Call for info on Worksop goalkeeper who helped Everton win title

An appeal has gone out in a bid to trace Worksop-based relatives of former Everton Football Club goalkeeper Tom Fern.

Thursday, 15th April 2021, 11:41 am
Goalkeeper Tom Fern, who grew up in Worksop and went on to help Everton win the Football League title in 1915.

Fern made 231 appearances for Everton between 1913 and 1924, keeping 67 clean sheets, and helped the Toffees become Football League champions in the 1914/15 season.

Research into the club’s goalies is being carried out by Rob Sawyer, of the Everton FC Heritage Society, who is keen to get his hands on any photos or information.

Rob said: “Although he was born in Leicestershire, Tom was raised and worked in Worksop. He was one of nine children

Tom Fern, pictured in Everton's title-winning team of 1915.

"After retiring from football, he stayed on Merseyside, running several pubs in the area, and he died in March, 1966, aged 79.

"His grand-daughter, Val, has already helped me, but I’d be interested to establish contact with relatives in the Worksop area.”

Fern, whose father was chairman of the local council at one time, played in goal for Worksop Town in the Midland League.

He had a job as a colliery shunter at the pit-head, and married local girl Annie Chamberlain in 1910. They had twin sons, Tommy and Joseph although, sadly, the latter died in his infancy.

Tom Fern, one of Everton's greatest goalkeepers.

Fern signed for Lincoln when they were struggling in the Second Division, which was then the lowest tier of the Football League, and made a big impression.

In a match against Leeds City, a reporter praised “the greatest display of goalkeeping I have ever seen”. Also watching was an Everton director, because he had saved two penalties in an earlier game against the Toffees’ reserves, and Fern was snapped up by the club for a fee of £1,500.

He made his debut in December, 2013 and was quickly lauded as one of the best ‘keepers to grace Goodison Park.

Stocky but mobile, he was noted for his large hands and considered to be a terrific shot-stopper, not intimidated by physical forwards.

Tom Fern punching the ball clear for Everton in a match against Chelsea.

A journalist wrote: “Fern stands 5’10” and weighs more than 13st. But despite his bulk, he is extremely active. Men of his calibre are not common objects of the roadside.”

Fern missed only two matches as Everton were crowned champions, and his absence with a finger injury from an FA Cup semi-final defeat is said to have cost the Toffees the double.

A shadow was cast over such a memorable season because of the advent of the First World War and Fern himself enlisted in December, 1915, doing military service on the home front and earning a Silver War Badge when honourably discharged because of injuries.

When peacetime football resumed in 1919, Fern, now 33, again lived up to his nickname of ‘Evergreen’, and starred even though Everton had declined into a mid-table side.

Once more, he saved two penalties in one match, and he was a near ever-present until his final appearance on New Year’s Day, 1924. He went on to join Port Vale and ended his career at Colwyn Bay United

Fern was also keen on cricket, playing as an all-rounder for Worksop in his younger days, and bowls.

After retiring from football, he became a barman at a pub close to Goodison Park and graduated to landlord of boozers in the Liverpool area, including Aintree.

If you have any more information on Tom Fern, call Rob Sawyer on 07779 483713.