Why Did Everton Give Liverpool Anfield?

By Renata Leite, FootballPredictions.NET, 15:18 04/10/2020

Updated at: 15:18 04/10/2020

Why Did Everton Give Liverpool Anfield?

Merseyside giants Everton have played at the 40,000 capacity Goodison Park since 1892 after moving from Anfield, the home of rivals Liverpool for 128 years.

The Toffees did not directly give Anfield to arch-rivals Liverpool. Everton departed Anfield after a dispute between Chairman John Houlding and the rest of the Everton board. Houlding owned the land at Anfield and then formed Liverpool to play there in Everton’s absence.

Despite only playing at Anfield for eight years, it did not stop The Toffees from creating history in the south of Stanley Park.

Everton - the first team to win a league title playing at Anfield

After their formation in 1878, Everton originally played their home matches at Priory Road. However, after being evicted from the ground in 1884, they moved into the recently built Anfield, hoping that it would allow for a better matchday atmosphere.

The land at Anfield belonged to minor landowner John Orrell, who was a friend of Everton board member John Houlding. Orrell let the club play on his land in exchange for a small fixed rental fee. 

The first match at Anfield saw The Toffees defeat Earlestown 5-0 in September 1884, with the first league match held there four years later. Early on in Everton’s tenancy at Anfield, Orrell agreed to have two stands erected to accommodate over 8,000 fans on matchdays. 

Overall, the ground could hold around 20,000 spectators at this time and regularly saw such numbers come through the turnstiles at home matches. At the end of the 1890/91 season, Everton won their maiden First Division title and became the first side playing at Anfield to become champions of England.

Houlding had purchased the land at Anfield from Orrell in 1885 and, despite still being an Everton board member, continued to charge the club rent. This rent rose from £100 a year to £240 a year in 1888, much to the annoyance of the Everton hierarchy. 

This developed further into a dispute between Houlding and the rest of the board over how the club was being run on and off the pitch. Tensions could also be traced back to the political beliefs of individual board members, with Houlding’s conservative nature clashing with the liberal beliefs of most of the Everton board.

Ultimately, the dispute concluded in 1892 with Houlding leaving the board and Everton leaving Anfield to move to Goodison Park in the north-west corner of Stanley Park. Left with an empty stadium, Houlding founded Liverpool Football Club to fill the void left by The Toffees’ departure. 

Liverpool’s first game at Anfield came in September 1892, as they beat Rotherham Town 7-1 in a friendly. The Reds did not have to wait as long as Everton had for their first league title as they lifted the First Division in 1901 after nine years of existence.

The Toffees’ first league title came 23 years after their formation.

John Houlding - An integral part of the history of both Everton and Liverpool

Born in August 1833, John Houlding was a well-known businessman in the city of Liverpool for much of his adult life. His businesses included a brewing company, which helped him form a relationship with fellow brewer and Anfield landowner John Orrell. 

After becoming involved with the running of Everton Football Club, Houlding was appointed to the Liverpool City Council to represent the Everton ward. He was then elected to become the Lord Mayor Liverpool in 1897. Houlding died five years later in 1892 in the south of France, aged 78. Having founded Liverpool in 1892 he was honoured for his contribution to the club’s history by being awarded a bronze bust outside Anfield as part of the club’s 125-year anniversary celebrations in November 2018.


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