1919 – The Liverpool Police strike and another gunboat sent up the Mersey

It seems incredulous now to think that the Police would go on strike, but it was this period that ensured that no Police Officer can join a Trade Union.  The dispute also had an ulterior motive for Lloyd George who wanted to make sure that the Government had full control over the Police and would not be at their mercy if they went on strike or supported other disputes.  Another added incentive was to rid the ranks of those who they believed held Bolshevik sentiments. 

This had all come to the fore during the last two months of the first world war when the Police went on strike in August 1918 for better pay and conditions.  ‘We Policemen see young van boys and slips of girls earning very much more than what we get,’ said one Policeman to the Guardian ‘and, well, it makes us feel very sore.’

Despite it being a sackable offence there were many Police Officers who had joined the National Union of Police and Prison Officers (NUPPO) which was formed in 1913.  In its early years it operated as a secret society but with disgruntlement over wages failing to keep up with inflation, pensions, terms and conditions it made them organised and vocal. 

The senior figures within the Police force decided that the best way of ending any potential trouble was to make an example of any union activity.  When PC Thiel was openly vocal about fighting for better wages and conditions he was sacked.  Rather than his fellow officers toeing the line they walked out in support of Thiel and to make a stand over their grievances.  In London twelve thousand Police Officers had walked out when the strike had been called.

Due to the seriousness of the dispute Lloyd George had to come back from the front in France.  With the country still at war the last thing that the Government needed was a breakdown in law and order especially with the troops still at the front.    He agreed to their demands of reinstating PC Thiel, as well as an increase in pay but was carefully misleading in their requests for official union recognition. 

Instead Lloyd George told them that ‘the government cannot recognise a union for the police in wartime.’ They took this to mean that a union would be in peace time rather than gaining confirmation that it would be when the war was over. 

For many in the establishment it was a danger if the Police became unionised.  Not only was there the fear that the Police may come out in support of other strikers if they became members of the TUC and the Labour party but might also encourage the army and navy for union recognition.

For the state to keep control it needed the Police and army at its side without worrying about their loyalty.  Hence the reason why Lloyd George and his government sought to break any trade union activity.

The first roll of the dice for Lloyd George was appointing General Neville Macready as the new Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.  An army man, Macready also detested trade unions and was seen as the perfect man to get rid of any dissenters.  In 1910 he had been sent to take control of the armed forces and the local police force to put down the strike in South Wales.

Lloyd George’s next move was to set up the Desborough committee which was tasked into looking at the pay and working conditions of the Police force. 

In June 1919 the Lord Desborough committee recommended an increase pay for all and free housing.  As an afterthought but quite clearly a move to replace the union he recommended that a body similar to a staff association be set up to represent the views of Police Officers. 

The Government announced that they intended to implement the recommendations by introducing the Police Act.  Once this was passed then it would be a sackable offence for Police Officers to be a member of a union as well as going on strike. 

However, the Government offered a sweetener to giving up their rights to join a trade union by allowing Police Officers to retire on half-pay after twenty-five years’ service to add onto the increase of wages that had also been agreed. 

For NUPPO it left them no choice.  It was either accepting the terms but give up trade union recognition and disband.  It was a case of fight or die for NUPPO.  A national Police strike was therefore called for the 31st July 1919 with the hope that its members would believe that trade union recognition was a matter worth fighting for. 

Although membership for NUPPO had increased quite considerably after the 1918 dispute it was the government who felt that they were in a stronger position than they were the year before.  With the offer of better wages and conditions in lieu of surrendering their right to join a union and strike the Government relied on this for the majority of Police Officers to accept.

The stakes were further raised with a carrot and a stick approach as the government announced that any Police Officer going out on strike would face instant dismissal.  Furthermore, all pension rights would also be forfeited.  However, to get them to think the ‘right way,’ the Government arranged that all Police Officers would be given an advance on their increase pay, that very week, of £10 each. 

The strike was a disaster.  For many Police Officers they had got what they wanted in terms of better wages and conditions without the need to strike.  Added to which the loss of pension rights was too much to risk and were quite happy for the proposed Police body to represent their interests. 

Another success for the government wasn’t just ensuring the loyalty and support of the Police but ridding them of the left-wing agitators who they felt were undermining their authority.  However, there was only one city were the strike was highly supported and would cause significant problems and that was the second biggest city of the country, Liverpool.

Due to the unrest during the past year there was understandable concern about what might happen with the lack of Policemen if the strike was well supported in Liverpool.  Not only that, but eight years earlier the Transport Strike had brought Liverpool to a virtual standstill and at the mercy of the strike committee.  With the recent events with the mutinies that had taken place in the army, there was a fear that those with a political agenda might see this as an opportunity and use Liverpool’s position as the second city to attempt a revolution.

