A plaque commemorating the world’s first ever goalscorer in league football, Kenny Davenport, is to be unveiled in the Pikes Lane area of Bolton this evening.The EFL is the world’s original league football competition, with the first ever matches being played on 8 September 1888.
For over a century, it had been thought that an own goal by Aston Villa’s Gershom Cox, playing against Wolverhampton Wanderers, was the first goal in league football.
In 2013, however, research by football author Mark Metcalf and librarian Robert Boyling revealed that the kick-off in that game had been delayed, kicking off at 3:30pm.
It meant that Davenport’s goal at 3.47pm on September 8, 1888 for Bolton Wanderers against Derby County – the first goal of nine in a match that finished as a 6-3 away win for Derby – was the world’s first ever league goal.
Efforts to find a permanent home in the Pikes Lane area for a blue plaque dedicated to Davenport have now led a local business agreeing to have the plaque on their building on Backfield Street.
Shaun Harvey, EFL Chief Executive, said: “I am pleased to see that a plaque is to be unveiled in recognition of Kenny Davenport’s first goal in league football."
Gordon Taylor OBE said: "For a Bolton Wanderers player, Kenny Davenport, to be discovered to have scored the very first goal in the oldest established professional football league in the world is rightfully worthy of a very special commemoration and this, thanks to Mark Metcalf, Kenny's family, the PFA and Bolton Wanderers, has now been successfully achieved.
“While there has since been over half a million goals in English league football, there can only ever be one ‘first goal’ scored and it is it fitting that such a momentous moment is marked in this way.”
Phil Mason, Club Chaplain, added: “I am delighted that we are marking this significant milestone in our history as a club and rightly commemorating Kenny’s achievement. My thanks must go to all involved in discovering this fact of history and especially to Mark Metcalf. The Blue Plaque will act as a permanent reminder of the importance of our club in the history of football”.
Mark Metcalf said: “Robert and myself are delighted that the efforts of many people to find a suitable venue to erect a plaque commemorating Kenny Davenport’s feat will be rewarded on 22 November. I am looking forward to the event.”
Mavis Callaghan, who is Kenny Davenport’s great niece, said: “We have been searching for a venue since 2013 and so it will be great to see the plaque being unveiled on 22 November. Bolton scored the first League goal and also the first at Wembley in 1923. That’s a great record and it is only right that Kenny is remembered for having scored the goal on 8 September 1888. He was also the first Bolton player to play for England.”
The plaque is to be unveiled at 5.30pm this evening by Gordon Taylor of the PFA, Mark Metcalf and the Mayor of Bolton, Lynda Byrne.
The ceremony is to be overseen by the Club Chaplain and Head of the Community Trust, Phil Mason, with anyone else welcome to attend.
Mark Metcalf’s book, ‘The Origins of the Football League: The First Season 1888/89’ can be bought by clicking here!