The year 1892 was iconic in the history of Everton Football Club, famous for the dispute with John Houlding, which cumulated in the potentially club-ending gamble of moving to a new, undeveloped site, in time for the opening of the forthcoming 1892-93 season on 3 September.
It was a tall order of course, but once the decision had been made, the directors and club officials went into overdrive to ensure their dream move would become a reality in the very short time available to them.
Work began in May 1892, contractors were engaged, and the pitch area – which had been a ‘common wasteland’ – was drained, levelled, turfed, and thoroughly prepared to meet the quality expected for League football. Then there was the small matter of providing accommodation for the projected crowds of 40,000.
According to Thomas Keates,
‘A Mr Barton was contracted to do this on 29,471 square yards a 4 ½ d per square yard, a formidable initial expenditure. Then Mr J. Prescott, a prominent local architect and surveyor was engaged. He lived in a fine old house on the border of the estate, and was an enthusiastic, jolly, sportsman in his leisure hours. On June 7th a contract was made with Kelly Brothers, the Walton builders, to erect two uncovered stands to accommodate 4,000 each, and a covered stand to accommodate 3,000, for £1,640* – with a penalty clause in the event of non-completion by July 31st. On June 20th another contract was made with them to erect outside enclosing hoardings at a cost of £150. Twelve turnstiles were ordered at £7 15s each; on August 9th a third contract was with Kelly Brothers for gates, sheds, etc, for the sum of £132 10s, to be completed by August 20th.‘ [*Worth around £270,000 today] Keates, Thomas, ‘History of the Everton Football Club 1878-9–1928-9; A Jubilee History’ (1929), p.44
Talk about cutting it fine! Especially as there was a friendly scheduled to be to played on 1 September 1892, just two days before the first home league game against Nottingham Forest on the 3rd. Much of the work was carried out late into the close-season, and it’s astonishing that all contracts were completed on time.
Meanwhile, just a few weeks earlier on 11 July, while the ground was being completed, the directors had decided it would be a good idea to take the players on a day out as a distraction away from the demanding preparation for their first season at their new ground. No doubt they also felt it would be a good opportunity to use it as a bonding session after reconvening following the close season;
Picnic Resolved that arrangements made be confirmed – viz. steamer for players & Committee from Chester to Farndon. £3-3/- tea at Farndon, 2/6 each for Saturday August 6th.
So, on Saturday 6 August 1892 (the August Bank Holiday weekend came early in those days), after a journey on the steam train to Chester, the party gathered at the riverside to board the tourist boat to cruise up the Dee. Winding its way up past Eccleston Ferry and the Duke of Westminster’s estate, the party passed under Aldford bridge (now the limit of present-day cruisers), and continued on to the picturesque village of Farndon and its 14th century medieval bridge, where they disembarked. Exactly where they enjoyed their picnic is not recorded, but there were tea rooms on the riverside and on the high street, as well as three public houses. The riverside also had amusements and rowing boats for hire, so it safe to assume they had an entertaining day out away from the hectic developments at home. They may have sauntered over the bridge to the Welsh side of the river for a walk around the village of Holt – at that time home to Leigh Roose (and his teacher H.G. Wells), who just a few years later would become a full international goalkeeper for Wales, and sign for Everton. Not sure what happened to the H.G. Wells guy though. But it would be interesting to travel back in a time machine to find out.
[I must confess a personal interest here, as I live just 100 yards from the Farndon bridge. I was quite thrilled to discover the brief reference in the Committee Minutes, that the club would choose to come to Farndon for a day out before their very first game at Goodison Park! – M.R.]
A boat trip and a picnic at Farndon, no doubt sounds quaint by modern standards, but some players did take the opportunity to travel abroad during the summer break, as this report reveals, before the author, The Loiterer, then details the first sight of Goodison Park by the gentlemen of the Press, while also highlighting the unusual new facilities for an occasionally obnoxious individual;
EVERTON’S NEW GROUND
[By The Loiterer]
‘There are outward and visible signs that the football season is approaching, and the various secretaries are busily engaged in getting their houses in order, and a general collection of players is apparent all round. This is a matter of much importance, for some of the Everton players may be in foreign parts. I came across Kelso this week, and he is looking very well and fit. Bob has had a busy close season, having spent six weeks in a voyage to the Mediterranean, three weeks here, and the last three weeks in Scotland.
With several Press friends I had the privilege of taking a private view of the new Everton ground, and, at the request of the committee, assisted in the selection of the site for the Press Box. If all parties concerned have not had the same privilege, they will find that the committee have given their respective conveniences every consideration, and I shall be very much surprised if all are not satisfied, so complete seem to be the arrangements. For instance, that occasionally obnoxious individual, the referee, will I am sure, appreciate the effort that has been made for his comfort. Before and after finishing his arduous duties he will find that he has only to mount some dozen steps and pass down the reserved portion of the stand before he is in comfortable room, which is heated with a stove and fitted with everything to promote his comfort. The visiting team are next door, fitted with the most modern means of producing hot water, is attached. Then comes the home teams’ rooms with similar convenience. The grand stand [Bullens Road] is a big one, and will be a fine sight when full. Other stands, uncovered, are placed behind each goal, and the Goodison Road side (opposite the grand stand) has been banked up with I don’t know how many thousands loads of cinders, and will afford sight-seeing for a vast number of spectators. If there is anything the B.P. dislikes it is to be continually putting his hand into his pocket, even if the amount does not exceed what would have been the first charge. I understand there will be only three prices, viz., the popular sixpenny, extra charge for reserved portion in front of stand, and for the stand itself, and one payment will cover the lot. Of course, there will be the usual transfer conveniences. Should the turf wear well, with such an enclosure Liverpool should have the International match with Scotland next season. It is too early to sound the Association on this point, but with such a strong Scotch element as we have in Liverpool, I venture to say that the “gate” would be a record.
by The Loiterer, Athletic News, Monday 1 August 1892
To give the new turf a chance to bed-in, the Committee arranged with the secretary of Stanley F.C. to use their ground at Walton Stiles for training and practice matches. The location was quite close, as the map below reveals. The pitches were named after the adjacent ancient footpath which ran from Walton Church to Spellow Lane and down to the present County Road. Part of it was replaced by Goodison Park and Goodison Road.
