The Opening of Goodison Park

With the move to the new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock becoming an imminent reality, I thought that it's a good time to pay tribute to what we've come to refer to as the “Grand Old Lady” – Goodison Park.

With the move to the new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock becoming an imminent reality, I thought that it's a good time to pay tribute to what we've come to refer to as the “Grand Old Lady” – Goodison Park.

The new ground of Everton Football Club Company Limited, at Goodison Park, Walton Lane, was opened last evening by Lord Kinnaird (President of the Football Association of England). Previous to the ceremony, His Lordship was entertained to dinner at the Adelphi Hotel. Among those present in addition to Lord Kinnaird were Mr George Mahon (President of the Club), in the chair Dr Baxter (Vice President), Dr Morley (Vice Chairman of the Football Association), J J Bentley (Chairman of the Football League), H Lockett (Secretary of the Football League), R P Gregson (Secretary of the Lancashire Association), R E Lythgoe (Secretary of the Liverpool Association), M Earlam (Secretary of the Football Combination), Inspector Churchill (Secretary of the Liverpool Police Athletic Association), Messrs W and J Kelly (Contractors for the new ground) and Mr James Prescott (architect for the ground).

Dinner over and the health of the Queen having been proposed by the Chairman and duly honoured, the Chairman gave a toast of “Association Football” coupling with it the name of Lord Kinnaird. Association Football he said, occupied a higher position in England at the present time than ever before, and a great measure of this result was due to the exertions of their guest. It was his desire that the Everton Football Club should follow in the steps of Lord Kinnaird, in his endeavours to hold for Association Football, a position of respect among sportsmen as a national game.

Before Lord Kinnaird's reply, Dr Morley replied to the toast on behalf of the Council of the Football Association. He assured his hearers that during his 13-year connection with the Association, he had seen some stirring times. Tact and good temper, however, had carried him through and would continue to do so.
Mr Bentley having replied on behalf of the League, and Mr Earlam on behalf of the Combination.

Lord Kinnaird, whilst replying to the toast of “Association Football”, at the same time proposed "Success to Everton". He believed Association Football to be as good a game as any other, and his object, and the object of the Everton Club, was to maintain the game as a national sport, and not to allow it to play second fiddle, even to cricket.

In common with the Everton Club, it was his endeavour to save the game from the taint of rowdyism and betting, and he looked to the club to support him and his colleagues on the Council of the Association, in the decisions they might come to, when such points were raised.

Any committee putting its foot down at any piece of rowdyism would (he was sure) receive the support of both players and spectators. It was because Everton had always upheld these principles, that it gave him great pleasure to propose that toast.

He thought the time was coming when football lovers ought to try and secure grounds for the next generation. He was anxious that they should seek not only the lease of their grounds but the freehold; otherwise, 20 or 30 years hence, the landowners would step in with the builders in their train. He also thought they ought to bring pressure to bear upon municipal corporations to supply the grounds. The matter was a public one, and the grounds ought to be provided at the public expense. As soon as the public made up their minds nowadays that they wanted a thing, they would get it.

He congratulated Everton upon their new ground, and said that the Everton clubmen were good sportsmen, and he was convinced that they had a great future before them.

The Chairman, in responding to the toast, said that their club would certainly endeavour to acquire the freehold of their ground as soon as their financial position permitted. Any help that the Liverpool public gave them to this end, would be amply compensated by the help the club intended to give to their public institutions.

After dinner, the party drove in carriages to the splendid new ground at Goodison Park, this was crowded with thousands who cheered lustily, as Lord Kinnaird briefly declared the ground open. A short programme of athletic sports was next gone through, the prizes being distributed to the successful competitors by Mr Mahon.

Sources: Liverpool Mercury, 25 August 1892
Football on Merseyside Percy M Young, 1963.

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Reader Comments (38)

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Dennis Stevens
1 Posted 07/06/2022 at 22:12:35
Thanks for that piece, John. I've always thought it rather odd that they had the athletics programme on the big day, but no football!
Paul Birmingham
2 Posted 07/06/2022 at 22:18:15
Thanks John, and another great piece of detail about the early hours of Goodison Park.

I wonder if there’s any form of archive films knocking about, showing this famous day, at Goodison Park?
Rob Halligan
3 Posted 07/06/2022 at 22:35:36
Paul, don’t know if there’s any archive films of Goodison when it first opened, but this is an interesting You Tube showing Goodison down the years……all still photographs of course.
Paul Birmingham
4 Posted 08/06/2022 at 00:18:35
Thanks Rob, for your insight, appreciated. That's another Everton research project to try and start.

