John Dewar

Thanks to the British Newspaper Archive website, the mystery of John Dewar, who made a single appearance for Everton, can be revealed.

He was born in September 1867, in the Renfrewshire village of Strathbungo (today part of the City of Glasgow), and was the second child of Andrew, a Stonemason, and his wife Janet. The family had relocated to the Kinning Park area of Glasgow where John became an apprentice to his father and played junior football with Well Park, with whom he won the Glasgow Junior Cup. Around 1882 he progressed to senior football with Thistle FC (once a Scottish League club), before moving to Third Lanark (dissolved 1967), with whom he represented the Glasgow FA against their counterparts from Dunbartonshire and Lanarkshire. He then became the club secretary of Glasgow Wanderers and oversaw their election into the newly formed Scottish Federation League, before crossing the border to join Sunderland Albion during the late summer of 1891.

This now defunct organisation had been formed in 1888 after Sunderland AFC had decided to turn professional and move to a new home on Newcastle Road. Albion took over their old Blue House ground, improved the facilities, and became a founder member of the Football Alliance one year later. However, due to the lack of support, and Sunderland AFC becoming Football League champions, they withdrew after two seasons and had transferred to the Northern Alliance League, when Dewar took up a permanent position in the side.

The league season began badly for the Albion committee who, after a 6-0 defeat by Stockton, detailed Dewar back to Scotland, with licence to return with several new players. This gesture convinced the FA committee that Sunderland Albion should be excused from the qualifying rounds of the national knockout and begin the campaign in Round One, where they defeated Football Alliance side Birmingham St George 4-0. The victory granted them a home draw with Nottingham Forest who produced a record crowd of 8,000 people to the Blue House Ground. The visitors won the game 1-0. With local rivals – now branded the Team of all Talents – going from strength to strength, Sunderland Albion slowly faded and went into oblivion. In August 1892, John Dewar was granted a trial period with Everton.

His arrival in Liverpool was overshadowed by the opening of Goodison Park but he took part in the celebrations which curtailed with a game against Bolton Wanderers. The following day Dewar took part in the Football League game against Nottingham Forest, in front of a crowd of 12,000 people and ‘acquitted himself well’ as the game ended in a 2-2 draw. The Scot then took his place in the Combination X1 where he made five appearances. On 29 October he signed off his Football League papers – for which he received a compensation fee of £27 – before returning to Scotland.

The 1901 census finds John Dewar, now married to Janet Rowat, living in the Cathcart area of Glasgow with a family of four children. By the time of his death at his home at Kendal Avenue in Giffnock on 12 September 1948 he had achieved the rank of Master Builder. He was buried at Newton Means Cemetery in East Renfrewshire.

By Tony Onslow

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