By Richard Samuel
Everton have started practicing on the Stanley ground. With the exception of the men Bell and Boyle, all the men are in harness and quite large crowds have turned out to see them. Cricket and Football Field – Saturday 13 August 1892
To say the next couple of weeks would be hectic would be an understatement. On 8 August, the Committee resolved to accept Lord Kinnaird’s offer to officially open Goodison Park on 25 August, and to have a professional sports meeting with a fireworks display to round off the proceedings. On 9 August, the Committee sat again and agreed to Kelly Brothers’ contract for the sum of £132.10.0 be accepted for ‘making and erecting, entrance gates, sheds etc and to complete by all work required on the Ground, except painting, by 20 August.’ A set of goal nets were to be ordered from Mr Barclay for urgent delivery, as the kick-off to the new season was getting closer. [These were the new James Brodie nets – see Rob Sawyer’s article on this website for more information].
On 10 August, the Committee resolved that from the following Monday, the Secretary was to arrange for ‘Eggs and Sherry,’ plus coffee to be provided for the players training each morning.
It was also resolved that the Directors make all the arrangements for the sports on the 25th themselves. It was agreed that the events should include a ‘100 Yards flat race, a 1/2 mile flat, a 3 leg race and a one mile walking race.’ Regarding training, it was resolved that ‘all the Players not working be asked to turn up at Stage tomorrow at 4.15pm for walk.‘
Numerous articles began appearing in the newspapers following the Press tour of the new stadium, and even the Sunderland correspondent sounded excited;
EVERTON NEW GROUND
The following clipping’ deals with Everton’s new ground: “It IS without doubt one of the best appointed and most commodious football enclosures in the country. When finally completed it will BE capable holding quite 40,000 people. . . . The covered stand IS quite unique in its way. I believe that few other football clubs in the kingdom can boast of a covered stand able to accommodate at least 4,000 people, and it is so constructed that each individual spectator can get a perfect view of the game. . . . Extensive stands have also been erected on the northern and southern extremities of the enclosure, whilst the western side being banked up in such a way as to afford standing room for quite 20,000 people. . . . Their dressing-rooms and baths are perfect little models in their way, and the committee have arranged that the players, as well as the referee, shall have access to and from the ground without coming into contact with the spectators. Mr. Love, the trainer, has his own quarters, and the secretary, will likewise have an office on the ground. Everton’s ground will also boast of a bowling green. There is much to be done yet, but all will be ready for the convenience of the public and the players by the first.” Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette, Tuesday 16 August 1892
EVERTON FOOTBALL CLUB
The followers of Everton will be interested to learn that the players will take part in a practice match on the Stanley ground on Tuesday next. The kick-off is at 6.30 p.m.. No charge will be made, and an opportunity is this affords, which will be thoroughly appreciated, of taking a look at the form of the men who have been secured to do battle for Everton during the season about to commence. Liverpool Mercury, 20 August 1892
Practice is actively engaged in with all our football teams. Everton turned out on Monday evening, but the men did not seem inclined to rub the rust off at the first attempt, and the play was only a mild form of exercise. Since then the team has had two stiffest evenings, and the form shown has given satisfaction. Some people seem to think that last year’s weak spot still remains, though I cannot agree with it, for Dewar has shown good form, and is apparently a better man than Mclean. It is too much to hope that the defence will be as sound as when Hannah and Doyle had it in hand; but, from what I can see, I do not think that there is any cause for alarm. I think the defence will be safer than it was last year, and I anticipate a great improvement in the forwards. We shall have a good idea of the team’s abilities after the match with Bolton wanderers, on September 1. The Loiterer, Athletic News, Monday 22 August 1892
The Official Opening of Goodison Park
After a celebratory dinner at the Adelphi Hotel on 24 August 1892, chaired by Mr George Mahon, the dignitaries repaired to Goodison, where Lord Kinnaird, President of the F.A., declared the ground open, to the thunderous applause of 12,000 spectators there to witness the event, which continued as the party paraded around the ground. A programme of sports events followed, the band of the 3rd King’s Liverpool Regiment provided stirring music, and the day was rounded off with an impressive firework display. Here below, are a selection of news articles reporting the momentous events of 25 August 1892.
EVERTON FOOTBALL CLUB
Opening of the New Ground
The new ground of the Everton Football Club Company Limited, at Goodison Park, Walton lane, was opened last evening by Lord Kinnaird, president of the Football Association of England. Previous to the ceremony, his lordship was entertained to dinner at the Adelphi Hotel. Among those present in addition to Lord Kinnard were Mr. G. Mahon (president of the club), in the chair; Dr. Baxter (vice president), in the vice chair; Dr. Morley (vice chairman of the Football Association of England and president of the Blackburn Rovers), Messrs, J.J. Bentley (chairman of the Football League and secretary of the Bolton Wanderers), H. Lockett (secretary of the League), R.PO. Gregson (secretary of the Lancashire Association), R.E. Lythgoe (secretary of the Liverpool Association), Mr. Earlam (secretary of the Combination), Inspector Churchill (secretary of the Liverpool Police Athletic Association); Messrs, W and J. Kelly (contractors for the new ground), and Mr. James Prescott (architect for the ground).
Dinner over, and the health of the Queen having been proposed by the Chairman, and duly honoured, that gentleman gave the toast of “Association Football,” coupling with the name of Lord Kinnaird. Association Football, he said, occupied a higher position in England at the present time than ever before, and a great measure of this result was due to the exertions of their guest. It was his desire that the Everton Football Club should follow in the footsteps of Lord Kinnaird in his endeavours to hold for Association Football a position of respect among sportsmen as a national game. (Applause). Before Lord Kinnaird’s reply, Dr. Morley replied to the toast on behalf of the council of the Football Association. He assured his hearers that during his 13 years’ connection with the Association he had seen stirring times. Tact and good temper, however had carried them through, and would continue to do so. (Hear, hear).
