WE Barclay / John McKenna
Birthplace: Liverpool, England
Other clubs as manager: Everton (date of birth and place info for Barclay)
Signed for LFC: 15 March 1892
First game in charge: 03.09.1892
Contract Expiry: August 1895
LFC league games as manager: 58
Total LFC games as manager: 91
Honours: Lancashire League 1892/93; Second Division 1893/94
John McKenna joined the board when John Houlding formed Liverpool Football Club. He didn’t have the title of Secretary, that was essentially the team manager at the time, as that was taken by former vice chairman of Everton, William Barclay, but as the first eleven were chosen by the board McKenna had more influence over who played than the secretary. Liverpool’s application to join the Football League in their first season was rejected. Field Sports claimed someone at Liverpool had made an administrative blunder, only applying for the First Division, but in case they were not elected did not make themselves eligible for the Second Division. Most likely this was a mistake on Barclay’s behalf as his job entailed taking care of such documentation.
Barclay was so described at the time: “A great enthusiast in football management. Is a most successful organiser, a fine judge of the great game, and knows everybody in the football world. Few men have travelled so much to football matches as he. One of Mr John Houlding’s staunchest supporters. He is the successful Head Master of the Industrial Schools, Everton Crescent, and is, further, widely known and everywhere esteemed. An able man all-round.” Barclay was responsible for all kinds of paperwork relating to the running of the team; signing contracts and keeping deadlines. When John Houlding gave his board £500 to bring in new players Barclay went on a number of scouting missions to Scotland.
In Liverpool's inaugural season the club competed in the Lancashire League, winning that championship following a tight contest with Blackpool. McKenna was pulling the strings, even though he was just a regular board member. He was a man of great influence and the club’s outward face. Barclay apparently knew nothing of the club’s successful application for membership of the Second Division in 1893 until he received a telegram instructing him to travel to London to arrange the fixtures for Liverpool’s debut season as a member of the league. McKenna, not Barclay, went to the capital as Liverpool’s representative. That single incident indicates how much more involved McKenna was really with policy and key decisions. Or maybe he was just making sure Barclay wouldn't make the same mistake twice.
Liverpool joined the Second Division of the Football League in 1893 following the demise of their then more well-known neighbours Bootle. The aspiring club was also victorious in the Second Division, but finished bottom of the First Division in the 1894/95 season. Barclay quit as secretary, whether that was due to reasons other than the team’s capitulation is difficult to establish. Liverpool remained essentially without a Secretary as such for the following season, but McKenna continued as before with the able help of other board members, winning the Second Division for a second time.