Like many of the young teenagers of Victorian Liverpool, William Gibson Walter Richards and Thomas Whittle would have been drawn towards the new game, association football, the was beginning to sweep the land and would have spent their early teens watching such teams as Everton on Stanley Park. They also would have observed that this particular club had, by 1882, caused the largest number spectators to frame their unguarded playing area. Next year, when they moved to an enclosure, William Gibson appeared in their line-up.
Born 1862, he is recorded on the 1871 census living, in Everton, at 34 Hodder Street with his Liverpool born parents William, a Boilermaker, and Anne. The family later moved to 53 Melbourne Street and William was working as a Commercial Clerk when he made his debut for Everton, December 1883, in the local knockout against Liverpool Ramblers. He scored one of the goals in a 4-1 win. Gibson then helped Everton to reach the final of this contest and was in the side that lifted the trophy with a 1-0 win over Earlestown. Next season he was joined at the club by Richards and Whittle.
Walter Richards was born, 1865, the 3rd child of Robert, an Exeter born Seaman and Anora who had been born in Liverpool. The family emigrated to North America whose archives confirm they arrived at Ellis Island on the 10th of July 1868. However, by 1881 they are back in Liverpool and living at 65 Stansfield Road where Walter has begun work in the Grocery Trade.
Thomas Robson Whittle was baptised, 30th of July 1865, at the parish church of St Peter where his parents, Thomas and Rebecca, are recorded as living at 8, Garibaldi Street. At the time of 1871 census the family have moved to Elmore Street but by 1881 they are living at 78 Stansfield Road. Thomas gives his occupation as a Railway Booking Clerk.
These 2 teenagers, members of the parish of St Benedict, would have possibly been taught to play football by their Curate William Jackson before joining Gibson at Everton. (William Briscoe would later take this route in to the team.) The 3 men are first reported to be playing together, in the forward line, against Burslam Port Vale in September 1884.The Staffordshire club had invited Everton in order to introduce the public to their new sports ground on Moorland Road where around 3000 people saw them beat the visitors 7-0.
Next week it was then the turn of Everton to open their new enclosure on Anfield Road with a game against Earlestown. The 3 young players again lined up together. The 2 goals scored by Whittle, and one from Richards, helped the home side to win the game 5-0. All 3 next appeared in the Liverpool Cup tie against Bootle, which Everton won 2-1, and were together again when they again faced Earlestown in the final. They lost the game 1-0. The last game, of any sufficient, that Gibson Richards and Whittle played together was a 2-1 defeat against FA Cup holders Blackburn Rovers at Anfield because, next season, there were whole sale changes at the club.
The Everton executive, thanks to a surplus of gate money, now decided to import experience players with a promise of paying them for their services. George Dobson first arrived from Bolton while George Farmer and “Job” Wilding joined him from North Wales. Gibson and Richards assisted the club in the local knockout but it was only Gibson who appeared in the final as Everton beat Bootle 1-0. These 3 local men, due to increase of imported players, now made only the occasional appearance in the Everton ranks before returning to everyday life.
John Robson Whittle was living at 30 Dacy Road when, on the 29th of September 1890, he married fellow parishioner Catherine Gatcliffe at the church of St Saviour on Breckfield Road North. The couple set up home at 102 Belmont Road where their 2 children, Thomas and Rebecca, were born. John Whittle was residing at this address at the time of his premature death on the 19th of January 1895.
Walter Richards was living at 74 Rockfield Road in Everton when, on the 3rd of July 1901, he married Elizabeth Reen at the church of St James in West Derby Village. The 1911 finds the couple living at 26 Monastery Road, Clubmoor where the head of household is working as a Commercial Clerk. Walter Richards died in December 1927.
William John Gibson, at the time of the 1891 census, is living with his Parents, and their other 4 children, at Barlows Lane in Walton but by 1901, as the head of household, is living at 50 Garnell Avenue in Kirkdale. According to 1911 census he is employed as a Merchants Clerk, still unmarried, and now living at Curzon Road in Waterloo. William Gibson, the last remaining member of the 3 young blues, died in 1929.