Mr. Bentley, having replied on behalf of the League, and Mr. Earlam on behalf of the Combination, Lord Kinniard, whist replying to the toast of “Association Football,” at the same time proposed “Success to Everton.” He believed Association Football to be as good a game as any other, and his object, and the object of the other, and his object, and the object of the Everton Club, was to maintain the game as a national sport, and not allow it to play second fiddle even to cricket. (Applause). In common with the Everton Club it was his endeavour to save the game from the taint of rowdyism and betting, and he looked to the club to support him and his colleagues on the council of the association in the decisions they might come to when such points were raised. (Hear, hear). Any committee putting its foot down at any piece of rowdyism would, he was sure, receive the support both of players and spectators. It was because Everton had always upheld these principles that it gave him great pleasure to propose that toast. He thought the time was coming when football lovers ought to try and secure grounds for the next generation. He was anxious that they should seek not only the lease of their grounds but the freehold; otherwise 20 or 320 years hence, the landowners would step in with the builders in their train, and they would lose the ground. (Hear, hear). He thought they ought to bring pressure to bear upon municipal corporations to supply the grounds. The matter was a public one, and the grounds ought to be provided at the public expense. (Hear, hear). As soon as the public made up their minds nowadays that they wanted a thing, they would get it. (Applause). He congratulated them upon their new ground. The Everton clubmen were good sportsmen, and he was convinced that they had a great future before them. (Loud Applause).
The Chairman, in responding to the toast, said that their club would certainly endeavour to acquire the freehold of their ground as soon as their financial position permitted. Any help that the Liverpool public gave them to this end would be amply compensated by the help the club intended to give to their public institutions. (Applause).
After dinner the party drove in carriages to the splendid new ground at Goodison Park. This was crowded with thousands of spectators, who cheered lustily as Lord Kinnaird briefly declared the ground open. A short programme of athletic sports was next gone through, the prizes being distributed to the successful competitors by Mr. Mahon. The band of the 3rd Volunteer Battalion of the King’s Liverpool Regiment performed a selection of music during the evening. The festivities concluded with a display of fire-works. Liverpool Mercury, 25 August 1892
THE EVERTON FOOTBALL CLUB.
OPENING CEREMONY BY LORD KINNAIRD.
The Everton Football Club, which, it will be remembered, underwent a decisive change last winter, celebrated the opening of its newly- acquired ground at Goodison Park, Anfield, last evening. The club is lucky in having secured what is perhaps the finest ground in England, and the enterprise displayed in its acquirement will doubtless be fully repaid before the close of the of coming season. The ground and stands have already been fully described in these columns, and when we reiterate that there is accommodation for 50,000 people, it will be readily understood what pains the executive have taken to secure adequate quarters for their patrons.
The committee of the club entertained to dinner at the Adelphi Hotel yesterday the principal officials of the various football associations, amongst whom were Lord Kinnaird, president of the Football Association ; Dr. Morley (Blackburn Rovers), vice-president ; Mr. J. J. Bentley, chairman of the Football League ; Mr. H. Hockett, secretary of the Football of the League Mr. K. P. Gregson, secretary of the Lancashire Association; Mr. R.E. Lythgoe, secretary of the Liverpool Association Mr. Earlam, secretary of the Combination Messrs. W. and J. Kelly, contractors for the stands, &c. : Mr. James Prescott, architect : and Mr. M. Churchill, secretary of the Liverpool Police Athletic Society &c.
On the conclusion of dinner, Mr. Mahon, president of the Everton Football Club, who occupied the chair, proposed the health of the Queen, which being duly honoured, the chairman propounded on behalf the of the “Association Football,” coupled with the name of Lord Kinnaird.
Dr. Morley responded behalf of the Association, and said that football had gone through a great number of changes during the last few years. He was glad to see that the old spirit of rowdyism was fast dying out, and that a true feeling of sportsmanship now actuated both players and spectators alike.
Mr. Bentley and Mr. Earlam having briefly replied on behalf of the League and Combination respectively.
Lord Kinnaird proposed the toast of “Success to Everton”. He did not want to make any invidious distinction, but he believed football to be good as a game as any, cricket not excepted. He was glad to hear Dr. Morley say that they had determined to maintain a sportsmanlike feeling in the game, and that anything like rowdyism was to be severely condemned. He trusted that the game would always be second to none, and an honour to the country. With regard to betting, many people severely criticized the game on this head; but he was confident that where the committee of club were firmly resolved to discountenance this odious practice it might be effectually put down. He was a staunch advocate of clubs having a ground of their own —a freehold that would not only acquisition to themselves, but to generations to come (cheers).
The Chairman, in replying on behalf of the directors, said that they had secured a seven years lease of the Goodison Park ground : but hoped, as soon as funds permitted, to purchase it outright (hear, hear).
The company then drove to the ground at Goodison Park, which was crowded with quite 10,000 spectators. Lord Kinnaird having duly declared the ground opened, the band of the 3rd Yeoman Volunteers, King’s Liverpool Regiment. struck up a lively air, and a short programme of athletic sports, confined to the professional members of football clubs, was gone through. As darkness set in, the ground was illuminated with a grand display of fireworks, and the ceremony of opening the Everton Football Ground was most successfully concluded. Liverpool Echo, Thursday 25 August 1892
Kinnaird seems to be a forgotten figure considering he officially opened Goodison Park. Yet he was no ribbon-cutting aristocrat. Arthur Fitzgerald Kinnaird, 11th Lord Kinnaird, was a leading footballer of his day, and many journalists looked upon him as the first football star. With Wanderers and Old Etonians he appeared in nine FA Cup Finals – still the record, and his five winner’s medals also stood as a record until it was broken by Ashley Cole in 2010. He also achieved success in other sports including tennis, swimming, canoeing, and sprinting. Kinnaird served on the FA administration from the age of only twenty-one, became treasurer at thirty, and President of the FA thirteen years later, an office he held for the next thirty-three years until his death in 1923. In 2020, he was featured as one of the main characters in the Netflix drama The English Game.
GOODISON PARK –THE NEW HOME OF THE EVERTON F.C.
The interesting function in connection with the formal opening of Goodison-park as the home of the Everton F.C., of which Lord Kinnaird the central figure, was a complete success, for the weather was bright and inviting, and as there were not less than 12,000 persons present, a most cheering forecast was given as to the future of the good old club. Goodison-park will rank as one of the finest football arenas in the country, either in point of size or equipment; and when it is remembered that the work of construction was not commenced until April was well advanced; the progress made by the contractors is truly marvellous.
