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From the Glasgow Evening Times archives

By Jamie Yates :  07/04/2010 :  Comments (15) :

Carrying out some genealogy research recently at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, I came across the following article.

I had been trying to find a snippet or two pertaining to my great grandfather, one Jimmy Baird, who apparently played for Dumbarton FC sometime around WWI. Standing just 4ft 11ins tall he was a flying winger, dubbed ‘The Tricky Ant’. They had proper nicknames in those days didn’t they!

Anyway, frustrated in my search for references to wee Jimmy, I couldn’t fail to spot the headline in one archive copy of the Glasgow Evening Times which read ‘POSITION OF EVERTON’ and was penned by some mysterious hack or other known only as ‘The Watchman’.

It details the interesting tale of revolutionary changes in the boardroom at Everton as the old guard where booted out bit by bit by a group of determined gentlemen sometime around 1920. There follow a couple of other miscellaneous articles, with references to a seemingly beloved (??)!! referee of the day known as ‘Old Crump’; the great Evertonian footballer and England cricketer, Mr Jack Sharp; and penalty mishaps on a par with the present season at Goodison, the unfortunate Dicky (sic) Downs the culprit in Blue during the 1920-21 campaign.

Enjoy! (and if you get a moment, please check my Everton blog -

The Glasgow Evening Times, Saturday, 4 September 1920


Down South

Football Government by Syndicate



Have the Everton Football Club reached the end of their internal dissensions? To some, such a question may seem strange, but this famous football club has had a most curious history. It is clear as crystal that some sinister influences have checked the progress of Everton from a playing point of view.

In spite of themselves, Everton have become a wealthy company. Never have they really been short of money. Their club is a big estate. They not only own the freehold of their arena and “appurtenances thereunto belonging” (is not this the legal phrase?), but a street of houses and shops adjoining. Once there was a church, or chapel, or at any rate a place of worship, on their property. But they did not think it within their province to be the landlords of a holy ground. All they really required was a football ground – quite a different piece of earth. There could be no stronger evidence of the riches of Everton than the fact that during the war they could borrow, without the least trouble, £6000 to complete the purchase of more property.

Yet, in spite of their resources, Everton have twice only been champions of the League, and have once captured the Cup which represents so much to the English football public. The honours which have been won have never satisfied the shareholders, who believe that much more ought to have been accomplished. They think that Everton ought to have been a club with a record akin to that of Aston Villa.

Dissensions at Birth

Everton was born in the atmosphere of dissension. The ground which is now occupied by Liverpool was the home of Everton. That enclosure was the property of the late Ald. Houlding, sometime Lord Mayor of Liverpool. Differences arose between some of his coadjutors and Ald. Houlding, who remained on his own pasture and called the club Liverpool – in spite of the protest of the Liverpool Rugby club.

The dissentients walked to the other side of a public park, and setting up an establishment of their own, determined to retain the title of Everton. Broadly, without filling in the details, that is the true story. Ever since this split there has been an atmosphere of criticism round about Goodison Park.

It would be a long story to narrate in detail. Nor is it worth while. What has occurred is that the shareholders, dissatisfied with the directorate and their policy, and their rarely successful team from a playing point of view, banded themselves together into a little association. At first they had no power at all; they had no effect on the management.

But for ten or twelve years, men keenly interested in the club have been purchasing every share in the Everton Club they could get hold of. This movement became known as a syndicate. The Everton syndicate is now notorious in Liverpool. Gradually they gained power. They gave as much as £3 15s for a £1 share which could not pay them more than 5 per cent, and even now not more than 7½ per cent. But the syndicate were not eager for wealth. The aim was power – power to rule the club.

Slowly but surely the syndicate got so many shares in their possession that they began to return one nominee to the directorate. Next they ran two candidates and placed them on the board. The chairman of the club, Dr Whitford, J.P., a fine old robust Belfast Irishman, resigned. Men of position did not like the syndicate.

