Ryehill Football takes a look at one of Sunderland AFC’s long time English rivals. This week its Liverpool.
“Above all, I would like to be remembered as a man who was selfless, who strove and worried so that others could share the glory, and who built up a family of people who could hold their heads up high and say; ‘We’re Liverpool’” – Bill Shankly
In a world where tragedy and success can be uncomfortable bedfellows Liverpool Football Club reflects the highs and lows of real life.
Formed in 1892 the club since its inception has played at its famous Anfield ground and the club won their first ever top flight English Championship in 1900/01.
Ironically by the start of that season the Battle of Spion Kop had been fought and by 1906 Liverpool FC and the battle were famously intertwined, with an enclosure at Anfield being simply named The Kop, in homage to the huge bank at one end of the ground, similar to the terrain in South Africa where the military conflict took place.
In 1956 Rogers and Hammerstein adapted the stage show Carousel for the cinema and in doing so created one of the best loved musicals of all time. It included the song, “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. Adopted by The Kop it became, in time, almost unarguably the most famous terrace anthem in the world. It turned the Kop into one of the most famous groups of supporters in world football, perhaps the most famous.
Whilst the hub of any football club are its footballers, its managers also its great teams and achievements, at Liverpool more than perhaps any other club the talk is of its people.
Their legendary manager Bill Shankly once implied that football was more important than life and death but in the wake of the Heysel and Hillsborough tragedies it was perhaps the one thing that Shankly got wrong.
What Shankly did get right was to turn the club into a sporting institution, a one that in time swept through Europe and conquered all it encountered on the field of play. A game against Liverpool was to be dreaded; it meant almost certain defeat, just as Shankly always wanted it to be.
It led to league championships that didn’t stop even when the iconic manager called it a day. In handing the baton onto immortals such as the genial North Easterner Bob Paisley all it did was continue the misery for opponents, a true sign that Shankly built not just football teams but a culture, a culture of winning.
In time that culture would fade. It would lie dormant waiting for someone else to find it and resurrect it. However and wherever you look at Liverpool there are icons. Iconic managers, iconic songs, iconic events, iconic teams and iconic fans.
It is a club that through triumph and tragedy has hugely influenced the wider world of football.
Hillsborough 96 RIP