Managers - Tom Watson

Tom Watson
Birthdate: 8 April 1859
Birthplace: Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Date of death: 6 May 1915
Other clubs as manager: Newcastle West End, Newcastle East End, Sunderland
Arrived from: Sunderland
Signed for LFC: 25 July 1896
LFC league games as manager: 678
Total LFC games as manager: 742
Honours: League Championship 1900/01, 1905/06; Second Division 1904/05
First game in charge: 01.09.1896
Contract Expiry: Until death 06.05.1915

Manager Profile

Newcastle-born Tom Watson started his managerial career as Secretary at Newcastle's East End and West End clubs. The Newcastle Journal said "he headed a deputation which resulted in the Newcastle Freemen and the Newcastle Corporation granting permission for football to be played on the site now known as St. James’s Park, in the occupation of the Newcastle United Football Club." As later with Sunderland and Liverpool Watson went north of the border to find quality amateur players when a "£5 note and the offer of a good job in a Tyneside factory" sufficed to attract them south. When Watson was appointed as Secretary of Sunderland in 1889 he made an immediate impact. Not elected to the Football League until the year after he arrived, Sunderland won the First Division championship three times in four seasons under Watson’s guidance in 1892, 1893 and 1895 as well as reaching the FA Cup semi-final three times. More trophies would probably have followed but in the summer of 1896 Liverpool made the most successful manager in the country an offer he couldn’t refuse. His annual salary was £300, doubling what he had earned at Sunderland. John McKenna retired to the boardroom and Watson moved across the country from Wearside to Merseyside on a three-year contract.

Only 37 years old at the time of this move, Watson was still a relatively young man, certainly for a secretary. It was Watson’s job to arrange fixtures, keep records, and submit match details to local papers. At the time, there was no such thing as a football manager, but Watson went beyond the remit of club secretary, and got involved in team selection, tactics and player recruitment – becoming a manager in all but name. This was a radical change to Liverpool's set up as the Cricket and Football Field reported. "The team have never had a “boss” off the field, and there have been too many on, so that a central figure, and one that commands respect, should work wonders in this direction." Watson implemented a strict diet and new coaching regime at Anfield that had served him so well at Sunderland. The players' day started with half an hour stroll at 7.30am, breakfast at 8.30am ideally consisted of weak tea, chops, eggs, dry toast or stale bread. Butter, sugar, potatoes and milk were not held in high regard. Training was at 9.45am and again at 3.30pm. A glass of beer or claret was recommended at dinner and tobacco was to be “sparingly used". The day finished with a one hour stroll at 7.30pm.

Liverpool’s game against The Wednesday on 1 September 1896 was not only the first the team played under new management but also, as the Cricket and Football Field noted, the premiere of the club's new colours: "Liverpool’s new dress of red shirts and white knickers is striking, and a contrast to Everton’s blue shirts and white knickers." Following the 2-1 win, Liverpool failed to score in two matches in a row and a Liverpool director was strongly of the opinion that "the close passing game is almost played out, as it is so much overdone, and more goals will accrue, he thinks, if the swinging moves from wing to wing were indulged in." Whether Liverpool did overpass the ball or not the goals soon arrived and Watson delivered fifth place that was a big improvement on the previous top-flight campaign that ended in relegation. Watson was not only an accomplished manager but he liked a song as well as his players discovered on a day-out at Roscommon Music Hall in November 1896. "Tom Watson is a man of many parts, but his presence on the stage as a singer was never expected by those that know him.," the press noted.

Watson went to Scotland to look for young talent as he had done many times before with great success. Progress was almost as quick as it had been at his previous club. Two FA Cup semi-finals were reached before the turn of the century but not many supporters realise that 90 years before the crucial final League match with Arsenal in 1989 Liverpool were also involved in a “winner takes all” end to the season. Liverpool travelled to Birmingham to face Aston Villa on the last day of the season. A marginally superior goal-difference meant that a draw against their Midland rivals would be enough to secure the club’s first major title. But by the interval the Reds that had conceded only 28 goals in their previous 33 League matches that season had inexplicably let in another five and the match was over as a contest, as was Liverpool’s title dream.

