I: THE EARLY DAYS (1878-88)
THE FOUNDING OF THE CLUB
The origins of Everton Football Club go back to an English Methodist congregation called New Connexion, founded in 1797. They decided in a meeting in 1868 to renew their social activities in the Liverpool area by building a new chapel there. The following year, they bought some land on Breckfield Road North, between St. Domingo Vale and St. Domingo Grove. This was located near the district of Everton (originally "Ofer tun"), which had become part of the City of Liverpool in 1835.
St. Domingo Methodist Church's new chapel was opened in 1871; the Sunday School, that was part of it, had been running since 1870. Six years later, a gentleman called Rev B.S. Chambers was selected as the new Minister. He was responsible for starting a cricket team for the youngsters in the parish. Because cricket can only be played in the summer, they had to find something for the kids to play during the winter as well. So a football club called St. Domingo F.C. was formed in 1878.
Since many people outside the parish were interested in joining the football club, they decided that the name should be changed. So, in November 1879 at a meeting in the Queen's Head Hotel, the name was changed to Everton Football Club, after the surrounding district.
FROM STANLEY PARK TO PRIORY ROAD
Everton's first ground was the southeast corner of Stanley Park. The park had been opened in 1870. The goalposts were self-made and anyone could stay and watch the matches.
Everton's first official match was played on December 20, 1879, when a team called St. Peter's was beaten 6-0. During the early years, Everton played in the regional cups, such as the Lancashire Cup and the Liverpool Cup. When the attendances went up to nearly two thousand, the officials decided that Everton needed a better suited pitch.
In 1882, a generous gentleman named J. Cruitt donated land at Priory Road. Basic dressing rooms were built there and entrance fees were collected outside the ground. The 1882-83 season was the last one at Stanley Park.
The first official match at Priory Road was played between the Liverpool regional team (consisting of Everton players) and Walsall regional team, the match ended in a 3-3 draw. During the first season at Priory Road, Everton won their first ever title, by beating Earlestown 1-0 in the Liverpool Cup final. Everton's star player during these early days was an ex-Glasgow Rangers player, Jack McGill, who was also the club captain.
The need for a new pitch loomed again, this time because Mr Cruitt didn't like the club's vociferous and over-exuberant supporters. The new pitch, Anfield Road, was rented from Orrell Brothers brewery. The rent was handled by John Houlding, also in the brewing business, who had been the most influential supporter in the early days. Houlding was elected as the chairman of the club; all the board meetings were held at Sandon Hotel, which he owned, and he was even the Mayor of Liverpool during this period.
The first match at Anfield was played on September 27, 1884, when Earlestown were beaten 5-0. Everton became a professional team in 1885 like other leading clubs in the country. The idea was to improve the chances of success and produce higher income along with the success. Everton's first professionals were George Dobson from Bolton, George Farmer from Oswestry and Alec Dick from Kilmarnock. Success was quick to follow, as Everton won the Liverpool Cup in 1886 and 1887, beating Bootle 2-1 and Oakfield 5-0 in the finals.
THE FA CUP AND THE FARCE
These successes inspired Everton to enter the FA Cup for the first time in 1886-87. The first opponents were Glasgow Rangers, who were the winners at Anfield by 0-1. Everton had used some "illegal" players, so even a victory wouldn't have counted.
The following season, Everton played four matches in the FA Cup against Bolton. After the first match - a defeat - Everton complained about the eligibility of one Bolton player. The replay was a draw, as was the next match. Everton finally won the fourth match, but this time Bolton accused Everton of paying money to seven of it's amateurs. Everton played Preston in the next round loosing 0-6 before the FA disqualified them. This farce led to Everton not entering the next season's FA Cup.
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