It makes you proud and stronger than ever to be an Evertonian, the mythical but superbly true commitment of Evertonians, last season, but also over the last 50 years, in retrospect, has made the difference, in terms of survival, at tough times, in the 1st Division and Premier League.

Steve Carter
6 Posted 08/06/2022 at 05:09:02
Thank you, John

Some things change: "Lord Kinnaird['s]...object...was to. not to allow [the game] to play second fiddle, even to cricket".

Some things remain the same: " was his endeavour to save the game from the taint of rowdyism and betting".

I'd suggest there's a degree of correlation between the relative demise of cricket and the increase in rowdyism over the past few decades, but hey.

Stu Darlington
7 Posted 08/06/2022 at 09:31:06
Thanks, John

I love pieces like this. They are an important part of our social history and take me back to my first visit to Goodison back in the early sixties.

I was thinking the same as you Steve, re the taint of “rowdyism and betting”. Some things never change.

Your link to the demise of cricket and rowdyism may be valid, but not so sure about betting, Hanse Cronje? IPL scandals?

Danny O’Neill
8 Posted 08/06/2022 at 10:09:58
Thanks for sharing that, John. Great historical research. And thanks for that link, Rob.< p>The history of Goodison shows how we once were leaders in English football stadiums but have long since stood still. I still think the new Park End, although an improvement on its predecessor, was underwhelming and for those who preferred a redevelopment of Goodison, a missed opportunity.

No doubt over the next couple of years, we will all look back on the memories of our respective generations...

Many of them are the small things. Being tied to and then tieing my brother to the Gwladys Street ledge with a scarf. Being checked up on and checking at half-time to see if all is okay and hand him a sausage roll and one of those awful cheap cartons of orange juice.

I'm sure many more memories will come out as we head to the new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock to make more memories.

John McFarlane Snr
9 Posted 08/06/2022 at 12:24:11
Hi Dennis [1] I imagine it was a festival of sorts, and the first League game that season, was a 2-2 home draw against Nottingham Forest, on September 3rd. The previous day Everton had beaten Bolton Wanderers 4-2 in a friendly match.

Hi Danny [8] I have "One or two"? books that I can turn to when needed, I find little reason to log on to 'Google'. I've just discovered that Lord Kinnaird, in his playing days captained Old Etonian's and played in nine Cup Finals between 1872 and 1883, gaining five winners medals.

My 'Young Lady' keeps asking, when are you going to get rid of this junk? she obviously doesn't understand. You would think that after 63 years, [59 of which we have been man and wife] she would, but it's a strange world.

Danny O’Neill
10 Posted 08/06/2022 at 12:45:03
I do love a bit of history, John Senior.

My good lady just looks at me in despair and shakes her head when I go on one of my rants or emotional recounts baked in nostalgia.

As for my I'd Rather Walk Alone tee-shirt. That gets me a red card and dismissal from the field of conversation.

John McFarlane Snr
11 Posted 08/06/2022 at 13:28:17
Hi again Danny [10],

There's a saying that there's 'no future in nostalgia', but I don't buy into that. It's my opinion that nostalgia will be around forever and a day. I believe that today's events are tomorrow's nostalgia, whether it be of good memories or bad. I have memories of both good and not so good experiences, but then if I'm correct in my belief, so will everybody else.

Barry Rathbone
13 Posted 08/06/2022 at 13:44:39
When you read contemporary reports about the creation of Goodison it's hard to fathom how we lost our way.

The spirit of defiance in putting 2 fingers up to John Houlding and the other fella (whos name escapes me) over the shenanigans of Anfield somehow morphed into the grandiose entitlement that hangs like a millstone round our neck today.

It can't be underestimated the size of the task building another vastly improved ground was but rather than kneel before unscrupulous profiteers Evertonians of the day scraped the money together for Goodison Mere got their wheelbarrows, picks and shovels and transformed the place into the leading arena of the day in record time.

No wonder Houlding wanted to keep the Everton name for his replacement outfit it most have been the embodiment of determination and innovation at the time
Stephen Vincent
14 Posted 08/06/2022 at 14:43:22
John, Great piece, I think Danny and I exhausted our emotions regarding The Grand Old Lady yesterday on another thread.

My Grandfather, a life long Blue, had some photographs of the 'new' Bullens Road stand which he had taken after a home game against Derby in 1926. One of the stories he told me was that we had the best ground in the country and the worst team (we finished one place above the relegation places). The new ground was apparently never full that season.

I often wish I had persuaded my Grandfather to record all his memories of following Everton. Dixie's 60, the 1933 cup final etc. Sadly all those memories died with him. A lot like my Mum recounting her war time memories of life in The Swan and Vauxhall Road during the Blitz, they died with her as well.

