Royal Blue in The Emerald Isle

The Story of Club Everton Atha Cliath

Rob Sawyer

Everton FC has sired namesakes in Chile, Argentina, New Zealand, the Caribbean and elsewhere. Closer to home, several sides in the Emerald Isle have adopted the Everton moniker over the years. Just over a decade ago, a conversation with David Exall, Everton’s erstwhile Promotions Manager, put me on the trail of Club Everton Atha Cliath – translated as ‘Club Everton of Dublin’- and Séamus Ua Trodd, its founder, secretary, coach, PR man and lifeblood.

David recalled how the alliance across the Irish Sea was forged: ‘In 1971 Séamus asked for permission to use the Everton name. Home Farm was down the road and was the Manchester United team, so we gave them official recognition. Séamus was a great Evertonian and used to come over a lot; he was very switched on and seemed very influential in Dublin. Although he didn’t drink he could walk into any Dublin pub – even when they were closed in the afternoon. The Club was very much a one man band from an administrative point of view. Peter Farrell was honorary president and was very much in evidence when I was there. I remember their AGM at the Gresham Hotel, all these little kids were due to come up to collect cups and medals. It was due to start at 8pm, which I thought was a bit late for the kids, but at 10pm we were still drinking Guinness and the kids were dashing around. Peter said: ‘I think I’ll be asleep before this starts!’”

David chuckled, 40 years on, at Séamus’ riposte, when challenged at an AGM over his ‘dictatorial’ style: ‘You’ve got that wrong – it’s not a dictatorship, it’s a guided democracy.’

So who is Séamus and how did he come to bring the Everton name to the banks of the Liffey? My research revealed a renaissance man who worked at  Ireland’s Department of Defence but is also a poet, artist, visionary and – above all else – an Evertonian. In 2014 he told how he came to Liverpool and became an adopted Toffee, before founding his own Everton:

I was in Merseyside for a gap year in 1957-58.  Until then my connections with football had been minimal, but I was faced with a confrontation – did I support Liverpool or the good team?  So I became a true blue supporter and after that was back and forth on the ferry to matches.

One stormy winter’s night on the boat a group of us discussed how every team had an Irish supporters club except Everton, there had been one in the 50s but it was defunct. So, at a meeting on 27 January 1971, we set the wheels in motion and I was appointed Secretary of a supporters club  –  this would eventually lead to the formation of Club Everton Atha Cliath.

We sent a submission to the Everton Supporters Federation, as we needed permission from them, and  I’m still awaiting a reply! So I contacted David Exall, the mercurial and frighteningly efficient Everton administrator, who was very helpful. He gave us the Brian Labone Trophy which is now a cherished heirloom. Each season the player of the year is presented with it, has his photo taken and then the Trophy is put away for safe-keeping.

After the 1966 World cup and the rise of TV, Ireland was inundated with black and white images of football. We started running “kick-abouts” for kids at Fairview Park; it was almost impossible to get a pitch but we applied and duly got one. Once, on a visit to Goodison, we let a local kid sneak in with us and he asked us what our ground could hold – I said 120,000! What he didn’t really realise was that Fairview Park is just a public park and you’d have had people hanging out of the trees!

Over here a kid at the age of reasoning follows the leading lights – the teams that are big but back then it was Leeds or Liverpool. Kids would claim they were true Evertonians until they came to leave the training sessions at which stage a kaleidoscope of shirt colours would appear! So I stated that the club was open to anyone to join but they had to be loyal to the traditions of Everton FC.  We wear Everton colours and our motto is Ni Shasaionn Ach An Scoth which translates as Nil Satis Nisi Optimum – Scoth is a bit more pronounced than the English ‘best’.

Our logo is full of significance, it would take a page of A4 to describe in full. It consists of a circular band of Everton’s Royal Blue edged with gold (blue and gold are also the Irish Heraldic colours and the European colours). Written on that is Club Everton Atha Cliath and underneath is a laurel branch in gold symbolising sporting achievement and the Olympic ideal with one leaf for each founding committee member. In the centre is another blue shield with St Rupert’s Tower, Dublin Castle and a 1970s-style football.

We started as an under-16 team in the Dublin Schoolboys League, our first match was in June 1971, a 1-4 loss to WFTA. Our club got a fine reputation for schoolboy football (up to 18 years of age). We were so respected that we were often chosen to play against league representative teams in their warm-up games. As the boys got older they graduated to ‘Junior’ football in the AFL, where we stayed for 26 years.

When we went to Merseyside we’d play a match in the morning and then David Exall, and his super sidekick Bill Townsend, would arrange free tickets to Goodison Park. He’d make sure we got a welcome over the tannoy. Once we were there to watch the Goodison derby. Two of our players – Everton fans – got to be ball-boys at Goodison. We kept it quiet from them but arranged with their parents to have clean kit for them – then we gave them the news. They handed the balls to the captains and were surrounded by the press.  

Home Farm Everton in the 1990s were a bane as we had to scrap for money but when we mentioned our name was Everton people would go: ‘Oh – Home Farm Everton’ so we’d have to sell our club to them from scratch. I think Everton may have been ‘sold a pup’ as there was no way Home Farm could be tied down to all their best kids graduating to Everton FC.

Two years ago we joined the AUL so now we’re a small fish in a big pond. We applied for the transfer too late so had to change our name. Despite me being the only Everton supporter it was insisted , at our AGM, that we keep our Everton name. So we registered as St Domingo for a season and are now back to being Club Everton. We have no terra firma to attach ourselves to and the number of clubs going to the wall is extraordinary. We had just six players at the beginning of this season but the league gave us three weeks grace. The average age of the team now is around 23 and we are just short of a proper keeper – but we made the quarter final of the cup. Our approach is that if someone’s talents are being wasted with us we’ll try and find him somewhere better rather than ruin his career.

I’m long in the tooth now at 78, so I’m looking to the future of the club after I’ve ‘got off the bus and got on another one’. So now the lads are running the club themselves in a very democratic way. It’s all about the players and I’m looking forward to next season.

Jim Kearney Memorial Trophy

Jim Kearney was one of the six on that ferry back in 1971 and had a lot of involvement in the Club. He died six years ago, so now we hold an annual Jim Kearney Memorial Trophy friendly match with the Irish Toffees to celebrate our birthday. We have a proper referee, linesmen and  first-aiders; after the match we have a meal with a trophy presentation.

Seamus at Goodison, photographed post-match

I go to Goodison rarely now – my last game was the last game of the 2011/12 season against Newcastle. Trips to Merseyside are expensive and I feel a responsibility to be here for Club Everton – they play on Sundays and I want to be there to offer them moral support .

My ambition was that Club Everton would be the principal work of my life; everybody passing through this world should do one good thing before they leave. I feel that I have been enriched by doing this and it gives me huge pleasure.


After the original version of this article was published on Toffeeweb in 2014, Paul Wharton, the chairman of EFCHS at that time, shared it with Bill Kenwright. As a result, the club arranged for Séamus to come to Goodison as a guest.He watched the 2-1 victory of Southampton from the director’s box and got to meet the likes of Martin Dobson – declaring it one of the best days of his life.

In spite of health issues, Séamus is still battling on and hopes to see the Club Everton side in Dublin revived at some point, after it fell into dormancy.

Paul Wharton and Seamus Ua Trodd
Seamus Ua Trodd and Martin Dobson, 29 December 2013
By Rob Sawyer

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