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'Little Papers' — Blue & Red

By David Starsky :  29/09/2009 :  Comments (8) :

'OUR' History - the Blue and Red 'Little Papers'

Today I had the pleasure of attending the first of the seven 'Everlution Talks' which have been organised as part of the Everton Collection Exhibition at the city's Picton Library.

The afternoon started well as I was fortunate to bump into Dr David France at the entrance on William Brown Street. We were or perhaps more accurately David was welcomed enthusiastically by Denis O'Meara, a local memorabilia guru, and Steve Dingsdale, a season-ticket collector whose near-tearful greetings reflected the special bonds between the members of our special Everton family. I must admit that my spine tingled as we crossed the Picton Library, where some of the significant items in the fantastic Everton Collection are on display.

This world-class collection made me so proud to be an Evertonian. But imagine inspecting these priceless treasures with the man who compiled them. He has a fascinating tale about each and every one of them. With hindsight, I should have hugged him for securing them for Everton fans (indeed Liverpool and all other football fans) but I had to make do with a friendly arm around his shoulder when being photographed. Very British!

The adjoining Hornby Room is an opulent place full of magnificent alcoves and even more magnificent columns, often used for lunchtime recitals and built with donations from Hugh Frederick Hornby, to house his rare books, prints and autographs. Interestingly, it was opened in 1906, two years after the publication of the first joint Everton/Liverpool programme — the subject of the first lecture.

Peter Lupson, the author of 'Across the Park', is a wonderful speaker who I have recently come to know through the Everton Heritage Society of the EFC Shareholders' Association. I remain in awe of the thoroughness of his research into the early history of our national game. However on Monday, he deserved a better turn out. The gate was 31 with slightly more Blues than Reds.

The mood was friendly like a Merseypride Wembley game, rather than a derby at Goodison or Anfield. However, it was rather odd that I saw no official representatives of either Everton or Liverpool and none of the Collection trustees at the opening talk.

Mr Lupson is an experienced lecturer who tackles his subject with more warmth and passion than other lecturers I have known. He is an eloquent and knowledgeable communicator. Also he is no fool and immediately won over his audience by introducing David France who, although hiding in the back row, received a rapturous reception and a near standing ovation (in a library!) especially from the Reds!

The next 75 or so minutes flew by as he, aided by photocopies of early programmes or 'Little Papers' as they were known to the pioneers of Merseyside football, kept most of the 31 attendees' attention. Only one attendee, probably a Red, grabbed a quick snooze. God bless her.

There were simply too many facts for me to record. But I recall that Peter revealed that within 12 years of the so-called acrimonious split in 1892, the players, officials and supporters of Everton and Liverpool were not only worshipping together, but also socialising together at each other's grounds after derby games. The clubs even produced a joint programme between 1904 and 1935.

These 'Little Papers' also included information about teams in the Liverpool & District League and the Liverpool County Combination... so if you ever want to know how Widnes Wesley Guild fared, or the score between Central Gas Works and Clock Face then you will probably find the answer in the Everton Collection.

They also covered other local sports including cricket, athletics, cycling and bowls and must be of interest to social historians. I noted that the same advert appeared on the front cover for around 9 years, It was for Beaty Brothers — the London Road tailors and informed the fans that overcoats were available for 25 bob — there were no price increases during the 9-year period. Another notable advert alerted the fans that they could see Houdini at a Breck Road theatre — you can make up your own gag here.

The original covers were simple. No photographs, no colours. However later issues included a primitive colour scheme - the ball and shirt featured on the cover were blue when Everton were at home, and red when Liverpool were at home. The team line-ups were included for both clubs - if the Liverpool first-team was at home then the line-up for the Everton reserve team was included.

One of the more poignant facts highlighted by Peter related to the Great War. Apparently footballers were vilified because football fixtures continued throughout the war years, whereas Rugby Union cancelled all games. Consequently, there was a backlash against footballers who were branded as cowards! This stigma continued after the war when grammar schools discarded football in favour of rugby.

