Everton will play a historic match this evening at Goodison Road when they compete in a friendly match against a very familiar, and in many ways, unfamiliar opponent. They will be playing against a club called Everton. Everton de Viña del Mar, to be exact, from Chile.
There are a few soccer clubs in South America who have been named after English clubs, but this is the first time any of them have faced each other. According to David France, a person who is synonymous with the history of Everton Football Club, the CD Everton story is fascinating. “The Chilean club adopted our name after our successful tour of South America in 1909. It was the first visit to that continent by a Football League side. I became aware of the initiative through the extremely rare items I picked up while collecting. As you may know, CD Everton are based in the city of Vina del Mar in Chile and was formed in 1909, reputedly by visiting English sailors from Liverpool. Fittingly, they were Chilean champions in 2009.”
According to the Everton FC website, “It was in 1909 that Everton and Tottenham Hotspur were invited to South America to play a series of exhibition games against each other and against the strongest teams Argentina and Uruguay could muster. The trip for the two English clubs involved a three-week voyage each way, with stops on the way that included Lisbon, Madeira and Rio de Janeiro. Obviously, it was a marvellous experience for the players who included England’s centre forward, Bert Freeman of Everton. He was the star of the tournament, helping the Blues’ score 14 goals in five games that included wins over the Argentinean League XI, the Uruguyan League XI and Spurs. A few weeks later, after news of the games had spread, a group of Anglo-Chilean teenagers met in the port of Valparaiso and formed a football club which they named Everton.”
“Over the years,” France continued, “The fans of both clubs have forged a very special friendship. A refreshing part of the modern game. The imminent fixture came about after a half dozen members of the Everton Shareholders’ Association visited Chile to extend the hand of friendship. Through their diligent efforts and no little lobbying our club agreed to the pre-season fixture. It is a unique celebration of international football. It should be a fascinating encounter. And I’m sure that your audience would like to learn more about this special relationship and the game.”
France added that Everton de Viña del Mar may bring as many as 500 supporters with them from Chile for this historic match. Tonight’s game is the only home pre-season match scheduled for the Toffees before their season kicks off in 10 days.
In today’s age of focusing on trying to make as much money as possible for football clubs, it’s heartening to see a club such as Everton deciding a play a match of such historic importance instead of competing in a glamor tie against a club that would sell more seats. It’s a perfect example to show that there a soul still remains in English football no matter if it’s hard to find sometimes.