Wheeler-dealer spurned Everton supervisor’s job however helped defy the percentages at one other membership


With Farhad Moshiri having entered talks over a possible Everton takeover, boardroom machinations at Goodison Park are a topical theme proper now. Lower than per week after Mr Moshiri wrote an open letter to Blues followers, wherein he apologised for “errors” and insisting he was “dedicated to securing the longer term success of the membership”, studies emerged about his ongoing discussions with a US-based consortium headed by Peter Kenyon, who, are contemplating shopping for the membership.

It’s been claimed that Monaco-based businessman Mr Moshiri values Everton at a determine in extra of £500million however on condition that any potential purchaser would even have to ensure the completion of the membership’s new stadium, of which building prices complete an identical quantity, at the moment being constructed at Bramley-Moore Dock, then the full invoice for the Blues might prime the billion pound mark. It’s all a far cry from the exploits of legendary Merseyside soccer determine WJ Sawyer, the person who as soon as turned down the prospect to handle Everton however later took a staff assembled for simply £100 to an FA Cup replay towards Tottenham Hotspur.

Sawyer, was not solely a revered soccer administrator at Goodison Park, he was additionally the driving power behind one other membership within the area – in each its incarnations both facet of the Mersey. Though identified to posterity by the initials of his two Christian names (William James), this larger-than-life character who dominated the North West soccer panorama within the early 20 th century – he additionally helped play a task within the formation of Wigan Athletic – was identified to his buddies as “Invoice.”

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Attending St Mary’s College in Edge Hill after which Liverpool Institute, ‘WJ’, alongside along with his youthful brothers, Walter and Dick, adopted his father into the canal commerce and was an accountant who rose to the place of secretary on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal Firm. A goalkeeper in his youth, a damaged collar bone suffered whereas enjoying for the Canal Recs staff compelled him to give attention to the executive facet of the sport as an alternative.

His great-grandson Rob Sawyer, a well known soccer historian and writer, instructed the ECHO: “His son, my grandfather, died after I was about six years outdated however every time we’d be driving by way of Liverpool as a baby, my dad would at all times drop in mentions about WJ’s affiliation with Everton, the South Liverpool membership and the fabled WJ Sawyer Cup and what had turn into of it (the household had been later reunited with the trophy by way of the Liverpool County FA).

“When my mum and pa moved home a couple of dozen years in the past, I got here throughout numerous cuttings within the loft that they’d saved about him. In addition to doing his day job because the director of a canal firm, he was off to matches each week, busy along with his commitments at Everton and he additionally possessed a waspish sense of humour.

“When it was the 1911 census, for some obscure purpose, he determined to record his spouse, the long-suffering Sarah as being a pork butcher. By all accounts she was a really severe lady however I think about he wasn’t the simplest of individuals to dwell with, actually he was a nightmare to be trustworthy!

“His profession was on the canal firm. He was a chartered accountant however his ardour was soccer, particularly the executive facet of the sport which led to his affiliation with African Royal, the membership that will turn into South Liverpool.

“There was WJ and one other chap on the helm and so they had ambitions to show it right into a Soccer League membership. WJ was the secretary-manager, effectively he was ‘the person’ in that he was nearly every little thing there, together with chief publicist.

“If you happen to learn among the glowing profiles within the programmes that survive from that period, you’re at all times left with the sensation that he wrote them himself. He wasn’t shy of selling what he was doing.

“He gave the impression to be a go-getter, very dynamic and energetic and fairly the character too. At first there have been aspirations for South Liverpool to go on to larger and higher issues however in the long run it was a case of simply holding them going, which he juggled along with his canal work.”

WJ left South Liverpool in 1918 to turn into Secretary-Supervisor at Everton (the Blues had been one of many final golf equipment to nominate a modern-style supervisor when Theo Kelly was handed the function in 1939) however on condition that aggressive soccer didn’t resume till a 12 months later, he was not answerable for any official matches within the report books.

Sawyer stated: “That sort of work mustn’t have gone unnoticed by individuals up at Goodison Park although after they went about in search of a brand new secretary when Will Cuff was standing down. It was an honorary place although, which I believe meant that it was unpaid.

“He did have a spell at Everton as secretary-manager simply after the First World Battle however then had a last-minute change of coronary heart so Tom McIntosh got here in and did an excellent job so the remaining is historical past in that respect. Inside a 12 months although, he’d been invited on to the board at Everton and remained there for a decade.

“Not surprisingly on condition that he was an accountant, he was chairman of the finance committee. For any expenditure, together with transfers, (which might have included the £3,000 signing of Dixie Dean in 1925) he was the important thing man.”

WJ Sawyer with Dixie Dean in 1925
WJ Sawyer with Dixie Dean in 1925

Though a shrewd operator with funds when in a working capability, WJ, who was a well known ‘bon viveur’ was much less inhibited when it got here to spending his personal cash and like many, he suffered through the Nice Despair. Nonetheless, he would go on to reinvent himself ‘throughout the water’ at New Brighton AFC, shaped in 1921 from the ashes of his first membership South Liverpool, and elevated to the Soccer League’s Division Three North two years later, a long time earlier than Wimbledon’s massively controversial rebranding as MK Dons.

Sawyer stated: “He lived the nice life and spent cash effectively. A few of his investments turned out to not be probably the most prudent and he received hit by the crash.

“Everton’s fortunes additionally nosedived round that point with a primary relegation in 1930 and later that 12 months he tendered his resignation. You get the impression that the diminished circumstances of revenue plus the strain at work and with Everton, affected his well being. Studying the minutes from the time, it’s clear that the board didn’t need him to resign however he was adamant that he needed to step again however not for lengthy.

“He turned secretary-manager of New Brighton, operating the executive facet of the membership, together with staff affairs. I assume by this level, given he was now in his 60s, he was both retired or semi-retired from his day job, so this turned his full-time occupation.

An illustration of WJ Sawyer during his time as secretary-manager of New Brighton
An illustration of WJ Sawyer throughout his time as secretary-manager of New Brighton

“It was a hand to mouth existence however he had a aptitude for wheeling and dealing and was very good, bringing in a few gamers throughout that interval who had been bought on at a revenue, together with Norman Greenhalgh who wasn’t making the grade at Bolton Wanderers. They received him for nothing however inside a few years he’d been purchased by Everton for a tidy sum and went on to turn into a League Champion.

“They punched above their weight for a time in an space dominated by Everton, Liverpool plus Tranmere Rovers, and in 1938 reached the fourth spherical of the FA Cup, taking Tottenham Hotspur to a replay earlier than shedding 5-2 in a replay at White Hart Lane.”

Sawyer, whose newest publication, ‘Jack Coulter: From Whiteabbey to Goodison Park’ tells the story of a winger who may now be thought of as being Everton’s best winger had it not been for damage, can be going again to the Thirties for his subsequent undertaking, an in-depth examine of Everton’s 1938/39 League Championship-winning facet. With a nonetheless teenage Tommy Lawton, the First Division’s prime scorer for back-to-back seasons, spearheading their assault and a supporting forged together with the likes of TG Jones, Joe Mercer, Ted Sagar, Alex Stevenson, Torry Gillick and Jock Thomson, they seemed poised to dominate English soccer earlier than the Second World Battle broke up the staff. Sawyer stated: “I do know individuals discuss concerning the 1969/70 staff or 1984/85 should you’re extra my age however my dad at all times stated the 1938/39 facet had been the all-time Everton staff.”


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