrial buildings when he was commissioned to design a new 80,000-capacity Ibrox Stadium for Rangers, the club he supported.  The resulting stadium was spectacular but tragedy struck in 1902 when fatalities resulted from a section of wooden terracing collapsing at an international fixture. As a safety measure, Leitch’s subsequent terrace designs were based on raised earthworks. In spite of the Ibrox disaster, Leitch remained very much in-demand. He was engaged south of the border in the early 1900s at the likes of Craven Cottage and Anfield Road where he then created the terracing for...
Read More

Nat, King of Goals…and Bowls

As with many players at Goodison in the 1930s, Jimmy “Nat” Cunliffe’s achievements are overshadowed by the Everton giant that is W.R. Dean. Yet his life in sport was a remarkable one. Plucked from non-league football Jimmy went on to win international honours. Not content with this, he subsequently embarked on enjoy a highly successful career in another sporting arena. Born James Cunliffe on 5 July 1912 to Mary and Peter (a coal miner), Jimmy grew up in Blackrod – a small settlement close to the current location of Bolton Wanderers’ stadium. Upon leaving school he started an apprenticeship as a plater in the boiler-making section of the nearby Horwich Locomotive Works.  The young man excelled at cricket, football and crown green bowls, confiding, years later, to the journalist Stork that most of his friends rated him as a better cricketer than footballer. In one season he had a bowling average of seven but preferred to pursue a career in football,...
Read More

Neville Southall – The Winding Road from Winsford to Goodison

A version of this article was previously published in When Skies Are Grey, the digital Everton Fanzine. The WSAG team are offering a discounted subscription rate to ToffeeWeb readers for a limited period via this link.  George Rooney was a boyhood Blue, growing up off Mere Lane and, later on, in Knowsley. The full-back represented Liverpool Schoolboys and joined Everton as an apprentice in 1962. Coming through the ranks with him at Goodison had been the likes of Gerry Glover, John Hurst, Tommy Wright, Jimmy Husband and Aiden Maher.Released by Everton after two years George joined Coventry City under Jimmy Hill but promptly suffered a broken leg. Laid up back home on Merseyside, George was lent Jimmy Husband’s extensive Buddy Holly record collection to listen to during his convalescence. George recalls what a great prospect Husband had been as a teenager: ‘Jimmy was a lovely lad and a hell of a player. He made such an impact when he got in the...
Read More