The reasons why the Liverpool Police strike was widely supported was not due to trade union recognition, but other conditions imposed on them by the watch committee.  Pay was of course on the agenda but there was resentment from the junior ranks over the strict discipline that was enforced.  Every day when called for parade they were marched around like soldiers on the drill square.

Another complaint was that despite being on low pay, the watch committee insisted that they should live in the ‘better off,’ areas of the city.  As these were expensive places to reside in, they were expected to live a middle-class lifestyle on a labourers’ wage. 

Like the other Police forces across the country the local watch committee on the day the strike was to commence, warned that if no Police Constable reported for parade by eight pm then they would be dismissed by the force.  It was enough for some to report but more than half of the Liverpool Constables failed to show up for duty.

As word broke out that the Police were heavily depleted the mayhem started.  There had been trouble previously but many saw it as an opportunity to show the authorities what they thought of them whilst taking advantage of taking goods to either sell or use.  Simon Webb illustrates this in 1919 the year of revolution by saying ‘it was a spontaneously outpouring of anger, with a strong business edge.’

The authorities thought that by enrolling special constables who were sworn in and issued batons would be enough to deter any would be rioters.  Not surprisingly the rag tag men of shopkeepers and businessmen was not enough to stop the riots that did break out.  It wasn’t just lacking in numbers but training in dealing with violent crowds.  At one point while a shop was being looted a special constable stood like a hapless goalkeeper as rioters swooped past him to take what they wanted from a shop.

Scotland Road, Byrom Street and Great Homer Street was where the main trouble started.  Clothes shops, jewellers and pawnbrokers were the main targets as the looting spread across the city.

With no sign of the rioting and looting being contained with the broken windows and debris strewn about the street, like an invasion, the government resorted to calling in the troops.  Not only that and to ensure that they meant business the super-dreadnought HMS Valiant was ordered to sail straight to Liverpool.  Weighing in at 29,150 tons it was as long as London’s BT tower and with its eight 15in guns, twelve 6in guns and four torpedo tubes it was a match for any ship in the world.  It set sail with two destroyers heading to Liverpool after getting permission from Winston Churchill.

There was a practical side for a naval task force so that the sailors could secure the docks and protect the docks from rioters.  On the second night of the disturbances the dock gates had been set on fire.  However, the other reason was to show the occupants of Liverpool that the government would use any force necessary to subdue the city.

It even led to the government of sending in troops with full battle kit on.  Not only that but like Glasgow earlier in the year tanks were also sent to patrol the streets of the city.  It was quite a surreal sight to see soldiers and tanks roaming the street in what was meant to be peace time.  There was an unreal sense of being occupied and wondering what would happen next.  Would the troops open fire on civilians, would tanks be used to smash the crowds?

It was enough to quell any disturbances during the day, but trouble reared its head on Saturday night as a jewellers’ window was smashed by the Rotunda theatre.   An extract from Pat O’Mara ‘autobiography of a Liverpool slummy’ gives a vivid account of the looting.

“The bobbies were on strike! There were no bobbies! That could only mean one thing, and that thing happened. I was coming out of the Daulby Hall with Jackie Sanchez (having mooched the entrance fee from him) at the time when the first fever caught on. We went across the street to Skranvinsky’s chip-and-fish shop and listened to speculations over this new and strange strike. As we stood in the crowd a couple of bucks walked in, ordered in some chips and fish and refused to pay for them, suggesting to the hysterical Mrs Skranvinsky that she “get a bloody bobby!” Then they walked out, followed by others not yet paid up, who had taken the hint. Some leaned across the counter and grabbed handfuls of chips and fish and scallops, and without waiting to salt them, continued brazenly out into the street. Only Mrs Skravinsky’s screams kept those on the outside at bay.”

“There were no bobbies! We were outside. On the corners here and there stood the bobbies, grimly passive and, to signify the fact, with no official labels on their arms. Excited groups of hooligans eyed them wonderingly. A jewelry window just down London Road crashed in, and as bobbies smiled wonder vanished from the hooligans. Another window crashed in. It was the Lusitania all over again (in 1915 after the passenger ship the Lusitania was sank, riots broke out in an expression of anti-German feeling) only much more intense, since now there was no restraining hand at all. Hands were out grasping through the jewelry store windows. Inside other stores whose windows were bash in, respectable-looking men and women joined with slummies to gather up loot and flee homeward. Every store with anything worth steeling was broken into and the furnishings wrecked in the frenzy to get the best stuff available. I did not have anything like good luck until Ben Hyde’s pawnshop farther down London Road was reached. After the windows were bashed in, the place was ransacked, lockers pulled out, pledged articles tucked into aprons. I got hold of a couple of muffs that struck me, in my innocence, as very expensive things and once outside, fearing the riot would be short lived, I skipped away from Jackie, tucked two precious furs under my coat, and sped along the comparatively quiet streets for home.”

