On this day in 1892, Liverpool played their first ever game at Anfield, winning 7-1 against Rotherham United in a friendly.
About a hundred odd people turned up to watch the new club from Merseyside. But long before Liverpool, Anfield catered the needs of Everton. Yes, the Toffees called Anfield ‘home’ before moving to Goodison Park in 1892.
In 1871, the St. Domingo Methodist New Connexion Chapel was opened in Breckfield Road North in Everton. Six years later, Reverend Ben Chambers was appointed as minister of St. Domingo Chapel. An avid supporter of the edifying effects of sports, Chambers created a cricket team for the young lads in the parish to take part in. As cricket is primarily a sport for the summers, there was an urgent need of finding other recreational activities that could be enjoyed in the rain and during winter. And thus formed the St. Domingo Football Club in 1878.
The amateur St. Domingo FC won their first game 1-0 against the Everton Church Club. People who were not particularly religious, or did not attend the St. Domingo chapel, but were interested in the fledgling football club proposed an idea to change its name.
Therefore the St. Domingo team met at the Queen’s Head Hotel in Village Street. Adjacent to this hotel was a shop called “Ye Anciente Everton Toffee House”. If you ever wondered why Everton were nicknamed the ‘Toffees’ then this should answer your queries.
Everton Football Club first played at Stanley Park. The team’s popularity attracted around two thousand fans at one point. This led to them moving to a piece of land in Priory Road. The club won its first trophy playing at this ground – the Liverpool Cup after beating Earlestown 1-0 in the final.
Pandemonium prevailed every time Everton took to the pitch in Priory Road. So much so, that the gentleman who had kindly donated the piece of land to the Evertonians, a Mr. J. Cruitt, asked the club to vacate the premises. So a search for a permanent home continued.
The club then moved to a field right in between Anfield Road and the Walton Breck Road, renting the ground from John Orrell, a brewer and a very good friend of Everton’s president John Houlding.
Houlding bought the ground a year after Everton moved in and within seven years turned it into a 20,000 seater international standard stadium. The club turned professional and were one of the founding members of the Football League in 1888.
The Toffees won the First Division title in the 1890-91 season. During this time, Houlding, as owner of Anfield, was renting the stadium directly to Everton. Houlding had increased the rent to an astonishing £250 per annum. The Everton board led by George Mahon decided to abandon Anfield’s premises and move to another ground. A patch of land in the northern part of Stanley Park described as ‘a howling desert’ was identified as the site for the club’s new stadium. A generous donation from a gentleman named James Baxter covered the expenses for the construction of Everton’s brand new home which was named Goodison Park.
Meanwhile Houlding was left without a football club. He invited a bunch of other people who had split from Everton to a meeting and formed Liverpool FC. But that is a story for another time.