With Everton’s profile being raised in America due to the loan agreement with US star Landon Donovan, this might be a good time to brush up on some of the club's lesser-known facts.
While some (if not most) of the information will be familiar to the well-read football aficionado, most Americans cannot claim such knowledge. For one thing, did you know that between Everton and Liverpool, the Toffees are the older club? And who came up with the nickname “The Toffees” anyway?
Questions like these need answers, and here you’ll find some. Take a step back from the pitch and savor these bits of Everton trivia. Afterward, you’ll be able to wear your blue Donovan kit with pride.
Did you know that Everton FC wasn’t always Everton FC?
Back in the late 1800s, the parish of St. Domingo’s Methodist Church created a cricket team for recreational purposes. However, since cricket was primarily played in the summer, a winter game could be added. Thus, Rev. Ben Swift Chambers ushered in the formation of a football team, to be named St. Domingo’s F.C.
Such is the popularity of the sport that even in 1879, people couldn’t wait to help support or play on the new team. Since more and more prospective footballers were from outside the parish, the name of the club was changed to represent the broader, local area. As a result, Everton FC was born.
If you look closely at the more recent iterations of the Everton crest, you’ll notice a tower conspicuously placed in its backdrop. What is this structure, and where did it come from?
The tower is actually Prince Rupert’s Tower, located in the Everton district of Liverpool. An iconic construct in the heart of the club’s home, the tower was first adapted to Everton’s crest by team secretary Theo Kelly in 1938.
Named after Prince Rupert of the Rhine, who once stayed in the village during the 1600s, Prince Rupert’s Tower was originally used as a sort of holding cell for suspected criminals. Now primarily a tool shed for council workmen, the tower has been partially restored and bears a plaque describing its importance to Everton FC.
Evertonians all over refer to their team fondly as the Toffees, but doesn’t that name strike you as a bit odd considering that Everton plays in blue, not brown?
The origin of the Toffee nickname dates back almost to the formation of the club. Ye Ancient Everton Toffee House was a sweet shop owned by Old Ma Bushell, who created the Everton Toffee. These delights were sold in large quantities to fans as they watched Everton play in their three old homes: Stanley Park, Priory Road and eventually Anfield. Such was the proliferation of the toffee that the team was lovingly nicknamed the “Toffees” or “Toffeemen."
When Everton moved from Anfield to Goodison Park in 1892, the nickname followed. Just beyond Prince Rupert’s Tower in the Everton district, there once existed a toffee shop called Mother Noblett’s. One of their more popular products was the Everton Mint. This product was actually a toffee but couldn’t be named as such due to Bushell’s claim to the name.
To combat the growing popularity of these new mints, Bushell had her granddaughter distribute her Everton Toffees for free to the Everton supporters before each home game. The tradition of the Everton Toffee Lady continues to this day, underlying the team’s most enduring nickname.
Named after the road it was built beside (which in turn is named after civil engineer George Goodison), Goodison Park is also referred to as “The Grand Old Lady” by Evertonians.
Journalist David Conn of The Independent, who unintentionally coined the term in 1999, lamented that yet again, the “Grand Old Lady of English Football” was being overlooked by a potential financier to help reestablish the ground as one of the best in England.
Since the government killed the Kirkby Project in 2009, Everton’s plans for a new stadium have been put on hold. For the time being, it looks as if the club will have to stick with its Grand Old Lady, despite her aging frame.
Most English clubs participate in derbies opposite their rivals, and Everton is no exception. The feud with Liverpool FC dates back over a century and is hotly contested, as any derby should be. So why is the match nicknamed “The Friendly Derby”?
Firstly, as opposed to derbies based on religious differences (Rangers v. Celtic) or sectarian/political differences (Real Madrid v. Barcelona), there really is no other reason besides geography that the two sides are rivals. Everton even played in Anfield for a time before an ownership dispute caused the formation of Liverpool FC. The two teams have always been close to each other, with their two home grounds located less than a mile apart.
