Long before I ever set foot in Goodison Park, I was smitten by this wonderful, addictive allegiance to Everton Football Club. Listening to my three older brothers, the names of players I would never see were etched in my memory – Hickson, Lello, Tansey, O’Neill, Farrell, Wainwright, Eglington and more.
On my bedroom wall was a framed picture of the forward line which had secured the FA Cup in 1933, the era in which my dad had started watching a Blues team spearheaded by the incomparable William Ralph Dean. To his dying day, he would swear that nobody could ever head a ball the way ‘Dixie’ did.
But of earlier years I knew little other than we had won the FA Cup in 1906 and ‘another’ Alexander (Sandy) Young had scored the winning goal. Then a few months ago, I came across a photo of the 1906 cup-winning team and was prompted to dig a bit deeper into the 23 individuals framed in the picture (11 players, 12 officials). It was fascinating to uncover a few things here and there which lifted the 2-dimensional figures off the page and provide just a little bit of depth to their lives and times.
We find the goal-scorer who set his brother up in a farm in Australia and then shot him in an argument over money; two members of an elite group who played both football and cricket for England; an amateur player who as an administrator would become a key player in the history of Manchester United; an Irish goalkeeper who would recommend his brother to Liverpool FC, where he would acquire legendary status.
I was also struck by the fact that many of the players who brought the club its first FA Cup triumph lived but a stone’s throw from Goodison Park. My usual mile-long walk to the match takes me past many of their houses – a far cry from the mansions and Ferraris of today’s players.
The administrators behind the club in this era also tell a fascinating tale, reflecting the politics which dominated the city in the years in which Everton FC was born.
I have incorporated some of the stories behind the ‘Class of 1906’ on my Liverpool history website, Liverpool Footprints. Much of this has already been explored by others, not least in excellent articles on Toffeeweb’s pages, but I hope there are some new bits and pieces to be found.
There are also over 100 other articles on people who have left their mark on the city (or on whom the city left its mark) and several hundred more waiting to be added.Everton FA Cup Triumph 1906
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