Liverpool slipped to tenth the following season but recovered to mount a serious challenge for the championship in the first full season of the new century. Watson had already proved at Sunderland that he had a good eye for talented players and he continued to prove that for Liverpool. Numerous players that had a huge influence on the club’s early years … and in particular their double-title success in the first decade of the Twentieth century … were signed during Watson’s reign. Amongst them and in no particular order were Scotsman Alex Raisbeck, legendary goalkeepers Sam Hardy and Elisha Scott and prolific scorers Jack Parkinson and Sam Raybould. The 1901 championship was won by two points from, ironically enough, Watson’s former employees Sunderland and seemed to herald a new and exciting era. But rather surprisingly results took a turn for the worse and the club was relegated only three years after winning the League Championship, only to bounce back at the first time of asking and follow that with their second League title just 12 months later, the first club to achieve the ‘double’ feat of winning the Second and First Division championships in successive seasons.

In 1906 Watson suffered the disappointment for the sixth time of being the manager of a losing FA Cup semi-finalist, this time to Everton who went on to lift the trophy by beating Newcastle. League results for the next few years were rather erratic and only in 1910 when finishing runners-up to Aston Villa did Liverpool become seriously close to taking another championship. In 1914 Watson at last managed to overcome his semi-final jinx as Liverpool progressed to the cup final at Aston Villa’s expense but the big day at London’s Crystal Palace ground was to end in disappointment with a single-goal defeat to Burnley.

As World War I broke out, Tom Watson was preparing for his nineteenth season in charge at Anfield. It was to be his last. He had visited his native Newcastle for his fifty-sixth birthday on 9 April. Three weeks later he was back at work when he was seized with a severe chill. A few days later it had developed into a fatal attack of pneumonia. Tom Watson died on 6 May 1915. Watson had been a popular and successful manager and that was reflected in the turn-out for his funeral, where many of the players he signed acted as pall-bearers on his final journey. Alex Raisbeck, Ned Doig, Arthur Goddard, Charlie Wilson, Maurice Parry, George Fleming and Robbie Robinson as well as the club trainer William Connell carried his coffin. Watson is buried at Anfield Cemetery.

Few men take two different clubs to the biggest domestic prize, even in the sport’s early days. Even fewer win that championship as many as five times during their managerial lives. Tom Watson did and he was also the man responsible for Liverpool making the big breakthrough by taking them to their first two League titles in 1901 and 1906.

