A Players’ Union is born in Liverpool


December 28, 1897
At a meeting of leading football professionals in Liverpool, presided over by John Bell, the well-known Everton forward, at which representatives of 20 League clubs were present, the formation of a union for the protection of players’ interests was decided upon, and a committee of management elected, consisting of the following players: – Holmes, Preston North End; Jack Devey, Aston Villa; Robert McNeil, Sunderland;John  Somerville, Bolton Wanderers; Jack Bell, Everton; Harry Wood, Wolverhampton; David Calderhead, Notts County; Jimmy Ross, Burnley; James McNaught, Newton Heath; Charlie Saer, Leicester; and Harry Munro, Gainsborough.

Jack Devey, Aston Villa (Lloyd’s Weekly News: March 24, 1895):

It is anticipated that every professional in England will join the association, of which the Lord Mayor of Liverpool (Alderman Houlding) and Mr. Ord (chairman of Preston North End) are to be asked to become trustees. John Cameron, the old Queen’s Park and Everton centre, has been appointed secretary and treasurer.

The rules include the establishment of a widow and orphans’  fund and a permanent disablement fund. It was decided that in case of a disagreement arising between a club and a player, should negotiation between the directors and a member of the union fail, the union would intervene, but that in no case would the association take action if such disagreement arose through misconduct on the part of a player.
(Derby Mercury: December 29, 1897)

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