I would encourage our fans (especially the more senior) to record their memories of the Grand Old Lady for posterity as we move to pastures new.

Incidentally, anyone interested in a detailed account of the arguments and season that led to the move to Goodison, read 'The First Kings of Anfield' by Mark Metcalfe.
Raymond Fox
15 Posted 08/06/2022 at 15:03:08
Thanks John.

The first time I set foot on Goodison was 1970 when Everton won the 1st Division title. Not being local, I came by car and parked in the back streets. One thing I remember was three young boys ran up and said "Can we mind your car, mister?" I gave them a £1, it still makes me smile.

One thing that doesn't, how were Liverpool FC allowed to call themselves Liverpool, the club should have objected when the reds were formed. It still rankles with me now.

Rob Halligan
16 Posted 08/06/2022 at 15:42:12
Raymond # 15.

I think when Everton left Anfield, John Houlding wanted to form a team called Everton Athletic. I think there was objections to this, as the Everton board, or whoever, didn't want two teams with similar names, and so the team that we know today as the RS became the RS!!

Nick Page
17 Posted 08/06/2022 at 16:16:58
Correct Rob. So instead of stealing our name they stole the name of the city instead. Correct me if I’m wrong but they’re the only city or town named club with no suffix. The cheating red bastards. Should never have been allowed.
Nick Page
19 Posted 08/06/2022 at 16:22:30
Actually; Portsmouth, Southampton, Bournemouth….Sunderland….also no suffix.

Maybe the only two club city/town without a suffix
Rob Halligan
20 Posted 08/06/2022 at 16:23:35
Nick, there is Middlesbrough with no suffix. Cant think of anymore though.
Rob Halligan
21 Posted 08/06/2022 at 16:24:53
Apart from the ones you've just mentioned! 😁😁😁
Danny O’Neill
23 Posted 08/06/2022 at 16:36:21
They can call them themselves what they want but they will always be Lucifer's Children.

I think that gives them a suffix. And a more appropriate name.

We are Everton.

John McFarlane Snr
24 Posted 08/06/2022 at 16:39:45
Hi Stephen [14] I was fortunate enough to have a Granddad, and six uncles who related tales of Everton to me. Before my Mother passed away in 1950, she spent spells in hospital, and myself, my brother, and two sisters, were back and forth between our home on Everton Road and my Grandma's in Anfield. When in Argyle Road Anfield, I would sit enthralled listening to those tales.

My Granddad, and a friend who I never learned the name of, we just knew him as "Old Mac", could go back as far as Jack and Bert Sharp, the Balmer brothers Robert and Walter, Harry Makepeace, and Alex [Sandy]Young.

My uncles used to talk of the 20s and 30s and their stories of Dixie Dean, Alec Troup, Jock Thompson, and Warney Cresswell captivated me, my uncle Tommy 'waxed lyrical' when describing the half-back trio of Albert Virr, Hunter Hart, and Jerry Kelly. Hunter Hart played with one eye, the result of a childhood accident. There were many others but too many to discuss at the moment, maybe at some other time.

Hi Raymond [15] as Barry [13] said, the Liverpool contingent attempted to register as Everton, but were prevented from doing so.

Paul Hughes
26 Posted 08/06/2022 at 17:00:39
Raymond (15), Rob(16),

After Houlding decided upon 'Liverpool', it brought an immediate objection from the existing Liverpool Football Club (the rugby team - formed in 1857). Sadly it was determined that there was no conflict, and the objection was dismissed.

It's a shame that the footballers haven't buggered off to St Helens to play, like the rugby players now have.

Dennis Stevens
27 Posted 08/06/2022 at 17:33:23
Nick & Rob - I'm amazed you guys forgot Burnley and Barnsley!
Rob Halligan
28 Posted 08/06/2022 at 17:54:22
Dennis, and Gillingham. 😟😟

FFS, and Blackpool. See what you've started, Nick.

Dennis Stevens
29 Posted 08/06/2022 at 19:13:01
Reading? Anybody get that one?
Rob Halligan
30 Posted 08/06/2022 at 19:15:29
Dennis Stevens
31 Posted 08/06/2022 at 19:17:19
Dennis Stevens
32 Posted 08/06/2022 at 19:20:27
Rob Halligan
33 Posted 08/06/2022 at 19:21:56
I thought them, Dennis, but Nick's point @18 was city or town club with no suffix.
Dennis Stevens
34 Posted 08/06/2022 at 19:29:14

What was the original point?
Dennis Stevens
35 Posted 08/06/2022 at 19:33:01
Ah yes. Of course, some places that used to be somewhere in their own right are now just part of somewhere bigger. Like Hawaii :-)
Bill Watson
36 Posted 09/06/2022 at 01:21:46
Thanks for the article, John.

