The Everton FC Collection

The Everton FC Collection is presented by Jan Grace from Liverpool Record Office and forms part of the Liverpool Through the Archives series, produced for the Connecting Our Communities project…

The Everton Collection is the largest and most diverse collection of any football club in the UK. It covers the history of football on Merseyside, including when Everton and Liverpool were originally one team known only as Everton, and they played their football at Anfield.

The reason why the Everton Collection exists is fundamentally because of one man, David France, and his steadfast devotion to Everton Football Club. This led him from buying a programme as an 8 year-old to prove to his Mum that he had attended the match, to progressing to systematically buying an astounding amount of EFC material that evidences both the social and footballing history of the first football club of Liverpool.

In 2010, The Everton Collection Charitable Trust, with support from The Heritage Lottery Fund, purchased David France’s collection for a seven figure sum and when, at the same time, Everton FC gifted its own archive, The Everton Collection was formed.

The Collection is located at Liverpool Record Office at Liverpool Central Library where it is preserved and conserved in purpose-built archive accommodation meeting the highest standards for long-term preservation and under the care of professional archivists. The Everton Collection Charitable Trust was set up, with Lord Grantchester as Chair, to ensure the integrity of the Collection in future years, to prevent it from being split up and sold.

There is no corresponding Liverpool Football Club Collection, essentially because David France is a Blue and the beginnings of Liverpool FC are a part of the history of Everton FC. As David France has pointed out, history is important to Evertonians, it is a part of the essence and soul of the club. Everton FC’s sustained levels of performance have linked many so many generations of loyal fans.

There are 29 volumes of Minute Books dating from October 1887 to July 1964. They record the decisions taken by the club committee up until 13thJune 1892, after this date they record the decisions taken by EFC Board of Directors. They contain invaluable information about Everton Football Club as decisions about the management of the club, finance and players for nearly 80 years are recorded here. The list of items that form the Everton Collection is too long to list, but includes correspondence, accounts, players contracts, staff employment, pensions and welfare, home and away programmes, fixture cards, tour itineraries, photographs, cigarette cards, medals, clothing, boots, trophies, autographs, postal covers and dinner menus. Some of the items from previous, less commercial times have an indisputable innate charm as they contribute to the social history of the city. The Everton Collection is a living history with a future the fans and club look forward to.

A large amount of material has been digitised and is available to view on the Everton Collection website The individual item reference numbers and descriptions of all catalogued items, but not images, can be viewed on the Liverpool Record Office database, under the collection reference of 796 EFC –

The beginning of professional football in Liverpool, when Everton FC and Liverpool FC were one…

Catalogue Ref – 796 EFC /6/1/1: Everton V Astley Bridge 4th September 1886 – the earliest programme in the collection evidencing the Sandon Hotel as the club’s headquarters.

No surviving church records evidence the setting up of either a cricket or football team at St Domingo’s Methodist Church on Everton Brow, but the writings of William C Cuff and Thomas Keates help to acknowledge the part played by St Domingo’s in the history of Everton FC. W C Cuff was an active parishioner of St Domingo’s who went on to become a director and chairman of Everton FC, in the 1940s he wrote about his life in St Domingo’s and at Everton FC in a series for a newspaper. Thomas Keates was an early member of the club, he went on to become a director and crucially wrote the first history of Everton FC in 1928. Possibly because of the knowledge shared by these two men, St Domingo’s is the church that has become synonymous with the beginnings of Everton FC. Newspapers from the time also provide significant information to add to the recognised history.

The St Domingo region of Liverpool was named after St Domingo House built in the area by the West Indies trader, privateer and slave trader (ref3 p.26) George Campbell, who became Mayor of Liverpool in 1763. Connections evidencing the slave trade are ubiquitous in Liverpool. The church no longer exists, but acknowledgement is permanently needed for the lives that were treated so inhumanely. Neither Everton FC nor Liverpool FC will tolerate racism and both clubs actively work to rid football of any forms of discrimination.

Yorkshireman Reverend Ben Chambers came to Liverpool in 1877 to become Minister of St Domingo New Connexional Methodist Chapel. He joined the chapel’s temperance group, Band of Hope and began a bible reading class for the younger members of his congregation. It is believed that around the same time he also set up a cricket team to gainfully occupy the time, while inspiring a team spirit, in the young men of the parish during the summer time. They played in a field off Oakfield Road in Anfield. The outcome must have been successful, as it was then decided to organise a football team to keep the same young men happily occupied while keeping fit during the winter months. In 1878 the St Domingo team played their first football match in the south-east corner of Stanley Park.

The team soon became established, as the sport grew rapidly in popularity, with more and more players and supporters joining from other local parish teams, it was decided to call the team Everton Football Club to be more inclusive to the local area.

