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By Paul Traill :  25/09/2009 :  Comments (13) :

Checking my e.mail inbox on a sluggish afternoon in the office and I just couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw a certain ‘David France’ underneath the ‘From’ column. I’ve heard that name somewhere before…

He’d kindly invited me to the opening night of Everlution – The Everton Collection at Liverpool Central Library the following Thursday. Thrilled, I wasted no time accepting his kind invitation. A few days later, I received a second e.mail from the great man inviting me to a 4-course ‘after-the-event’ meal. “I’d be privileged” was my general response. Gobsmacked and delighted, Thursday 24 September 2009 just couldn’t come quick enough.

There are not enough superlatives to describe the Everton Collection so I’ll use just one – fabulous. I spoke with David at the launch and he explained the collection on show accounts for less than 1% of his entire collection.

Unbelievable really when you see what’s on show. It’s just so comprehensive – from the first ever team photo to Marouane Fellaini’s FA Cup Final shirt. From Dixie Dean’s boots to Alan Ball’s famous white boots. Tommy Lawton’s England shirt, John Bailey's medals, an old original turnstile, original matchday programmes dating well back to yester-year, trophies, cups, souvenirs, gatekeeping books... everything you could wish to see is here.

My personal favourite are the minutes from the meeting which eventually resulted in Everton and John Houlding parting company way back in 1892, and hence the formulation of Liverpool FC and Everton’s switch to Goodison Park. Another classic is the bookkeeping highlighting the agreement and cost of the Dixie Dean transfer from Tranmere Rovers to Everton FC for £3,000.

It's simply an unbelievable collection and I myself can’t do it justice in words. If you get the chance please don’t miss out on this wonderful opportunity to see this for yourself. It’s simply phenomenal. Everlution – The Everton Collection is open from now until Spring 2010. Don’t miss out. If you don’t get the opportunity to go then check out the Everton Collection website, but be warned…it’s addictive:

If you do get a chance to go, please make sure you spend a few minutes in the mini-stand to watch the screening on what the collection is all about and how its been put together. Its superbly narrated by Joe Royle, speaking of which…

As I entered the library, I heard Joe Royle’s unmistakable voice behind me. He was all smiles all night. It's the only time I’ve had the privilege of meeting Joe Royle. What a nice guy. As I was watching the screening, he was posing for pictures with young Dan Gosling. Drinks and canapés were provided throughout. Other stars at the event included Duncan McKenzie, John Bailey and Barry Horne…very humbling indeed.

A nice presentation was made by an actor from The Bill (I’ve searched Google and cant find the bleeder’s name anywhere!!!!) and Dan Gosling came up to say what a pleasure it was to be there. The honourable Joe Royle also made a quick speech. Poet Evertonian Paul Cookson read out some nice poems before Lord Granchester (who chairs the collection) and Health Secretary, Andy Burnham (a lifelong Evertonian) stepped up to also say some nice words. It was a truly excellent event, though I still had my dinner with Dr. David France and guests at the back of my mind…

Fast-forward onto the Adelphi Hotel. I was conscious of not being the first one there and so went for a quick beer at The Crown which helped settle my nerves if nothing else. At the exhibition, David had told me I was in for a big surprise at the dinner. Over and above anything else, I was just so humbled and was just so grateful for the opportunity to eat and drink with people who’ve done so much to bring this collection home.

When I arrived, there were thankfully a few other faces already present. Scanning round the table for my name, I walked past Elizabeth France, David France, Lord Granchester…hang on, I must be at the wrong side of the table here. Walking round to the other side and I was sat between ToffeeWeb’s stat man Steve Flannigan and David Starsky, a lovely fella who does a lot of work for Everton and is quite the enthusiast.

Not quite as enthusiastic as David France though. His enthusiasm is wonderfully frightening…I wish I had that zest for life. He introduced everyone around the room very politely before we tucked into our delicious four-course roast beef meal.

