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125 Years Of Competitive Football

by Daniel Alston @efc_danalston

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Monday marks the 125th anniversary of Everton's first competitive match.

Pictured above is the Club's 1887 Liverpool and District Cup-winning team and at the start of the 1887/88 season, the Blues were entered into the FA Cup for the first time. The draw presented an away trip to Bolton in the opening round on 15 October.

It wasn't to be a happy beginning in the competition for the Toffees however, as they succumbed to a 1-0 defeat. But the story doesn't finish there.

Upon questioning the eligibility of a Wanderers player, the Blues' objection to the result was successful and a replay was ordered.

On 29 October, the Lancashire outfit visited Anfield, home to Everton before their Red neighbours were formed.

George Farmer and Robert Watson were both on target, but the away side matched their goals to tie the game at 2-2.

A further fortnight later, the two sides met yet again - this time back at Bolton’s Burnden Park. Again there proved to be no victor, with Farmer netting in a 1-1 draw.

Everton would eventually triumph on 19 November, progressing to the second round with a 2-1 win courtesy of goals from Goudie and Watson.

Yet despite the result, there was to be even more drama, as Bolton produced their own counter-claim that the Toffees had fielded ineligible players.

The Club had, to that date, been predominantly a team of amateurs, each with a job ahead of their part-time connection to playing football.

As the English game continued to grow, fellow teams had begun to favour open professionalism. Forward Farmer and George Dobson had become the first Everton professionals at the start of the 1885/86 season, but the side remained largely amateur for the next few campaigns.

Bolton argued that seven Everton 'amateurs' had been paid to play - a claim that was upheld by the FA, removing the Blues from the competition.

Despite the saga that ensued, the date remains an important date in the Everton calendar. The emergence of the cups prompted the need for fewer friendly matches and more competitions - with attendances and subsequent revenue much higher in the latter.

Everton would go on to become founding members of the Football League in 1888.

Click here to view match programmes from the games against Bolton, as part of the Everton Collection.

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