Extracts from’ The Evertonian’ – February 2008 - issue 161
Everton FC and Liverpool FC hope to combine to restore the grave of the Revd Ben Swift Chambers, the Methodist minister who was a key figure in the clubs’ formation. The neglected grave was discovered in the Yorkshire village of Shepley by Peter Lupson while researching the church roots of famous football clubs for his book, ‘Thank God for Football.’
Bill Kenwright and Rick Parry both responded positively to the suggestion that the two clubs should combine to restore Chambers’ grave and re-dedicate it at a joint service of commemoration.
Reverend Ben Chambers joined the Methodist church in 1869. He was eventually appointed circuit superintendent and minister of St Domingo Chapel in the Everton district of Liverpool on July 1st, 1877. He was a great lover of cricket and after only a couple of months he had persuaded members of the Young Men’s Bible Class to set up St Domingo Cricket Club.
A year later in 1878 the St Domingo cricketers felt it would be a good idea to take up Association Football during the winter months to keep fit. This was common attitude at the time. Association Football was still in its infancy and was regarded as little more than an opportunity for winter exercise by members of cricket clubs. The members found the football very enjoyable and began to take it seriously. They called themselves St Domingo Football Club in the winter months.
Soon they were the best team in Stanley Park and began to attract players from other churches. Within a year the team was no longer wholly representative of the St Domingo chapel and it was decided to rename the football section of their cricket club Everton after the district in which they lived.
Everton grew more and more successful and in 1884 opened a new stadium called Anfield. Success followed and in 1891 the club became the champions of the Football League’s First Division, the top flight in England.
A year later, there was a split in the ranks. The club’s landlord and president, John Houlding, had increased the rent on the Anfield stadium to such a level that the majority of the committee rebelled and Houlding promptly expelled them from Anfield, intending to run the club under the Everton name without them.
But the exiled Evertonians appealed to the Football Association, claiming they were rightful heirs to the Everton name. Their appeal was upheld and Houlding was forced to find a different name for the club he wanted to run at Anfield. He chose Liverpool. The Evertonians meanwhile migrated to the Walton district where they built Goodison.’
(Chambers family re restoration please contact Peter Lupson – email@example.com)
Both clubs should be entitled to keep their souls intact and therefore both clubs have equal rights to Stanley Park. In fact I cannot think of any other city in the world with two or more football teams with a greater history and tradition.
This then poses a number of questions –
Planning permission refused for Everton FC;
Planning permission granted to Liverpool FC
Numerous rumours abound as to why we did not get permission and Liverpool did but in light of the above article surely this should be investigated and proper answers given as to why one club was chosen over the other.
A public enquiry
Is there history and precedent so that a complaint could be lodged with the Government, House of Lords or European courts of Law as to who has rights to Stanley Park considering the historic significance to both clubs history?
Now and the bigger picture – next 100 years. The decision to share overshadows other proposals as this is a unique opportunity to re-enforce the totally unique story that is already attached to both clubs over 100+ years . Our birth re-affirms our place in global football as one of the founder cities of Association Football, with the most unique story – from our roots to present day. Not just domestically or across Europe but unique in global football. It reads like a fictional thriller and will draw millions of fans from all over the world to the stadium – Mecca of football, Holy Grail? Plus the National Museum of Football in Preston is within an hour. Add in the The Beatles and you have a worldwide attraction for music and football.
The two most successful teams in English football, the oldest league in the world. Liverpool have a larger fan base in the Far East, for example, who will visit but they will also visit the whole stadium and enjoy our museum and discover the truth and take that information home with them. Take our Singapore blue from the ToffeeWeb Mailbag who is an Everton fan because he did not want to be a ‘sheep’ and follow his friends who all picked Man U, Arsenal etc because they were on the TV more often. He looked into the history of Everton and new he was ‘born’ - a true blue. Once people know the history they become intrigued and excited.