The actual area enclosed is about 5 ½ acres, and this ample space Mr. Prescott, the architect, and Messrs Kelly, the contractors, have utilized to the fullest advantage. Already the turf is in splendid condition – as perfect almost as a bowling-green and ready for the practical opening against Bolton Wanderers on Thursday next. The covered grand stand on the eastern side is a magnificent structure of its kind, close upon 420 feet in length, with an elevation furnishing thirteen tiers of seats. The uncovered stands at the rear of the goal posts stretch the full width of the playing ground, that at the north end considerably beyond, and each of these thus an elevation of eighteen tiers, the standing space being double towards the sunset. But apart from the accommodation thus furnished, there is a nine-foot space in front of the covered stand, and close upon 24 feet contiguous to the stands in the rear of goal. Beneath the grand stand there is a complete suite of rooms, including dressing apartments for the players, fitted with batons and every convenience to the comfort of both the resident and visiting teams.
On the western side, the ground has been banked up for a distance of 40 yards, so that provision has been made for fully 30,000 spectators; but although this may exceed the present requirements of the club, there can be no doubt that Goodison park is destined to become an extremely popular winter resort, conveniently situated as it is to rail and tram, and within east distance of the city. At present there is no telegraph office attached to the grounds, consequently press massagers will have to be sent to the Central-office, a distance of three miles, thereby entailing a serious loss of time and oftenest vexations disappointment. It is therefore greatly to be hoped that this defect will be remedied, and that from a press point of view Goodison-park will be as thoroughly equipped as are the leading county cricket enclosures, Old Trafford, to wit, where the pressman can dispatch his messages without the slightest difficulty or delay. The Liverpool Courier, 27 August 1892
Everton’s New Ground
Opening ceremony by Lord Kinnard
” All roads lead to Paris” is a well-known apothegm, but, if we changed the name of the Parisian city into Liverpool’s football capital, the axiom would be apparently verified to the but casual observer last Wednesday evening. From six p.m. the public entrances kept revolving registering the throngs; and even the keepers of the private doors had put little time for refreshments. The evening was fine, put cooled by the refreshing zephyr, which swayed the variegated and inconceivably-shaped lanterns which hung in semi-circular forms from the roof of the grand stand. the latter, by the way, did not deny its name. Many expressions of admiration and approval were heard on all sides, and the red baize immediately below the press seats rendered the view more pleasing and the comfort more homely. No wonder the ground looked as level as a billiard-table. What with the quality of the turf (which I heard is from the rich rare soil of Aintree racecourse) and the unceasing care displayed, its superior will be difficult to find.
The Enormous Concourse
of 12,000, included many of the “gentle sex”, who appeared (like most of the competitors) in the pink of the season and condition. At 6:45 an artificial report announced that having banqueted well lord Kinnaird had made the usual declaration. He immediately crossed the ground, accompanied by Dr. Morley, of the Rovers; Messrs, J.J. Bentley, Chairman of the Football League; H. Lockett, Secretary of the Football League; R.P. Gregson, sec., Lancashire Association; R. S. Lythgoe, sec., Liverpool Association; M.Earlam, of the Combination, and our local Dr. Baxter. The group were instantly subjected to painless photography.
The 120yds handicap opened the various items, all of which were confined to football professionals. In the first heat, Everton’s flier, Geary, came sailing through, aided by a flying start. Kelso was second. Robertson accounted for the second heat, R.Jones running him up. The last heat saw Jardine beating Elliott easily. The final was worth witnessing, Davis giving Hope a yard and beating him by four. The scratch man got off wretchedly, but sprinted smartly in for the 3rd prize. The three-legged race was the cause of much merriment. The lengthy Pinnell and the goalkeeper appeared to be in a knot from which they could not extricate themselves. The laughter was frequent and full, as this contest was run in two heats of three couples (irrespective of the final), and in each there was something of comedy. Eventually, Milward and Jones divided the first prize of £4, whilst the two “Macs,” were each repaid for their funny efforts by a “sovereign” balsam. Walking races are, as a rule in athletic sports,
Dull, Stale, And Uninteresting,
but here was a notable and surprisingly agreeable exception. The prominent thrusting forward figure of Pinnell, the serious gait of McLaren, the fun-of-the-thing style of Jardine, the tenacious sticking of Gordon, and the plucky pedalling of Rogers, diversified now and then (where the officials were not) by a little mixing and crowding, put the usual monotony out of the contest. Rogers deserved better than third, but none can gainsay that the scratch man, Pinnell, did not deserve the premier. Gordon was second. In high jumping, Jardine’s ability is generally acknowledged. He cleared 5ft., tieing with Robertson, to whom he conceded four inches. Pinnell captured another prize here. The half-mile was run in semi-darkness, nought to be seen but flitting shadows, who arrived corporeally home in the persons of Ross Muir, Robertson, and Geo.Smith. The contests on the whole reflect great credit on the handicappers- Messrs. Clayton and Molyneux. By the time the spectacle was more illuminated, as pale blue and reddish lights bordered the grass edges in a cool yet animating manner. Then the “Ascent of the Monstre balloon”, the display of large coloured rockets (whose efforts to reach the empyrean resulted with a burst in the colours of the rainbow), the grand illumination with coloured fires and prismatic lights, the cascade in ascent and descent, etc, etc, delighted the onlookers with their varied and extensive proportions. And the “Grand Finale,” half-circle devise and motto,
“Success To Everton,”
drew ringing cheers from the four quarters. We must not omit to mention the dulcet strains played by the band of the 3rd Volunteer Battalion, King’s Liverpool Regiment, who played to please. Cricket and Football Field, 27 August 1892.
THE NEW HOME OF THE EVERTON CLUB
[By The Free Critic]
Everton have been visited by a real live lord, and that Lord the President of the Football Association. Yes, Lord Kinnaird has been to Everton, and has congratulated the Executive on the management, and also on their new ground. Of course, this was chiefly done in an after-dinner speech, but Lord Kinnaird is not the man to trot out flattery as the result of a good dinner, and to my mind, Mr. Mahon, and his committee deserve every credit for the manner in which they set to work to provide a new home for the Everton Football Club. It would serve no useful purpose to go through the reasons why a new ground was necessary, but it was, and on Good Friday, Everton commenced the gigantic task of converting a mud heap into a passable football ground. I am assured that the piece of land at Goodison-road, which has been secured at a rental of 50 pounds a year on a seven years’ lease was a veritable wilderness six months ago, and the levelling up process has taken an average depth of 4 and half feet of cinders in order to make it level.
