The Tale of a Former Everton Full Back

Profiling George Molyneux who played for Everton over two spells at the end of the 19th century.

Tony Onslow 10/07/2014 13comments  |  Jump to last
George Molyneux was on the books of Southampton when he was selected for England, against Scotland, and thus became the first Liverpool born man, having previously played football for Everton, to do so. The 1881 census tells us that George, who was then 6 years old, is living, along with his parents, at 29 Sessions Road in the Kirkdale area of the City. The 1901 census then reveals that the family had moved to nearby Croyland Street and that George, now 15 years old, had begun serving an apprenticeship as a Plumber. It is around three years later his name starts to appear in the local sporting press while playing football for his local amateur side, Kirkdale. On the 9th of September 1895 Molyneux was selected to represent the Liverpool & District side, against the Everton Combination XI, on the home of the St Elphins club in Warrington. After the game he was invited for a trail match with his opponents.

George Molyneux joined Everton during the summer of 1896 and was first seen on Goodison Park when selected to represent his new club against an Anglo Scottish XI. The match had been arranged, by the Everton Directors, for the benefit of their loyal servant Richard Boyle. Molyneux then took his place back in the Combination side where he remained until December.

On Christmas Day, along with three other Combination players, he was selected to play, at left back, in a fixture against the Celtic club from Glasgow in a game that kicked off at 10:45 in the morning. The attendance was affected by unfavourable weather and just 3,000 people paid for privilege of watching Everton win by 6 goals to 0. Next day Molyneux made his first team debut where he partnered right back Dave Storrier against Sunderland. The match was watched by a crowd of over 35,000 and he helped his side to win the game by 5 goals to 2. Nevertheless he was then replaced by Smart Arridge and returned to Combination eleven where he remained until he was selected to travel with the first team party on an extended tour which was to take them from home during the New Year celebrations.

The first port of call was Bramall Lane for a Football League with Sheffield United. Molyneux, who not selected, watched his teammates win by 2 goals to 1. They next travelled on to the Victoria Ground for a match with Stoke where George, who again did not play, watched Everton win by 5 goals to 2. The party then travelled to Crewe where they changed on to a train that would take them on for an overnight stop in Edinburgh before travelling over, the following day, to meet Rangers at Ibrox Park in Glasgow. George was delighted to be selected for the game where he once again partnered Dave Storrier at full back. Everton were leading 4-2 when the home, taking advantage of an injury to Storrier hit back to force a draw. Nevertheless George was happy to have completed his first away fixture for Everton and, no doubt, retained pleasant memories of his first visit to this famous Scottish football stadium and had no idea of the horrors he would witness on his next visit.

Next Saturday George found himself back in the clubs second X1 where he remained until the end of season. Everton then signed Peter Meecham from Celtic. The arrival of such a class full back lessened the chances of first team football for George who, along with goalkeeper Rob Menham, decided to accept an offer made by the directors of the Springfield Athletic Company. This organisation was paying good wages in the hope of attracting a team of experienced football players, to compete in the Lancashire League, which was to play under the name of Wigan County. The club, during their first season, failed to win the league championship but they did have an excellent FA Cup that ended in defeat, by a single goal, against Manchester City at Hyde Road.

The form of Molyneux improved during his time with Wigan and this prompted the Everton board to resign him because Meecham and Storrier had now left the club. He quickly formed understanding partnership with Walter Balmer and, during the course of the season, missed only one league and FA Cup match as Everton finished fourth in the table. The partnership resumed at the beginning of next season but was then broken up when Molyneux was injured in a 2-1 win over Liverpool at Anfield and he failed to regain a regular place in the clubs first X1. George Molyneux played his final game for the Everton club, 27 April 1900, in the Liverpool Senior Cup Final, which took place in Wallasey, against New Brighton Tower before leaving Merseyside to try his luck with Southern League outfit, Southampton.

His arrival on the south coast coincided with the departure of one former Everton player and his reunion with another. Peter Meecham had, that summer, left Southampton to join Manchester City while Edgar Chadwick had joined them from Burnley. The Southampton club found accommodation for Molyneux with the Podesta family along with Arthur Blackburn who also joined them from Blackburn Rovers. George was to spend most the successful time of his football career at Southampton helping them to win the Southern League title on no fewer than three occasions. He also took part in 1902 FA cup final, played at Crystal Palace, where he partnered the great polymath CB Fry at full back. The match, against Sheffield United, saw Southampton beaten after a re-play. The consistent good form, shown by the former Everton man, had not gone unnoticed by the England selectors who chose him to represent his country, 10 April 1902, against Scotland, at Ibrox Park in Glasgow. Jimmy Settle, who was currently with Everton, was also selected.