But the "friendly" tag mostly stems from the fact that, again as opposed to other vicious derbies, fans of both Liverpool and Everton often sit together during the fixture. Due to the geographic closeness of the two sides, it’s not uncommon for families to be split along blue/red lines.
While in most cases visiting fans are herded to a localized point and guarded scrupulously by police for fear of violence, the Merseyside Derby has no such restrictions. This affords Evertonians at home the always heart-wrenching image of a Liverpool supporter jumping for joy after Red’s goal while his Everton friend sits dejectedly right beside him.
Continuing with the rivalry theme, Everton’s relatively new merchandise store was placed very cleverly, probably influenced by Toffee supporters.
Everton’s second megastore, complete with everything a blue Scouser could want, was named Everton Two in the fashion of their first megastore, Everton One. While the first shop is located off Walton near Goodison Park, the second store was opened in the Liverpool One shopping center near the heart of the city.
As a result, part of Everton’s second megastore's actual address reads “Everton Two, Liverpool One." Fantastic.
Did you know that perhaps the greatest English striker of all time played for Everton?
Despite looking like the love child of Carlos Tevez and Frida Kahlo, William “Dixie” Dean was unquestionably the best player to ever don Everton blue. Since he played his finest football in the 1920s and '30s, few can now claim to have seen him play, but the statistics and written eyewitness accounts speak for themselves.
Nicknamed Dixie slightly racially due to his dark complexion, Dean set a record of 60 goals during the 1927-28 has never been touched to this day. In total, Dean scored 383 goals in 433 appearances for Everton, an incredible strike rate that few could ever replicate. He is Everton’s all-time leading goal scorer, the next man being Graeme Sharp with 159. Dean is surpassed only by Arthur Rowley for the most goals ever scored in English league football.
Known as much for his sportsmanship as his scoring, Dean was never sent off during the entirety of his career. A bronze statue of the man was unveiled outside the Park End of Goodison Park in 2001.
The inscription reads in part: “Footballer, Gentleman, Evertonian."
While Dixie Dean might have been the greatest striker Everton ever produced, did you know that a close second would probably be one Wayne Rooney?
Born and raised an Everton supporter in Croxteth, Liverpool, Evertonians haven’t quite forgiven the local boy for leaving Merseyside. Rooney did play for a time at Everton, falling in with the first team in 2002. Over the next two years, Rooney would score 15 times in 67 appearances for the club and became a rising star on the national side.
Unfortunately, when the big money came calling, Rooney and his agent were seduced by its siren song. In 2004, Wazza turned in his Everton blue for Manchester red, and the rest is history.
Still, Everton can always claim to have discovered a legend, even as Rooney plies his trade elsewhere.
While we don’t often judge club success by their ability to constantly stay in the country’s premier league, if we did, Everton would be the best in England.
Did you know that of all the professional English football clubs, Everton stands alone, holding the record for most seasons played in the top league?
With the 2011-12 season their record 109th season in the top league, be it Premier or otherwise, Everton remains the only team to have even 100 seasons at the top. Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, and every other popular English team cannot say the same.
However, we more frequently judge teams by trophies won, and in that category Everton is lacking. However, did you know that…
You wouldn’t guess it by the recent string of mid-table finishes, but for a time in the 1980s, few clubs could hold a candle to the Toffees.
Led managerially by former player Howard Kendall, Everton enjoyed about as much success as they have ever had, winning trophies domestically and internationally. The 1984-85 season lives on warmly in the memory of many Evertonians, during which the side won Europe and the League. They would win the league championship again in 1987.
With players like Graeme Sharp, Andy Gray and Gary Lineker, Everton were a force in England up until the departure of Kendall in 1987 to Spain. That they did not win more European hardware during Kendall’s first tenure was in part due to the banning of English teams from international competitions as a result of Heysel Stadium incident.
Since then, the Toffees have only earned one piece of silverware: the 1995 FA Cup. 2011-12 doesn’t look to be their year either, but hope springs eternal.