This being done, the next question was the turf, and that had to be good, for it would have but a few short weeks to get knit together, as it were, before being required for active service, for the first match on the ground is fixed for Thursday next, I understand the sod was brought from Aintree, but that matters little; it is now in exceptionally good order, and with the excellent drainage which the cinders give, it ought to wear well. There were, however, other matters to attend to in addition to the playing portion, and first of all the wilderness was enclosed with hoarding something like 12 or 15 feet in height, and then the stands were erected. Quoting from the official description, the actual size of the field of play is 384 feet by 255 feet, and this makes something like 2 and 1 third acres; but the total area of the ground taken is five and a half acres, and this is enough land for any respectable club to have at an annual rental of 50 pounds. The executive naturally expect a few spectators, so they have provided accommodation for 40,000 to be going on with. It is easy enough to write 40,000 and I must confess that I was under the impression that in their zeal my Everton friends has been exaggerating somewhat, but a visit on Wednesday convinced me that they had not, and in my opinion, with sufficient banking –and the Everton people speak of a thousand load of cinders as if it were a truck load-it is quite possible to put 50,000 inside the immense hoardings.
Now as to the stands. The covered one opposite Goodison-road is according to the official description a “well-built and imposing one of its kind.” At any rate, it is a very comfortable one, although a person of aldermanic proportions might find some difficulty in walking between the seats. The entrances are at the back and you therefore go down to your seat. Nice, warm cushions there are for the reserved people, and this portion is in the centre of the ground, for the stand runs the whole length of the touchline. Behind each goal are open stands, 270ft each in length, and these will hold 10,000, provided the spectators do not get too excited and will be content to stand still during the process of the game-which they won’t. I forgot to say that the covered stand has 13 tiers, and the only objection is that on the top seat the unfortunate occupants will have some difficulty in following the play on a dark, dismal day; and it is this spot which the Press have selected to enable them to give a true and faithful account of the proceedings. The directors are most anxious to please the poor scribes, and are willing to provide each with an office, and two or three papers have already taken advantage of the offer and have erected telephones.
Going down the staircase, we find a cinder track, on which the players may do a sprint, and then we are introduced to the dressing rooms- two, and a bathroom for each team – fitted up with lockers. The baths are not the ordinary iron painted affairs, but are built of substantial timber, and about half a dozen can use them at the same time. The next room is nicely fitted up for the referee, and this is not only an original idea, but a real good one, for the much-abused official can now retire from field and dress in solitude, without being compelled to overhear uncomplimentary remarks about some of his decisions. The door is fitted with a substantial lock, and, if necessary, the directors are prepared to have it coated with sheet iron. At any rate, they have done all they could to make the referee comfortable. They have not put down a running track, being of opinion that the nearer you can get your spectators to the play the more your spectators will appreciate it; but, all the same, a good track on a popular ground would have done well.
I might mention that the publicans in the neighbourhood are fully alive to the necessities of trade, and are making most extensive alterations for the sale of liquor, and are spending a small fortune in paint of various hues. I must confess to an ignorance of the geographical position of the ground, but from what I was told there are stations to the right of it, stations to the left of it, and, in fact, all round it. Then the tram takes you to within a hundred yards of the entrance, and I should imagine it is nearer the city than the one in Anfield-road. Mr. Prescott is the discoverer and architect, and he has been assisted in his work by Messrs Kelly Brothers, of Walton, while the gentlemen who claims to have made the turf of bowling-green excellence is Mr. Barton. But, without an energetic committee like Mr. Marlow, Mr. Clayton, Mr. Griffiths, Dr. Baxter, Mr. Molyneux, and others, no number of architects, builders, and turf manipulators could have made Goodison-road into one of the best football grounds in the country in the short space of five months. Athletic News, Monday 29 August 1892
Meeting of Directors held Monday 29 Aug 1892 – Practice Match
Resolved that the practice match take place on the Stanley Match Ground – & the teams be Jardine, Howarth, Dewar, Kelso, Holt, Robertson, Gordon, Smith, Pinnel, McLaren, Elliott V Hanlon, Chadwick, Coyle, Boyle, Campbell, Jamieson, Latta, Maxwell, Chadwick, Milward, & Geary in centre.
Two good clubs have sprung out of Everton, and the parent organisation, which has had to migrate to other and better quarters, are, in a certain sense, upon their defence, and in the tragedy of survival of the fittest will focus the interest of the Liverpool supporters of the dribbling code. Everton are well prepared for the attack. They have by aid of energy and enterprise which must excite admiration provided themselves with a football enclosure that can scarcely be surpassed for accommodation and completeness, and which is in a wonderful state of perfection considering the short time which the contractors have had at their disposal. Every comfort, alike of players, spectators, officials, and pressmen, has been studied and seen to, and Goodison Park, it is safe to predict, will become an even more popular resort than Anfield Road has proved to be. The ground will compare favourably with Ewood Park, the splendid headquarters of Blackburn Rovers, and in some respects is an improvement upon the latter eligible enclosure, as the spectators will be nearer on all sides to the touchline, an advantage of much importance in the dull, cloudy days that are met with during the winter months, when light is trying to the vision.
There is one huge covered stand, and it is contemplated covering those at either end, a shield from the rain or cold winds that will be much appreciated by those who patronise the more ‘’popular” places, whilst those who prefer to view the play from the sloping banks will find the survey of the field of action free and uninterrupted. The offices and dressing rooms provided on the ground will be gratifying to the players and officials and if the turf, which at present appears on the whole well-knit wears well, there will be less liability of injury to players when reaching ‘’mother earth,” as they inevitably do in the course of spirited play. The programme of Everton is, of course a good one, consisting of 30 league fixtures in addition to cup-ties and extra matches, chief among the latter being that of Queens Park at Goodison Park on Thursday October 6, the personnel of the teams will be an improvement apparently on that of last year, the new hands comprising Dewar (of Sunderland Albion), and Coyle backs: Jamieson (Cambuslang), and Boyle (Dumbarton), half-backs; and Smith (Cambuslang) and McLaren (Dumbarton), forwards. All the old players except McLean, C.Lochhead, Kirkwood and Wyllie are, we believe, secured and two very strong teams can thus be manned. The second team will be chiefly occupied in maintaining the high position they secured last year in the Combination. The season opens on Thursday at Goodison Park When Everton League will meet the Bolton Wanderers in a friendly contest, the first League match being that with Notts Forest on Saturday next. Liverpool Mercury, 29 August 1892.
