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John Houlding
Born 1833
Died 1902
Nationality England
Occupation Brewer, Politican
Known for Founding Liverpool F.C.

John Houlding was an English businessman and politician, most notable for being Lord Mayor of Liverpool, and the founder of Liverpool Football Club.


Houlding was self-made businessman in the city of Liverpool. He was educated at Liverpool College and was active towards the end of the 19th century, owning a brewery that left him in a comfortable financial state for the rest of his life. He was elected to the Liverpool City Council as a Conservative representing the Everton ward, before being appointed Mayor in 1897.

Prior to his election Houlding was involved with city's first professional football team, Everton F.C. In 1882, a ruling forced Everton to play their games at an enclosed ground, having previously played them on the public Stanley Park. A meeting held in the Sandon Hotel in Everton, owned by Houlding, led to Everton F.C. renting a field off Priory Road. When the owner of this field eventually asked them to leave, Houlding secured a new pitch at Anfield Road, paying a small rent to John Orrell, a fellow brewer. The first football match at Anfield was on September 28th, 1884, when Everton beat Earlstown 5-0.

At Anfield stands were erected, attendance figures reached 8,000 per game, and Everton became a founding member of the Football League in 1888. However, Houlding was beginning to annoy the club; he increased the rate of interest on his loan to the club, and the players were forced to use The Sandon for changing, both before and after games.

In 1891, John Orrell threatened to withdraw the tenancy of Anfield Road. Houlding responded by suggesting that he form a limited liability company and purchase the ground. Orrell was willing to sell, but Houlding owned land adjacent to Anfield Road, and expect the new limited liability company to purchase this land as well.

Many of the club's members accused Houlding of trying to make a profit at the club's expense. The club's 279 members met in January 1892 to discuss the matter. Following another meeting on March 15th, 1892, Houlding was outvoted and his opponents decided to leave Anfield and purchase a new ground. They purchased Goodison Park, on the north side of Stanley Park, for £8,000.

Houlding and Orrell were left with an empty football ground, and Houlding felt that the only proper course of action in that situation would be to found a new football club, which he duly did - Liverpool F.C. would play their first ever game on September 1st, 1892; in a friendly with Rotherham Town, then of the Midland League.

See also




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