Over the past year, the Liverpool FC Graves Society has been formed and is trying to locate as many graves of former Liverpool FC players and managers as possible. The whereabouts of many was already known but a number of others have been uncovered. Many of those are in Anfield Cemetery, in the shadow of the club’s famous stadium.
Liverpool were founded in 1892 by John Houlding, following Everton FC’s decision to move out of Anfield to Goodison Park over a rent dispute. He is buried at Everton Cemetery, his resting place marked by a striking monument. Houlding appointed John McKenna as secretary-manager, responsible for organising fixtures and player recruitment amongst others. His grave is in Toxteth Cemetery, but has sadly been damaged.
McKenna ran the Liverpool team alongside William E Barclay, the headmaster of an industrial school in Everton. He had previously managed Everton FC and remains the only man to manage both Merseyside clubs. He died in poverty in 1917 and was buried at Anfield Cemetery in an unmarked grave, which has now had a memorial plaque stone paced on it.
In 1896 Tom Watson took over team affairs at Liverpool, guiding the club to two league titles. He died in 1915 and is also buried in Anfield Cemetery. For many years there was no headstone but after his great grandson was located and funds were donated by both Liverpool and his former club Sunderland, a new one was erected in 2015.
Watson’s captain when he won the 1st Division title in 1901 and 1906 was Alex Raisbeck, a Scot who was also employed as a bill inspector by the club to get around maximum wage rules. Raisbeck died in 1949 and when his gravestone was located in Anfield Cemetery by the Liverpool FC Graves Society it was in a sorry state. The letters were hardly legible and the material was crumbling. After locating his grandson however, a new headstone has been placed there which also refers to his footballing achievements.
Another of Watson’s players was Scottish keeper Ned Doig, who was at Liverpool from 1904 to 1908 and remains the club’s oldest debutant at 37 years and 307 days. he died from Spanish flu in 1919 and was buried in an unmarked grave which has now been located and a memorial stone added.
The Liverpool FC Graves Society is continuing to work with researchers around the world and has found graves of players from the inaugural 1892-93 season as far apart as Scotland and Australia. So far six have been located, including that of the club’s first captain, Andrew Hannah.
Given the proximity to the stadium, it is natural that efforts have focused on Anfield Cemetery when it comes to other players graves. Further discoveries over the last few months are the graves of George Patterson, manager from 1928 to 1936 and Bobby Robinson, a member of the 1906 title winning side. Both graves have now been marked with a simple plaque and it is hoped a more permanent memorial can be added at a later date of relatives can be traced. There are sure to be many more discoveries in the months and years ahead.