The Life and Times of an Everton Goalkeeper

Although he will never be an Everton legend, the life story of Archibald Pinnell is as rich and as varied as any other player who has represented this extraordinary football team .

Tony Onslow 28/10/2013 4comments  |  Jump to last

Although he will never be an Everton legend the life story of Archibald Pinnell is as rich and as varied as any other player who has represented this extraordinary football team from the northwest of England. He spent only two seasons with the Merseyside club but his record, for the sake of its content, should really be better recorded in the annals of Evertons history.

The official club records claim he was born in Liverpool but Archie was, in fact, born in the Ayrshire coastal town of Stevenson where his father worked as a coalminer. The year was 1870. The 1891 census then reveals that the Pinnell family had moved to the north Lanarkshire town of Blantyre where Archie was reported to living, with his parents and three brothers, at 7 Bairds Row and he was working, along with his father and elder brother, at a local colliery that was owned by William Baird. It was around this time that Archie was spotted, by an Everton scout, while playing junior football with Blantyre Victoria and it was from this club that he was offered the opportunity to join Everton in September 1891. He accepted the proposal and began a great odyssey that was, eventually, to bring him back in his native Scotland.

Archie Pinnell made his debut for Everton Football Club on 25 October 1891, in a specially arranged reserve team fixture against Accrington that was played at Anfield. He played at centre forward and helped the side to a 2-0 victory. He then settled in the club's Reserves side in the Combination, where he played out the rest of the season. These were however, troubled times at Everton where a group of directors, who were in dispute with the club's president, decided to leave Anfield and set up home at Goodison Park. Archie elected to join them on their exodus across Stanley Park.

There had been, since his arrival in England, an improvement in his play and this resulted in Archie making his first team debut on 17 September 1892, against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park. He played as goalkeeper and game ended in 2-2 draw. Archie kept his place in the first eleven and made his home debut, next Saturday, in a 6-0 victory against Newton Heath on a Goodison Park ground that was still taking shape. It had been a heavy defeat for the Manchester club but they had a chance to gain their revenge when the two sides met again, in a Football League match three days later. Archie was again selected to play in goal.

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The Newton Heath club played their home games on North Road close to the large Lancashire & Yorkshire railway depot from which they derived their name. It was dull and overcast day when Archie took up his place in the Everton goal in front of a crowd of 3,000 people. The home side then took an early but Fred Geary equalised for Everton. The match had been in progress for 75 minutes when the referee, a Mr Fitzroy-Norris, claimed it had become too dark for him distinguish the aspects of play and promptly abandoned the game leaving everybody, quite literally, very much in the dark. (The match was later replayed and Everton won 4-3.) Archie then took his place back in the Combination side before returning to make his third, and final, appearance for the Everton first eleven on 8 October 1893.

Rain was falling in torrents when he took up his place beneath the Everton crossbar to face the Football League Champions, Sunderland. The Wearsiders had earned themselves the title of team of all talents and would again, at the end of the season, retain their title. The large Goodison Road side had yet to be developed but the other three sides of the ground were now covered, enabling a capacity crowd, around 20,000 in number, to pay record gate receipts to watch the match. The visitors then commenced to give Archie a torrid time in the Everton goal and he was beaten on four occasions as the visitors won the game by 4 goals to 1. He was dropped after the game but still enjoyed the rest of the season by playing in an Everton second eleven who were scoring goals for fun. They won the Combination, having scored 102 goals in 22 matches, with several weeks to spare. Nevertheless, Archie left Everton, at the end of the season, and joined Preston North End.

The Scotsman spent one season at Deepdale, playing just one game, before accepting an offer to play Lancashire League football with Chorley. During the four seasons he spent there an iconic picture was taken, depicting the Victorian footballer, of him, sitting in the goalmouth on the club's home at Dole Lane. (This may be seen on Wikipedia.) Archie later played 5 league games for Burnley before joining the great trek south to sign for Southern League side New Brompton, where he made just two appearances.

Archie Pinnell then joined the Scots Guards where he lists his brother William as being his next of kin. He then fought, with his regiment, in the Boar War before suddenly reappearing, in 1903, playing football for a Devonshire amateur side with the name of Oreston Rovers. Archie was then approached by the former Everton player/secretery, Frank Bretell, to join him at Southern League side Plymouth Argyle where he had just been appointed to the role of manager. He first kept goal for Plymouth on 25 December 1903 against Reading and played his final game on 29 February1904 against Tottenham Hotspur before ending his playing days back with Oreston Rovers.

He later returned to Blantyre where he took up his old job as a coalminer. On 15 July 1915, Archie, now 39 years old, married a widow lady named Angus Reynolds in Glasgow. The marriage certifcate reveals that Angus is a Hospital Nurse and that she has a home in Blantyre. Archie then celbrated the occasion by rejoining the Scots Guards for his army record tells us he was placed in charge of a Chinnese Labour Corp in France.

He survived World War One and returned to Blantyre where he ended his working life as a coalminer. This former Everton goalkeeper, having survived his wife, died at a nursing home in the Scottish town of Hamilton. He was 78 years old.

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Reader Comments (4)

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Mike Gaynes
1 Posted 28/10/2013 at 23:45:26
Tony, I think the most fascinating story of all would be about how you find this information. Where in the world would you have located a description of an 1892 referee's decision to abandon a game in the dark?

I'd be very interested to know how these long-ago players come to your attention, and how you are able to research them in such detail.

Eugene Ruane
2 Posted 29/10/2013 at 17:31:38
Again, great stuff Tony.

By the way for anyone thinking 'Chinese in the first world war?'

Trevor Lynes
3 Posted 29/10/2013 at 19:52:58
Hey Tony, do you remember a pretty mediocre forward we had in the '50s named Oscar Hold?
Tony Onslow
4 Posted 31/10/2013 at 16:09:00
Trevor, I was only a child when Hold last played for Everton but I can just about remember him because it was the year we were relegated to Division Two. Mind you it was not all his fault but, I think, he joined QPR next season.
Oscar, was born in the Rhubarb Triangle of West Yorkshire and began his playing career, while in the army? at Aldershot. He joined Everton from Nottingham County. He later became a well respected coach and worked in Cyprus and Turkey, before returning tom England.

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