John McKenna (3 January 1855 – March 1936), born in County Monaghan, Ireland, was a self-made businessman and former rugby player, who was the first manager of Liverpool.
He was a friend of John Houlding and remained with him after Everton left Anfield for Goodison Park. 'Honest' John was one of the greatest driving forces for Liverpool throughout the early years. An Irishman, Tory, Freemason and friend of John Houlding (founder) - who started off as a grocer's errand boy - he would regularly visit Anfield before the split with Everton, and became an avid supporter of the football played there.
McKenna used his connections to fish for players in Glasgow, including Duncan McLean, James McBride, Malcolm McVean, Hugh McQueen, Matt McQueen, John McCartney, Bill McOwen and Joe McQue.
It was McKenna, acting as the club's secretary, who telegraphed the Football League asking for Liverpool to be admitted to it. The club was denied entry into the Football League by the F.A. This forced McKenna to guide Liverpool through the ranks of the Lancashire League instead. Liverpool played their first game in the Lancashire League with an 8–0 win at Anfield against Higher Walton. John Smith scored the first competitive goal.
After ending their first competitive season as champions, Liverpool were elected into the Football League. They played their first Football League match away to Middlesbrough Ironopolis on 2 September 1893, and won 2–0. After an hour's play, it was Malcolm McVean who broke the deadlock.