Marketing a shared stadium
It would be a dream ticket, a dream deal, the ‘real’ deal of the century. How many revenue streams are there to exploit? Birth, history, supporters, Wembley finals in the 80s, blue and white everywhere, one bedroom blue, the other red, football tourists, tourists in general who see the stadium as part of a Liverpool City tour.
Grow with the city – stadium used every week, concerts in the summer, full hotels, bars, transport etc – all of which keeps underlining and growing the name of both clubs and the city. And above football this is all our city.
TV documentaries re the restoration of the grave but also the whole history of the clubs and how they are intertwined over 100+ years – add in a shared stadium and you have a brilliant story to sell around the world. When tourists do visit and stay in the city and mix with locals they will then be able to understand the passion and history and pass it on.
One of best stadiums in world – Liverpool as the city now the focus of world football where it should be – not Manchester, London or Madrid.
Re-affirm our history and also generate money from all of the above – pot of gold.
Two main ends behind goals: Everton’s end – gates opposite Goodison; Liverpool’s end – gates facing Anfield. Away supporters on the side. Both ‘home’ ends will then attract the singers etc. If you do not want to sit behind the goal then pick a place – when either club is away would we vandalise our own ground when a brother or sister might support the other team? We can police it ourselves.
Colour of seats can be worked out. Therefore each team gets an L shape – one end and one main stand – equal numbers of seats taking into account away fans. Dixie Dean statue one side – Bill Shankly the other. Both teams’ museums. Trophies and memorabilia. Everton ‘firsts’. Moore’s’ family. Plus the ex players and on and on.
How can Everton FC fund their share? Tell the same story to investors – present the possibilities in terms of global domination as the two most famous clubs in the world with the totally unique story – how can that not attract investors? Would Chang invest more money as they see the long term opportunities? Just one example. Better people than me will see hundreds of ways and means to attract investment with a dream package.
Infrastructure there or ready to go in
This would have a major economic impact on the clubs themselves, local area and city. North West Development Agency has offered money only if we share – they can see the potential. I am only scratching the surface of what could be achieved...
How can we loose an identity that is already over 100 years old by going back to our roots and place of birth? Our identity is passed down from generation to generation and will only be reaffirmed as more and more supporters understand our roots. As experts all over the world discuss the loss of football in the local community and its identity amongst local supporters, we would deepen our roots further and grow them stronger along with major growth of the team through marketing. Our identities would become deeper and stronger.
Rivalry will still be fierce.
Most passionate and knowledgeable fans in world. One of most passionate cities in the world. One of best stadiums in world, most visited stadiums in world. Most earning stadiums in world. Educate the world – city of Liverpool, two teams, two cathedrals, The Beatles. 70,000 plus supporters in the ‘old’ days for a derby back again. Keep both teams community-based where they belong. Engrained in folklore within 10 to 20 years around the globe. Links with other clubs, ie, Barcelona...
Next step in our unique history?
Kirkby??? – After all of the above why is Kirkby even on the table?
Pride comes before a fall as they say – Scouse Blues and Reds are the reason other clubs around the world envy us – we are in the same family – live in the same houses. The implications of not sharing are far too deep and disturbing even if we re-develop Goodison – they will have Stanley Park. It is sacrilege.
Even if you disagree sharing a stadium, you cannot possible support the scandalous decision to allow Liverpool sole permission to build on Stanley Park. To let Liverpool FC go ahead with Stanley Park would be an insult to St Domingo Football Club. They do not have the right. Only the two clubs sharing a stadium have the right.
Not only would it be scandalous for Liverpool to be allowed to go ahead but by not sharing both clubs will miss out on the one-off golden opportunity that presents itself. An opportunity which is too good to miss; historically, morally and for the future.
If we can unite to recognise our roots and birth and restore the Revd Ben Swift Chambers grave then we can unite to complete our circle of history. Recognised domestically, across Europe and globally, as having the most unique football clubs, fans, city and history in the world. The spiritual home of both clubs.
- St Domingo (Nike) Stadium?
- Stanley Park (Nike) Stadium?