The origins of Everton Football Club go back to an English Methodist congregation called New Connexion, founded in 1797. They decided in a meeting in 1868 to renew their social activities in the Liverpool area by building a new chapel there. The following year, they bought some land on Breckfield Road North, between St. Domingo Vale and St. Domingo Grove. This was located near the district of Everton, which had become part of the City of Liverpool in 1835.
St. Domingo Methodist Church’s new chapel was opened in 1871. Six years later, a gentleman called Rev B.S. Chambers was selected as the new Minister. He was responsible for starting a cricket team for the youngsters in the parish, but because cricket can only be played in the summer, they had to find something for the kids to play during the winter as well. And so, The St. Domingo Football Club was formed in 1878.
Since many people outside the parish were interested in joining the football club, they decided that the name should be changed, so in November 1879, at a meeting in the Queen’s Head Hotel, near Ye Anciente Everton Toffee House, the name was changed to Everton Football Club, after the surrounding district.
Everton played at Stanley Park and then Priory Road, from where they were evicted by their landlord J. Cuitt (who had donated the land) after disturbance caused by fans when the team beat Earlestown to win their first trophy in 1884. Everton found a new ground at Anfield Road in September 1884, but the exploits of their new benefactor, owner of the Orrell Brothers brewery, John Houlding, did not amuse a band of club members, led by George Mahon, organist at St Domingo’s Church. Mahon and his colleagues objected to the interest Houlding charged on his loans, the monopoly he had on the catering inside the ground, and, an important factor in Victorian England, the fact that the company was run from licenced premises.
Mahon joined forces with a wealthy medic by the name of James Baxter and the two suggested the club move to Mere Green on the North side of Stanley Park. The new ground was quickly renamed Goodison Park after the road in which it stood. With three stands, able to hold 11,000 spectators, together with proper turnstiles, it was in essence the first proper football ground in England. And Houlding and the ground at Anfield Road? Well, that is really is another story.
A unique feature of the ground at Goodison Park is the church, St Luke’s, which abuts into the space between the now-towering Main Stand and the Gwladys Street Stand. Connections with the Church still exist!
In the earliest days St Domingo started out in blue and white striped shirts, the school colours, but as other players joined the club with a rainbow variety of shirts it was decided to dye the shirts a uniform black. As this looked rather dull, a red sash was added, and the team acquired the nickname “The Black Watch”. Over the years Everton have played in the following colours: white, white with a black sash , playing at Stanley Park, white with a black sash, playing at Priory Road, blue and white stripes and finally black, playing at Anfield.
Arrival at Goodison Park saw dark blue stripes, salmon-pink, ruby with blue trimmings, and finally royal blue. It is in fact fascinating that at the time of the split from Houlding, Everton wore ruby-red shirts, while the team remaining at Anfield, Liverpool Football Club, wore blue and white shirts. Something for the Blues and Reds of the city to consider in their present-day rivalry!! Not so long ago Everton reintroduced the salmon-pink into a change strip with navy-blue stripes.
The Toffees (or The Toffeemen) is the established and traditional nickname for Everton FC, and certainly preferable to the dull alternative of “The Blues”, which is used only locally to differentiate the club from its equally famous neighbours. It originated very early in the history of the club, by association with not one but two local Toffee Shops that figured in Everton’s early history. ‘Ye Anciente Everton Toffee House’ was located within a “mint ball’s throw” of the Queen’s Head Hotel in Village Street, where much of Everton’s early development as a Football Club occurred.
The Toffee House was the operation of Old Ma Bushell, who was the original Toffee Lady, and actually invented Everton Toffees. This confectionery was sold in huge quantities to the hungry hordes as they journeyed from far and wide to watch Everton play in the new Football League at Anfield, Everton’s third ground.
‘Mother Noblett’s Toffee Shop’, meanwhile, was located near Goodison Park, and figured prominently after the move from Anfield in 1893. Old Mother Noblett was placed on the horns of a dilemma when that momentous decision was taken to move the great club from Anfield to the new Goodison Park. But, being the mother of innovation, Mrs Noblett hit upon a great idea as direct competition for the Everton Toffees patented by her arch rival, Old Ma Bushell. She invented Everton Mints.
Everton Mints were a great success with the crowd. The black & white stripes of the new sweets reflected an older strip that Everton had worn some years earlier and sales of Everton Toffee from Ye Anciente Everton Toffee Shop declined rapidly, mainly due the long distance that now separated Old Ma Bushell’s tasty goods from the crowds milling around Goodison Park.
Not to be outdone by the inventive Mrs Nobletts, Old Ma Bushell pulled a masterstroke of marketing acumen. She gained permission from the leaders of the Club to distribute her Everton Toffees to the crowd inside the ground as they waited patiently for the kick-off. Her beautiful young grand-daughter, Jemima Bushell, was persuaded to perform this honourable task. She dressed in her best finery, and donned a broad hat before carrying around her basket laden with individually wrapped Everton Toffees.
Thus was born the tradition of the Everton Toffee Lady, a pre-match feature at Goodison Park that has lasted remarkably well down the years. In previous years, one Toffee Lady did the job week-in, week-out; Mary Gorry fulfilled this role in the mid-Fifties. Nowadays, for each home match, a different teenage girl is selected from the ranks of Everton’s Supporters Club to perform this time-honoured task. Again it is worthy of note, however, that the “toffees” thrown, are usually “Everton Mints”.
The official crest of Everton Football Club features a tower erect (in heraldic parlance!), bordered by two wreaths resplendent (eh?). So just what is that tower? Rupert’s Tower is an old bridewell or lock-up that is still located on Everton Brow, in Netherfield Road, Everton. The old stone bridewell is looking a bit the worse for wear, but it is now within the ‘Everton Park’ development, and is used by council workmen for storing tools. It was built in 1787, and was used to incarcerate wrong-doers (typically drunks) overnight, until they could be hauled before the magistrate the following morning. Note that the depiction of Rupert’s Tower has changed a bit on the latest version of the Club crest, which may or may not be linked with the construction of the new Everton Superstore in a design that consciously echoes the Tower motif.
The club motto is the Latin phrase “Nil satis nisi optimum” – nothing but the best. The Toffees have always been known for the tyle of their play – gaining them a popular nickname of “The School of Science”.
And now for something completely different, to complete Everton’s wonderful story. The word Everton is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word Eofor. Eofor means “wild boar that lives in forests”. This means, of course, that Everton was once a jungle with wild animals running all over the place. Ton is Anglo-Saxon for hill or farm, so Everton may have originally been a pig-farm on the hill……..”