Dirk Kuyt Craig Bellamy Ryan Babel Fabio Aurelio
Alberto Aquilani Charlie Adam Maxi Rodriguez
Nathan Eccleston David Amoo Stephen Darby
Fernando Torres Raul Meireles David Ngog
Paul Konchesky Christian Poulsen Emiliano Insua Philipp Degen
Thomas Ince Milan Jovanovic Sotirios Kyrgiakos
Javier Mascherano Yossi Benayoun Andriy Voronin Andrea Dossena
Charles Itandje Damien Plessis Lauri Dalla Valle
Nicolas Anelka Gary McAllister Christian Ziege Nick Barmby
Stephen Wright Jari Litmanen Pegguy Arphexad Bernard Diomede
Vegard Heggem Markus Babbel Emile Heskey Abel Xavier
Vladimir Smicer Mauricio Pellegrino El-Hadji Diouf Alou Diarra
Igor Biscan Gregory Vignal Richie Partridge Paul Harrison
Jon Otsemobor Mark Smyth Antonio Nunez Milan Baros
John Welsh Josemi Fernando Morientes Zak Whitbread
Bruno Cheyrou Neil Mellor Robbie Fowler Jerzy Dudek
Daniele Padelli Craig Bellamy Mark Gonzalez
Chris Kirkland Paul Jones Gabriel Paletta Darren Potter
David Raven Djibril Cisse Bolo Zenden Stephen Warnock
Jan Kromkamp Momo Sissoko John Arne Riise Harry Kewell
Anthony Le Tallec Peter Crouch Danny Guthrie Robbie Keane
Steve Finnan      

Sunday, February 25, 2007


John McKenna: 'Joint Manager' (1892-96)

Date of Birth: 1855

Other Clubs as Manager :

Honours: 2 SECOND DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIPS 1893-94, 1895-96



McKenna, although never actually holding the post of manager, took over the mantle from the founder of the club John Houlding and his duties included many of the tasks of a manager. 'Honest' John was one of the greatest driving forces for Liverpool throughout the early years. An Irishman, Tory, Freemason and friend of John Houlding (founder) - who started off as a grocer's errand boy - he would regularly visit Anfield before the split with Everton, and became an avid supporter of the football played there.

In 1892, 'Liverpool Association' were denied entry into the Football League by the F.A. This forced McKenna to guide Liverpool through the ranks of the Lancashire Association. Needing players and needing to prove a point, he turned to Glasgow and the Irish community for his contacts. On September 1st 1892, the day Liverpool were to play their first game on their new ground, the Liverpool Echo reported that, "The old Anfield ground will be occupied by the newly organized club known as 'Liverpool Association', and claim for it that no better game be witnessed on any other plots in the neighborhood". (Everton playing their first game at Goodison park that same evening against Bolton Wanderers). McKenna could not have had a better start to his new career, beating Rotherham Town 7-1.

Due to his trips north of the border, the first team he fielded, had no Englishmen. They were known as the team of 'Mac's', McBride, McQueen, McVean etc., eight in all. Almost a century later, when Liverpool completed their first double, again no Englishmen were fielded.

At the end of the first season, McKenna, also acting as secretary to the club, had written to the F.A. without anyone's knowledge, and requested election to the Football league. This was on the understanding that at least one of two financially stricken clubs, Accrington Stanley or 'Brutal' Bootle, would be stepping out.

McKenna's vision for the club was now apparent. Their first game saw them dispose of 'Boro 2-0 away. McKenna's struggle to make Liverpool the best in the land, found the club again pushing for promotion at the end of their first season. Due to the old test match system, and no automatic promotion, Liverpool found themselves in a play-off situation with last placed Newton Heath (Manchester United), who were comfortably beaten 2-0. First division status at last.

By the time Liverpool were relegated though, in 1895, McKenna was ruling things with W.E. Barclay, who seems to have acted more as Club Secretary. As Liverpool's first Secretary/Manager, he predicted that the club would only be relegated for one year. Liverpool became renowned for this display of fighting spirit, for years to come.

As McKenna's success flourished, so did the club's. He built a new stand for the fans and was a fierce critic of the maximum wage system. The club could quite easily afford to pay their players well and/or a lucrative bonus scheme. Unfortunately, his players had to seek additional employment or quit the game altogether.

In 1913, the Arsenal Chairman accused Liverpool (and 'Honest John') of match fixing. McKenna immediately demanded an inquiry by the F.A. and was later completely exonerated with deep apologies from the Gunners.

Unfortunately for John, later that year, four players were banned from the game for life, by the F.A. for alleged match fixing with Manchester United. This hurt McKenna deeply.

At the end of the war, the four Liverpool players had their sentences generously lifted by the F.A. as reward for their years of fighting. Given McKenna's earlier distress, three of the four players, Sheldon, Purcell and Miller, did actually play for Liverpool again. Miller even got capped for Scotland and after two more seasons at Anfield, got transferred to, of all clubs, Man Utd.

In 1915, McKenna handed over the chairmanship to W.R. Williams, but remained at the helm. By this time, McKenna was a well respected figure in Football, and quite rightly so.

"Honest" John McKenna had served Liverpool Football Club for over 40 years, he died in March of 1936. Like John Houlding, his friend and business partner before him, his coffin was carried through the city by three Liverpool players and three Everton players, a commemorative plaque to him remains in the foyer in Anfield.

The commemorative scroll and casket presented to him after a record 26 years as Football League President resides in the Club Museum.

Thanks to Iain Hamilton for the bulk of this profile.

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