Everton F.C. founder in defence of Mr. Houlding’s scheme

February 29, 1892
The following letter which would have been published last week had space permitted, will doubtless be read with interest, especially by those who have hitherto had an imperfect knowledge of the history of the Everton club’s connection with the Sandon Hotel.

The writer – Mr. T. Evans – is well known as an enthusiastic cricketer, an old football player, one of the founders of the Everton Football Club, and a gentleman whose opinion have been valued by his colleagues in the past, and are now entitled to careful consideration. This letter should have been read at the first meeting in the College Hall, but so much of the evening was occupied by the Goodison Road party, that there was neither time nor opportunity for any business except exactly what they approved of: –

Garston: October 12, 1891:
“Dear Sir, – On Saturday I was approached by two of my old colleagues of the Everton Football Club, and was asked to sign a declaration attesting to certain facts, but as one or two of the points named therein – whilst doubtless quite correct – were not within my own personal knowledge, I did not feel that I should be justified in signing it, and therefore preferred writing to you stating what to my knowledge the original terms between Mr Houlding and the club were.

“It was stated by Mr Houlding that in response to the club’s special request he had purchased the field for a sum of nearly £6,000, and that during the time the club was not in a position to pay more he would be content to accept a rental of £100. It being distinctly understood that as the club became more established and got in a position to pay more it should do so, until it would give him a fair return for the heavy sum of money he had had to lay down, and as far as my memory serves me the fair return which he looked forward to was something like 4 per cent.

“I did not hear of any stipulation as to the cutting of a street by Mr Orrell, nor yet of any reservation as to the sale of intoxicants on the ground; but such stipulations might easily have been made without my knowledge, seeing that it was only occasionally I could get up to Everton to attend their meetings &c., at that time, owing to the long distance I was then living from Everton.

“I know the question of widening the ground was often discussed, but it was stated “Mr Orrell declined to part with more of his land.” With regard to the sale of liquor on the ground, I consider Mr Houlding had a perfect right to protect his ordinary trade interests, but there is a wide difference between protection and insisting upon the erosion of place; on the ground from which his own goods should be retailed out.

“For several years Mr Houlding certainly did not get a fair return for his money, and therefore it was only what any other sensible person would have done, to take care that by letting the ground he had purchased, he should hold the reins of power in seeing that his own particular trade was not damaged by others coming on the very ground he had paid all this money for, and for which he was getting so poor a return; and if Mr Houlding still wishes to hold these reins, I think the members should acquiesce without demur.

“I have often seen reference made to the fact that Mr Houlding reaps considerable advantage by the large business done at the Sandon Hotel through the close proximity of some to the ground, and by the meetings being held there. I consider such reference are contemptible, and never ought to be mentioned.

“It is only right that I should state that it was at my instance and proposition that the club’s headquarters were removed from the old public house in Everton Village to the more respectable and convenient Sandon Hotel: this act with the fact that I prevailed upon such men as Mr Houlding, Mr Robt. Wilson, Mr W Lowe, Mr Arthur Boylett and Mr Brookes – actually proposing them as president and vice-presidents respectively – was laying a sound foundation for building up the magnificent club you now have.

“I have alluded to this simply to show that Mr Houlding had nothing whatever to do with the Sandon being made the club’s headquarters. This was my doing, because it was much more respectable and better suited for the holding of such meetings, besides being the nearest hotel to our ground in Stanley-park for the players to dress at.

“I would also point out that it is quite an accident that the club ground is so near to the Sandon, as if any of the owners or occupiers of ground towards the bottom end of Arkles-lane could have been prevailed upon to let the club a good ground the present one would doubtless never have been used for football purpose, in which case some hotel – other than the Sandon and adjoining houses to the present ground would have reaped the benefits; and surely no one can begrudge the best friend of the club ever had of being one of a number that reap some benefit from the patronage bestowed upon them by visitors and members of the club.

“Assuredly someone would reap a benefit of this kind, and there is no more reason for casting this in his teeth than to tell other neighbouring hotel-keepers that they reap a benefit. What the members have to consider is the “Terms of Rental”, and if it is not presumptuous on my part, I would recommend that the club should lease the ground at such rental as can be agreed upon, which will be a fair remuneration for the money laid down by Mr Houlding in purchasing the ground.

“To move to other quarters would be tremendous expensive, and would necessary, be going out of a very large population, which might lose the club much more than (what seems) a heavy rental involves. I am, therefore, of opinion the club should stop where they are, making the best possible terms with both Mr Orrell and Mr Houlding; who I am sure, would meet the club in a fair spirit, should circumstances at some future date not be so favourable as at present.

“I have never written or said anything upon this subject previously, and should not have presumed to trouble you with this communication had I not been invited to sign the declaration referred to in the opening of my letter. And if anything I have written will assist the matter now in dispute to be brought to an amicable settlement my trouble will not have been in vain. – Yours &:,

(Source: Field Sports: February 29, 1892)

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