The games were played on Saturday afternoons; this was when most working men had some time off work. During the nineteenth century many factory owners had begun to allow their workers Saturday afternoon as time off, on the condition that they arrived back at work on Monday morning.

The first game of Everton FC was on 20th December 1879 on Stanley Park, where there were no changing facilities and the team carried the goalposts onto the pitch themselves. Their first unified kit was a black shirt with a scarlet sash.

The crowds of spectators began to grow exponentially as football became increasingly popular. It was decided to move to an enclosed space, where turnstiles could be used to enable a charge to be made for the public to watch the sport. The precedent for this had already been set by local cricket clubs and charges had been introduced to watch athletic events. The following season the team moved to a field in Priory Road to play their games, where there was a rough-and-ready grandstand and changing rooms for the players.

Catalogue Ref: 796 EFC 26/1/12 – Everton Football Team 1890-1891

In 1880, Everton FC joined Lancashire Football Association along with Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers and Preston North End among others. This helped establish them as a successful team, as they won the Liverpool Cup in three of the first five seasons, the first time in March 1884 at Bootle. They were now drawing regular crowds of two thousand spectators, and it was probably because of the growing numbers of spectators that their lease at Priory Road was not renewed. This is where local Tory Councillor and brewer, John Houlding, began to play a significant part in the history of Everton FC.

Everton at Anfield

Bacon Map of Liverpool 1900 with Everton FC at Anfield (Liverpool Record Office). Maps took time to catch up during this period.

John Houlding lived in Stanley House on Anfield Road, not far from his successful pub, the Sandon Hotel. He had become President of Everton FC, but interestingly, never succeeded in becoming a member of the committee. In 1897, he was to become Lord Mayor of Liverpool.

Catalogue Ref: 796 EFC/10/1/40 – Everton V Notts County ticket 1stMay 1890.

As Houlding was a prosperous businessman and president of the club he was asked to help secure a ground for the club. In 1885 Houlding paid out £6000 for land in Anfield that had belonged to another brewer, Joseph Orrell, who had inherited the land. A part of the contract stipulated that Houlding make a yearly donation to Stanley Hospital in the name of Joseph Orrell and a strip of land on the edge of the ground belonging to Joseph Orrell’s uncle would not be included in the sale. Houlding paid £2000 of his own money for the purchase and took out a mortgage for the rest at 3% interest. He made funds available to develop and make the ground a place spectators would want to visit. The Sandon pub was conveniently situated to become a changing place for the players. At this moment in time, when it was needed, Houlding provided financial security for the Club that rented what was to become Anfield Stadium from him.

The first game at Anfield was in September 1884, against Earlestown. Everton became a professional football club whilst at Anfield and played their first Football League fixture against Accrington Stanley at the ground on 8thSeptember 1888. In March 1889 the FA decided to award Everton the honour of hosting its first international match at Anfield where England beat Ireland 6-1.

 Catalogue Ref: 796 EFC /37/2/1 – Everton League Champions medal 1890-91.

Everton emerged as one of the top football clubs in the area and joined with twelve other football teams to become a founder member of the Football League. Everton actually won the League in 1891, their first championship, they had become the most successful team in England.

Catalogue Ref: 796 EFC/26/1/14 – Everton FC after winning the League 1890-1891.

However, factions soon became increasingly evident in the management…

Despite the outstanding success of the team, disagreements about how the club was to progress began to have an impact on the management of the club. The membership of the club became increasingly larger which allowed for more voices of dissent. Gate receipts continued to improve, it had previously been agreed with Houlding that he receive £250 instead of the £100 a season rent he had begun with, in 1888-9 he received £240 and £250 for the 1889-90 season. The rent was settled annually, something that frustrated the Everton membership who wanted the security of a longer term commitment.

Catalogue Ref: 796 EFC /6/3/32 – Programme Everton V Newton Heath (later became Manchester United) 15thApril 1889.

There were other areas of disagreement too, there were two distinct factions whose political and cultural ideals were in total opposition. St Domingo’s had been a Methodist chapel, so many of the founding fathers of Everton FC were anti-alcohol including the Reverend Ben Chambers, William Cuff (who had been choirmaster at the church) and William Clayton. The Liberal Party allied itself with the temperance movement which was very strong at this time.  George Mahon had been an organist in St Domingo’s and was member of the Liberal Party and Dr Clement Baxter was a Liberal Councillor who witnessed the devastating effects of alcohol misuse in his professional role as a Doctor of medicine in the city. John Houlding was a successful businessman who made his fortune in brewing, he had bought much needed financial help when needed, and did have a number of followers. He attempted to become the sole provider of refreshments within the Ground, it was already clear that the Sandon Hotel was doing very well selling sparkling ales on match days, so Houlding was already benefitting financially.