Crisis Over

Now the crisis has passed, for the Everton Syndicate having about 430 of the 700 shares in their own hands have turned off two more of the directors that they wished to remove and placed their representatives on the board. One of these is the late honorary secretary, Mr W.T. Sawyer, who succeeded Mr W. Cuff when he resigned that office. Thus the Everton Syndicate have obtained a complete majority on the directorate, and Mr A. Coffer, a provision merchant in Liverpool, has been elected the chairman of the club in place of Mr W.R. Clayton, a ship owner, who has been associated with Everton from its troubled birth. Mr Clayton has put up a stiff fight for the old gang, but the new gang, the football syndicate, have won the very prolonged and bitter dispute.

I suppose this may be regarded as one more development in the democratic tendencies of the age. The sequel will be watched with interest in all parts of Great Britain, because the desire of the syndicalists is not to make money, but to build up a team which will have a measure of success in accord with the position of the club as the wealthiest in the First Division.

It should not be overlooked that the syndicalists have stepped into the possession of a club which has ample funds and unlimited resources. The financial building has been done, and that on a solid foundation, by one of the directors long since gathered to his fathers. Mr George Mahon, a Liverpool gentleman, who was, when strong and well, a keen business man with a brain for big finance, built up this club, and, of course, it is now comparatively easy to take over. Whether the syndicalist directorate will get better players than the old governors remains to be seen. A fat purse is, of course, an advantage, but good players cannot be bought like scrap-iron or cotton waste. The “waste” of other clubs is not of much value to Everton.

The Crump Testimonial

The Football Association at their recent meeting officially launched a testimonial to Mr Charles Crump, who will reach his 80th birthday, at least it is hoped so, on December 15 next. This movement has been in the air for a time, and weeks ago I heard in London that all the clubs in membership with the League had been approached, and that each of them was willing to subscribe a handsome uniform donation to express their appreciation of Mr Crump.

This genial old gentleman, who is a native of Herefordshire, has devoted his life to the game – first as a player with Stafford Road, a Wolverhampton club; second as a referee; and third, as one of the governors of the game. Mr Crump has done much for football, and, on the other hand, I have no doubt whatever that the game has done much for Mr Crump, as it has provided him with a hobby which has kept his heart and mind young what time he has been a hard-working official on one of the great railways of the country. There is nothing like a lifelong hobby to preserve vitality and refresh the mind.

But when Mr Crump retired from the management of railways he was awarded a pension, which, if perfectly adequate for his modest needs in pre-war days, is utterly useless as even a maintenance allowance in these days. The Football Association and the clubs of the country, realising that pensions cannot be advanced with the elasticity of latter-day wages, have deemed it the proper thing to raise a national testimonial to help the dear old gentleman out of difficulties which are not of his making.

Whatever may be done for Mr Crump, there is no doubt that he deserves it. I believe that Scottish legislators who have sat with him on the International Board will bear ample testimony to his knowledge, his foresight, his acumen, and his universal courtesy.

He is, too, a just man. I remember a prominent personage in English football saying that if ever he did anything wrong in the game he hoped that “Old Crump” would be his judge. He is just and merciful.

Talking about that reminds me of the appearance of Mr Charles Crump in the witness box during the hearing of the famous libel case brought by a professional against the F.A. and several newspapers. Mr Crump was sworn, and in answer to counsel admitted that he had the experience of 78 years to look back upon. Justice Darling, with his customary keenness, dropped his quill pen, fixed his pince-nez, leaned back in his easy chair, and took a long look at the veteran footballer. He smiled benevolently as he said – “Well, Mr Crump, I hope I shall look as well as you, and be as active as you appear to be, when I reach that period of life – if I do.” Justice Darling was much impressed with “Old Crump,” and with his evidence, given with the lucidity and firm voice of a man of 40.

Status of Past Players

The Football Association do not bow the knee to anyone – if they can help it. A little while ago our friend, Jack Sharp, the famous outside-right, applied to the parent body for permission to sit as a director on either the Liverpool or the Everton club. The permission was not granted.

