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Crossing The Park

Crossing The Park

These days, when Everton play away at Anfield, the derby game is a highlight of both the Merseyside and the national football calendars. But while many teams have a similar rivalry with their local opponents, few share the intense level of intertwined history as the two Liverpool teams. The clubs are so connected that Liverpool’s ground at Anfield was originally home to Everton FC, long before the Reds even existed.

A troubled start for the Toffees

Sports betting odds may have Liverpool as Premiership champions elect, but if it hadn’t been for Everton’s troubled beginnings, the club may never have existed at all, let alone risen to become reigning European Champions. Everton originated as a local church side, St Domingo FC in 1878, before changing their name to Everton FC to allow non-churchgoers into the side. Ironically, St Domingo’s first game was a 1-0 win over Everton Church!

Early grounds

The team initially played their games in a quiet corner of Stanley Park, but as crowds grew, they had to formalise their arrangements and move to new grounds. They switched to a site on Priory Road, with humble facilities. This was way before professionalism, combined with rising crowd numbers, forced a move to Anfield Road, with their first fixture at the new ground held in 1884. Unfortunately, the move was not a simple one, and disputes soon rose between the club and the owner of the ground.

Fighting for control

As Everton turned professional and began to take in serious money at the turnstiles, their landlord, and club president, John Houlding, saw the opportunity to cash in. He raised the club rent by 150% in 1889 and insisted on sole rights to sell refreshments at the games. This put him at loggerheads with many others at the club, including neighbouring landowner, John Orrell, who claimed their new stand denied him access to his own lands.

In 1892, Houlding attempted a coup to take control, by setting up his own company. He named this The Everton Football Club and Athletic Grounds Ltd., but the fledgling Football league refused to acknowledge his claim. In response, he changed his company to be the Liverpool Football Club and Athletic Grounds Ltd., and the rest is history.

Liverpool fans at Anfield
Today it's Liverpool fans who occupy Anfield

Moving out

Following the dispute, Everton FC played their last game at Anfield in 1892, and the Everton Committee moved the club across Stanley Park to a new piece of land on the North Side, where they created Goodison Park. Houlding’s Liverpool FC remained at Anfield, and one of the longest standing rivalries in English football began.

Today, the clubs are less than a mile apart, separated by a pleasant fifteen-minute stroll across the park, yet they remain divided by over a century of fierce competition.

A new era

This cosy proximity won’t last for much longer, however, as Everton are soon to move to a brand-new ground. The Bramley Moore Dock Stadium on Liverpool’s historic waterfront is planned for the 2023/24 season. The new 52,000 seater, £500m complex is a little further from Anfield and a long way from their humble beginnings in the corner of Stanley park. Let’s just hope they’ve sorted out any internal disputes over land and rent before they move in this time!

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