Competition Total Won Draw Lost Goals for Goals against
Grand totals 742 329 141 272 1226 1056
League 678 297 128 253 1123 980
FA Cup 63 31 13 19 98 75
League Cup 0 0 0 0 0 0
Europe 0 0 0 0 0 0
Other 1 1 0 0 5 1
Matches that are won or lost in a penalty shoot-out are counted as a win/loss not as a draw.
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Players bought
Player Club Fee Date
Alex Latta Everton £35 September 1896
Andrew McCowie Cambuslang Hibs Free 26 October 1896
Bobby Marshall Leith Athletic Unknown 1 May 1897
Daniel Cunliffe Oldham County Unknown 1 May 1897
William Walker Leith Athletic Free 2 May 1897
Patrick Finnerhan Manchester City £150 5 May 1897
Joe Lumsden Burton Wanderers Unknown 11 June 1897
Bobby Colvin Oldham County Unknown 5 November 1897
Bill Goldie Clyde Unknown 25 November 1897
General Stevenson Padiham Unknown 7 December 1897
Charlie Wilson Stockport County Unknown 15 December 1897
Abraham Hartley Everton £175 18 December 1897
Jack Cox Blackpool £150 24 December 1897
Hugh Morgan St. Mirren £200 26 March 1898
Barney Battles Dundee £20 28 March 1898
Tommy Robertson Hearts £175 * 30 March 1898
Johnny Walker Hearts £175 * 30 March 1898
Rab Howell Sheffield United £200 6 April 1898
George Allan Celtic £50 20 April 1898
Alex Raisbeck Hibernian £350 30 April 1898
Bill Perkins Luton Town £200 25 March 1899
Abraham Foxall Gainsborough Trinity £100 27 April 1899
Peter Kyle Clyde £100 1 May 1899
David Wilson East Bontas Unknown 7 May 1899
John Hunter Abercorn Unknown 12 May 1899
John Parkinson Blackpool Unknown September 1899
Thomas John Hunter Beith Unknown 10 October 1899
Charlie Satterthwaite Moss Bay Free 8 December 1899
Sam Raybould New Brighton Tower £250 4 January 1900
Tom Robertson Stoke City £400 25 April 1900
Andy McGuigan Hibernian Unknown May 1900
John Glover Blackburn Rovers £350 * 9 May 1900
Maurice Parry Brighton United Free 13 August 1900
Bill White QPR Unknown 1901
George Bowen Wolves £215 * May 1901
George Fleming Wolves £215 * 2 May 1901
Don McCallum Queen's Park Unknown 20 June 1901
Thomas Green New Brighton Free 4 September 1901
George Latham Free Transfer Free 1902
Arthur Goddard Glossop £460 24 February 1902
Richard Morris Druids Unknown 24 March 1902
Peter Platt Blackburn Rovers Unknown 1 May 1902
Edgar Chadwick Free Transfer Free 8 May 1902
George Livingstone Celtic £600 28 May 1902
John Carlin Barnsley Unknown 3 December 1902
John Chadburn WBA Unknown 11 May 1903
Fred Buck WBA Unknown 11 May 1903
Herbert Craik Morton Player Exchange * 15 May 1903
John McLean Vale of Leven Unknown 21 May 1903
Joseph Hoare Southampton £75 May 1903
Alf West Barnsley £500 4 November 1903
Charles Cotton West Ham United Unknown 4 December 1903
Joe Hewitt Sunderland £150 9 February 1904
Bobby Robinson Sunderland £500 11 February 1904
James Garside Accrington Stanley Unknown 10 March 1904
Tom Chorlton Accrington Stanley Unknown 15 May 1904
Ned Doig Sunderland £220 5 July 1904
David Murray Everton Free 29 August 1904
Sam Hardy Chesterfield £340 19 May 1905
James Bradley Stoke City Unknown 15 September 1905
Bob Blanthorne Birkenhead Unknown 2 November 1905
James Gorman Darlington St Augustine's Unknown March 1906
Percy Saul Plymouth Argyle Unknown 30 April 1906
John Lipsham Chester City Unknown 9 May 1906
Bill McPherson St. Mirren Unknown 1 August 1906
John McKenna Old Xaverians Unknown December 1906
Harold Fitzpatrick Luton Town Unknown 1907
Sam Bowyer Earlestown £95 2 March 1907
Tom Rogers Rossendale Unknown April 1907
Charles Hewitt Free Transfer Free August 1907
Michael Griffin Darlington St Augustine's £0 September 1907
