Anfield Road was once the focus of an intense boardroom battle. The protagonists were John Houlding, a brewer and Tory mayor of Liverpool, and his political rival and Liberal councillor, George Mahon. There were only two big teams in Liverpool in 1892, Everton and Bootle FC. That was about to change, and soon there would be a new club on the block – a young upstart that would go on to usurp them both.
In 1892, Everton Football Club would fracture in two. In a dispute over the rent payable on the Anfield Road football pitch, used by the club and owned by Houlding, a section of the board decided to up sticks and move across Stanley Park. They would play their football at Goodison Park, rather than pay up to their land owning chairman.
The move left Houlding with a football ground, but no team. Together with ‘Honest’ John McKenna, the club’s secretary and first manager, Houlding went about recruiting a ‘team of Macs’ from Scotland. Liverpool Football Club was born in 1892. The rest is magnificent history.
Houlding and McKenna may have flinched, had they known the club they created would eventually be crafted into one synonymous the ideals of a craggy socialist miner from Scotland. However, that is exactly what happened.
Liverpool’s journey is as fascinating as it is glorious. The people who have led, followed and played for the club throughout its rise are equally interesting. Their lives and stories are now part of the collective consciousness, the folklore and spirit of the club. I believe that when we say ‘I support Liverpool,’ we really mean ‘I love Liverpool’s story.’
It can’t just be about trophies, or star players or nice kits. These things come and go. What keeps us going through the dark days, when our favourite player leaves or when the silverware dries up, are the tales of Anfield Road – the stories and folklore of the club. The spirit of Liverpool FC is the thing we love.
It’s something intangible. If you don’t get my meaning, ask yourself this question – what is Liverpool Football Club? Is it the badge on the shirt? It can’t be that, because it was never worn, until 1950. is it the all red kit? Can’t be, we wore white shorts until the 60s.
What about Anfield? Well, yeah, but that’s just bricks and mortar. It has changed so much over the years anyway. I’d suggest it’s not the ground you love, it’s the stuff that goes on inside that creates your bond with Liverpool. But, even this doesn’t explain it.
There are those of us who remember adventures on foreign soil and in football grounds around Britain. Our heart fills with as much pride when we recall those moments, as it does when we think of any game on home turf.
When I think about what Liverpool means to me, it’s the smell of the place, the sounds and the way I feel on matchday. It’s remembering games and listening to stories. I love Liverpool because of Shankly and Paisley, Joe and his treble, Kenny and his double, Houllier and 2001, Rafa in Istanbul and Klopp everywhere.
I love the Reds because of Heighway and Case, McDermott and Dalglish, Rush and Fowler and of course Jamie and Stevie. But I also love them because of my mates and my kids and the countless other people that I don’t know but with whom I share a common bond.
I even love Liverpool because of stuff that happened before I was born, before my Dad was born. Tales of Billy Liddell and hearing Scousers sing ‘She Loves You’ on the Kop in the early sixties, bring a tear to my eye. As does reading about the teams of the early years.
Of course, supporters of other teams, feel the same way about their clubs and their stories. I’ll be slated as a ‘Scouse exceptionalist’ for this, but I just think ours is the greatest. We just have more of it than all the rest. The Americans would say we are the most ‘storied’ – they’d be spot on.
So, Tales of Anfield Road is about all of that intangible stuff. It’s a mix of matchday scenes, folklore and stories from all around the fields of Anfield Road. I’ll try to add a new one as often as I can. I hope you enjoy reading them, as much as I love sharing them.
Make sure you respond in the comments. Tell me your tales of Anfield Road. Let’s keep the folklore and spirit going for the next generation.
Read more about the history of Liverpool Football Club in Red Odyssey: Liverpool FC 1892-2017