Everton Football Club and Liverpool Hope University have revealed the two scholars that will undertake funded research into the history of Everton Football Club and its award-winning charity Everton in the Community.
Jake Lawton will take up an MRes in The History of Everton FC, the People’s Club, with a study examining Everton’s early pioneering of international football tours and their wider social impact, while Emily Liles’s MRes in The History of Everton in the Community: Football at the Service of Humanity will focus on the charity’s mental health provision across different age groups alongside its work to tackle homelessness and food poverty over the last 32 years.
Jake Lawton’s research into the Club’s history of overseas tours is particularly timely - just last week Everton announced it had signed a new partnership with four-times champions of Chile Everton de Vina del Mar, who took the name Everton after the Blues toured South America in 1909.
Both researchers were chosen after a competitive selection process that attracted more than 130 applicants from around the world and included input from the Everton Heritage Society.
As well as producing a high-quality dissertation of around 30,000 words, Jake and Emily will also have the unique opportunity to write a 6,000-word chapter to be published in a new book exploring Everton’s social history and its impact on the wider community.
Jake graduated from the University of Edinburgh this year with a first-class History degree and a dissertation that focused on the significance of football for prisoners of war. During his third year of undergraduate study, he also examined how interest in professional football had spread across the globe and discovered how Everton had been one of the early pioneers of foreign footballing tours, undertaking their first international tour in 1905.
Jake, 23, from County Durham, said: “The more I delved into the subject, the more I realised there was an absence of material on the tours’ wider significance. What was the purpose of the trips? Was it a team-building experience, was it to raise social awareness or increase the profile of the Club, or all of these? Why were Everton at the forefront of this drive as opposed to other English clubs, and who in the club’s structure initiated these trips?”
Jake says there’s some evidence that one particular tour of South America undertaken by Everton in 1909 was used as a means to challenge prejudice and adds, “It’s amazing to see an Everton director, a Mr E.A.Bainbridge, articulating these thoughts at a time you might not necessarily expect that to happen. It’s just one fascinating insight into the club’s rich history and I can’t wait to uncover more.”
Jake has also been involved with the Holocaust Educational Trust since 2013, which aims to educate young people about antisemitism. Jake says that it is through his work with the charity, particularly during a recent visit to Jerusalem, that he has also come to fully appreciate how football powerfully connects lives and transcends cultural boundaries.
Emily Liles has a first-class degree in Sports Journalism from Staffordshire University and is a Communications Manager at Rugby Football Union. The 27-year-old has previously worked in the media and communications teams at Aston Villa Football Club and The Football Association, and with the Everton Women’s team, but says it was an opportunity to witness the work of Everton in the Community while on a work placement with Everton during her degree that made a deep impression on her and that inspired her research.
Emily, originally from Dudley, West Midlands, said: “I remember sitting in on an Everton in the Community ‘Pass on the Memories’ session at Goodison Park, a gathering for dementia patients and their families. A different Everton player from every decade since the 1950s, including the late Tony McNamara, Graeme Sharp and then first-team player Steven Naismith, stood at the front and told stories for the participants, in the hope that it might jog the memory of an older patient to the point where they’d say, ‘Hey, I remember that..’. The impact on the guests was phenomenal. I know a lot of clubs provide community care, but something like that goes above and beyond football. After that, I always had a real interest in what football clubs do within their foundation provision.”
Emily added: “When it comes to community engagement in football, everyone looks to Everton as the leaders. No matter how busy it gets on the football or commercial side of things, community engagement should still be at the forefront of everything a club does. And that’s what Everton in the Community is all about.”
Everton Chief Executive Officer Professor Denise Barrett-Baxendale is currently Liverpool Hope University’s Visiting Professor in Sport at the Service of Humanity.
Her inaugural lecture in 2018 was titled ‘Modern Day Football Social Schemes: Sport at the Service of Humanity or Superficial Social Alibi?’ and explored the impact that social programmes provided by football can have on modern society.
Professor Denise Barrett-Baxendale said: “Both Emily and Jake submitted research proposals that not only embrace the social impact of Everton and Everton in the Community across our illustrious history, but that also have resonance with the work that we are doing now – from strengthening our international links with one of the first clubs in South America to take our name, Everton de Vina Del Mar – to our charity’s plans for The People’s Place, a new mental health facility close to Goodison Park.
“It is by investigating the untold stories of our history that we can gain brand-new perspectives on where we are now. We are extremely proud to be helping two scholars take the first steps in their research careers. We look forward to working with Jake and Emily and learning more about what they will discover.”
The scholarships, which form part of Liverpool Hope University’s long-standing partnership with Everton Football Club, established in 2016, will be overseen by Associate Professor Bryce Evans, a specialist in modern history based in the History and Politics department.
Associate Professor Bryce Evans said: “These scholarships are unique and exciting; they underline the fact that football is integral to British social history.
“And after an extremely competitive selection process, we feel Emily and Jake have an abundance of the attributes needed to make this role their own.”
The recipients will undertake one taught methodologies module as part of the Liverpool Hope History Masters programme, with the emphasis of the course on research and writing.
The scholarship will run from the commencement of MRes studies in October 2020 to September 2021. Each scholarship covers course fees amounting to £5,200, plus reasonable research expenses.