All the lies told about Mr. John Houlding


February 22, 1892
It was noted in last week’s article that the “public-house question” would be referred to again, and it may well to begin this article with a reference to it. It is a difficult matter to understand why Mr. John Houlding should be abused for providing

(1) dressing-rooms accommodation, gas, fire &c. free of cost to the club, and
(2) a committee-room, fires and gas for same, also free of cost to the club. Mr Houlding did not seek to have the headquarters at the Sandon Hotel.

The club formerly met in Everton Village, a long way from the ground in Priory Road, and Mr Houlding was asked by the committee if he would provide accommodation for them at the Sandon. He consented, and it has been the headquarters ever since. The club went there voluntarily, and simply as a matter of convenience.

But who prevented the erection of dressing-rooms on the ground?
Not Mr Houlding; for after a scheme brought forward by Mr Ramsay, and approved by a firm of Liverpool architects of repute, had been rejected, because the majority of the committee thought it to be too expensive. Mr Houlding himself brought forward a scheme to provide dressing-rooms on the ground, at a trifling cost of £120, which was also rejected because there was no security of tenure, at least this was the reason given at the time.

Reasonable men would conclude, however, seeing that opinion was unanimous as to the definability of having dressing-rooms on the ground; that the mechanical majority so strongly opposed to public house influence would have agreed to the small cost involved in order to secure the players from the evils complained of. But no, they allowed a comparatively small sum to stand in the way of the general welfare of twenty-two players, whilst they could afford to pay several hundreds of pounds to secure a few individual players.

Why did not some of the influential and wealthy gentlemen on the committee, who are so ready to risk their own money (?) in embarking on a new venture which sooner or later will end in disaster, procure or provide rooms in the neighbourhood (not in a licensed house) for accommodation of the players?
Perhaps they preferred economy to the social welfare of the players. But it is marvellous that even economy should have led these gentlemen, whose reign has been marked by disaster and discontent, to accept from Mr Houlding free accommodation for the teams in his hotel, when, according to Mr William Clayton, certain defeats sustained were due to their connection with the public house.

Why do they continue now to use Mr Houlding’s rooms &c. free of cost?

If their argument were honest, why have they not decided to hold their meetings elsewhere, and find other dressing-room for the players?

Some, at any rate, of the players are not likely to forget Mr Clayton’s insinuation. The failure of the League team to keep up its good reputation is due not to faults of its members, but to the incompetency and inexperience of the committee, some of whom know just as much about the management of an important football club like Everton as a baby, and no more. What can be expected from a divided committee, with its majority attacking the president and its leaders insulting the players, but disunion and want of harmony?

Now, the members are informed that certain individuals on the committee are prepared to advance the money required to furnish and equip Goodison-road. This advance, should it take place, will not lessen the liability of the members. The members will be liable for every penny spent during their year of membership. The prospect is alarming, and members can take their choice – limited company under Mr Houlding’s scheme, or unlimited liability at Goodison-road.

No doubt there are many members who do not care to invest even a single pound, and perhaps there are others (workingmen) who cannot. They simple pay their yearly subscription to see football. Mr Houlding’s scheme will be modified to meet such cases, and it is proposed that every member shall be entitled to admission all the year round on payment of his subscription, and such payments shall entitle them to privileges they enjoy at present, except, that having no liability, they can have no voting power. Meantime, many members are seriously considering the question of resigning rather than be involved in serious financial difficulties. But resignation will not relieve them of responsibility. Both sides are securing players for next season, and on one hand we have Mr Houlding, the old ground, money, influence, the great bulk of the old spectators, and an enthusiastic band of experienced workers, and on the other a self-elected leader with misguided followers. Signed X
(Field Sports: February 22, 1892)

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