In The Streets of Liverpool
It is only 900 metres from Everton's Goodison Park to Liverpool's Anfield. In the streets between, there live priests, drinkers, hairdressers and soldiers. For them, the football is both close by yet a million miles away.
On Sunday, Everton plays Liverpool, it is the Merseyside derby. In April, we walked down the streets inbetween the two stadiums. This is our longread with pictures and videos.
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Chapter 1: An evening with Steven Gerrard
Chapter 2: „We’re gonna have a party when Maggie Thatcher dies“
Chapter 3: The beloved club as a voracious neighbour
Chapter 4: Evertonians in the houses of Liverpool FC
Black letters are carved into the red brick wall: Everton Football Club. Behind it, Goodison Park, the stadium of Everton FC arches up. Nine-year old Aiden McGee whizzes by on his scooter. Which team do you support? He doesn’t answer verbally but points across the park on his left. There are terraces behind the park. Those of Anfield, the stadium of Liverpool FC. Which club do you your family members support? The kid points over to the other side, behind the red brick wall. Goodison, Everton.
His mother smiles. Her son has been overwhelmed by presents from the other family members, she says, Everton tops, scarves and all that. He even had a trial at the club. But Aiden shakes his head, no chance, Liverpool forward Daniel Sturridge is his beloved idol. Once again, he points to Anfield and says, ‚I will be a professional for the Reds. And then, I will buy my parents a Convertable‘. For now he has to settle for speeding his scooter through the neighbourhood. A quite unique neighbourhood that includes two renowned clubs of the Premier League.
The straight-line distance between the two stadiums is only 900 metres. Between them, there lies the buffer zone of Stanley Park. It doesn’t take longer than 20 minutes to walk from one to the other. Everton started playing at Anfield at the end of the 19th century but after controversies over the purchase of the land from its then owner, the club moved to Goodison Park. The businessman John Houlding founded Liverpool FC at Anfield. It was the beginning of a special relationship. In the words of Bill Shankly, Liverpool’s legendary manager and no less talented aphorist, ‚If Everton were playing at the bottom of my garden, I’d pull the curtains‘.
Feud or mere folklore? How distant could be two clubs that stand so near to each other? Answers lie in the streets on a quiet Thursday in April when no game is scheduled and the streets are empty of fans from outside the city. A walk through the quarter, a visit to the neighbours of Goodison and Anfield.
Stacey Peers is a hairdresser, red hairs, red nails, red heart. Liverpool FC born and bred, she says. But she can’t avoid Everton as the stadium towers over her salon from across the street. Ten years ago, at the age of 23, she met a young lad named Steven Gerrard in a bar, ’nice company‘, she says nonchalantly, as if this Steven has grafted in the docks and not for seventeen years in the midfield of her beloved club. Stacey Peers is the only employee of Susan Savage, a lady with long bleached blonde hair. Susan is an Evertonian through and through. In a space of 15 square metres, the two women cut and debate, no mattter if the clients are old ladies with permanent waves or young lads with tattooed wrists, no matter if they are red or blue. Right in the shadow of the stadium. They all get along well, like a family, they say. But why is that? The answer is just one word: Hillsborough.
11FREUNDE-Dossier on Hillsborough: http://www.11freunde.de/tags/hillsborough
On April the 15th in 1989, 96 supporters of Liverpool FC lost their lives in the stadium tragedy of Hillsborough – the home of Sheffield Wednesday FC, most of them were juveniles and died in a terrace crush. It seems everyone round here – whether a Liverpool or Everton supporter – has his own sad Hillsborough story to tell. The grief over their dead family members and friends bound them together as did the subsequent fight for justice. Police, Politicians and tabloid newspapers wrongly blamed the victims for the tragedy. The relatives fought for decades until the case was reconsidered and the administration apologised.
It is the burden of memory the people bear – but it is not the only one. Out on Goodison Road, sunbeams shine through the stadium walls. The neighbouring, narrow streets are an ocean of bricks. People in tracksuits sit on the steps of the entrance, in bony hands fags burn down to the filter. Young guys race by on Cross motorbikes, apart from that a calm atmosphere prevails in the quarter, shutters are let down, shops closed. They only open on matchdays, spenders and spending power is absent. Forty thousand plus people come to visit the game but the majority are not not interested in staying. The girls in the pubs tell us that only football keeps these bars alive – and this is England?! It’s as if, in another country, all the bakeries in town were closed down. A hearse drives down the road, through it’s large window you can see a blue coffin with the Everton club crest on it.
A man in a leather jacket comes across, frizzy grey hair, reddish beard. Which team do you support? He stands straight like in a military salute. Everton FC. He points to the stadium. Alan Ball, Howard Kendall, Colin Harvey – the holy trinity, the great midfield trio of the late sixtees and ealry seventees. Whoever watched these boys play had to be a slave to Everton instantly.
