The David France Collection - Everton FC History
CONCISE HISTORY OF EVERTON FC
Keith Wyness, Everton's new chief exec recently captured the signature of David Moyes to keep him at Everton Football Club until 2009. It was heralded as the most important deal the new C.E.O. has done in his short time at Goodison Park. We think that securing The David France Collection for Everton Football Club is more important. A big statement yes! But this is not like your stash of programme's in the back bedroom.
Graham Budd of Sotheby’s says: "This collection has no match anywhere in the football world. It’s a unique record of Everton’s history - possibly a history unparalleled by any other club. The collection offers a unique record of the evolution of British football and of the city of Liverpool."
It consists of some 10,000 items, each representing a special piece of the club’s past, but as a collection it captures and illustrates the club’s unparalleled heritage. There are programmes, season-tickets, ticket stubs, medals, photographs, contracts, cash books, handbooks, financial statements and other ephemera dating back to the pioneering days at Stanley Park, Priory Road and Walton Breck Road as well as letters, gate books, itineraries, cigarette cards, postcards and international caps from the turn-of-the- century. Even the most cynical football enthusiast would agree that no other club boasts such a wealth of treasures or such a wealth of history. And to top them off, there are what David calls ‘The Everton Scriptures‘ - a complete run of official club ledgers detailing the minutes of every board meeting from 1886 to 1964. This labour of love took 25 years to assemble. It should NEVER be split up.
The box of medals won by Everton Football Club (Shown below) from 1890 to 1987 must be kept together for younger generations of Evertonians to see. To have them split up would be sacrilege.
The collection includes 40 medals for the major competitions won by the club between 1890-1985 and comprise those for seven League championships (1890/91, 1914/15, 1927/28, 1930/31, 1938/39, 1962/63 & 1984/85), four FA Cup victories (1906, 1933, 1966, & 1984) and one European triumph (1985). Other medals include those awarded to the Northern League champions (1918/19), Division 2 winners (1931/32), FA Cup runners-up (1897, 1907 & 1968) and Milk Cup runners-up (1984) as well as those for minor competitions such as the Liverpool Cup (1895, 1899, 1930 & 1934), Lancashire Cup (1904, 1910 & 1940), Norfolk & Norwich Hospital Cup (1907) and Blackpool Hospital Cup (1926 & 1927). Another unusual silver medal commemorates Everton’s pilgrimage to Barcelona in 1924. After two warn-up games against their Catalan hosts, they overcame Newcastle United 3-2 to win the Barcelona Cup. Everton were presented with a handsome silver trophy, 11 silver medals and £1,000 to cover their expenditures.
We have known David France for about 6 or 7 years. He is a great Evertonian, who came up with the idea of 'Blueblood' - The Former Players Foundation, after a hero of his was under hard times and having a bit of trouble with loan sharks. Convinced that former-players deserved more respect, David set up the organisation to help those ex-players suffering medical and other hardships. During the last few years we have seen parts of the collection and it is staggering. Now David is ill and is selling the collection. He wants to sell it to Everton Football Club. They want it but with the financial problems the club has. Who knows?
We met up with David last week. He had flown over from his sick bed in sunny Vancouver Island, Canada to oversee the viewing of the collection to various interested parties. These included private dealers, as well as representatives of Everton Football Club and would you believe representatives from the redshite. After all the collection includes items up to 1892, which are as much a part of their history as Everton's. Plus we shared the programme with them from 1902 to 1932. One week it was blue and the next week a maroon sort of colour.
You could tell as a passionate Evertonian, David wants the complete collection to go to Everton Football Club. Whoever gets the collection, they will have to protect the club‘s heritage, maintain the integrity of the collection, build on the collection and ensure public access through the physical display of the collection on Merseyside. Also the parties should develop a cyber display of the collection for worldwide access.
