Liverpool

NEW BLOG SERIES 2015 – AN A-Z JOURNEY AROUND BRITAIN

2 Anfield

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Millionaires visit Anfield. Over twenty of them chase a football around a piece of grass. When there is no football, they ignore the place and its cheap take away hedonism – pubs, Chinese chippies and betting shops.

Anfield is the third poorest community within England and Wales. 1200 incidents of violence and domestic abuse occur every month and over 50 bikes are stolen. The number of weapons found is also consistent, about 40 a month. The Whitney family who were sentenced to a total of 82 years in prison lived in Anfield. Thanks to entrepreneurial innovation reinforced with sophisticated weaponry they were once key players in the supply of drugs in Liverpool. Life without them is quieter but it is hell trying to find decent Army SA80 rifles.

The Anfield and Breckfield Renewal Area Implementation Plan 2014 refers to the expansion of the football stadium as a ‘landmark development’ and the Anfield Plaza as a ‘complementary gateway’. The THIS IS ANFIELD sign was created when famous footballers led modest lives. Shankly saw his team as the best of us and not the best that money can buy.

Walton was an ancient seat of Christianity so the close proximity of the two football stadia of Liverpool and Everton may mean something. After the game, I would wander across Stanley Park to a bus stop. I followed figures muffled in winter clothes and I listened to pocket radios murmur match reports into the dark sky.

The route from town to Anfield offers two other glorious walks. Those returning to the city centre can pass through pleasant parkland to arrive opposite the entrance to the Mersey Tunnel and alongside the fabulous neo-classical St Georges Hall. The route from town begins next to the Philharmonic Hall. The University, Catholic Cathedral and renowned Royal Hospital provide interest. Both routes take advantage of the elevated sweep of Everton Road and the terraced streets that slope down towards the ground.

Anfield began as Hanging Fields. Walk down from Everton Road to the home of the most successful English football team and imagine the early religious settlement and the working class communities that followed. Bill Shankly sparked the imagination of those who lived there. If the walk does not persuade you that Liverpool Football Club is special then nothing will.

The housing in Anfield is still capable of providing the satisfying modest comfort that Shankly thought important.   Joe Fagan, who managed Liverpool football team in the 80s, lived in a terraced house in Anfield all his life.

Welsh workers helped build the houses of Anfield. Liverpool had five large Welsh communities and Anfield was one. When Liverpool was an expanding city, there were more Welsh speakers in Liverpool than in any city in Wales. My grandfather was Welsh as was his brother who was a builder and a fan of Liverpool football team. Uncle Jack is why I admire well-built terraced houses and why I am a Liverpool fan. Like Shankly, Uncle Jack believed in working class strength and independence. Next time you visit Anfield honour the defiant spirits of Bill Shankly and Uncle Jack.

Next week – Barnsley

 

Howard Jackson has had three books published by Red Rattle Books. His 11,000 mile journey around Brazil is described in Innocent Mosquitoes. His next book is a compilation of horror stories and is called Nightmares Ahead. It will be available in Spring 2015

If you want to read more about his travels click here.

 

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Christmas Surprise – Elvis Presley Challenge returns one week only – Brendan Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers

The conqueror adrift causes dismay or glee.  Elvis was eminent in one decade but hapless in another. Those he had previously vanquished insisted that he had been lucky and not talented. Elvis reacted by making different music but his inclusive aspirations did not suit a confrontational and ideological age.

Less than six months ago, Brenda Rodgers was voted Manager Of The Year. His team had scored a record number of goals. Now, when faced by opponents with grit and organisation, his Liverpool team crumbles. Like Elvis in the 70s, Rodgers searches for a formula that will resist the opposition of others.

Elvis was unlucky with history because the worst thing that can happen to a man who conquers the world is for it to change.  Rodgers lost Suarez and Sturridge, and the instincts that enabled him to convert gifted attackers into the most dangerous forward line in the world are now redundant.  Pace has not disappeared from the team as some say.  There is none in the forward line but the squad has several light fast footballers.  Elvis lost youthful energy.  Having more than anyone, his reaction to loss was extreme. He overlooked the edge that made him so successful with the blues and decided to sing ballads.  Rodgers ignores attacking midfielders and plays defensive football.

Simultaneously simple and complex, the formulae of football and rock and roll are irresistible.  They also share the same capacity for deceit. What we watch or hear is always distorted by conspiracy. Rodgers has been called stubborn for persisting with the 4-2-3-1 team formation.  Elvis turned away from rockabilly and was thought pig headed.  We assumed that all a rock and roll star had to do was make great records.  We did not know that the situation was complicated by the demands of his record company, Vegas, Hollywood and Parker. The people who fund big money always leave fingerprints on what they have bought.  Borini has not been picked instead of the lumbering and tiring Lambert but the owners or Rodgers may want to drive the player out of the club and secure funds to buy a striker with pace and energy.  We cannot understand the situation with Elvis and we have no idea what is happening at Anfield.  Rodgers may not be being paid his ridiculous wages to manage a football team but to handle the situation until Borini is sold and Sturridge is fit.  Elvis was a mystery for most of his life because he was managed by an incompetent who was an expert in self-serving propaganda.  The activities of a football club are as transparent as decision making in a totalitarian regime.  Rodgers could be a genius who is in a bad situation or a mediocre talent once flattered by explosive and exceptional strikers.  We cannot know.  Unable to escape his situation, Elvis said he was tired of being Elvis Presley. If Rodgers fails, he will find another situation.  History might reveal enough for proper evaluation. Elvis was not that lucky.

Howard Jackson has had three books published by Liverpool publishers, Red Rattle Books.  His book Treat Me Nice compares Elvis to the Creature in Frankenstein.  His next book, Nightmares Ahead, will be published by Red Rattle Books in Spring 2015.  If you want to read more about Elvis and American culture click here.

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