When I was asked for assistance by a fellow historian to find out what became of a former captain of Everton, I set off, armed with the information he had supplied, in the direction of Wigan. The last resting place of the man I was to search for was that of George Brewster, and also to find out the year of his death, because it was missing from the records of both Everton FC and the Scottish FA. I had not been aware, as my train drew slowly in to Wigan North West Station, that I had just passed within 100 yards of the spot that eventually was to be my final destination. This turned out to be Westwood Cemetery at Ince-in Makerfield.
I had to make a short walk, after alighting from the bus, back across the West Coast railway line, to reach the cemetery gates where, luckily, I met two of the local council workers who were having their lunch break. I had been informed of the plot and the grave number, so this made it easy for them, kindly, to take me to the correct location where I took this photograph that verified that this was indeed the final resting place of the man I was looking for.
The final resting place of George Brewster
George ”Dod” Brewster was born on the 7 October 1891, in a small rural community known as the Kirkton of Logie Buchan, which lies several miles to the north of the granite city of Aberdeen. His parents were Alexander, a gardener, and Margaret, born at Crimond. Their home address is given simply as Auchmacoy.
The 1901 census recorded the Brewster family living at Gradholm Street in the Woodside district of Aberdeen and George as the fifth in a family of eight children. Around 1911, George was playing football for a leading local junior side called Mugiemoss who appear to be centred on a large paper mill that once stood in this area of the town. Standing well over six feet tall, George was soon persuaded to join the playing staff of Aberdeen Football Club and he made his senior debut against Celtic in February 1913. He then established himself in the Aberdeen First XI until his football career was interrupted by the outbreak of World War One.
George Brewster enlisted in the army and became a sapper with the Royal Engineers. During his period of training he made guest appearances for both Ayr United and Falkirk, and also played for Aberdeen when possible. He was later posted to France, where he became one of Margaret’s five sons on active service (Margaret was then living at Don Street, Aberdeen). George Brewster was awarded the Military Medal in November 1918.
On his return home he recommenced his playing career with Aberdeen, where his outstanding play caught the eye of the football scout who covered this area on behalf of Everton. The Merseyside club then approached Brewster with the view to signing him, but the big Scotsman was reluctant to leave, and it was only after their second attempt as the New Year approached, that he finally put pen to paper. The fee, a record at the time, was £2,400, of which, it was reported, £500 was paid to Brewster. He then enjoyed the Hogmanay celebrations at home before travelling down to England on the overnight train.
He made his Everton debut on the 3 January 1921, against Sheffield Wednesday at Goodison Park. He played another four first team games before Everton, who finished in 16th place, ended the season. He did however, during this period, win his one international cap for Scotland and helped them to beat England at Hampden Park by three goals to nil.
During the summer months, Brewster moved in to 58 Briardale Road in the Mossley Hill area of Liverpool, while Everton signed John McDonald from Airdrie. They made him club captain while George Brewster was made sub-captain. George then took part in the opening game of season and scored his first goal as Everton beat Manchester United by five goals to nil. The season however, did not go well for them, and they failed to register a win from 8 October until they beat Sunderland on Boxing Day. Brewster struggled to find his true form and, when he was called upon to captain the side, struggled to cope with the responsibility. Everton flirted with relegation during the rest of the season and finished third from bottom of the league. Their problems were further compounded by the fact that main rivals, Liverpool, had finished the season as champions.
Nevertheless, life was not all dull for George Brewster, for he had now fallen for the charms of a Liverpool lass by the name of Margaret Ann French who lived in the shadow of Goodison Park at Smeaton Street in Kirkdale. The couple were married at the church of St Frances-de-Sales and moved into 151 Bedford Road, in Bootle. Their first son William was born soon afterwards and baptised at the same church, and a second son followed, named Frederick.
George Brewster, now into his third season with Everton, was still not living up expectations, and the club executive was not happy with the situation,
The report has gained currency that George Brewster, who went to Everton two years ago, is likely to return to Aberdeen. Brewster has not been appearing regularly in the Everton first XI of late, and it has been common knowledge for some time that he has been desirous of a change, and wishes to return to Scotland.
Aberdeen Journal, 16 April 1922
Brewster played his final game for Everton on the 16 September 1922, against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park, which didn’t go well. The visitors, with the score standing at 1-1, conceded four late goals, all of them scored by John McIntyre in a period of five minutes to lose by five goals to one.
In November George Brewster left Everton,
George Brewster, the captain of Everton, has been transferred to Wolverhampton Wanderers at a fee that is a record for the latter club.
Dundee Evening Telegraph, 6 April1922
The Midland club were languishing near the foot of the table, and George Brewster, despite his best efforts, could not prevent them from being relegated to the Third Division. He was not retained by them and dropped into non-league Football.
George Brewster initially played for Lovalls Athletic who were members of the Western League. They were formed by the management of a sweet factory that was based at Newport in South Wales. The Brewster family remained in Monmouthshire for one season before moving back to Liverpool, where they took up residence in Smeaton Street. George then signed for a club that were the latest addition to the Merseyside non-league scene. Wallasey United had been formed following the break up New Brighton FC, and they took over their former pitch inside the Tower Grounds at the Wirral seaside resort. They became members of the Cheshire County League, where they competed against such clubs as Altrincham, Runcorn and Northwich Victoria.
Wallasey United lasted just one season before they disbanded, but George Brewster, just prior to this, had accepted a coaching job in America with Brooklyn Wanderers. He remained in the States until June, playing six matches, and then returned to his native Scotland in time for the 1924-25 football season where a new job awaited him
Highland League outfit Inverness Caledonian had for the previous four seasons, seen their neighbours Clachnacuddin win the championship, and they had become very much the second best club in the city. They turned to George Brewster for help. The club found him a job in a local wool mill and appointed him player/manager. They also put him in charge of training the team. The next season, under the guidance of Brewster, Inverness Caledonian were crowned Highland League champions.
He remained with the club for the rest of his playing career and later became a prominent member of the committee. The Brewster family, with the advent of World War Two, returned to Lancashire for reasons which are as yet unclear. The best possible explanation could be the desperate need for workers at the new Royal Ordinance Factory that straddled the West Coast mainline between Leyland and Chorley. The site was eventually developed in to an enormous weapon-making complex which, at is peak, employed over 28,000 people. It was, at the time, the largest employer of labour in Britain. Maybe the Brewster family worked here and remained in the area when the conflict ended.
The 1956 electoral roll records George and Margaret with their two sons, William and Frederick, living in 19 Chorley Street, Ince–in-Makerfield on the south side of Wigan. Ten years later, the boys were grown and gone, while their parents continued to reside in the family home.
George Brewster a former captain of Everton Football Club, died in Wigan on the 18 November 1964.
George Brewster, centre, back row, with his Caley team mates.
Andy Mitchell, ScottishSportHistory.com