The fact that there should be a football club in Chile today called Everton may come as a surprise to most people. However, it is not unique, even within Chile, for clubs to have adopted the name of an established club from the “old” country.
Rangers in the southern town of Talca were founded in 1902 by, amongst others, the Ramsey and Greenstreet families, both of Scottish descent. Rivals Santiago Wanderers, founded a decade earlier in Valparaiso, are likely to have been influenced by the Wanderers Club that had been all conquering in the early days of association football in England. Further afield in South America we find Corinthians in Sao Paulo (1910) and the relatively late-comers, Arsenal in Buenos Aires (1957). Other teams were named after a city in the “old” world as was the case with Liverpool in Montevideo, Uruguay (1915) and Barcelona in Guayaquil, Ecuador (1925).
In the case of Chile, and more particularly the port of Valparaiso, there were in 1909 numerous clubs bearing the names of foreign locations or teams – Sunderland, Nottingham, Liverpool, Pennsylvania, Victoria Rangers and Badminton, to name just a few. Not many survived beyond the end of the Great War – the notable exception being Everton Football Club.
Everton was not founded, as would be expected, by adult members of the Anglo-Chilean community but by a group of teenagers led by the 14 year old David Foxley. Popular legend has it that when they came to choose the name they were at a loss as to what to call the Club. This uncertainty was overcome when one of the boys pulled a toffee (caramelo) from his pocket that bore the name of Everton. There may be an element of truth in this tale but the more likely reason could possibly lay in the fact that a number of the founders had roots not only in the UK but specifically in the city of Liverpool.
Liverpool itself was the source of many of the goods that were imported to Chile from Europe as well as the destination for many its exports. The local ex-pat British community had access to events in the UK via their own English-publication newspapers as well as the telegraph, which could transmit a Cup Final score to Valparaiso almost as quickly as to Carlisle. Another contributing factor could well have been the success the all-conquering Everton F.C. had recently had in their tour of Argentina and Uruguay – which was fully reported in the local press.
The youths who founded Everton Football Club on St. John’s Day, 1909, were on the whole from the more affluent sectors of Valparaiso society with Spanish names as prominent as those of British origin. This gave rise to the accusation, which lasted for many decades and indeed is still levelled at the Club today, that is was a “Pije” Club (a word peculiar to Chile meaning toff or snob).
Like any club of this nature, be it golf, cricket or football, membership was open to absolutely anyone, providing they met the appropriate conditions i.e. they were nominated and seconded by existing members and had the ability to pay the required joining fee and monthly dues. These conditions, obviously, precluded the majority of the Valparaiso populace from joining but this just reflected the reality of the era and would change in the 1920s as the make-up of the club was transformed to move with the times.
The details we have of the inaugural meeting are an indication of how this Club would be organised over the coming years. On Thursday afternoon on 24th June 1909 at 5:10 P.M. from the ten members present the following were elected:
President – Frank Boundy
Captain – David Foxley
Vice-captain – Percy Holmes
Secretary – Alberto González
Pro-secretary – Arthur Foxley
Treasurer – Hugo Boundy
In addition to those elected above, Malcolm Fraser, Carlos González and Julio Escobar also attended the founding meeting and two days later on 26th June, Oscar Guzmán would join this youthful group as Vice-President.
The first match played by the Club was against Graphie F.C., a team from the same part of town and made up of much the same type of boys. The game kicked off at 10:00 A.M. on 29th June with the first half ending goalless, even with Graphie playing with 12 men. However, this less than sporting approach was exacerbated in the second half when the Graphie captain introduced a “ringer” called Gederlini from Orbita F.C. The match ended in a 1-0 defeat.
The first few years of the Club’s existence were spent playing a series of friendly games against similar institutions, made up of players from a similar social standing: Graphie, Colegio Inglés, Colegio Alemán, Gold Stars, International, Grafton, Liceo Royal, Selecta Sportsman, San Luis, Gold Cross, Thunder, Pennsylvania, España, Diamante and many others who came and went during this period.
On 21st March 1912 the Club joined the Football Association of Chile (later changing its name to La Liga Valparaiso), an organisation, run on the whole by ex-pats, which adopted a paternalistic, if not patronising role, to the rest of Chilean football.
The boys, for that is what essentially they were, played football in the winter and during the summer months spent their time practising a sport which would over the next decade give the Club not only success on a local and national level but would also, through the achievements of brilliant individuals, bring international recognition as well – athletics.
In January 1919, to reflect the multi-discipline nature of the Club. Everton changed its name to Club Deportes Everton (Everton Sports Club) – ironically, just as the Club was beginning to establish itself as a major footballing force both regionally and nationally.