Ernest Peake Aberystwyth Town Unknown 1908
Jimmy Harrop Rotherham United £250 10 January 1908
Ronald Orr Newcastle United £350 1 April 1908
Don Sloan Everton £300 2 May 1908
Bertram Goode Chester City Unknown 9 May 1908
Messina Allman Stoke City Unknown 6 July 1908
Bill Hunter Airdrieonians Unknown December 1908
Augustus Beeby Osmaston Unknown 14 December 1908
Robert Crawford Arthurlie £0 20 January 1909
James Speakman Prescot Fireworks Unknown February 1909
Jimmy Stewart Motherwell Unknown April 1909
John McConnell Airdrieonians £80 14 April 1909
John McDonald Rangers Unknown 8 May 1909
James Scott Ardeer Thistle Unknown 1910
Donald Mackinlay Newton Villa Unknown 25 January 1910
Sam Gilligan Bristol City Unknown 30 April 1910
Alf West Reading Unknown 4 May 1910
Ephraim Longworth Leyton Unknown 10 May 1910
Herbert Leavey Plymouth Argyle Unknown June 1910
Joseph Brough Port Vale Unknown August 1910
William Stuart Bolton Wanderers Free 1 September 1910
Ralph Holden St Helens Recreationals Unknown 1 December 1910
John Bovill Chesterfield Unknown April 1911
Harry Lowe Gainsborough Trinity Unknown 3 May 1911
Ken Campbell Cambuslang Rangers £10 9 May 1911
Bob Pursell Queen's Park £360 29 August 1911
Tom Miller Hamilton Academical £400 15 February 1912
Tom Gracie Everton £150 * 22 February 1912
Bill Lacey Everton £150 * 27 February 1912
Walter Wadsworth Ormskirk Unknown April 1912
Bob Ferguson Third Lanark Unknown 13 May 1912
Arthur Metcalf Newcastle United £150 24 May 1912
John Tosswill QPR Unknown June 1912
Arthur Berry Free Transfer Unknown 18 June 1912
Frank Grayer Southampton £100 16 July 1912
Elisha Scott Free Transfer Free 3 September 1912
Sam Speakman Colne Unknown 4 September 1912
Jimmy Dawson Leith Athletic Unknown 17 December 1912
Tom Fairfoul Third Lanark Unknown 8 May 1913
Fred Staniforth Grimsby Town Unknown 28 May 1913
Bob McDougall Dunfermilne Unknown 1 November 1913
Jackie Sheldon Manchester United £300 26 November 1913
Jimmy Nicholl Middlesbrough Unknown 22 January 1914
Charlie Hafekost Gillingham Unknown May 1914
Phil Bratley Barnsley Unknown May 1914
Wilf Bartrop Barnsley Unknown 13 May 1914
Fred Pagnam Blackpool £75 21 May 1914
Players sold
Player Club Fee Date
Bill Keech Barnsley Unknown 1897
Malcolm McVean Burnley £65 * 23 March 1897
Jimmy Ross Burnley £65 * 23 March 1897
Robert Neill Rangers Unknown April 1897
Willie Michael Hearts Unknown 1 May 1897
George Allan Celtic £50 1 May 1897
David Hannah Dundee Free 11 May 1897
John McLean Grimsby Town Unknown June 1897
Ben Bull Reading Unknown July 1897
Bobby Colvin Glossop North End Unknown 1898
John Holmes Burton Swifts Unknown 1898
Patrick Finnerhan Bristol City Unknown May 1898
Joe Lumsden Glossop North End Unknown 4 May 1898
Harry Bradshaw Tottenham Unknown 6 May 1898
Willie Donnelly Clyde Unknown 22 June 1898
Daniel Cunliffe New Brighton Tower £30 August 1898
John McCartney New Brighton Tower £50 August 1898
William Walker Leith Athletic Free 25 August 1898
Joe McQue Falkirk Unknown September 1898
Barney Battles Celtic Unknown 3 October 1898
Frank Becton Sheffield United £200 7 October 1898
Matt McQueen Hearts Unknown 1899
Bobby Marshall Portsmouth Unknown 1899
Tom Wilkie Portsmouth Unknown 1899
Andrew McCowie Arsenal Unknown 1 May 1899
Abraham Hartley Arsenal Unknown * 16 July 1899
Tom Cleghorn Portsmouth Unknown August 1899
Abraham Foxall QPR Unknown May 1900
Archie Goldie New Brighton Tower Unknown May 1900
John Parkinson Blackpool Unknown May 1900
Peter Kyle Leicester City Unknown 9 May 1900
Hugh Morgan Blackburn Rovers Unknown June 1900
General Stevenson Barnsley Unknown 30 June 1900