The match had been in progress for 51 minutes when a section of the west terrace, wooden steps supported by a metal framework, collapsed sending the spectators plunging towards the ground. Twenty Six people lost their lives and over five hundred, some of them seriously, were injured. The play was held up for twenty minutes while the dead were removed and injury carried to safety before, after much consolation with the authorities, it was decided to complete the game which ended in 1-1 draw. The cries of the injured, as they were treated beside the pitch, were said to have haunted George Molyneux for the rest of his days.

The result was later declared null and void and a re-play was arranged four weeks later, in which Molyneux again took part, at Villa Park, Birmingham. The gate receipts were donated to the Ibrox disaster fund and the match ended in 2-2 draw. This was to be the first of four England caps that George won during his time at Southampton before, in 1905; he left the Saints to join south coast rivals Portsmouth where he remained for one season. He then moved on to play for Southend United where he was appointed club captain..

The Essex club had just joined Division Two of the Southern League and George helped to gain promotion at their second attempt. In 1910 he became manager of the Roots Hall club but lost his position when they were relegated at the end of the season. The 1911 census tells us the George, now aged 34, is living with the Orton family at 10 Gossage Avenue, Prittlewell where he lists his occupation as that of a Professional Footballer. He later played for Colchester United and then for the Army during World War One.

George Molyneux never returned to his native Liverpool but chose instead to settle in Southend where he worked, as a Maintenance Engineer, at a local sewage works until his retirement in 1940. He had also been, during the summer months, the opening batsman for Leigh-on Sea Cricket Club and was often seen, during the winter, watching the football at Roots Hall with his landlady, Mrs Young. In the last years of life, while suffering from cancer, He was cared for by Mrs Young at her home on North Road in Southend until his death in 1942. George Molyneux, a former Everton full back, was buried at Southend where his three sisters, who had travelled down from Liverpool, were the only mourners at his Funeral.

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Reader Comments (13)

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Tony Abrahams
1 Posted 10/07/2014 at 09:11:07
Brilliant article that, Tony,
Danny Broderick
2 Posted 10/07/2014 at 13:11:04
Any relation to Lee & Tom Molyneux, who played for us at youth level recently?
Paul Wharton
3 Posted 10/07/2014 at 16:21:56
Tony, another really nice article on the Victorian era.
Eugene Ruane
4 Posted 10/07/2014 at 19:40:09
"...but chose instead to settle in Southend where he worked, as a Maintenance Engineer, at a local sewage works.."

What a contrast, now he’d probably have golf ball-sized diamond earrings, head-to-foot illegible tats, a satsuma-coloured scrubber on his arm and £65 grand a week in his bin.

Anyway, another really fantastic piece.

Jamie Crowley
5 Posted 10/07/2014 at 20:08:18
He was buried at Southend where his three sisters, who had travelled down from Liverpool, were the only mourners at his Funeral.

Might be the saddest thing I've ever read on TW. My heart just sank.

Danny Kewley
6 Posted 10/07/2014 at 20:10:15
Nice article, Tony, touched a soft spot having been born in Kirkdale myself. I think Eugene nails it he when he says (as I interpret it) today’s journeymen are wrapped in silk by comparison. Nice to see his sisters stood by him at the end but sad they were the only ones at an ex-Everton player’s funeral.
Pete Cross
7 Posted 10/07/2014 at 20:26:38
Jamie, I thought the same until I realised the war was on. I would think his mates would be away fighting, also travel from Liverpool would have been near impossible.
Jamie Crowley
8 Posted 11/07/2014 at 13:42:30
Pete - I believe he would have been near 63, so not a lot of friends off fighting the war. The travel issue is a good point. I might be wrong but I thought it stated in the 1911 census he was 34 years old, so in 1940 he would have been 63 by my math(s).

Still just breaks my heart with three people present at his funeral.

Jay Harris
9 Posted 11/07/2014 at 14:40:56
Great nostalgic story Tony.

Tinged with sadness that only 3 people attended his funeral but travel was far more difficult then as very few had cars and Southend would not be the easiest place to get to.

Rob Sawyer
10 Posted 12/07/2014 at 03:20:47
Tony, that was a well-researched and touching article. Well done.
Pete Cross
11 Posted 12/07/2014 at 12:07:12
Jamie, silly me, must have been Dad's Army.
Geoff Evans
12 Posted 16/07/2014 at 18:27:25
Great article, painstaking research, good on ya!
Sean Allinson
13 Posted 31/07/2014 at 11:04:12
Congratulations Tony, on a fantastic piece. A real labour of love.

If I may pick you up on one particular fact – the full back with whom he made such a successful partnership in the early 1900s was not Walter but Billy Balmer, the W standing for William (brother of Robert Balmer and Uncle of Jackie of Reds fame). This can be verified in Everton's own historical record, James Corbett's excellent 'The School of Science'.

Also, the England Stats website have a record of his one international cap (http://www.englandstats.com/players.php?pid=53). He's also on Wikipedia, but that proves nothing!

Sorry to be a pedant, but the man made over 300 appearances (Scoring just 1 goal – still that's one more than Hibbo!)


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