February 21, 1925
Famous old timers – John James Ramsay.
By Victor Hall
It would be almost a misnomer to speak only of the work of the late James Ramsay as being for the Liverpool club, because it was really for all Liverpool football. By that would be meant both Everton and Liverpool and truly he was a loyal friend of both clubs –Everton in their striving youth and Liverpool from their cradle onwards.
Mr. Ramsay was one of the old Everton Club Committee who at the time of the trek stayed by the old ground and helped to found the new club. He was elected first honorary treasurer of the Liverpool club and I believe –speaking from memory – he continued that office up to the final breakdown in health that led to his final severance.
What a lovable and kindly heart he had, it seemed as if many a time he tried to disguise his natural sympathy by an appearance of briquettes that was but a poor disguise for the warm and generous nature that was his by instinct.
From the earlier days of the founding of the Liverpool club, and for some anxious years afterwards the position of the honorary treasurer was one of keen anxiety. The bitterness of the early days had not altogether died down and “gates” were attenuated and painfully fickle.
The financial responsibilities of the new club were not light; expensive players had been booked in as Endeavour to provide attractive football, and so to win the steadfast approval of a growing body of supporters. The natural result was that the weekly salary list was a formidable item, especially where gates were slender and other revenue, such as season tickets, stand admission &c, practically non-existent.
With a less ardent band of sportsmen than those worthy souls who gathered round the treasurer, the outlook would have been hopeless. But the public spirited men were there, and the width of their personality in those trying days will never be forgotten.
Foremost in those names was the present League president, John McKenna, Thomas Howarth, Alex Nisbet and Lawrence Crosthwaite to some of whom tributes will be paid in later articles. But the real responsibility was all the time on the treasurer and well and nobly James Ramsay shouldered the burdle.
The late Alderman John Houlding was the president of the young Liverpool club, and then, as always before his financial support was behind the young club to the last penny if necessary; But the new committee (it was not then a Limited company) were proud of their young club and confident they would pull it through unaided by exterior help; and so they struggled and planned in every little economy in order to keep down expenses and avoid increasing their debit balance.
Even in those early days the youth club was blessed with a loyal band of hard headed workers who toiled late and early to bring fame and fickle fortune to the young recruit. The talisman of John Houlding’s name in Everton was of course, their premier asset but slowly it was realized that so far from being a “one man” show it was a band of zealous who had bayoneted the chariot of their youth and glowing energies to the fortune of the Liverpool club, and as real begets zeal, the weekly list of patrons grew – ever so slowly at first but grow it did; week by week, until one fine day, after years of labour, the danger point had passed, and the club had sailed into clear whether and a sunny sky.
Those years of struggle had been anxious years for “Jim Ramsay” and they left a strain on his energetic that eventually told a tale. But he had enjoyed the struggle. He lived for the club in those early days. Late and early he would be round on the ground. In the season when the pressure of daily routine work was to be seen to.
In the summer even, when players were gathered to their friends and families in far-away Scotland, daily his work went on. The ground had to be refrained or resodded in parts, stands to be repaired or extended, painting and woodwork renewed, hundreds of tons of earth and cinders collected and disposed to increase the terracing, and so the summer days were no holiday for the treasurer but rather added to his duties for the work was continuous and in these days there were no team managers or office staff to superintend things and help.
And the treasurer was a honorary officials. No wonder the memory of that first treasurer is kept green out Anfield way! Physically Mr. Ramsay was not robust. His health had for years been a matter of anxiety and in football matches the physical strain of the excitement of the game affected him to an extraordinary degree. He simply could not sit or stand still while watching a game.
His whole body moved in vibration with the fluctuations of play. He would go through practically the whole gamut of emotion that each player of the side endured. With the forwards he would partake of the joyous dash for goal, he would scar with the success, or droop –with the failure of every shot; when danger threatened the Liverpool goal, he suffered the anxieties of the defence and shared the peril of the goalkeeper.
To be with him during the match was to be a sharer of his hopes on fears, so he wisely –as a rule –took himself to a quiet corner of the stand or a convenient window of the ground office where he could endure his pangs in solitary enjoyment. But after the match! Ah! If we had won the sky was the only limit to his praises of the players to their tact, their finesse, their real outstanding “over all” merit. If we lost he was sad, sometimes to the verge of gloom.
He sorrowed with every player’s failure he had a kind word even for the culprits on the day’s form. It in other words, he was a real human heart who, with no exterior polish, radiated his hopes and fears and showed his sincere and honest happy nature. The geniality of his smile his ready Irish wit, his companionableness, his generous open hearty were great, great assets to the struggling Liverpool club of those early days. And of all the assets they held in those trying days, none were better than the love and fostering care of that big-hearted little man.
(Liverpool Football Echo: February 21, 1925)