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
Epi­logue

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: https://​www​.11freunde​.de/​t​a​g​s​/​h​i​l​l​s​b​o​rough

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.