The 1894 Annual Picnic

Liverpool’s players prepared for their first ever season in the top flight with an annual picnic and sports day taking place in Ormskirk a week before the start of the season.

On Thursday 21st August 1894 a party of forty players, led by John Houlding and John McKenna, headed to the newly developed Victoria Athletics Grounds in Ormskirk. The weather was wet but everybody resolved to have an enjoyable time, with races being run over 100, 120 and 440 yards as well as one mile. Unlike previous years, there were no field events.

The 120 yards was the most closely fought race, with Patrick Gordon (below) just edging out Hugh McQueen. John Whitehead proved to be the runner with the most stamina as he won the one mile race, the last of the day. Dinner was then served under the direction of ┬álocal man James Eastham, who like John Houlding was a brewer. Houlding then gave a speech in which he said he hoped one day to see the ‘League Championship Cup’ at Anfield Road.

patrick gordon

The party arrived back at Anfield at 10pm, but after two successive first place finishes Liverpool found the top flight tough going and finished bottom, their relegation then being confirmed after a test match defeat to Bury.