But Mr John Sharp, and it pleases, is now a man of substance, and is good enough to play as a Gentleman for Lancashire and to captain their team, while Mr Myles Kempton, the old Etonian and captain has been incapacitated. Incidentally he has been a jolly good captain. Thus we have Mr John Sharp, Gentleman, recognised by the M.C.C. and the Lancashire cricket clubs, but not relieved from the condition of being a professional in his status in the winter game.

Again this week, Mr John Slater applied for permission to sit as a director on the board of the Stoke Club – the present employers of McColl, late of the Celtic, and other Scottish professionals. Years ago “Jack” Slater was a paid player of Bolton Wanderers and a jolly good back. He put his earnings at football on one side, and he is now a magnate – reputedly a millionaire, being a big man in the coal trade.

At any rate he is wealthy, and has bought an estate near Newcastle-under-Lyme, and is taking a deep interest in the Stoke Club – one of the oldest in England, if not the oldest. But he cannot sit on the board without violating rules, and he asked for permission to act. The case has been adjourned for inquiries.

The Football Association is evidently not inclined to curtsey to wealth. For this I admire them, but, on the other hand, there is something in what an ex-professional, who has made good and been reinstated, said to me the other day. His criticism was that the attitude of the F.A. was apt to keep good men of good class from ever becoming professionals, and he thought that was a mistake. The better men they were the better for the game.

Quite so, but there is a larger question involved. A man cannot have all the advantages and none of the disadvantages. So far as I am concerned. I believe in the saying “Once a professional always a professional.” The real danger lies in handing over the domestic government of a club or of the game to men who have a mind that looks at every point from the view of a paid player. It would be to the advantage of football in every country if it was entirely ruled by real amateurs, and in the genuine spirit of amateurism.

Missed Penalties

The great game of winter has had a big send-off for this season in England. The results are perfectly well known to your football readers, and the successes of teams like Bradford City, Oldham Athletic, and Huddersfield Town have caused not a little surprise down here.

At the same time we must not be led away by these very early birds who have picked up the luscious worm. There have been many accidents to players, and these have influenced results, while the failures to convert penalty-kicks have been dramatic and fatal.

For instance, Grimsdell missed the first penalty-kick of his life against Blackburn Rovers, and that made such a difference to Tottenham. Again “Dicky” Downs, who used to be the penalty king, lost the match for Everton at Bradford. Then McCall – the great McCall – was equally remiss for Preston, and Huddersfield Town won 1-0. Thus it is well not to attach too much importance to the results. For instance, McGrory has not yet turned out for Burnley and teams have not yet settled down.

Reader Comments

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Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
1   Posted 08/04/2010 at 03:06:18

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Absolutely fascinating... what a brilliant contribution, Jamie.

Dicky Downs is one of the Everton Stars featured in my old copy of Everton, The Complete Record. (1993). The funny thing is, Ian Ross (or maybe it was Gordon Smailes?) decided 'Dicky' was short for Richard (duh!) and duly abbreviated his name as "Downs R" in the teamsheet lists... except that his bio clearly says his real name was John Thomas Downs!

Inventor of the sliding tackle... supposedly.
Matt Traynor
2   Posted 08/04/2010 at 05:39:18

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With a name like John Thomas, Michael, he probably did...

Amazing read, and how it seems Everton is forever to be associated with boardroom shenanigans and disgruntled shareholders!
Phil Bellis
3   Posted 08/04/2010 at 09:00:03

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Thanks Jamie. Seems there were less "realists" amongst the fanbase in the `20s
Nick Entwistle
4   Posted 08/04/2010 at 10:24:20

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"The Football Association at their recent meeting officially launched a testimonial to Mr Charles Crump, who will reach his 80th birthday, at least it is hoped so..."


As for going through the archives Michael, do you know what the first post and reply on ToffeeWeb was?
Simon Jones
5   Posted 08/04/2010 at 11:09:14

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"If you know your history" — it's stuff like this that sometimes makes me glad that we still have someone like Bill Kenwright as the chairman, rather than an unknown billionaire. I can see BK reading this and having the same feelings as I do if he read it. Of course if someone comes in and buys us Messi... I could be persuaded!!
Eugene Ruane
6   Posted 08/04/2010 at 11:22:57

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Great post - really interesting stuff.