David stood up after the main course and thanked everyone for attending. He went on to express his thanks to everyone who’s made all this possible with special praise reserved for Lord Grantchester for all his work and dedication for chairing the collection. There were some kind words for a lot of people but names evade me; I apologise, but anyone reading, you know who you are.

David took David Starsky, Steve Flannigan and myself over to meet Lord Grantchester, explaining to him that we were all here to help the collection in whatever way we could. Here! here! Whatever we can do to help… we will do.

Peter Lupson (who’s doing some talks at the Hornby Library regarding the history of Everton over the next couple of months) stood up later on and discussed in depth a bit about the history of Everton FC and what splendid contribution David France has made over the years. He’s an excellent talker and also shows a lot of enthusiasm for the club, which is splendid given he’s a Norwich City fan first and foremost, though is swaying more and more towards the blue side he says.

Several people stood up at certain times to discuss different aspects of how or what they’ve contributed to all this and how they feel about the club. A couple of Everton Shareholders, Paul Wharton and Anne Asquith, both stood up to explain a bit about their trip to South America to take in the experience of our Everton cousins in Chile, Argentina and Uruguay.

Paul explained his general disgust at the lack of effort made by Everton FC towards these clubs, particularly citing the welcome they received on their trip from the Uruguayan representatives. The alarm bells ring louder when you consider their income resembles that of a pub team. Anne presented David France with some nice souvenirs from their trip… a very nice gesture. George Orr also stood up and gave a pleasant speech, he’s another gentleman you can’t help but warm to.

It was a shame no Everton representatives were present, either here or at the collection itself. I could be mistaken but I thought I saw Bill Kenwright’s name on the table... but he didn’t make it. David Prentice’s name was on the table, though also, he wasn’t. I hope Everton really do realise just what they’ve got here with David France, everyone involved and of course the collection itself.

I’ve seen virtually no promotion from Everton for this, just one advert in the last programme. I just hope Everton make more of a noise about this over the coming months. It’s important as many people as possible get an opportunity to witness this phenomenal collection and you can’t help but feel Everton should be doing more.

All-in-all, I had a fantastic evening. It was great to be around so many people so passionate about our football club. I’m privileged to have been there. I hope you get the privilege too!

Reader Comments

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Derek Thomas
1   Posted 26/09/2009 at 07:50:20

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I am totally jealous. I have been on the collection website and I think I have 2 objects that the collection lack, 1) a postcard from the relegation year of 1930 with RIP Everton and 2) a commemorative booklet from the 62-63 championship season fully signed and no, for those who know of it, not just the lithographic printed sigs but totally over signed by all and sundry. Can anybody tell me who to contact to donate it to the collection as I don’t want it to end up in the skip with the rest of the old fellas shite when I pop off.
Andy Griff
2   Posted 26/09/2009 at 10:50:16

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Good for you, Derek.

Try here:

And thanks for that, Paul - I’m envious.
Dave Davies
3   Posted 26/09/2009 at 11:43:21

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I’m not surprisd there was no Everton FC representation - they’re too busy burying the club’s history as the original club from Liverpool, with our roots embedded in the north end community, in their efforts to sever the umbilical cord and shift out to Knowsley.

Complete chancers who’d have been run out of town by the men who placed the club on a sure footing at Goodison Park in 1892.

In 100 years time I cant see the supporters of Kirkbyton FC wanting to pour over the words of men like Kenwright and Woods...if he ever utters a word, that is.

Thomas Davies
4   Posted 26/09/2009 at 15:14:31

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So, Dave Davies, you have no knowledge of how Woods speaks or what it is he has to say yet you feel more than willing to speculate that no-one would wish to read his words. Always good to see that any article on here can be turned into some form of attack on those in charge with a couple of childish comments as well.
Dave Davies
5   Posted 26/09/2009 at 15:25:16

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Thomas -

the only think I’ve seen from Woods is a recent report in the local press where he claims a link to one of the original board members of 1892.