The Split…

John Houlding exacerbated the unhappy situation at the end of 1891 by suggesting that Everton FC should become a public limited company, something that the majority of the Everton FC members did not agree with. Joseph Orrell’s Uncle, John Orrell, wanted to lay an access road on the strip of land he retained at the perimeter of the ground, something that would have caused significant disruption as standing enclosures had been built there. The solution John Houlding came up with was to form a limited company and by the sale of shares to purchase both John Orrell’s strip of land and John Houlding’s land, which was the main part of the ground. In the first instance at the committee meeting on 27thAugust 1891 this was agreed, but after further consideration at an extraordinary general meeting of members on 15thSeptember 1891 it was opposed. Both Houlding’s and Orrell’s land had by this time depreciated in value.

Everton FC’s executive committee had to ensure they could stay at the ground until the end of the season to preserve their Football League status so approached John Orrell directly and arranged a ten year lease for his strip of land for £120 per annum. At a special general meeting on 25thJanuary 1892 Everton FC offered to pay John Houlding £180 rental per annum for a ten year lease with a stipulation that he would not have a nominee on the committee. Predictably, Houlding refused, it would have resulted in both a financial loss and also remove his power in the governance of the club.

Catalogue Ref: 796 EFC/1/2 – Minute Book showing 25th January 1892 and evidencing the above.

Everton FC’s accountant and church organist at St Domingo’s, George Mahon, had already discovered a piece of land called Mere Green Field in Goodison Road, Walton, just a short walk away from Anfield.

Everton FC kept its close links with its diverse membership by forming members club to ensure all voices were heard in a representative authority that could not be dominated by one person, as shareholders were given the right to vote. Everton FC still retains direct links to the men who left Anfield behind to form the democratic governance at Goodison Park.

John Houlding’s resignation was called for in March 1892.  Houlding was then free to apply his different business model of administration where he took control with a select body of officers who supported him. Houlding attempted to register Everton Football Club at Anfield, but the Football Association refused to allow this. He went on to register Liverpool Football Club and Athletic Grounds Company Limited on 3rdJune 1892. Everton FC kept their name……. a defining moment in the history of football on Merseyside as one football club had become two and so the rivalry that continues today began!

Catalogue Ref: 796 EFC /26/4/1 – Goodison Park in 1905.

There was a Special General Meeting on 15th March 1892, where Houlding was voted out of the presidency by 500 votes to 10.

Bacon Map of Liverpool 1901 with Everton FC Goodison Park and Liverpool FC  at Anfield (Liverpool Record Office).

Goodison Park became the first purpose built ground for a football club and opened for business on 27th August 1892.

There were many firsts for the Grand Old Lady, Goodison Park, including being the first club to have a church attached to its stadium…St Luke’s the Evangelist Church was until the Covid-19 pandemic the place where Everton Heritage Society welcomed home and away fans in the Church Hall before matches.

Liverpool Record Office Collections: Archibald Leitch plans for the main stand at Goodison Park 1908.

As previously mentioned the Everton Collection Minute Books allow us to see what was discussed and what decisions were made at meetings of the EFC Committee and then the EFC Board of Directors from 1887 until 1964. This gives us a great deal of information and insight about the history of the Club and football.

For example:

  • 15 June 1891: It was decided to adopt red shirts with blue trimming as colours for next season
  • 25 Jan 1892: It was agreed to select Goodison Road if Mr Houlding refused the Club’s offer.
  • 9 May 1892: It was agreed that Cambridge blue shirts and white shorts were registered as the Club colours
  • 17 May 1892: It was decided that EFC should be formed into a limited liability company.
  • 30 Sept 1924: It was reported that W R Dean (Dixie Dean) of Tranmere Rovers was a very promising player
  • 17 Mar 1925: The Secretary reported that W R Dean had been signed for £3000 (Dixie Dean scored 60 goals in one season for the League, something that has never been surpassed.)

Everton FC Firsts at Anfield

  • Everton became a professional football club whilst at Anfield, and played their first Football League fixture against Accrington Stanley at the ground on 8 September 1888.
  • In the 1890/91 season, Everton won their first championship, playing in front of crowds of up to 20,000!

Everton FC Firsts at Goodison Park

  • First club to construct a purpose built football stadium
  • First club to have a four-sided stadium with two tier stands
  • First club to have a stadium with a three tier stand
  • First club to issue a regular match programme for home fixtures
  • First club to stage an FA Cup final 1894, Notts County v Bolton Wanderers
  • Founder members of the FA Premier League in 1992
  • First club on Merseyside to win the FA Cup 1906
  • First club to go on an overseas football tour
  • First club to have a player (William Ralph Dean) score 60 league goals
  • First club to wear numbered shirts from 1-11 (1933 FA Cup final)
  • First club to have a church attached to its stadium
  • First club to install dugouts
  • First club to install undersoil heating
  • First club to play 100 seasons in the top-flight
  • First club to stage a World Cup semi-final in Britain
  • First club to have scoreboard with half time/full time facility
  • First club to win a European Cup penalty shoot out
  • First club to have its own podcast
  • First club to have its own online social networking site
  • First club to sell tickets via text message

Catalogue Ref: 796 EFC /8/6/28 –  Souvenir programme for the World Cup Finals 11-30 July 1966.

