Everton are the older of Merseyside’s two professional football clubs, so it is not surprising there are a number of graves of former players and managers in local cemeteries. However there are also plenty of others buried in cemeteries and churchyards both in Britain and abroad.
Although Everton were formed in 1878, initially as St Domingos FC, it was not until ten years later that they appointed a manager. William E. Barclay was also the headmaster of an industrial school and he took charge of team affairs for one year. When the club moved from Anfield to Goodison Park in 1892 Barclay stayed loyal to the ground’s owner John Houlding and managed the newly formed Liverpool FC until 1896. He remains the only manager to take charge of both clubs but died in poverty in 1891 and his grave in Anfield cemetery remained unmarked for decades until a simple memorial stone was placed there in 2013.
George Mahon was an Everton board member who was instrumental in securing the club’s move to Goodison Park. A solicitor, he arranged the purchase of the land and became the club’s chairman for the first three years in the new ground. He lived at 86 Anfield Road and was buried in Anfield Cemetery when he died in 1908.
Also buried in Anfield Cemetery is William Sawyer, Everton’s secretary towards the end of the First World War. During the 1920s he chaired the club’s finance committee and played a part in the purchase of the legendary Dixie Dean from Tranmere Rovers. He went on to score an incredible sixty league goals for Everton in the 1927-28 season. He died of a heart attack whilst watching a derby match at home to Liverpool in 1980 and after being cremated his ashes were scattered on the Goodison Park pitch.
Another Everton legend who died of a heart attack at Goodison was Harry Catterick, during an FA Cup tie with Ipswich in 1985. The former Sheffield Wednesday manager had led the club to two league titles, in 1963 and 1970, as well as the FA Cup in 1966. His gravestone at the Parish Church of St Annes in Lancashire is inscribed with the club’s motto ‘Nil Satis Nisi Optimum’.
An Everton player killed whilst serving his country was Lance Corporal Wilf Toman, who was killed in 1917 in the Battle of the Somme. He had played for Everton between 1899 and 1901 and is buried in the village of Erquinghem-Lys. When the club played a Europa League match ten miles away in Lille in 2014, a delegation from the club attended a special ceremony at his grave.
The Everton Heritage Society, which was set up in 2008 by Dr David France OBE, is a group of authors, researchers and memorabilia collectors who are passionate about the club. They are working on a number of projects, one of which is to locate as many graves of former Everton players as possible, helping to restore them wherever appropriate.
Graves that were re-dedicated with new headstones thanks to the work of the Everton Heritage Society in 2016 were those of 1915 title winner George Harrison, who is buried in York Road Cemetery in Gresley, and Alec Brady, a member of the team that won the league in 1891 when the club played at Anfield. A Scot who also played for Celtic, his grave was located in Millburn Cemetery in Renton.
Providing family members can be traced, there will hopefully be be more re-dedications of former Everton players’ graves in the coming months and years.