History is what makes us what we are today; in Liverpool's case, unscrupulous.

Raymond #26.

When the original Liverpool Football Club (the rugby union club) objected to Houlding stealing their name (after his unsuccessful attempt to steal our name), a compromise was reached. Houlding named his new club The Liverpool Football and Athletic Club.

John McFarlane Snr
37 Posted 09/06/2022 at 12:46:29
Hi Bill [36],

I thought that this thread had run its course, but you are correct in saying that Houlding named his new club 'The Liverpool Football and Athletic Club. A portion of Football on Merseyside by Percy M Young reads:

"On January 25, 1892, a large majority at Everton (while the club was occupied in a High Court action in Glasgow concerning Dan Doyle's breaking of contract during the previous season) threw out Houlding's proposition, whereupon the club was given notice to quit, and Houlding registered his Everton Football Club and Athletic Grounds Company Limited, with himself, R.E. Berry, A Nesbitt, William Houlding, J. J. Ramsay, J. Derwent, W.F. Evans, and John McKenna as sponsors. At this juncture it seemed that before long Liverpool would be blessed with two football teams, each styled Everton."

Brian Wilkinson
38 Posted 11/06/2022 at 15:40:26
That was a great read, John, thank you for the insight of our early days, and the official opening of the Grand Old Lady.
John McFarlane Snr
39 Posted 11/06/2022 at 19:38:50
Hi Brian [38] in my response to Bill [36] I said that I thought that this thread had run it's course, but thank you for your positive post. I'm toying with a follow up article, which describes the amenities for the management, players, referees, spectators, and press. It was written by "Out of doors" in October 1892.
Phil Parker
40 Posted 12/06/2022 at 22:09:41
It's upsetting to think that if the new Main Stand of 69-70 had been like the Chelsea stand of the early '70s, which is still going strong, 3 tiers and no posts, and the current Park End stand had been in keeping with our grand standards instead of a Tranmere standard, we would not have the need to move now.
Derek Thomas
41 Posted 12/06/2022 at 23:09:15
Phil @ 40; I remember reading somewhere that the new stand cost £7M. But for another 10% – £700k – we could've gone with the whole Chelsea 'No Posts' option... "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose."

Allegedly; It was just after its completion that the aftermatch announced attendance figures started going into the realms of fantasy, eg, ¾ full by eye, say mid 40s... came out as 34,567.

Some times in those post-Championship days of dire, replacement players, performances, results, to accompaniment of a sky full of flying cushions (I miss those), it was the only thing to make you smile as you left the ground...

"34,000? Get to fuck!!".

Danny O’Neill
42 Posted 12/06/2022 at 23:34:43
Phil @40,

Chelsea done well to integrate that stand into their now modern stadium. It was the only stand they had. And like you say, build it at the time without obstructive posts.

I would also say Newcastle has done similar. Their only original stand that had any credit of what was a nothing stadium still forms part of a much-transformed stadium.

What is it or was it with Goodison and posts?

The Park End was a missed opportunity but we would still have had to sort out the rest of the ground to make it a modern stadium.

It was either do what Tottenham done; build on site but swivel. Easy for them as they played at Wembley when the construction was going on. Where would we have gone? Possibly the Etihad as I think Old Trafford is a No and, let's face it, we are not playing home fixtures on our original ground as it is now tainted soil by Lucifer himself.

We've made our choice and it's going to be iconic. Especially when we parade our 10th league title around Bramley-Moore Dock.

Don Alexander
43 Posted 12/06/2022 at 23:39:53
Yes, hindsight is a wonderful thing, but can anyone identify such a calamitous boardroom as ours whilst I've been alive (since 1955 that is)?

While John Moores was Chairman (1960-65), we did pretty well. We won the league in 1970 but sod all else. We then sold Alan Ball who went on to become an Arsenal (a direct competitor to us, having just won the double) legend.

Alchemy, personified by "The Dome", unexpectedly descended on us in the mid-'80s to our collective but all too brief delirium as a result of the Heysel atrocity.

That board though, headed by Thatcher-ass-kisser Sir Philip Carter (and we have a stand named after him!?) then totally failed to progress the club when the Premier League was incepted.

Quite soon a total no-mark shyster acquired alleged "leadership" of us and nigh on 30 years of drudgery has ensued ever since.

And yet our current (alleged) owner now seeks to draw support for his/our "enterprise" by citing "the thorough strategic review" conducted by that same no-mark shyster into his own abject failure.

God give me strength.

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