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. 

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.