The First Game at Goodison Park
EVERTON V. BOLTON WANDERERS – 1 September 1892 (Friendly)
The inaugural game was a friendly against the formidable opposition of Bolton Wanderers on Friday 1 September 1892. Mr Mahon ceremoniously kicked off, Everton won the fixture 4-2, but the real start against league opposition came two days later in the opening league game of the 1892-93 season, when Everton drew 2-2 with Nottingham Forest in front of a crowd of 14,000.
At the Committee Meeting of 30 August 1892, the intended team for the Bolton Wanderers friendly, the first League game at Goodison Park against Nottingham Forest, and the follow up at Sheffield United was recorded as follows;
v Bolton Wanderers – Jardine, Howarth, Dewar, Boyle, Holt, Robertson, Latta, Maxwell, Geary, Chadwick & Milward with Kelso as Reserve.
v Notts Forest – as above.
v Sheffield United – as above, except Kelso to play, vice Boyle.
v Nantwich – Pinnel, Chadwick, Coyle, Campbell, Jones, Jamieson, Gordon, Murray, Smith, McMillan, Elliott with McLaren & Collins as Reserves.
EVERTON V BOLTON WANDERERS
The inaugural match at the Everton new ground at Goodison Park was played last evening, when the opposing teams were Everton and Bolton Wanderers League teams, who met in a friendly match. The weather was threatening, but in spite of that unfavourable condition there was a capital attendance, numbering when at the greatest 10,000. The visitors were first to make an appearance, to be quickly followed by Everton, a most cordial reception being accorded each eleven.
The teams were ;-
Everton; Jardine, goal; Howarth and Dewar (late Sunderland Albion), backs; Boyle (late Dumbarton), Holt (captain) and Robertson, half-backs; Latta, Maxwell, Geary, Chadwick and Milward, forwards.
Bolton Wanderers;– Sutcliffe, goal; Somerville and Jones, backs; Paton, Gardiner, and McFetteridge, half-backs; Munro, Willock, Cassidy, Wilson, and Dickinson, forwards.
Mr. Mahon, chairman of the club, kicked-off the ceremony eliciting cheers. The play as once became of an earnest character, the ball being impelled quickly from end to end. Excitement was thus aroused at the outset, and in a few minutes Cassidy made a successful shot. Everton were not slow to realise the situation, and made strenuous efforts to draw up level. They all combined well in the first line, but found the defence of the Wanderers too clever. There was no opening to be found, however, and soon another reverse was in store for the home team, as, though Dewar checked a raid on the right, the centre and left wing followed up grandly, and Dickenson penetrated Jardine’s charge. The play was most interesting, and quite as keen as it would have been in a League match. Jardine, as had Sutcliffe previously, was again called upon and then Everton at length met with success, Geary, as the outcome of pressure on the right beating the Wanderers’ custodian with a low shot. Cassidy, being more accurate than had been some of his opponents, again put the ball through goal, but this time the shot was appealed against, and disallowed. The next item of interest was a fine effort by Chadwick, who made a good running shot which deserved success, but which missed narrowly. Everton returned to the attack, and by means of good combination and close support drew even with their opponents. Latta scoring a grand goal from a pass. Jardine next made a splendid save with his fists from a central shot, but Everton soon caused the Wanderers to beat a retreat, and literally stormed the goal, the siege culminating in Chadwick making his initial goal of the season for his club. Sutcliffe, in his endeavour to neutralise the shot, got hurt, but quickly recovered, and the interval soon arrived with Everton leading by 3 goals to 2.
The second half opened by the home team going straight for the goal, and on Milward shooting in, Boyle took the ball from the rebound, and scored. The home left wing came up nicely, as did the right, but it was in vain, and Everton were for a short time on the defence, during which Cassidy made a good running attempt to score. Everton had much the best of the play. They worked admirably together, the backs having little to do, and the half-backs giving their forwards plenty of opportunities to shine which they did. The ball was passed with readiness and tact, and at times all five forwards touched the sphere in its progress towards goal. The defence of the visitors, however, was excellent, and thus the attack was cleverly repelled. By way of a diversion, Bolton made an advance on the left, when Dickenson shot into the hands of Jardine, who cleared comfortably. The visitors returned to the siege, but again Dickinson was baulked. Rom this period the light grew faint, though play continued to be followed with zest. Dickinson once more tried a flying shot, which Jardine negotiated, and generally the run of play was even, but Everton sustained their advantage, and a contest well fought out resulted auspiciously to Everton in a win of 4 goals to 2. Liverpool Mercury, 2 September 1892.
How they lined up
Reserve – Bob Kelso
The First Competitive League Game at Goodison Park
EVERTON v. NOTTINGHAM FOREST – 3 September 1892
EVERTON V. NOTTINGHAM FOREST
The Everton new colours – blue shirts and white knickers.
(Cricket and Football Field: September 3, 1892)
At Everton. Everton and Forest met three times last season, the former winning two and drawing one. This was the latter’s initial display in the first division. Earp played v. Ritchie, and H. Pike v. Shaw. The referee was Mr. S. Ormerod.
At 3.55 Everton led the way, and were immediately followed by the Reds. There must have been close on 10,000 present. The home team was the same as played on Thursday. Everton kicked off and pressed, Scott saving, Holt robbed Higgins smartly. Pretty combination by the visitors followed, and the game became fast and exciting. Everton won a corner. Rain now descended. Chadwick shot splendidly just above the bar. Geary was selfish in his play. Notts ran down, Jardine saving. Geary now shot wide. Hope checked on the right wing. Milward having floored Earp, Jardine now saved from Dick Smith. Soon after Pike beat Jardine. Dewar saved clumsily, and Latta was pulled up for offside when he had a grand chance. The Notts halves worked splendidly, giving their forwards many chances. Milward met a centre from Latta and had the hardest lines. Cries of goal ensued. A foul against Scott gave the homesters a chance, but it was unavailing. Geary threaded his way magnificently through his opponents, and made the game one all amidst great cheering. Milward and Hamilton were now seen lying together. “Played Boyle,” re-echoed all over the ground. Now Howarth played the sphere in front of goal, but it was headed out. Earp was playing grand, and his kicking was admired. Scott now robbed Maxwell when close in, McInnes ran nearly the whole length of the field, but the ball passed out. Robertson compelled Brown to give a corner, Everton still pressing. A foul was given against Holt, but the ball passed out. Everton was now doing everything but scoring. At this point there would be 12,000 spectators. Hamilton and Chadwick had unpleasant tussles.