 Soldiers were rushed to the scene as a stand-off between them and the rioters ensued.  A magistrate tried to read the riot act, but this was jeered and ignored.  With the crowd getting more hostile and fearing that they were going to be overwhelmed the soldiers fired warning shots over the heads of the rioters. 

That may have been enough to quieten down that area, but the troops were still stretched.  So much so that like the specials previously, some soldiers stood helplessly by as looters stormed a clothes shop and took their booty like a Viking raid on tour.  One report mentions of men bringing a horse and cart and robbing a shop of its entire stock.  In Birkenhead the riot act was read by a magistrate in an armoured car as trouble spread over the water.

Despite the special constables being effective as a cat flap in an elephant house, the mayor sent an appeal to be read out at every Sunday church service for all able-bodied men to sign up as special constables for the month. 

To make matters worse a bakers’ strike had begun with the tram drivers now threatening to go out for better pay and conditions.  Added to which the railway men were also considering in going out to support the Police strike. 

In a move that would have made the government even more twitchy and wonder if it was a secret Bolshevik plot to overthrow the state, the local branch of the Labour party passed a resolution for a general strike ‘that the Liverpool Trade Unionists declare common cause with the National Association of Police and Prison Officers, and that in order  to give immediate and necessary assistance a down tools be herewith declared.  All trade unionists of this district are agreed to cease work at once on account of the attack made by the government on trade unionism.’ 

Even with the added presence of troops on the street and warships it still wasn’t enough to deter the rioters who were growing increasingly bolder.  On the Sunday a brewery in Love lane was looted with men getting drunk on the beer.  So much so that they did not notice a truck load of soldiers who had been dispatched to restore order. 

A rumour had spread that the soldiers did not have live ammunition as the crowd became more hostile even though troops fired a warning shot.  This led to a man called Thomas Hewlett grabbing hold of a soldier’s rifle and in the ensuing tug of war the rifle went off and fatally wounded Hewlett in the thigh as he died in hospital the following day. 

Elsewhere in the city, stones were thrown at troops as matters became increasingly volatile as looting continued across the city.  In one area troops fired on the crowd with one man being taken to hospital with a bullet wound to his neck. 

By nightfall a large crowd started to congregate by St. George’s Hall by where the tanks were stationed.  Looting had begun again along London road with the soldiers firing over the rioters’ heads as Police and special constables’ baton charged the crowd. 

Tanks on the streets of Liverpool 1919

Fighting between the rioters and soldiers continued with a crowd charging two soldiers by Christian street.  Warning shots were fired and with a body of Police Officers on the scene they launched a baton charge that managed to drive the crowd away. 

It was reaching a critical condition as rioting and looting continued that the army set up a Lewis gun in London road.  This showed the nervousness and the battle for control that the authorities deemed it necessary to set up a gun that was aimed along the length of the street so that they could fire right up and down the road.  No matter that rioting and looting had taken place it was a frightening and sobering thought that the authorities were willing to fire on civilians.  Paranoia it seemed was haunting the government that this was the start of a revolution. 

Over in Birkenhead the troops had managed to just about to secure the docks to stop any fear that any saboteurs would sabotage any machinery.  Troops were even stationed around Birkenhead town hall when a rumour spread that rioters were going to burn it to the ground. 

The tram strike on the Monday went ahead which caused vast disruption as the majority of workers relied on the trams to get to work.  Added to which there was still the prospect of the railway workers going out on strike to support the striking Policemen.  To make the government even more twitchy at whether there was an uprising on the cards the Liverpool District Vigilance Committee had been set up. 

A change in tactics also saw soldiers being relieved of their full kit and rather than carrying a rifle were issued pickaxe handles.  Parts of Liverpool were called off limits to prevent further trouble.  However, it was to be the weather and the heavy rain that stopped people congregating that following Monday night. 

It was enough to put an end to the rioting and looting as it started to fizzle out.  Over four hundred people were charged with looting or rioting.  With regards to the Police strike, there was a recruitment drive to replace the Police Constables who had gone on strike.  Not one man was reinstated with some having to leave the city to find work.  Adverts by local firms made it specifically clear that any Police Officers who were dismissed need not apply. The figures state that 955 were sacked.

