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» Part One - The Early History of Liverpool Ramblers.


Association Football arrives in Liverpool.


The birth of association football in Liverpool may have, with fullness of time, become obscured but the early pioneers have left us with some indications as to its origin. The game, as it was elsewhere, appears to have been introduced to the area by a combination of crusading Clergymen and local public school boys. Three teams, amongst the forerunners, stand out from the rest. The Liverpool Association, made up of University men, were in all probability, the first the private team to formed on Merseyside while both St Domingo’s (1878), and St Johns Bootle, (1879) were church teams who drew their players from amongst the members of their respective congregations. The Liverpool Association, who found suitable fixtures difficult to acquire, slowly faded and drifted in to oblivion. The two church sides however, by reinventing themselves, managed to survive.

The players of St Domingo’s, seeking their independence, left their Methodist roots and changed their name to Everton. They were all local men who had learnt their football in the public park but the Bootle team, if required, could call on the experience of several former public school players with whom they were acquainted. This factor proved to be decisive when, in Ocotober1879, the teams met for the first time on Stanley Park in Liverpool. Bootle St Johns, led by the local curate, won the match 4-0. The Bootle club, encouraged by their positive soon dropped the suffix of St Johns, and entered the FA Cup.

Bootle entered the competition at a time when most players, due to the absence of “gate money” met their own travelling expenses. The north Merseyside area was, at the time, still rural and could not yet be considered part of the expanding Liverpool conurbation area. It was a wealthy district that contained, with a riverside location, many grand Mansions and Villas. Several of the early Bootle players came from such a background. The FA Cup draw, which proved favourable, gave Bootle a home a home tie against Blackburn Law Society. E.V. Rayner, E. Baxter and G. W. Turner, all future players with Liverpool Ramblers, took part in the match that was played on the ground of Bootle Cricket Club at Irlam Road. Godfrey.W.Turner, in a close fought game, scored the decisive goal that gave Bootle a 2-1 victory. The more experienced teams from the cotton mill towns of east Lancashire however, soon exposed the limitations of the Bootle team.

The second round draw took Bootle to the remote Lancashire village of Turton. The location, set high on the moors, proved difficult for certain Merseyside players to find. The visitors, as the game kicked off, had just eight men on the field. They were trailing 3-0 when, just before half time, two more of their resolute members arrived and took up their respective positions. Bootle, the game now beyond them, was eventually beaten by 4 goals to 0. The excursion had highlighted the lack of experience on the part of the Merseyside football clubs, who, it now was apparent, were lagging well behind their east Lancashire neighbours.

If this problem was to be overcome, then some form of leadership was needed from the prominent members of Liverpool society. The time was now right for them to take the initiative and assist the town of their birth. This they promptly did and, in doing so, founded The Ramblers. The football clubs of Liverpool, from henceforth, began to catch up with their Lancashire neighbours.


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