„We’re gonna have a party when Maggie Thatcher dies“
The man is called Bernie and he was thirsty this morning. This quarter can be rough, he says, but his eyes gleam warmly as he immediately elects himself as the guide of these streets, he doesn’t seem to be too busy that day anyway. Last time he attended a game must have been sometime in the eighties with his brother who sits in a wheelchair. Bernie now takes care of him.
But he can’t afford match tickets though he lives only five minutes away from the ground. He can hear the roar of Goodison and Anfield from his flat. So near, yet so far away. Last week he called the club, ‚Next time a ball crashes into my garden, I ‚ll put a knife in it‘. As revenge for the high ticket prizes? ‚No, no, just because the idiots would have failed to score again‘. Bernie laughs and coughs. That’s Liverpool, he says.
Bernie shows us a church right next to the stadium. St. Luke’s. In the past, he says, people climbed onto the roof to watch the game from there. A young builder stands in the entrance holding a bowl of cereal in his hand. The bowl is red. Liverpool FC? ‚God no, I am an Evertonian. But my wife is a red, she always puts red things in my bag, crazy, I tell you‘. His name is Deano, that’s enough of an introduction in his eyes.
Inside a man in a blue and white garment approaches. Colin Greene, lay reader, white hair and smooth face. As with all the others, his first questions is, ‚What is your team?“ The photographer supports Manchester City. The lay reader reacts as if his lips have been burned. ‚You’ve recently been crushed by Man United, haven’t you?‘ Bernie, still wandering with us, says, ‚You shall not kick a man who lays on the floor. You should know that as a priest‘. Laughes loudly. Colin Greene takes us to the Garden of Remembrance, the final resting place for supporters. The church sits close to the terrace. Fanzines and match programmes are piled up in the first floor of the parish house. The holy scripts of football.
At the farewell, Deano waves his hand. He’s had swapped the bowl for an electric drill. ‚You visiting Anfield? Better watch your camera!‘ Deano and Bernie shake with laughter.
1985: Everton vs QPR.
It is a popular cliché in England: Liverpool is bad-mouthed for it’s robberies and burglaries. There’s a story of an advertising shoot outside the stadium that is disrupted by street gangs that chase away the staff and steal the video equipment. In 2012, a research revealed that five out of ten of England’s poorest and most deprived districts are in Liverpool, with Anfield third poorest.
The structural change from the industrial to service economy can be seen in the city centre but districts such as Anfield or Everton partly look as if they’re stuck in the eighties. The city tumbled into mass unemployment back then, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher becoming the main target for working class anger. She fought the trade unions and miners. Her Chancellor advised her to abandon Liverpool to ‚a managed decline‘. People in Liverpool still accuse her of backing the lies of the police after the Hillsborough disaster. After her death in 2013 a song from the movie ‚The Wizard of Oz‘ stormed the charts, the terraces and the celebrations in the streets: Ding Dong the Witch is Dead.
The burden of indignity from England’s south is another bond for the people in Liverpool who, whether red or blue, maintain an antipathy towards London’s establishment rather than one against their local rival.
Back in the days, supporters of the two clubs walked to the matches altogether, to Goodison one weekend, to Anfield at the other. Nowadays, money’s too short for a visit to even one club, let alone two.
The beloved club as a voracious neighbour
‚The club doesn’t want us, they prefer the guys from Norway or Japan‘, Billy Jones says. ‚Simply for one reason: we go to the stadium and drink one or two in the pubs afterwards. Whereas people from the rest of the world go buying out the fan store‘. He wears a tracksuit and trainers – as they call it in other cities tautingly: the Liverpool uniform. Jones smokes his cigarette in the hollow of his hand, he served in the army for many years. He has been looking through his window at Liverpool’s stadium for more than four decades and was a season-ticket-holder for a long time but can’t afford it any more.
The very cheapest ticket for one season costs 910 Euro. Jones gets into a lather on ticket prices, the atmosphere and the club owners until he shrinks back from his own rant and declares: ‚Don’t get me wrong. I love Liverpool.‘ He climbs onto the demolition waste in front of his home grumbling that ‚they‘ had let the area become run down. ‚They‘ could mean the city council, but also (even if he doesn’t say so): his club, Liverpool FC.
According to reports in the ‚The Guardian‘, in 2013, the club bought the houses around the stadium with a view to demolition and stadium expansion. Instead of speaking with the residents, the club let the area decline to force other neighbours out. By now, a large number of houses had been demolished. LFC is currently redeveloping one side of the stadium.
