Category Archives: Pre Season


Liverpool’s match against Brondby on 16th July 2014 sees the squad fly in and out spending very little time in the city. It couldn’t be more different than the club’s visit there in 1910, when they spent the best part of a week in the city, getting drunk with fellow tourists and the opposition on the club’s first foreign tour.

In their eighteen years history to date, Liverpool had never played a game outside the British Isles, although the squad had been rewarded with a holiday in Paris after winning the league in 1906. There had been no title in 1910, but the club decided to break new ground and go abroad, having lagged somewhat behind others in this respect. Neighbours Everton for example hadn’t just been to Europe, they had gone inter-continental having toured South America a year earlier.

Predicting that the tour would be a ‘most enjoyable one’ the Evening Express observed that the Reds players would have to be at their best. They had recently beaten an FA representative side and the paper said they had made great strides in recent years.

The party of nineteen which set off from Central Station at noon on 11th May consisted of fifteen players, manager Tom Watson, trainer Bill McConnell and two directors. No journalists accompanied the team, but Watson promised to telegraph the results and also send letters containing reports of games. They were leaving at a time when the nation was in mourning, King Edward VII having died of bronchitis five days earlier.

tour cartoon express 14th may 1910
Cartoon from the Evening Express

On arrival at Hull the party were met by Mr Langley, manager of Hull City, who saw them off from the quay as they departed on board the Finland Steamship Company’s steamship Polaris. They enjoyed a Finnish dinner but for many that was the last they ate on the crossing, because as soon as they left the Humber the North Sea was being battered by near gale force winds. The crossing was a horrendous one and it took nearly 36 hours to reach the coast of Jutland, some ten more than was scheduled.

After finally reaching Copenhagen on the afternoon of Friday 13th May, the players were allowed to get used to being on dry land again and had two days at leisure. They then set off for Gothenburg in Sweden, where they beat a Stockholm XI 2-0 and Örgryte 3-0. The Reds were due to travel back to Denmark on 19th May, but they ended up staying an extra day in Gothenburg but the scheduled game against a Danish Select XI on the 20th was postponed as a mark of respect to King Edward VII. He had died five days before the Liverpool party set off and there was considerable mourning in Denmark at his death as his wife Alexandra was Danish.

The last day in Sweden was spent on the lash with the Manchester City squad, who arrived there that day for the last leg of a tour that had also taken in Belgium, Germany and Denmark. It was a bleary eyes squad that set off to Copenhagen the following day, where they arrived to find temperatures pushing ninety degrees and were taken on a boat tour of the harbour.

On Sunday 22nd May the Reds took on a Danish FA XI in searing heat. Nobody knows whether it was the heat, hangover or sight of women in the crowd wearing summer dresses that led to the hosts shocking the tourists by winning 3-0, making amends for their 5-2 defeat against City. Watson admitted that they may have taken the opposition too lightly, with him writing in his letter to the Evening Express that ‘their knowledge of the game was an eye opener to all.’

After the game the Johannes Gandil, who represented Denmark at both athletics and football in the Olympics and hosted a dinner for the Liverpool party in 1910Reds party attended a dinner hosted by veteran Danish veteran player Johannes Gandil (left), who had represented his country at the Olympics in both football and athletics. Watson described in a letter how ‘our healths were drunk with the usual “rar, rar, rar”’. The final game of the tour was on Tuesday 24th May when they faced the Danish FA XI again. This time, in far cooler conditions given it was played of an evening, Liverpool won 1-0 in with the scorer’s identity remaining unknown. No more letters were written by Watson, with the following day’s Daily Post and Mercury simply printing in the results section: ‘Liverpool 1 Denmark 0’.

Despite the last match being on the Tuesday, the players were given a few more days in Denmark before beginning their journey home on Friday 27th May, finally arriving back at Liverpool Central station at 7pm on the Sunday evening. The Evening Express reported that the players were in excellent condition and had ‘evidently thoroughly enjoyed themselves’. Scandinavia had obviously made a mark on the party, as they would be back there the next time they were abroad four years later.

Practice Games Get Players Ready For New Season

After winning promotion back to the 1st Division at the first attempt, Liverpool’s players got ready for the new season by playing two ‘Blues versus Whites’ practice games at Anfield.

The first game took place on Thursday 20th August 1896 and attracted a crowd of 15,000, higher than all but one of the regular league fixtures in the 2nd Division the previous season.  The ground was reported by the Liverpool Mercury to be in capital condition and players were said ‘to have showed evidence of careful training’, but the result was not recorded.

It was apparent looking at the line-ups though that each side was a mixture of 1st teamers and reserves, with the regular forwards playing together and trying to score against the first choice back line, with the reserve players doing the same. The reason that it was blues against whites was because at that time Liverpool still hadn’t adopted red shirts.

The next practice game was on Friday 28th August, by which time new secretary-manager Tom Watson, had officially taken up his role having travelled down to Liverpool from Sunderland the previous Sunday. This time, the forward lines were mixed up somewhat meaning that the ‘Blues’ were comfortably expected to win as their side contained more regular first team players. However there was an upset when the Whites won 3-0, the Mercury commenting that it was hoped the efforts of some players would be ‘more judiciously directed’ when the season proper began.



1895 Annual Picnic

Liverpool Football Club’s annual picnic in 1895 saw them return to the same venue as they had gone to the year before as they sought an immediate return to the 1st Division.

The club’s inaugural top flight season had ended in relegation but the squad was strengthened in the summer with the signings of forwards George Allan from Leith Athletic and Fred Geary (below),  who had been Everton’s leading scorer in their 1890-91 title winning season.

fred geary

With the season due to start on 7th September, the picnic took place two weeks before on Saturday 24th August. Billed as the annual picnic of the ‘committee, players and friends of the Liverpool Football Club’, the party of fifty gathered at the Sandon for a 2pm departure aboard a fleet of wagonettes. 

It was a glorious day and the journey to Ormskirk took about two hours, and on arrival committee members Mr Bailey and Mr Gibson began arranging the sports events. They consisted of a 120 yard sprint, half mile race, a dribbling contest as well as an event that saw who could kick a ball the furthest without bouncing.

Fred Geary showed his pace when he won the 120 yard sprint and he also finished second in the dribbling contest. The best kicker of the ball was left back Billy Dunlop, who managed to hit it sixty yards. John McCartney was the player with the most stamina, winning the half mile race.

After the events were completed, William Houlding distributed the prizes and told the players he hoped they could all pull together for he coming season. The players then ate what the Liverpool Mercury described as a ‘capital tea’ before boarding their wagonettes for the journey back to Anfield.

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  local 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.