John Dewar – by Tony Onslow

Thanks to the British Newspaper Archive website, the mystery of John Dewar, who made a single appearance for Everton, can be revealed. He was born, September 1867 in the Renfrewshire village of Strathbungo (today part of the City of Glasgow) and was the 2nd child of Andrew, a Stonemason, and his Wife Janet. The family had relocated to the Kinning Park area of Glasgow when John became an apprentice to his Father and play junior football with Well Park with who he won the Glasgow Junior Cup. Around 1882 he progressed to Senior football with Thistle FC (once a Scottish League club) before “moving to Third Lanark (dissolved 1967) with whom he represented the Glasgow FA against their counterparts from Dunbartonshire and Lanarkshire. He next became the club secretary of Glasgow Wanderers and oversaw their election into the newly formed Scottish Federation League before crossing the Border to join Sunderland Albion during the late summer of 1891.

This now defunct organisation had been formed in 1888 after Sunderland AFC had decided to turn professional and move to a new home on Newcastle Road. Albion took over their old Blue House ground, improved the facilities, and became a founder member of the Football Alliance one year later. However, due to the lack of support, and Sunderland AFC becoming Football League champions, they withdrew after 2 seasons and had transferred to the Northern Alliance League when Dewar took up a permanent position in the side.

The league season began badly for the Albion committee who, after a 6-0 defeat by Stockton, detailed Dewar back to Scotland with licence to return with several new players. This gesture convinced the FA committee that Sunderland Albion should be excused from the qualifying rounds of the national knockout and begin the campaign in Round One where they defeated Football Alliance side Birmingham St George 4-0. The victory granted them a home draw with Nottingham Forest who produced a record crowd of 8,000 people to the Blue House Ground. The visitors won the game 1-0. With local rivals – now branded the Team of all Talents – going from strength to strength, Sunderland Albion slowly faded and went into oblivion. Next August, John Dewar was granted a trial period with Everton.

His arrival in Liverpool was overshadowed by the opening of Goodison Park but he took part in the celebrations which curtailed with a game against Bolton Wanderers. Next day Dewar, took part in the Football League game against Nottingham Forest in front of a crowd of 12,000 people and “acquitted himself well” as the game ended in a 2-2 draw. The Scot then took his place in the Combination X1 where he made 5 appearances. On the 29th of October he “signed off” his Football League papers – for which he received a compensation fee of £27 – before returning to Scotland.

The 1901 census finds John Dewar, now married to Janet Rowat, living in the Cathcart area of Glasgow with a family of 4 children. He had achieved the rank of Master Builder when he died, 12th of September 1948, at his home at Kendal Avenue in Giffnock and was buried at Newton Means Cemetery in East Renfrewshire.

By Tony Onslow

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