2018 sees Everton in the Community celebrate its 30th anniversary and ahead of this weekend’s designated birthday fixture against Crystal Palace, evertontv caught up with the staff who helped shape EitC into the pioneering and ground-breaking charity it is today.
In February 1988, a converted house in the shadow of Goodison Park became the operational centre of ‘The Community Programme’, a Government-sponsored scheme to foster closer links between football and the local community.
Headed up by former Blues forward Duncan McKenzie, with the support of Alan Whittle as an activity organiser, the programme was funded by the Manpower Services Commission, the PFA and the Football League and saw Duncan, Alan and a team of part-time activity organisers delivering sessions in local schools before expanding to develop sessions for disabled participants and the under-privileged.
The programme quickly went from strength-to-strength and in September 1991, Neil Dewsnip was appointed Community Manager with the focus of getting the local community involved, interested and to feel part of Everton Football Club. Known then as ‘Football in the Community’, the community scheme developed from a coaching and school offering to include multi-sport sessions as well as programmes for those with special needs.
In 1994, Ted Sutton was given the role as Community Officer after being interviewed by Bill Kenwright after working alongside Ray Minshull as an Everton ‘B’ coach. From there, the community scheme quickly picked up pace and grew to a team of nine including Joe Doyle, James Porter, Colm Whelan, Mark Elliott, Steve Johnson and Alan Johnson, who was appointed as the Club’s first Equality and Diversity Manager by Mr Kenwright. And 2004, Everton Ladies player Mo Marley was brought into the fold to lead a programme specifically designed to get women and girls more involved in sport.
Football in the Community expanded into all corners of the city with community coaches delivering in all boroughs of Liverpool on a daily basis and a few years later, Ted Sutton and David Connor worked on an application to register Football in the Community as an official charity; a long and arduous task but one that meant that the community scheme could continue to grow as well as access external funding to develop new programmes that would specifically tackle social issues in Merseyside.
On the 10 September 2003, Everton Football in the Community was officially granted charitable status and the rest, as they say, is history…