Great to see that 90 years ago we were being described as "this famous football club"

(By the way, should you find what you were after regarding the 'The Tricky Ant', I'd love to read that as well!)
Louis Platt
7   Posted 08/04/2010 at 11:38:14

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On a similar note, you can look through The Times' archive online at: (Liverpool Library members only)

You just need to put in your Library membership id (the number above the barcode) and you have access to an archive that dates back to 1785.
Rob Sawyer
8   Posted 08/04/2010 at 18:42:54

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The "W.T. Sawyer" mentioned was in fact Willaim James (WJ) Sawyer -my great-grandfather. WJ Sawyer joined Everton as Hon. Secretary-Manager 1918-1919 (from South Liverpool FC) and went on to serve on the Board and Finance Committee throughout the 1920s before running New Brighton in the 1930s. Family legend has it that WJ was heavily involved in the signing of a certain WR Dean. He died in 1940. A photo that we possess of him with a youthful "Dixie" can be viewed on the Everton Collection website.
Derek Thomas
9   Posted 08/04/2010 at 20:44:30

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Absolutly brilliant Jamie, what an outstanding piece of journalistic digging, Time team and Toffeeweb should be proud of you.

Which all goes to show that, nothing changes, but everything changes.

The newspaper writter The Watchman would win a Nobel prize for Literature nowdays, such fine prose... and that the Human condition aka greed and chicanery is alive and well.

As for some ones comment that they are glad that BK is here, that is debatable it seems to me that him and his cohorts (all the usual suspects known and unknown) would, it seems to me, fit right in with the 'syndicate'.
Dennis Stevens
10   Posted 09/04/2010 at 00:14:51

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Further to the article, Jack Sharp did in due course become a Director of Everton, as did his brother.
Dennis Stevens
11   Posted 09/04/2010 at 00:16:38

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I was also going to comment that the "syndicate" certainly seemed to get it right when one considers that by the outbreak of WWII Everton had gone on to win a further 3 League Titles & a Cup win too, albeit offset by the club's first ever relegation, the last of the Founder Members to suffer the experience. However, it couldn't be sustained after the war for some reason.
Jamie Yates
12   Posted 10/04/2010 at 14:14:12

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Delighted you've enjoyed it folks. I'm still making regular trips to the Mitchell hunting for various genealogical bits and pieces. As and when I spot anything further on Everton, I'll be sure to get a copy and transcribe it. Love the style of writing back then, so much more effort put into crafting a decent article. Up the Toffees!

Andy Crooks
13   Posted 10/04/2010 at 19:06:41

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Jamie."the football association do not bow the knee to anyone".

"The football association is evidently not inclined to curtsey to wealth".

Great stuff. So nothing changes?

Christine Foster
14   Posted 12/04/2010 at 21:34:15

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Jamie, thank you for a wonderful insight into the club and the power struggles that lay behind its success; the parallels to today are still there for all to see. Sadly, the wealth has gone, been eaten away over the years by various administrations.

What was fascinating was the prose and the insight, something you rarely see theses days due to the advent of the internet and tabloid newspapers and god help us txt on mobiles lol.

As a child my handwriting was poor, a little exercise each week to improve it was to write out, word for word, the Football Echo's match report on Everton's latest game. How detailed they were in comparison to today's copy. My handwriting improved, my love of reading was only surpassed by my love of Everton. No doubt because for a year I could see every cross, every goal, the pain and the delight, all laid out before me each week.

Sometimes the written word evokes such passion and love not just for people, but for the love of a place and its football club.

Jamie Yates
15   Posted 13/04/2010 at 23:18:14

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Christine, that's probably my favourite remark I've ever read on this site. Your last couple of lines match my thoughts and feelings exactly. Delighted you enjoyed the article.

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