Standing at the rear of the tall buildings that today run along the thoroughfare of Dale Street are the remains of the uniquely named Ryleys Gardens. However, this once squalid and narrow court was inhabited by many destitute immigrants who had arrived in Victorian Liverpool hoping for a new start in life. Ryleys Gardens was also the birthplace of a man who played one competitive game for Everton.
Isaac Roberts was born in August 1868, the fourth child of Isaac, a mariner, and his wife, Leah. The couple had married at Holy Trinity church having moved to Liverpool from Mostyn in Flintshire where they both had been born. According to the 1881 census the family had relocated to Lavrock Bank in Dingle where the 13-year-old Isaac was working as a shop boy/messenger. He began playing football for Aigburth Vale on Fulwood Park before signing for Stanley around 1887 on their home at Walton Stiles.
The new signing quickly found a regular place in the club half-back line and sometimes filled the position of goalkeeper. Roberts appeared in the inaugural FA Cup campaign which the club entered as Liverpool Stanley where his side received a 5-1 home defeat by the Bolton-based Halliwell. On the 9th of January, 1888, he was part of the Stanley side who defeated Everton 3-0 at Walton Stiles and took part in the return game, played on the 29th of May, when the sides drew 1-1 at Anfield.
Next season he again took part in the FA knockout which saw the Walton Stiles club eliminate both Workington and Astley Bridge. However, due to the cost involved, they declined the offer to play the next round against Belfast-based Cliftonville and withdrew from the contest. Isaac Roberts continued to perform well and was eventually approached by Everton to play in a Football League match.
The game took place on the 9th of February 1889 at Anfield against Wolverhampton Wanderers. John Holt had been “called away” to play for the Lancashire FA against Staffordshire and Roberts took his place at centre half. The home crowd, who numbered around 6,000, watched Edgar Chadwick give Everton the lead but two late goals saw the visitors return home with both points.
Ike Roberts then returned to Stanley where he took part in the 1889 Liverpool Cup final. The match against Bootle took place on the Liverpool Athletic Club ground in Fairfield and his side were beaten by 3 goals to 0. He then slowly drifted away from the game for a “life on the ocean waves”.
The 1891 census finds Isaac living with his Widowed Mother at 365 Beaufort Street in Dingle where he lists his occupation as a sailor. When she died, he took up lodging at 23 Frank Street. Isaac Roberts was living at this address when he passed away on the 14th of January 1896 and was buried at Toxteth Park Cemetery.
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Superb story, and as, ever Tony, and very sad too, in this case.
I work around the City, it always strikes me, the scale of the old buildings and their grandeur and the surrounding streets, and their history, and also the many Pubs, that are now also history, around the back streets.
In many ways, so much to be thank full for, but to build a new future, as EFC, we must rise from Ashes of previous history, and build a new era.
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