The Picnic & Sports Day That Started It All

On 20th August 1892, two weeks before Liverpool Football Club’s first competitive game in the Lancashire League, a social outing of the newly assembled squad led helped them bond together prior to the forthcoming campaign.

Organised by Mr J.J. Ramsay and billed as the first annual picnic of members of the club, fifty players and officials took the ferry over to Woodside at 1.30pm. There they were met by wagonettes that took them on a pleasant hour long drive through Bidston, Moreton, Meols and Hoylake to West Kirby where they stopped at the Ring O’ Bells hotel.

Ring O Bells in 1912
Ring O Bells in 1912

The rest of the afternoon saw the players engage in a series of athletics contests on an adjoining field. Amongst the events were races over 100, 200 and 440 yards, a hop, skip and jump, dribbling contest and tug o’ war. ┬áNo player won more than one event with Joe Pearson proving to be the fastest by winning the 100 yards while John Miller was the best dribbler.

After the events the party had what was described by the Liverpool Mercury as a ‘knife and fork tea’ before William Houlding, son of club founder John, handed out prizes to the earlier winners. He then made a speech welcoming the players who had come down from Scotland, and mocking those that had predicted that Houlding would only be able to form a parks or junior team. He made a statement of intent by saying that the new club ‘intended to make themselves felt in the football world,’ leading to a chorus of ‘hear, hear’ from those present.

The party then re-boarded their wagonettes for the journey back to Woodside and the ferry over to Liverpool, having bonded well in readiness for the season ahead.

Ring o Bells West Kirby credit Peter Hodge Wikicommons
Ring O Bells today (photo by Peter Hodge)