Everton 1, Notts Forest 1
At once Jardine cleared from Pike. Scott robbed Everton’s right wing, earning the eulogies of the spectators. The Blues’ passing was ill directed. , but two corners fell in succession to them, and from the latter they almost scored. A spanking attempt from Latta fell to Notts near goal, but went outside. Dewar kicked out twice, Midfield play followed, Notts being very dangerous when near goal. A run by Chadwick, who sent to Latta in front, but he missed. Everton continued pressing. Earp got the ball in front and Brown was floored whilst out of his goal. Another centre by Latta followed, Chadwick heading over. There was more rough play by Hamilton and cries of “Send him off” The referee took note of it. Brown saved yet another shot, Everton doing everything but scoring. Boyle hit the post and another attempt by Milward was cleared by Brown. Notts now pressed, but Jardine saved for the second time in this half. A trip by Robertson ended in Higgins sending the ball flying over. Final; Everton 2, Notts Forest 2. Cricket and Football Field – Saturday, 3 September 1892
EVERTON 2 NOTTINGHAM FOREST 2
Everton; Jardine, goal, Howarth (captain), and Dewar (debut) backs; Boyle (debut) Holt and Robertson half-backs; Latta, Maxwell, Geary, Chadwick, and Milward, forwards.
The weather was rather showery and there were a couple of falls of rain a few minutes before the start. There was a magnificent crowd, more than 12,000 people being present. Everton kicked off, and the game was at once fiery, visits to each end being made, and Holt and Earp showing good-defending tactics. A splendid try was made by McCallum, the ball being headed out by Howard, and then some pretty work by Geary, Milward and Chadwick ended in the latter putting in a rasping shot which went over the bar. Latta ran the ball over, and afterwards, McCullum and Smith rattled down, Jardine kicking away a shot by Higgins. Earp was beaten by Milward, and a shot sent in by him, but it was off the mark. Clever and fast play was the order on the part of the visitors, and a pretty attempt was made by Pike, this being saved by Jardine in grand style. A corner however, resulted, and from this Pike scored neatly. Latta dashed away but he was suturally pulled up for offside play. The work was somewhat tame for a few minutes, and then the interest awakened Latta who slipped down and centred nicely, Earp having to give a corner. The same back headed out a shot from Holt, and immediately the ball was transferred to the other end. Howarth was portered by the sturdy left wing and kicked right across the goal mouth, and consequently Jardine had to run out to arrest McCallum and Smith and give a corner. This was inconsequential. Still the play was considerable in favour of the ‘’Forresters,” and it was not for a little time that Everton got across the half-way line by the skill of Latta. There were loud cries of’ ‘goal’’ when Milward received a shot hard, and great was the disappointment when it was seen that the sphere lay outside the net. The home team continued to maintain the siege, and Geary came out in a lovely dribble in which he slipped round the half-backs and before reaching the backs took a well-judged shot the ball going a few inches inside the post entirely out of the reach of Brown. It was a remarkably smart individual effort, and was warmly appreciated by the spectators, the applause being deafening.
Half-time- Everton ; 1 goal, Notts Forest 1 goal.
The attendance had greatly increased and there were nearly two thousand to be added to the statement previously given. There was nothing to pick out in the play for a minute or two. Higgins screwed through his antagonists, and forwarded a rather lousy shot, which Jardine negotiated. Everton were not long in getting down, and the Notts men were pressing, a couple of corners being conceded. McCracken played exceedingly smartly and was the chief instrument in shaving off disaster. Latta was unfortunate in a fine effort, the ball going an inch or two over the bar at a tremendous rate. The Forest managed to get to near quarters at last, but a wide shot spoiled all. Howarth coolly relieved when he had a couple of men pressing him, and from this a grand run made by Chadwick and Milward took place, a pass across to Latta unfortunately not being used to its full extent, although the position was good. Again, it seemed as though the visitors would have great difficulty in keeping their goal intact as grand long passing across the goal mouth gave Chadwick and Latta the chance of shots close in, but again their efforts were misdirected. The play tended strongly in their favour, and it was a case of hard lines every half minute. Notts improved their position greatly, and Higgins despatched a good one which was just a few inches too high. Everton would not long suffer this game of things and returning to offensive tactics Milward took a random shy from a pass by Latta, and sent the leather in the wrong side of the bar. Geary next sent outside, and then Latta put in a splendid run, tapping round McCracken and Earp and then passing to Maxwell. The latter who was near the goal, cooly passed to Geary, Chadwick and Milward, who were all of a heap, and the first-named scored easily. The tide was strongly in favour of the home team, but no profit could be made out of the work. Just before time, Pike scored the equalising goal with a shot which Jardine touched, but could not hold. Final Result- Everton 2 goals; Notts Forest 2.
The Liverpool Courier, 5 September 1892.
EVERTON V NOTTS FOREST
For the initial match in the League campaign Everton had as visitors to Goodison Park the Notts Forest team, who are now in the charmed circle for the first time. The weather unfortunately was wet and breezy, but the attendance of the public was very large, and is variously estimated at from 12,000 to 15,000. Prompt to time the following teams took up their stations. Notts Forest; Brown, goal; Earp and Scott, backs; Hamilton, A. Smith and McCracken, half-backs; McCallum, T. Smith, Higgins, Pike and McInnes, forwards. Everton; Jardine, goal; Dewar and Howarth, backs; Boyle, Holt (captain), and Robertson, half-backs; Latta, Maxwell, Geary, Chadwick and Milward, forwards. Mr. S. Ormerod officiated as referee. Everton started with the wind, if anything, in their favour but play of a spirited and even character marked the opening. Notts right menaced stoutly after a few minutes, but were repelled, and then a fine movement on the Everton left, in which Geary joined, elicited cheers, as Chadwick shot hard but too high. Latta returned without effect, and quickly Jardine was called upon, and cleared from the centre’s shot.
