Who founded Liverpool Football Club?

The business man, brewer and Lord Mayor in love with football

Credit: Getty Images

Founded in 1892, Liverpool Football Club has amassed a sensational trophy haul that firmly cements it’s position as a major force in English and European football.

Domestically the club has won nineteen League titles, eight FA Cups, nine League Cups and sixteen Community Shields. Furthermore on the international stage, Liverpool Football Club has won six European Cups/Champions Leagues, three UEFA Cups, four UEFA Super Cups – all English records – and one FIFA World Club Cup.

But who is responsible for the birth of this prestigious football club?

The answers is found in a story of a dispute between a prosperous businessman and Everton Football Club.

The man who founded Liverpool FC was John Houlding (1833-1902). According to historian Stan Liversedge in his book Liverpool: The Official Centenary History (1991), Houlding was a successful business man who made his fortune in the brewing business.

Houlding was also a freemason. This likely aided his growing influence amongst powerful figures in Victorian Liverpool. Houlding later became involved in politics, getting elected to the Liverpool City Council via the Conservative Party.

Houlding was involved in the founding of Everton Football Club in 1878 but within four years a dispute arose over playing areas and facilities at Stanley Park. Eventually, Houlding secured a playing pitch at Anfield Road by rent to a fellow brewer John Orrell.

Houlding later purchased this land from Orrell in 1885. However, his practice of increasing rent fees to Everton FC lead to a falling out. By 1892, Everton FC decided to leave Anfield and move to Goodison Park.

Credit: Getty Images

This forced Houlding to respond by founding Liverpool Football Club in the same year. The first ever football game played by the club was a friendly against Rotheram Town (a precursor to Rotheram United).

In 1897, Houlding became Lord Mayor of Liverpool.

Houlding’s decision to found Liverpool FC in close proximity to Everton FC played a major role shaping the identity of English football. His commemorative bronze bust was unveiled at Anfield in 2018.


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