For a couple of hours (a month wouldn't have been enough time) David showed us a small part of the collection and told us how he started the collection. David says: "My first game at Goodison, was against Manchester United in 1957. I also treasured the programme from that game against the Busby Babes and stored it in an old Bata shoe box. Then later when I moved to a house near Widnes North station, I was allowed to go to Goodison on my own on condition that I showed my mother the programme as proof that I had been to the game." So started the David France collection. David went on to say: "Enquiries at Goodison revealed that the club did not have an archive of its own and so in 1977 I decided to assemble every post-war home programme. This goal turned into every post-war away issue and so on. As football memorabilia became more popular, I travelled to auctions across the UK in search of the more elusive items and, as a consequence, spent thousands of pounds - much to the chagrin of my wife."
David told us that Everton Football Club and the City of Liverpool were working on an application for lottery funding, but this had failed. While showing us parts of the collection, David told us various stories of how he came across different parts of the collection. On traveling to Wembley in 1995, David and his wife Liz stopped on route to complete a deal for some of the club's first ledgers along with other Everton stuff.
David says: " I clearly remember Liz started to rummage through my swag. First, she examined an old England shirt which had been worn by Tommy Lawton. The bottom third of the white shirt had changed to a pale blue, obvious evidence of torrential rain during the game and that the old cotton shorts were not colour-fast. She was far from impressed by this treasure even though her mother had been a school friend of the Everton and England legend.
turned to the leather-bound ledgers and proffered the niggling question:
‘How much this time?’ I glanced towards her and proudly announced: "They
were a real bargain - only £78,000!"
When we asked him, what his favourite piece was David enthused about all of it, but David says: "While the contents of the ledgers, programmes and club correspondence are enlightening, in my opinion nothing compares to the season-ticket from the club’s days in Stanley Park, except perhaps for the following season’s ticket for Priory Road which is in remarkable condition. I can remember the night that I acquired them from a collector in Southport. Or rather I can remember, the drive home when I had to halt my car under a streetlight in Bootle just to pinch myself and reflect on their magic again. After all, these small pieces of memorabilia mark the birth of the Blues."
needn't have been so enthusiastic, we were sold on it right away. David
says: "I remember acquiring an unofficial copy of the
1933 programme, that is a pirate edition rather than the authentic issue.
This type of publication was usually sold outside the stadium to unsuspecting
fans unfamiliar with the real thing. Well my pirate programme turned
out to be a real treasure chest because it contained ticket stubs for
David says: "I attended Christie’s auction in Glasgow and noticed that the catalogue included the only known photograph of Everton’s first championship-winning side dressed in the infamous ruby shirts with blue trim. Believed to have been taken near the bowling green at the rear of the Sandon Hotel, the sepia-toned photograph featured the diminutive Fred Geary sandwiched between the League championship trophy and the Liverpool Cup. Because the only bidders interested in the item were London-based memorabilia dealers, I felt compelled to secure the lot - at no small cost. It remains the only known photograph of this team or this kit."
Dr France, understandably, doesn't want to see his lifetime's work split up. The oldest known programme featuring Manchester United - then known as Newton Heath - belongs to the collection, as do the earliest known copies of Newcastle, Glasgow Celtic and Glasgow Rangers programmes. David has the full set of these programmes bound in one volume. If sold separately to dealers, they could make £30,000 each, but David doesn't want to do that. He has been negotiating for 18 months with Everton Football Club. He wanted a 'letter of intent to buy the collection from the club before he left for Canada last week. This never came.
Dr France spoke to us over the weekend and said that he has had two offers for the full collection. None were from Everton. He also said that the museum curator from 'across the park' was 'very, very enthusiastic'.
has started a discussion on the collection on the official site. Good
We ask all Evertonians to log on to the link below and fill in the questionnaire, telling the club to buy The David France Collection.
In the meantime, Dr France continues to add to the amazing collection. Thanks for the thrill of a life time. Good Luck David. (24/11/04)
What do you think? e-mail bluekipper.com
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