A related series of adverts reflected the slaughter and sacrifices made throughout the hostilities. They called for men to sign up for King and Country "100,000 men needed" . these were followed by further adverts some time later calling for "another 100,000 men".

If you want to get to know the development of both Everton and Liverpool Football clubs, I urge you to make the effort to attend one of Peter's talks. And while you are there, you must inspect the treasures on show at the Picton Library. The lectures and the exhibition are free. Also they are mind-boggling. And do not forget to check out the website at You will not be disappointed.

Now to some feedback which I hope will make the talks even better: More people would attend the lectures if they were scheduled outside of normal working hours at Goodison or Anfield. Also, as Peter noted, he might have been better served with an overhead projector for his exhibits and one or two relevant items from the collection at hand. And finally, there should have been a Q & A session.

That said, the first of the series of seven lectures was a great success. It gave a unique insight into the development of both clubs via their unique collaboration in producing a joint programme. The second lecture is planned for 2:00 pm on Wednesday 30th September and is titled 'St Domingo's and the Birth of Everton Football Club'.

Reader Comments

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Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
1   Posted 29/09/2009 at 20:47:34

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It would be great to get these out to a wider audience, especially in this day and age of the internet. I should have thought about this ahead of time and talked with Lyndon but there should be a way, through GoMeeting or similar technology, that we could perhaps have hosted this as a "webinar’ or suchlike.

Perhaps if someone was to arrange for these talks to be videoed, we could host the resulting file (too long for YouTube)... Or if Peter could do it as a Powerpoint Presentation with recorded audio and we could sync it through some nifty post-processing...

Surely one of our readers is a wiz at this stuff???

Dennis Stevens
2   Posted 29/09/2009 at 21:06:34

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I just wish I lived close enough to attend this series of lectures - local supporters don’t always appreciate how lucky they are, I think.
Denis Byrne
3   Posted 29/09/2009 at 21:05:29

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’If this fail, The pillar’d firmament is rottenness, And earth’s base built on stubble.’

An incredible and stunning series of events, diminished by the staggering apathy that besots our masters (both blue and red) who should be kneeling prostate at the feet of Dr David France, whose unprecedented feat of passion looks debased by the absence of custodians (and supporters) alike? 31 people, 31 ... ?!#!@#!! and no representation from the clubs? Unbelievable.
David Ellis
4   Posted 30/09/2009 at 04:06:04

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I wish I could be there. I think the site is fantastic. We are lucky indeed to have retained this heritage and it is a pity that it is not more overtly appreciated.

Thanks for the report David Starsky.
Rob Heib
5   Posted 30/09/2009 at 13:41:01

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Thanks for the rundown -- enjoyed that a lot.

An online presentation would be fantastic for those of us who can’t make it in person.
Jon Wyke
6   Posted 18/10/2009 at 18:08:02

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Having been to both of these talks, I am now counting down the days 'til the next one, a week on Wednesday. I was absolutely fascinated by the facts revealed by Peter Lupson and I too sat in awe of Dr France and was privileged to have shared the company of these two men for at least a couple of afternoons.
Tony Eastwood
7   Posted 19/10/2009 at 01:13:01

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Good report.

A video of the talks could be uploaded to You Tube if chopped up into ten minute segments, but a video podcast would be even better.

I think this can be achieved on a Mac or PC. I don’t know if there would be any legalities involved (getting permission from those attending, for example, if the audience is included in the footage).

I wish I was on that side of the pond to attend as I would gladly do the filming, and host the podcasts.

I am also looking forward to more reports... at least I hope there are more.

Thanks again!
David Starsky
8   Posted 21/10/2009 at 12:32:51

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Hi Guys, THANKS for all your comments, this is good encouragement to continue writing the articles.
My second article on the Talks has been submitted, and should be up some time soon

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