Even ran the play until Pike forced a corner from Jardine, and then scored. Latta came out strongly in the play of the next few minutes, and returned towards goal several times, backed up well by his colleagues, but only corners resulted, whilst a shot by Holt was headed away. The visitors cleared on the left, but Howarth, though unable to beat them off, yet spoilt an accurate hot, and Jardine smartly ran out to clear on McCallum taking up the ball. Everton were some little time before they could become aggressive, and when they did Milward shot so hard and narrowly that most people through he had put into the net instead of outside. Everton kept to the front, however, and soon Geary, worming his way past first one player, then another, took the sphere with easy range, where he baffled Brown by making a feint to shoot one way, but placing in the opposite direction, getting through goal near the post. The play was now allowed to settle in one spot, and each side were thrown on the defensive, and held out. Everton gained strength as the game progressed. Robertson tried a dropping shot on one occasion, which stayed at the expense of a corner, and then followed wide shots from either side. As half time neared Everton were very threatening, during which excitement Hamilton lost his temper, and was spoken to by the referee.
Ends were changed with the record a goal each, and on resuming the first important incident was a grand running shot by Higgins, but Jardine caught the ball and cleared his lines. Then Everton played with great determination, pressure being initiated on the right, as Hamilton and Earp were pretty successful in their attentions to Chadwick and Milward. Latta forced his way within reach of goal several times in succession and was once very near giving his club the lead, the ball just gliding over the crossbar. The attack was well sustained, and some good pressing was witnessed, but the defence of the Forest was high class, and all straight shots were successfully dealt with. Hamilton again came in for a reprimand for the way he made a charge whilst Notts were in troubled waters, and on resuming the bombardment was carried on with increased vigour. The ball was driven in all directions but there was no vulnerable spot. Higgins led one-or two forlorn hopes in the other direction, but got only a corner. Latta ran down in s splendid turn of speed, and passed across to Milward, who shot outside, as did Geary soon afterwards. Latta again, by sheer strength, worked his way up. Maxwell took the pass, and centring, the ball was put through by Geary. There were ten minutes to run yet. Notts tried to improve their position, and Pike succeeded in beating Jardine, who could not quite reach the ball. There was no time to redeem the situation, and a capital game resulted in a draw – 2 goals each.
The Liverpool Mercury, 5 September 1892.
In October 1892, Out of Doors magazine featured an article that waxed lyrical about the new stadium;
“Behold Goodison Park! The half-dozen pictures we give of this splendid enclosure must serve instead of a long description of it. In any case, to substitute pictures for words is our mission in journalistic life. At the same time no single picture could take in the entire scene the ground presents; it is so magnificently large, for it rivals the greater American baseball pitches.
“On three sides of the field of play there are tall covered stands, and on the fourth side the ground has been so well banked up with thousands of loads of cinders that a complete view of the game can be had from any portion.
“The spectators are divided from the playing piece by a neat, low hoarding, and the touch-line is far enough from it to prevent those accidents which used to be predicted at Anfield Road, but never happened.
“In the centre of the of the banked up-portion, but set against the walling of the ground is the secretary’s office, where Mr. Molyneux can sit either to write cheques in his easy chair, or keep his eye on the uttermost extent of his vast dominions.
“The chairman (Mr. George Mahon) when play is on, is accommodated exactly opposite; and under his seat, which is in the centre of the large stand, is a door lending to a passage, and this is the handy way the players and referee pop in when the game is over, and at all events the latter personage can bid defiance to the angriest crowd. This is superfluous, however, as Goodison Park spectators never throw missiles at the referee for there no better disposed crowd in the kingdom.
What, no body servant?
“Inside the room, the scene is as shown in our pictures; the bathrooms are models of comfort and convenience. Each of the two rooms (one for visitors and one for the home team) contains a large double bath, not with shallow, but with perpendicular sides. The latest gas water-heaters is shown at the end by the window with the marble hand-washing bowls at one side of it.
“The floor is a trellis work of planed boards, arranged so as to give the maximum comfort to the feet. The gas brackets are set off with opaque globes, which add a warm and pleasing softness to the scene; and even the shades above ere of the latest pattern. ‘Tubbing’ being over, the player passes through to the adjoining dressing room which is large enough to give even the stoutest full back all the elbow room he needs – and more. The seats are inclined to that comfortable hollow which induces you to sit a little longer than is absolutely necessary; even the pegs for your clothes are of an attractive design, and there is a kind of raised platform on which your body servant, if you have one, can give you a rub-down.
“As shown in our drawing, there is a room again beyond this, which can best be described as the place for ‘finishing touches.’ The referee has already been mentioned but a glance at the view of his room will show how he is provided for. It seems almost a pity there is no chance of a collier’s Rugby game on the ground for the room would stand a large amount of bombardment!
“But there are even further attractions for this august personage, for if he opens the outer door, which is the middle one shown on the back view of the entire stand he is face to face with the pretty girl who sells hot drinks.
“The stairs also shown in the same view lead exclusively to the Press stand and therefore the convenient way a busy reporter can run out with an urgent message is self-evident.
“Truly we might spare pages over this modern arena, but space forbids. Suffice it, however, to remark an inspection of the strong and substantial foundations alone, shows how carefully the whole has been planned; and if it only cost £3,000 it is £3,000 well spent and Mr. Prescott, the architect (himself a worthy footballer once, by the way) and Messrs Kelly Brothers, the contractors may take all the credit for it they deserve.
“But this noble ground was not made with the simple wave of a magician’s wand! It is the outcome of much thought and study and Mr. Mahon, and the many willing co-workers he had can now look upon the result of their efforts with the utmost pride.”
Out Of Doors, October 1892 (Reprinted in the Liverpool Echo, February 22, 1961)
Finally, although this film was made ten years later in 1902, it gives a good insight into what the first version of Goodison Park looked like, before the ground improvements carried out in 1905.
Postscript – purchase of Goodison Park
To answer questions raised as to when Everton FC actually purchased Goodison Park, this took place three years later in 1895. It was proposed at the Committee Meeting of 22 March 1895, and finalised at the Committee Meeting of 12 August 1895;
Many thanks to former EFCHS member Billy Smith and his excellent website for the transcriptions of the newspaper reports –
Smith, Billy, Everton Chronicles www.bluecorrespondent.co.uk – Newspaper transcriptions
Minutes of the Board of Everton Football Club – The Everton Collection (click for more information and access)
Keates, Thomas, History of the Everton Football Club 1878-9 to 1928-9: A Jubilee History, (1929)
Sawyer, Rob, Goodison Park – The New Home of Everton in 1892 (2020) ( – article on this website)
The Everton Collection (online) – www.evertoncollection.org.uk, Liverpool Record Office