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Everton History Part I: John Houlding

By Kevin McCarthy :  17/12/2010 :  Comments (10) :
I'm researching a (claimed) connection between Anfield and County Wexford, which incidentally brings into the picture another Mayor of Liverpool ? this being fully corroborated by the records ? to wit, Samuel R Graves, in 1860-61.

This has led me to follow up Mr Houlding's history. Part I of your short history says that Mr H, him of Sandon Hotel fame, was "Mayor of Liverpool during this period"; the period referred to being 1882-1885, more or less.

Here's the problem: There was a Thomas Holder, Mayor 1883-4. Sounds like Houlding in some perorations, but I don't think it is him. There was a John Houlding, Mayor in 1897-8, but that is quite a way from 'the period...".

Further, what is often mentioned ? elsewhere ? as specific to Mr Graves may have become threads, plucked from the weave of Mr Houlding's story and, rewoven, became a metaphorical cloak draped on the shoulders of the latter which has become a 'part of history'. Or, then again, maybe not. My search continues.

As a matter of interest: can I make it known that a small group of us, from the town of Drogheda, used to travel over on the boat from Dublin in the late 50s to watch Everton. No! We didn't stay then. That came later. Lord, wasn't there style to their game then. Those were the days...

All the best to everyone in Liverpool.

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Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
1   Posted 17/12/2010 at 16:46:17

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Kevin, if that's an error, thank you for bringing it to our attention. As the intro says in our History section, much of this was written by a Finnish Evertonian Hans Fyhrqvist in the early 1990s, and is (approriately!) some of the oldest internet material we have on ToffeeWeb. In fact, editing these pieces for Marko Poutiainen, who ran the site in its original form, was one of my fist duties.

I don't have the source material Hans used, but I do have a number of books that cover portions of this key episode in the History of Everton Football Club. I'll try to look at them over the weekend and see if I can find any reference to this.

David S Shaw
2   Posted 17/12/2010 at 17:00:24

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Kevin, were there many Evertonians from Ireland on that boat for the matches in the late 50s?
Did you bring any Irish flavour with you to the atmosphere at Goodison?
Dick Fearon
3   Posted 17/12/2010 at 21:29:20

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It was during the 50s that Goodison was often referred to as the holy ground. I guess the reason was that most of our first team were Irish and you could tell that by how many of them blessed themselves as they came onto the field.

In the Gwladys St stand would be hundreds of priests sipping on little flasks of 'holy water' and making signs of the cross when Everton scored. Some of their ribald shouts would put father Ted to shame. All that was part of a wonderful vibrant and knowlegable crowd.

Supporters in those days had a sense of humour and accepted with a laugh or at worst a shrug foibles or faults of players. That does not mean fans were any less disappointed when things went against us.

The general atmosphere was vastly different to the angst-ridden often abusive crowds of today.

Christopher McCullough
4   Posted 17/12/2010 at 23:02:56

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Well said, Dick. Life's too short for angst-ridden Saturday afternoons at our spiritual home.

I would also be interested to hear more about the atmosphere at Goodison pre the Premier League.
Christopher McCullough
5   Posted 17/12/2010 at 23:11:52

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The atmosphere at the Wigan game was like Germany in the 1920s.
Frank Wade
6   Posted 18/12/2010 at 01:06:09

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Kevin, There was an article in the Irish Times last week that mentioned a link with Rosbercon in Co Wexford via Robert Samuel Graves.... The following is an extract from an article on Rosbercon Parish by James Murphy in the Killkenny People in 2000 lifted from another website ...

" For many years the family of Graves were very much part and parcel of the business scene of New Ross. For over one hundred and seventy five years, 1811 - 1986 they had a thriving Builders Providers and Sawmills on New Ross Quays. For some part of that time especially before and after the famine they were renowned as a firm of ship builders and shipping agents. Robert Samuel Graves left his home in Rosbercon Castle and headed to Liverpool about the year 1860. He took on the running of the Graves shipping company in that city and did a fine job too. His popularity soared and he was elected mayor of Liverpool as well as a Member of Parliament for the area in 1865, and he held the seat until his death in 1873. In his capacity as mayor, it was he who put through a proposal to develop grounds on the outskirts of the city for a Football Club. These grounds ran directly behind the family business. Robert then sanctioned a proposal to build a roadway up to the new grounds, and duly named it Anfield Lane, after the one beside his ancestral home in Rosbercon.. "

I hope this helps.

Christopher McCullough
7   Posted 18/12/2010 at 01:20:29

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That is very interesting, Frank. Thanks.
Christopher McCullough
8   Posted 18/12/2010 at 03:26:43

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I really think Evertonians have forgotten how lucky we are to have been chosen. Win, lose or draw we are Everton. Everton!
Paul Wharton
9   Posted 19/12/2010 at 14:52:54

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Hello Kevin,
The founding Fathers Of Merseyside Football have been immortalised in oils and Houlding is one of them. King John was another name he was known by.

November 2009 we held an evening in honour of these six men and had people giving a small talk on each of them, Peter Lupson gave a talk on Houlding and has information on him.

If you contact me I will give you Peter's email

Denis Byrne
10   Posted 19/12/2010 at 18:21:01

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Kevin, its heart warming to hear your story and good luck. I don't profess to be knowledgable enough to help, but if Paul puts you into contact with Peter Lupson, he's your man. His wonderful book, 'Across The Park', should be a compulsory read for both blue and red. And the images of the priests at Goodison are immortalised in the wonderful BBC production 'the Golden Vision', one of the things I turn to in hours of darkness to give me hope. Its refreshing to have a new thread reminding us of our history and that we are indeed blessed.

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