Edgar Chadwick was one of Everton’s first giants. An inside forward of pace, skill and fine finishing, he illuminated Anfield and Goodison during the club’s first decade of league football. During that time he made 300 appearances for the Blues, winning the League Championship, seven England caps and appearing in two FA Cup Finals. The impression he left was lasting. ‘Edgar Chadwick is still recalled with pride and affection by the older generation of soccer followers in this city,’ said a 1930s article. ‘Never ruffled, never in a hurry, Chadwick almost invariably managed to “get there” thanks to his powers of body swerve, plus an ability to send opponents the wrong way looking for the ball.’
Born in Blackburn in 1869, as a teenager he played for his home-town clubs Blackburn Olympic and Rovers while working as a baker. But with the onset of league football in 1888 he was lured away from Everton’s fellow founder league members and to Anfield, where he was paid wages of 35 shillings per week. In a side that struggled to find its way in the Football League’s first season he was one constant, an ever-present whose six goals made him Everton’s top goalscorer.
A SLIGHT PLAYER, standing just 5ft 5in tall, some accounts say that it was suggested he was too frail for the rigours of league football. Chadwick was to prove any doubters wrong and was ever-present through Everton’s first three league campaigns, missing just one game in their fourth. He was, recorded David Prentice and David France in Virgin Blues, an account of Everton’s first season of league football, ‘an exciting forward famed for his blistering pace and keen eye for an opening’. He was, added a contemporary account, ‘the foremost with the tricky bite of play’.
Chadwick would form a formidable left-wing partnership with Alf Milward. As Everton found their way in the brave new world of league football they were the cornerstones of a formidable attack and in 1890/91 – the season Everton first lifted the League Championship – they combined to score 22 goals between them, with the centre forward, Fred Geary, adding another 20.
Everton’s outstanding forward line was one of the distinguishing features of early league football. An account in the Liverpool Mercury of a 7-1 hammering of champions Sunderland in September 1893 is instructive of how potent they were. Playing in front of Ebenezer Cobb Morely – the Football Association’s founding father – and several members of Liverpool City Council, with their play ‘of the most spirited kind’ Everton ‘looked likely to again lower the visitors’ colours every minute’. Chadwick set up Jack Southworth for a goal, finished an Alex Latta centre himself, struck a second goal from long range and forced Gibson into scoring an own goal (which appears to have been credited to him – thus giving him a hat-trick). He was, mused the Mercury later that season, a player with a ‘profundity’ of skill.
CHADWICK earned the first of seven England caps against Wales in 1891. It was an international career that saw him score three times for his national team, most memorably after just 30 seconds against Scotland in England’s 4-1 victory in Glasgow in 1892. For Everton, further honours after the 1890/91 League Championship were elusive. He appeared on the losing sides in the 1893 and 1897 FA Cup Finals, and would do so again as a Southampton player in 1902.
The move to Southampton came after a spell with Burnley in 1899/1900 after he had been transfer-listed at the end of the 1898/99 season. The decision was a surprising one, but his replacement – Jimmy Settle – was worthy. He then made the move that several of his League Championship winning team-mates had made by joining John Houding’s Liverpool. He played out his career with Blackpool, Glossop North End and Darwen.
In retirement his career took a remarkable twist when he went to coach in the Netherlands. As well as spells in charge of HVV Den Haag and Koninklijke HFC, Chadwick was appointed the first manager of the Dutch national team and led them to the 1908 and 1912 Olympics, where they won bronze medals in both football tournaments. In March 1913 he led the Dutch team to a 2-1 victory over the England amateur team, a stupendous result that hinted at the shifting sands in European football. Chadwick went on to manage Vitesse Arnhem and Sparta Rotterdam, leading the latter to the Dutch League Championship in 1915.
Chadwick’s career came to an abrupt halt after the First World War. He had been involved in football for more than 30 years but after returning to his home town of Blackburn he resumed his original vocation – as a baker. It was a mundane end to a career less ordinary.