Managers - John McKenna

John McKenna
Birthdate: 3 January 1855
Birthplace: Drumcaw, County Monaghan, Ireland
Date of death: 22 March 1936
Signed for LFC: 1 August 1895
LFC league games as manager: 30
Total LFC games as manager: 36
Honours: Second Division 1895/96
First game in charge: 07.09.1895
Contract Expiry: 27.07.1896

Manager Profile

John McKenna always seemed to be looking ahead and one of his wisest moves was to recruit Tom Watson from Sunderland in 1896; an experienced team manager who had already taken Sunderland to the Football League championship on three occasions in the 1890s. McKenna had been successful in conjunction with Barclay, who was Secretary until the 1895/96 season when the Irishman took over, guiding the team to the Second Division title. It was time to get a proper Secretary, who would have more influence on team matters than previously. McKenna had two spells as Liverpool chairman; 1909-1914 and 1917-1919. He stayed on as director until July 1921 when he resigned from the directorship as a protest against the shareholders’ meeting refusing to re-elect two directors, Matt McQueen and John Keating. So it was an unhappy end for McKenna at the club that he had been involved with for nearly 30 years.

McKenna was without doubt one of the great early administrators of the English game, a man who was widely admired, respected and occasionally feared. He was elected to the Football League’s management committee in 1902, became vice-president in 1908 and then president two years later, a position he was to hold for over two decades until his death. In addition to that he had been vice-president of the Football Association since 1928. McKenna passed away on 22 March 1936 at Walton hospital in Liverpool at 82 years of age. He left behind an estate valued at £11,182 and stated in his will that The West Lancashire Alpass Benevolent Institution were paid £1,000 to be used to fund the "John McKenna Annuity".

Everton's Chairman, William Charles Cuff, paid him the following compliment: “I feel I have lost a lifelong friend. We travelled together on football business many times, and I am not looking forward to taking those journeys alone. Mr. McKenna was a staunch friend, who beneath his brusque exterior, had a heart of gold. From the Football League and Football Association point of view I think the greatest man in football has gone. He will live long in the memory of all who had anything to do with the governing of football. Fearless, outspoken, and absolutely honest, he was well named ‘Honest John.’ The football world in general is under a very deep sorrow.”

Competition Total Won Draw Lost Goals for Goals against
Grand totals 36 25 3 8 116 37
League 30 22 2 6 106 32
FA Cup 2 1 0 1 4 3
League Cup 0 0 0 0 0 0
Europe 0 0 0 0 0 0
Other 4 2 1 1 6 2
Matches that are won or lost in a penalty shoot-out are counted as a win/loss not as a draw.
Related Articles
First ever Reds boss honoured

John McKenna was rightfully honoured by a commemorative plaque in his native Ireland. Published on 22nd Aug 2011 on

1896-1899: A new exciting era at Liverpool

Liverpool FC wear red for the first time. The most successful manager in the country takes over and brings his magic touch to the 'Reds' bringing them tantalizingly close to a league and cup double.

Three famous figures

The Liverpool Echo on 21 February 1949. Written by William Charles Cuff, former chairman of Everton and President of the Football League from 1939-49.

Did Liverpool let Chelsea win?

Mr. Henry George Norris practically accused Liverpool of allowing Chelsea to win a game on Easter Monday.

John McKenna dies 81 years old

Nottingham Evening Post on 23 March, 1936.

My dearest football friend, John McKenna

From Bee’s notes on 23 March 1936.

“Honest John” buried at Anfield cemetery

Hull Daily Mail on 26 March, 1936.

McKenna's tablet unveiled

The Nottingham Evening Post on 1 March 1937.

John McKenna suspended by the FA

From Lancashire Evening Post on 10 February 1900.

Players bought
Player Club Fee Date
Archie Goldie Clyde Unknown May 1895
Fred Geary Everton £60 17 May 1895
George Allan Leith Athletic £100 12 June 1895
John Holmes Preston North End Unknown 1 July 1895
Bill Keech Barnsley Unknown 10 September 1895
Ben Bull Loughborough Unknown 14 December 1895
Harry Storer Arsenal £75 24 December 1895
Barney Battles Celtic On Loan 13 March 1896
Tom Cleghorn Blackburn Rovers Unknown 13 March 1896
Willie Michael Hearts Unknown 4 May 1896
Players sold
Player Club Fee Date
John Drummond Barnsley Unknown 1895
James Cameron Pollokshields Unknown 1895
Hugh Henderson Partick Thistle Unknown 27 March 1895
Hugh McQueen Derby Unknown 10 June 1895
Neil Kerr Nottingham Forest Unknown 5 September 1895
Andrew Hannah Rob Roy Unknown October 1895
Duncan McLean St Bernard's Unknown 4 October 1895
John Curran Hibernian Unknown 16 November 1895
Players used
Player Appearances Minutes Goals
Harry Bradshaw 32 2880 14
Joe McQue 32 2880 5
Jimmy Ross 31 2790 24
Frank Becton 30 2700 19
John McCartney 28 2520 2
Archie Goldie 28 2520 0
Malcolm McVean 27 2430 8
George Allan 26 2340 28
Tom Wilkie 23 2070 1
Fred Geary 22 1980 11
Matt McQueen 22 1980 0
John Holmes 19 1710 0
Harry Storer 17 1530 0
Billy Dunlop 13 1170 0
David Hannah 11 990 3
John McLean 8 720 0
Tom Cleghorn 7 630 0
John Curran 6 540 0
Bill Keech 6 540 0
Barney Battles 5 450 0
John Whitehead 2 180 0
Ben Bull 1 90 1
Football Cameos - 8 November 1930
Football Cameos - 8 November 1930
Football League memories
Football League memories
The death of John McKenna - 23 March 1936
The death of John McKenna - 23 March 1936