Catalogue Ref: 796 EFC /6/49/3 – Everton & Liverpool shared programme 1st September 1934. The blue shirt on the front means that Everton were at home and Liverpool away.

Catalogue Ref: 796 EFC /6/49/5 – Everton and Liverpool shared programme 8thSeptember 1934, the red shirt means Liverpool were at home – Everton were away to Bolton Wanderers.

Despite the resulting rivalry, Everton FC and Liverpool FC have often worked together. One instance is during the First World War when Rifle Practice was carried out on alternate Tuesday afternoons, one week at Goodison Park and the next at Anfield. The two clubs shared programmes for many years, probably to ease the financial burden of printing. It’s a testament to the longevity of both teams, and their place in the hearts of their supporters. It’s also worth mentioning here that when John Houlding died, players from both teams carried his coffin as a mark of respect to him.

Rupert’s Tower now forms a part of EFC crest. It was built on Everton Brow in 1787 and was used as a Lock Up, a place to put drunkards before they appeared before the magistrates the next day. It has not been used for this since modern policing came into being. Prince Rupert of the Rhine came to Liverpool to support the Royalists in the English Civil War, he supposedly first saw Liverpool when he looked down from Everton brow, which is how the Tower got its name. In 1938, it was the club secretary Theo Kelly who first adapted the tower to Everton FC’s crest, as seen below.

Toffee Lady

Before every home match Everton mints are still thrown out into the crowds of supporters before the game, these days with young supporters dressed as Everton’s Toffee Lady in a blue dress with a white apron and mop cap. The original Toffee Lady was Old Ma Bushell, she owned a toffee shop close by the ground when Everton played at Anfield, and she invented Everton toffees. When Everton moved to Goodison Park they were closer to Mother Noblett’s toffee shop and this was the lady who invented Everton mints.

Catalogue Ref: 796 EFC /17/2/10 – 1957 football magazine with an image of the Toffee Lady.

Everton is known as “the People’s Club”, and Everton in the Community is its top sporting charity working to implement social intervention across Merseyside.

Catalogue Ref: 796 EFC 1/4/1/11 – Letter from the Royal Southern Hospital thanking Everton FC for their generous donation, evidencing Everton’s support of the community in 1933.

As a point of interest – a man called John Brodie was watching his team, Everton, play when a legitimate goal against the opposition was disallowed. He came up with the ingenious idea of goal nets to help to prevent contentious decisions. As a Liverpool City Engineer, he became famous for making the first ring road in the country, Queens Drive, in addition to an intercity Highway, named the East Lancashire Road. He also created radial roads out of Liverpool like Walton Hall Avenue,  introduced the electric tram system to Liverpool, was a key initiator of the Mersey Tunnel, and instigated a concrete prefabricated system for social housing in the Vauxhall area of the city. But, of all his achievements, it was the invention of the goal net that gave him most satisfaction! The patent for his invention is held at Liverpool Record Office.

This piece has looked mainly at the shared history of Everton FC and Liverpool FC and what led to the events that caused a parting of the ways, changing the face of football in Merseyside forever as one allegiance became two in direct opposition to each other. The Everton Collection is being continually added to, as today’s events take their part in the ongoing unfolding story of Everton FC. Home programmes are collected routinely, and we welcome new deposits from both fans and players to evidence moments and lives connected to the club, while adding to the greatest collection of any football club in the UK.

Artefacts from the Everton Collection and local newspaper reports at Liverpool Record Office were used in the making of Rob Sloman’s film, Howards Way in 2019. The film covers the successful period of Howard Kendall’s management in the 1980s, featuring insightful interviews with the players of the time sharing their memories and feelings. Everton fans add to the story with their own individual recollections and emotions.

In normal circumstances, the Everton Collection is available to view on request at Liverpool Record Office situated on the third floor of Central Library. This is by appointment to anyone with a Liverpool Library card. Library cards can be issued on the day on production of proof of identity and of address, which does not have to be in Liverpool. At the moment, as a result of Covid-19 we are unsure of exactly when Liverpool Record Office will be open for appointments, but it is hoped to be in the near future.


  1. Dr Everton’s Magnificent Obsession by David France and David Prentice
  2. A Social and Political History of Everton and Liverpool Football Clubs The Split, 1878-1914 by David Kennedy
  3. Risk, Networks and privateering in Liverpool during the Seven Years’ War 1756-1763 Sheryllynne Haggerty 2018
  4. David Prentice and Peter Lupson’s writings