Only Once a Blue (Part 6): Joe Marsden

Joe Marsden joined Everton from Darwen, where he was born on 11 October 1869.  By 1881, he was still living with his parents, Thomas and Nancy, at 6 Sydney Street, but now employed as a half-time weaver, in the cotton industry.

Marsden had fond childhood memories concerning the FA Cup exploits of his local team, and would have been proud when he joined them on their home at Barley Bank Meadow. His Darwen side began the 1886-87 campaign a with stunning 7-1 win over Heart of Midlothian, which was followed by victories over Bolton Wanderers and Chirk. Their hopes of winning the trophy however, disappeared at Perry Barr as they were beaten 3-2 by Aston Villa.

Marsden became club captain and was on the committee when they made an unsuccessful attempt to become founder members of the Football League. Darwen were members of the Football Alliance when he signed a Football League form for Everton in December 1890. He was still playing with his home town club when he married Anne Yeats, on 12 February 1891, at the church of Holy Trinity. The following month Marsden won his one international cap on 7 March and helped England to a 6-1 win over Ireland at the Molineux Ground in Wolverhampton.

At the end of the season he was requested to honour his obligation to an Everton club who were now Football League champions. They were hoping that Marsden would fill the breach left in defence by the loss of Andrew Hannah who had now returned to his native Scotland. Unfortunately the transaction did not prove successful.

Reports began to circulate that the Darwen man was affected by a reoccurring injury he had received several seasons earlier against Blackburn Olympic. He declared himself fit to take part ina  pre-season game against Bootle, that was won by seven goals to nil and played in the opening game of the new Football League season.

The Anfield club were mourning the loss of their goalkeeper John Angus who had ‘passed away’ during the Summer. Danny Doyle, along with Alec Brady, had also returned to Scotland, while John Holt was in dispute with the club concerning his benefit match. These factors considerably affected the balance of the team when they took on West Bromwich Albion at Stoney Lane. Everton were beaten by four goals to nil. There are no reports of Marsden picking up an ‘injury’ but he did not take part in the following game against Darwen, who were now members of the Football League.

It would appear that Marsden was not happy with the arrangements concerning the contract he had signed, but Everton refused to release him. An issue now developed between the player and his employers that was only resolved, by their solicitors and the committee of the Lancashire FA.

Marsden was never a full-time professional football player and always kept to his employment as a weaver. He played one season of Lancashire League football with Blackpool, but broke down shortly after joining Accrington Stanley. He returned to Barley Bank Meadow as club Trainer where he made an occasionally appearance in minor fixtures, but his health was now giving cause for concern. Joseph T Marsden died on 17 January 1897, leaving his wife and four children.

By Tony Onslow

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