Supporters in the neighborhood have a voracious neighbour – and it is their own, beloved club. Last year, Liverpool generated gains of 357 million Euro. For most of the kids in the streets on their scooters the only possibility of seeing their idols like Daniel Sturridge is as they rush by in their sports cars, not in their jersey on the field. That changes both the image of a professional footballer and the dreams of those that aspire to becoming one. Hardship and luxury are just a short pass away from each other in Anfield.
Today, on the street adjacent to the stadium, nearly every shop is closed and shuttered when we visit. Faded signs of diners and tattoo studios, a kiosk displays screenshots from surveillance cameras showing recent burglaries. The entrance of one house has the dimpled paving stones which normally lie at crossings for blind people and – to put it this gently – are not purchasable in any store.
Eileen Snell smiles as she tells about an encounter with a Japanese Liverpool fan. ‚She asked me: This all here – is it because of the war?‘ Snell, a grandmother with bleached blonde hair, has been living in Skerries Road beside the stadium for more than 40 years, these houses are also in Liverpool FC’s ownership. Her garden is almost underneath Anfield stadium.
But she is a supporter of Everton FC and welcomes her sons and grandons at matchdays preparing sandwiches for them. The match schedule is pinned on the fridge.
Her husband died at an early age because of a heart attack he suffered on the sofa of the flat. ‚He had just arrived back from an Everton game. That shows what this club does to you‘. She smiles smoothly. In this city the workwear is supposed to be all wet and the humour all dry.
Evertonians in the houses of LFC
The door of her house is red, painted long before she moved in. The Ellisons, her next-door neighbours, are Liverpool supporters but curiously, they live behind a blue door. Both of the clubs could not exist without one another. They share too much history to untie. The rivalry is based on banter like that of siblings tend to hoax one another. When Everton opened a store in the city’s new Liverpool One shopping centre, they named it so it’s postal address read, ‚Everton Two, Liverpool One‘.
Eileen Snell listens to the radio commentary during the games. Whenever Everton score, she knocks at the wall adjacent to the Ellisons. This supporter of the Blues lives behind a red door in a house owned by the Reds. And when Liverpool is playing at the bottom of her garden, she pulls the curtains.
A picture of a young boy and girl is stuck in her window, they wear the jerseys of Everton and Liverpool. The numbers on the back: 96. Eileen Snell remembers the day of Hillsborough when the families returned from the disaster and grieved at Anfield Stadium. ‚I still hear them crying when I lie in my bed. I will never forget it‘.
Behind her garden, beside the terrace, one can find the Hillsborough Memorial. Paul Cassidy’s eyes are reddened, he glances into the distance unable to look directly. The body of this small, tubby man works, he whips from one foot to the other, clutching his Marks and Spencer bag tightly. His eyes wander along the memorial plaque. Flowers, scarves, children’s drawings. Cassidy blows out, he needs fresh air as memory tightens his throat. ‚Just imagine that‘, he says, ‚Just imagine. Football, the thing you adore the most. You go visiting a game and then…‘ Shakes his head. Shakes it again. ‚Then you don’t come back home‘.
Cassidy wears a jersey not with a player’s name on the back but the word: ‚Remembering‘ the number 96 and ‚Y.N.W.A.‘ written below it. Initials of the famous Liverpool song: You’ll never walk alone. When he stands in front of the plaque to pause people turn and stare at him. Some even take photos of him. For Cassidy’s jersey is not red, it is blue. It is one from Everton FC.
Epilogue: A day of Scouse gonzo
»A day of Scouse gonzo« – photographer’s note
Our brief was to walk from Goodison Park to Anfield collecting pictures and stories that told of the area, its people and the changes to both as money flowed into football, but didn’t necessarily find its way into the city. In a day of scouse Gonzo, we allowed the story to pull us along, to church, Susan’s Salon, several boozers and Stanley Park, the grandiose Victorian centre ground.
11 Freunde has the grass roots of football at its heart so a feature on the people and places surrounding the Liverpool giants seen in it’s pages seems apt.
In June, on the days surrounding the Champions League final in Berlin, the spreads were used to advertise the magazine across the city, proudly placing the gritty, boarded-up realities of traditional football into the monied glamour of Europe’s most glittering prize.
David Oates, Website: http://www.davidoates.net/goodison-to-anfield-with-11-freunde/ ; Twitter: @DavidOatesPhoto
Contact details of the editor: firstname.lastname@example.org / twitter: @RonUlrich11
The map we handed over to the workers in the 11FREUNDE layout. A bit orderless. Examples: Nr. 3 – Susan’s salon, Nr. 11 – Billy, Nr. 16 – Eileen
More videos on this topic from the Guardian we highly recommend to watch:
Thanks to Martin Percival, Tom Reed und James Corbett for helping with the translation.