George Farmer – Grave Rededication Report

Anfield Cemetery and The Winslow Hotel

23 March 2024

Rob Sawyer

In May 1905, a 42-year-old-man who was as working as a gas meter manufacturer in a corporation yard in Everton, succumbed to a heart condition. This was no ordinary man, however, but – in all likelihood – the first idol of Everton supporters in the club’s Anfield days. He was George Farmer, the celebrated ‘king of the screw shot’ and a potent attacking threat down the Toffees’ left flank in the mid-to-late 1880s, at the dawn of the Football League age.

His premature passing left a pregnant widow, Louisa, with seven children in dire financial straits. However, in a precursor to the establishment of Everton Former Players’ Foundation and the club’s  philanthropic efforts in the community, people rallied round to support the Farmer clan. They survived, they thrived and, 119 years on they gathered in number, travelling from far and wide, to celebrate the life of their ancestor. The event was the latest in a series of restorations of graves of significant people in the Blues’ storied history, organised by Everton FC Heritage Society.

This project to celebrate a son of Oswestry who made Liverpool his home was the brainchild of Jamie Yates, who spent months researching the George Farmer story and contacting family members across the globe. Heritage Society members and Farmer family members were joined at Anfield Cemetery on 23 March by another Wales and Everton star in the shape of Barry Horne, plus club ambassador Ian Snodin, the deputy-mayor of Oswestry, and a large contingent of Toffees’ supporters.

After some wild weather in the morning, the rain abated and there were blue skies over Goodison Park, which formed a beautiful backdrop to the unveiling of the new headstone, which had been commissioned by the Heritage Society from local firm Mackie Memorials.

After introductions by Everton FC club chaplain, the Reverend Henry Corbett, and Heritage Society chairman Ken Rogers, Councillor Mike Isherwood Deputy Mayor of Oswestry (right), spoke of Oswestry’s links with the Merseyside Blues, including Charlie Parry, a clubmate of Farmer, whose grave the Heritage Society had restored in 2019 (members of the Parry family made the journey to Anfield Cemetery for the Farmer event) and Alan Ball, who lived in the market town for several of his formative years.

Jamie Yates then invited Annette Kerry and Richard Edwards (above), two of George’s great grandchildren, to unveil the new headstone, to warm applause. Next, John Murray, a great-great grandson of George, read a contemporary report of the Everton’s star’s sporting excellence. This was followed by a recital of Dylan Thomas’ poem Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Laura-Beth Murray, another great-great grandchild of the Salopian soccer star.

After a prayer of thanksgiving and a blessing of the new headstone by Henry Corbett, there was time for photos and media interviews prior to retiring to the welcome shelter of the Winslow Hotel on Goodison Road. The hospitality offered by landlord Dave Bond and his team was up to the usual high standard, with the refreshed guests then able to enjoy Ken Rogers’ talk about the work of the Society and importance of remembering and celebrating the many stars and officials to grace the club since 1878. Jamie Yates then brought the house down when reciting his self-penned prose titled The Mighty George Farmer, an extract of which is reprinted here;

‘Make no mistake, Evertonians
George Farmer changed
We never looked back
After he came

Thank you, George Farmer
From Evertonians everywhere
For lighting that flame
For gifting to us
The beautiful game’

Next up was Martin Sullivan (Sully for short), whose band performs under the moniker of The Mighty George Farmer. A musical treat was served up with an acoustic version of his new song, Hey Now Georgie! which will be released as a single later this year. Let’s hope it becomes a hit and a future matchday staple.

After plenty of conversation and reminiscing, the attendees gradually slipped out of the hostelry, taking with them precious memories of a day in which one of the Toffees’ first greats got a fitting send off, second-time around, making sure that he is no longer just a footnote in future Everton history books.

The film of the event by Lewis Royden will be uploaded and announced on social media as soon as possible

For more photographs of the occasion click here
By Rob Sawyer

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