St Domingo’s FC was formed in 1878 by a minister at the St Domingo Methodist Church in the Everton district of Liverpool. The club changed its name to Everton FC during a meeting at the Queen’s Head Hotel in the following November. Everton initially played on Stanley Park, for a time in black jerseys with a crimson sash, leading to early nickname ‘the Black Watch’. (The club didn’t adopt blue shirts until 1901.)
In 1884, the club moved to a new ground, named Anfield. The club’s growing popularity led to rapid development of the ground, which became one of the biggest and best in the country.
Everton were founder members of the Football League, and they won the league in 1890-91, pipping Preston North End to the title by two points. Fred Geary scored 21 goals that season, forming a fearsome attacking trio with Edgar Chadwick and Alf Milward. Scottish full-back Dan Doyle was the club’s title-winning captain.
A dispute over ownership and rent saw Everton leave Anfield in 1892. The club crossed Stanley Park and built a new home – Goodison Park.
Everton were the top-supported Football League side of the Victorian era. For their first four league seasons, at Anfield, they attracted average attendances of around 10,000. The move to Goodison Park in 1892 boosted average attendances to around 13,000, and within another five years they were up to around 17,500.
Everton had the highest average attendance of any club during the first 10 league seasons, only being surpassed towards the end of the era by Aston Villa, Newcastle United and Manchester City. Aston Villa had the highest average attendance of the 1899-1900 season of around 20,000.
The great occasion of the FA Cup final drew substantially higher crowds than top league matches. Final attendances rose from 2,000 in 1873 to almost 69,000 in 1900.
Above - Everton, 1892 (Geary front centre, Chadwick and Milward front right)
This is an edited extract from The Victorian Football Miscellany.