Everton and Huddersfield Town – The First Encounters
Today marks the 59th League fixture staged between The Toffees and The Terriers, 98 years after the first.
A mere 13 years after its formation, the Yorkshire club had shrugged off the threat of a merger with Leeds United to gain promotion and reach the 1920 FA Cup Final. Everton came to Leeds Road on 9 October to play the newly promoted side. It would be the first instalment of back-to-back matches (a regular scheduling feature at this time).
Everton fielded: Fern, Downs (captain), McDonald, Fleetwood, Brewster, Grenyer, Chedgzoy, Kirsopp, Peacock, Reid, and Harrison. The Liverpool Daily Post and Mercury commented: ‘It was one of the hardest-fought games seen this season, and in spite of wretched climate conditions there was a crowd of nearly 30,000 on the Leeds Road enclosure. The playing pitch was on the treacherous side but in spite of this, a tremendously fast pace was set and maintained for the full ninety minutes.’
The game’s only goal was scored by the visitors when the left-winger, George Harrison charged forward and hit the upright with a shot – Billy Kirsopp following up to score, thereby inflicting Huddersfield’s first home defeat of the campaign. Kirsopp was a Liverpool lad who had won the League with the Blues in 1915 before serving on the Western Front. He was wounded in April 1918 in fighting near Arras, subsequently requiring a finger amputation. He played in 63 in League and Cup games, scoring 29 goals, before moving on to Bury, Grimsby Town and, ultimately, New Brighton. He was later employed as a publican and warehouse worker. He died in 1978.*
On 16 October, Everton welcomed Huddersfield to Goodison for a 3:30 PM kick-off. The match ended in a goalless stalemate. A match report noted: ‘The return game…attracted a crowd of 50,000 spectators, and produced a strenuous contest. It was a game in which science played a minor part and the feature was unquestionably the excellent defensive work of both sides. The main talking point was the dismissal of George Brewster on the hour mark.’ The Toffees’ Scottish centre-half was ordered for what was described as a ‘foolish ankle tap from behind’.
The point earned was enough to put the Blues at the top of the league standings but erratic form, post-Christmas, saw them slip to a 6th place finish. Huddersfield reached safety in 17th place and had, before the season’s end, enlisted Herbert Chapman as secretary-manager. Over the following four seasons the former Northampton Town player led the club to a FA Cup victory and two consecutive League titles (a third on the trot was secured after Chapman had left for Arsenal). The Blues would have to wait seven years for their first post-war League crown, when Bill Dean’s 60 goal-haul set a new, and unbeaten, record.
(with additional content by Tony Onslow)
*You can read more about Billy Kirsopp’s life and times here
This article appeared in the Everton v Huddersfield programme of 1 September 2018.