Funny that, if he was so intent on highlighting this link you’d think he’d have gotten to the event described above that honoured the man in question, Dr JC Baxter.

Maybe he was waiting for instructions off Bill?
Thomas Davies
6   Posted 26/09/2009 at 17:34:46

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Woods has never suggested that he was ever a vocal part of the board, he has very little to do with the running of the club — why should he turn up to these things? It’d be good if representatives of the club had but what would him turning up add? Or is it supposed to highlight how little of a shit he gives about the club?

I don’t wish to come out as a major defender of him but there is no basis to round on him. Kenwright — I can see why people dislike him but when people like Woods are attacked it shows that people are just wishing to attack anyone related to the ownership of the club, no matter if it is based on very little.

Paul Wharton
7   Posted 26/09/2009 at 20:03:51

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Paul, you have stated that I said Everton was not interested in our trip to South America, I am sorry but you are very mistaken in this as Everton FC paid for A Silver Salvar, with an inscription, to honour 100 years of our brothers/sisters in Chile. I never made this statement at the dinner.

What I did say was the lack of embracement in the Dixie Dean celebrations for the Capital of Culture 2008. I apologise for giving you that impression as by the time I gave that little speech we would have all had quite a few beers.

Martin Downey
8   Posted 26/09/2009 at 21:12:51

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I’ve always been intrigued by the David France collection and flabergasted by the apathy displayed by the current stewards of EFC towards it.

I’ve also often watched Bill Kenwright singing ’And if you know your history.....’ And he wasn’t at this event?

I’m speechless really.

Pleased you enjoyed it so much, Paul.
Paul Traill
9   Posted 28/09/2009 at 08:57:57

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Apologies Mr Wharton... my error. I would like to put the record straight with that one. A lot of people were making a lot of different comments on the night so it seems I managed to get myself a little confused... I’ll blame that one on the beer then!

Nice to meet you and I enjoyed your stories about your trip out there.
Karl Masters
10   Posted 29/09/2009 at 12:51:31

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Only Everton, it seems, have not only the History, but fans like Dr France who treasure it so deeply.

It’s fantastic that this Exhibition is happening, but I can only agree that the current men in charge don’t appear very supportive. The very fact that they jeopardised it’s ownership by not buying it themselves and leaving it up to others to raise the money over a number of years doesn’t look too clever. Whilst I am glad it is actually in the hands of a charitable trust (and therefore probably safer in the future) I find it amazing that they did not contrubute more than about 30% of the price.

To be fair, maybe Bill and his buddies were invited, but their consciences dictated they felt they had no right to be there. If they were not invited, that probably needs no further comment.

And there should be an Everton v Everton match, especially this year (their centenary and with them being Champions of Chile) of all years. A no-brainer really. Maybe both Clubs felt it would undermine their names in their espective countries if the world found out there are two (senior) Evertons? Personally, I just think it again highlights the part our Club played in the development of football worldwide (nets, dugouts, numbered shirts, stands etc), but maybe I’m just biased. Would have been of far more interest than Rochdale or Malaga. I realise these things are hard to organise, but they are not usually impossible either if the will is there.

Maybe somebody out there can enlighten us on this subject as currently I am just speculating from my observations.
David Starsky
11   Posted 07/10/2009 at 12:08:04

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Hi Paul, an EXCELLENT piece, it captured the evening well.
Thanks for your kind words, it was a pleasure to chat to you on the night.....I also enjoy your match write-ups and hope you continue to contribute your excellent writings to Toffeeweb.
Paul Wharton
12   Posted 14/11/2009 at 12:24:52

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Paul Traill, can you email me please: I would like to invite you to an evening at Goodison.
Christopher Harris
13   Posted 18/11/2009 at 09:14:15

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Just a heads up to let you and your readers know that David France is interviewed and appears on the EPL Talk Podcast today which is available via iTunes and the EPL Talk website at

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