The man is called Bernie and he was thirsty this morning. This quarter can be rough, he says, but his eyes gleam warmly as he immediately elects himself as the guide of these streets, he doesn’t seem to be too busy that day anyway. Last time he attended a game must have been sometime in the eighties with his brother who sits in a wheelchair. Bernie now takes care of him.
But he can’t afford match tickets though he lives only five minutes away from the ground. He can hear the roar of Goodison and Anfield from his flat. So near, yet so far away. Last week he called the club, ‚Next time a ball crashes into my garden, I ‚ll put a knife in it‘. As revenge for the high ticket prizes? ‚No, no, just because the idiots would have failed to score again‘. Bernie laughs and coughs. That’s Liverpool, he says.
Bernie shows us a church right next to the stadium. St. Luke’s. In the past, he says, people climbed onto the roof to watch the game from there. A young builder stands in the entrance holding a bowl of cereal in his hand. The bowl is red. Liverpool FC? ‚God no, I am an Evertonian. But my wife is a red, she always puts red things in my bag, crazy, I tell you‘. His name is Deano, that’s enough of an introduction in his eyes.
Inside a man in a blue and white garment approaches. Colin Greene, lay reader, white hair and smooth face. As with all the others, his first questions is, ‚What is your team?“ The photographer supports Manchester City. The lay reader reacts as if his lips have been burned. ‚You’ve recently been crushed by Man United, haven’t you?‘ Bernie, still wandering with us, says, ‚You shall not kick a man who lays on the floor. You should know that as a priest‘. Laughes loudly. Colin Greene takes us to the Garden of Remembrance, the final resting place for supporters. The church sits close to the terrace. Fanzines and match programmes are piled up in the first floor of the parish house. The holy scripts of football.
At the farewell, Deano waves his hand. He’s had swapped the bowl for an electric drill. ‚You visiting Anfield? Better watch your camera!‘ Deano and Bernie shake with laughter.
1985: Everton vs QPR.
It is a popular cliché in England: Liverpool is bad-mouthed for it’s robberies and burglaries. There’s a story of an advertising shoot outside the stadium that is disrupted by street gangs that chase away the staff and steal the video equipment. In 2012, a research revealed that five out of ten of England’s poorest and most deprived districts are in Liverpool, with Anfield third poorest.
The structural change from the industrial to service economy can be seen in the city centre but districts such as Anfield or Everton partly look as if they’re stuck in the eighties. The city tumbled into mass unemployment back then, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher becoming the main target for working class anger. She fought the trade unions and miners. Her Chancellor advised her to abandon Liverpool to ‚a managed decline‘. People in Liverpool still accuse her of backing the lies of the police after the Hillsborough disaster. After her death in 2013 a song from the movie ‚The Wizard of Oz‘ stormed the charts, the terraces and the celebrations in the streets: Ding Dong the Witch is Dead.
The burden of indignity from England’s south is another bond for the people in Liverpool who, whether red or blue, maintain an antipathy towards London’s establishment rather than one against their local rival.
Back in the days, supporters of the two clubs walked to the matches altogether, to Goodison one weekend, to Anfield at the other. Nowadays, money’s too short for a visit to even one club, let alone two.