David Wilson Airdrieonians Unknown 20 July 1900
Rab Howell Preston North End Unknown June 1901
Charlie Satterthwaite New Brompton Unknown 1902
Johnny Walker Rangers Unknown May 1902
Tom Robertson Southampton Unknown May 1902
Tommy Robertson Hearts £150 * 14 May 1902
John Hunter Hearts £150 * 14 May 1902
Bill White Dundee Unknown 9 July 1902
George Bowen Wolves Unknown 17 September 1902
Andy McGuigan Middlesbrough £200 2 December 1902
Bill Perkins Northampton Town Unknown 1903
Thomas Green Swindon Town Unknown 1903
George Livingstone Manchester City Unknown 6 May 1903
Don McCallum Morton Player Exchange * 22 May 1903
John Davies Blackpool Unknown July 1903
Herbert Craik Hearts Unknown 1904
Charles Cotton West Ham United Unknown 1904
Bill Goldie Fulham Unknown January 1904
Peter Platt Luton Town Unknown 1904
John Glover Birmingham City £250 12 January 1904
John McLean Motherwell Unknown 6 March 1904
John Chadburn Plymouth Argyle Unknown 14 March 1904
Fred Buck Plymouth Argyle Unknown 16 March 1904
Sydney Smith Southport Unknown April 1904
Joseph Hoare Southampton Unknown 1 May 1904
Edgar Chadwick Blackpool Unknown 20 May 1904
Richard Morris Leeds City Unknown 9 May 1905
David Murray Leeds City £130 7 December 1905
James Garside Accrington Stanley Unknown 3 May 1906
John Lipsham Chester City Unknown 1907
Sam Raybould Sunderland Unknown 10 May 1907
John Carlin Preston North End Unknown 18 May 1907
Bob Blanthorne Grimsby Town £0 26 October 1907
Charles Hewitt WBA Unknown 24 April 1908
Ned Doig St Helens Recreationals Free May 1908
Harold Fitzpatrick Chesterfield Unknown 6 May 1908
James Gorman Leicester City Unknown 6 May 1908
Bill McPherson Rangers Unknown 22 May 1908
Harry Griffiths Chesterfield Unknown 5 June 1908
Messina Allman Wrexham Unknown 6 July 1908
James Hughes Crystal Palace Unknown 1909
Bill Hunter Sunderland Unknown May 1909
Michael Griffin Crystal Palace Unknown May 1909
Jack Cox Blackpool Unknown May 1909
Maurice Parry Partick Thistle Unknown 17 May 1909
Alf West Reading Unknown 3 June 1909
Alex Raisbeck Partick Thistle £500 11 June 1909
Don Sloan Distillery Unknown July 1909
Percy Saul Coventry City Unknown 10 July 1909
Arthur Berry Fulham Unknown September 1909
Bertram Goode Wrexham Unknown 22 June 1910
Joe Hewitt Bolton Wanderers Unknown 11 July 1910
Augustus Beeby Manchester City Unknown 12 May 1911
James Bradley Reading Unknown 13 June 1911
Alf West Notts County Unknown 13 July 1911
Herbert Leavey Barnsley Unknown 30 August 1911
Joseph Brough Stoke City Unknown January 1912
Ronald Orr Raith Rovers Unknown January 1912
Sam Bowyer Bristol City Unknown 15 February 1912
Harold Uren Everton £0 * 27 February 1912
John McDonald Newcastle United £900 11 May 1912
John McConnell Aberdeen £50 28 May 1912
Jimmy Harrop Aston Villa £600 12 June 1912
Sam Hardy Aston Villa £1,500 13 June 1912
Tom Chorlton Manchester United £150 31 August 1912
Bobby Robinson Tranmere Rovers Unknown May 1913
Hugh Lester Oldham Athletic Unknown 21 May 1913
Sam Gilligan Gillingham Free 16 July 1913
James Speakman South Liverpool Unknown 1 August 1913
John Tosswill Southend Unknown 20 August 1913
John Bovill Linfield Unknown 1914
Jimmy Stewart Hamilton Academical Unknown 29 January 1914
Ernest Peake Third Lanark Free 1 May 1914
Arthur Goddard Cardiff City £0 May 1914
Tom Gracie Hearts £400 13 May 1914
Ralph Holden Tranmere Rovers Unknown June 1914
Jack Parkinson Bury Free 21 August 1914
A memoir 7 May 1915
A memoir 7 May 1915
Remarkable speech by Tom Watson - The Weekly News 11 June 1921
Remarkable speech by Tom Watson - The Weekly News 11 June 1921