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Everton History 101: Celebrating the 8th of September, 1888

Back in 1888, Everton became one of the twelve founding members of the English Football League

Everton History 101 is the newest feature here on Royal Blue Mersey and will look to provide insight into Everton’s past. Together we will look at the highs and lows of the club as we together learn something that we maybe didn’t know before.


“I came, I saw, I conquered.” Do you know who said that? A Roman by the name of Gaius Julius Caesar. That man lived just shy of a few thousand years ago yet his words still ring true even on the football pitch. Since its inception Everton Football Club has won, or to use the assassinated one’s terminology, “conquered” England’s top tier football league nine times. Nine. Now that’s impressive and I know impressive since I once rode a unicycle more then two metres but hey, who’s comparing.

Before we can swap war stories about Everton’s numerous accolades or my lack of unicycle skills we need to look back at how it all started and it may surprise you in that originally Everton wasn’t even considered for the inaugural competition set to start on the 8th of September 1888.

Picture courtesy of Everton Aren’t We

The idea of a Football League first came to Mr William McGregor who at the time was the director of Aston Villa Football Club. He grew frustrated with the lack of formalities surrounding our favourite game at the time including a lack of pre-determined fixtures and haphazard player wages so he proposed what he saw as the solution, a formal league comprising of twelve teams. This league would include pre-arranged fixtures and the awarding of points to determine an overall winner at the end of the season.

Incredibly, during this process our club, one of the most prominent clubs in England today was to be left out of the competition. Looking back at what could have been sends a shiver down my spine but luckily for us the universe has a way of righting itself and it did just that.

Through the intervention of Mr George Ramsay who at the time was the Secretary of Aston Villa wrote to his close friend Mr Alexander Nisbet of Everton asking if the club would be willing to come to Perry Barr (then the home of Aston Villa) for a match to be umpired by McGregor himself. Note that club staff were required to supply Umpires at the time so please take a moment to use your imagine to picture Papa Marcel running up and down the Grand Old Lady in fluoro pink.

However, before matchday the venue was switched to Anfield which proved to be Everton’s golden ticket because it is said that McGregor was so impressed by the facilities that Everton’s inclusion into the Football League became reality along with Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion, Derby County, Preston North End, Notts County, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Stoke, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Accrington Stanley, who Everton beat 2 – 1 in front of approximately 8,000 fans at Anfield during matchday one.

Picture courtesy of Everton Aren’t We

We will now take a moment of silence for all the founding clubs who no longer call the top division home.

Since that day at Anfield we have gone on to conquer English football nine times (not to mention our domestic Cup triumphs) and we nearly didn’t even have the chance to do so. That is a sobering thought but, in the end, it worked out for the Toffees and that’s what matters.

Throughout the course of the season I will usher you into the classroom for more lessons in Evertonian history and we will look to the past as we walk through the present and into the future.

Never forget the 8th of September 1888. The day we came, we saw, we conquered.

Here are the members of the Toffees from that fateful season, forever immortalized -

Club members: Robert Smalley; George Dobson, Nick Ross; James Weir, Johnny Holt, George Farmer; Joe Davies, Robert Watson, Frank Sugg, Edgar Chadwick, William Brown.

Manager: W. E. Barclay.

Playing squad members: Charles Joliffe; Albert Chadwick, Alec Dick, Walter Wilson; Mike Higgins, Robert Jones, Bob Kelso, Henry Parkinson, H. Pollock, Roberts, George Stephenson, Harry Warmby; Jack Angus, William Briscoe, James Costley, George Davie, George Fleming, J. Keys, William Lewis, Alex McKinnon, Alf Milward, R. Morris, David Waugh.


Please join us in welcoming Adam Dyson to the crew here at RBM, with his ‘historic’ debut article.