Sellwood of the Police strike 1919 (printed 1978) gives a vivid picture of the former Police officers having to return their uniform which they did by piling it up outside St. George’s Hall.  ‘The uniforms started to pile up a mass of blue/black serge often interrupted by splashes of colour.  Campaign ribbon medals above the tunic’s left breast pocket bore witness to the meticulous years of service given to the city and the country that the former wearers had given.’

For Lloyd George and his government, the strike had purged the Police of any unsavoury and suspected Bolshevik supporters.  It also ensured that the state would always have control over the Police and even now it is illegal for a Police Officer to strike or join a trade union.  There is of course a Police association where Officers can put forward their grievances, but they are not in the position to enter an industrial dispute.  In short Lloyd George had ruthlessly shown his hand in curbing any further threats the Police Union NAPPO may have had.

Emmerdale and Coronation street. Not just jumped the shark, but Jaws and Free Willy

Soaps are meant to be a bit of escapism whilst throwing a magnifying glass on our on world and making the viewer questioning prejudices and injustice. Entertainment though is meant to be the main driving force.

Without going into specifics, Coronation street was only meant to be a short term drama of a dying working class world in the 1960s. It was certainly not meant to be the world’s longest running television soap. Likewise, Emmerdale (or Emmerdale farm to give it its original title) was just a daytime soap opera and although later moved to the seven pm slot was never envisaged as a long running drama.

As societies tastes change so do TV shows to keep up with demands. Ratings always dictate this if the show is to stay alive. Emmerdale had a major facelift and change in direction after ratings were low in the early 1990s.

A plane crash got rid of the weak characters and a move away from the problems of Jack Sugden’s sheep to a more flamboyant, tongue in cheek soap that notched up the romance, affairs, and back biting.

Just as importantly, it had a sense of humour as it wasn’t afraid of sending itself up. The Dingles with their schemes and scams was a break away from any fighting or arguments down the Woolpack. As was their dealings with the devious Eric Pollard.

Coronation street at the moment is abysmal. The actors can only work with what they’ve got and the writers are directed by what it is expected. That Halloween special of David Platt’s sink hole in his garden causing a huge hole that killed Johnny was truly awful.

You can tell the writer got carried away as if they were writing a horror movie as Seb’s Ma walked around with her hood up in the midst of a power shortage thanks to David Platt’s massive black hole sun in his back garden. Throw in a bit of rain, Seb’s Ma nearly killing his killer Cory and it was the equivalent of someone lacing Roy’s tea urn and causing Steve McDonald and the rest to be tripping off their tits.

Naturally, a week later it had all been forgotten about as they continue to get smashed at the Rovers return.

Another thing is the amount of drinking that goes on. A couple of bevies at dinnertime followed by a skinful at night. Most of the back street pubs have gone to the wall but not the Rovers return. Despite not having Sky sports and only serving Betty’s hotpot it still draws the punters. So much so, that it has more staff than a city centre Wetherspoons.

Quite why the writers think its okay for the two car mechanics Kevin and Tyrone to have a couple of beers at dinnertime is beyond me. Would you let a mechanic loose on your car if you smelt booze? How they haven’t been pulled over for one of the infrequent times they get a call out is beyond me.

Then there are the hairdressers and barbers who enjoy a skinful. Not being funny but a tanked up Audrey or David Platt being loose on your hair means that you risk the chance of coming out with a dodgy haircut.

What made me laugh was when one of the writers decided to go all green with Maria taking up the mantle. Considering that Coronation street is probably the greenest street in the country in the sense that everyone lives and works in the street, it didn’t really hit the spot as Maria bashed in a car window.

For the soap that gave us the dramatic scenes of Alan Bradley being knocked over by a Blackpool tram as he chased a fleeing Rita, Coronation street has provided some far out stories.

There is Pat Phelan who fell into the icy sea and ended up in a B&B in Ireland, Billy smashing his back and making a comeback that Jesus would have been proud of. Tyrone and Alina getting together was daft as well as anything that David Platt is currently involved.

No one expects a soap to be realistic as everyone works, lives, and don’t venture out of Coronation street. Even the Ginger headed copper Craig’s beat is Coronation street and if there is anything major is kicking off there he is faster than a speeding bullet. Forget about being put in a position that might affect your integrity and safety, Weatherfield police put him in Corrie.

The stories though are just silly and completely off the scale. Some of it is just sensationalist nonsense and off kilter to the character. Would Alya leave her brother’s father-in-law for dead when having an heart attack? Just total bollocks.

Predictable as a Jack Grealish step over was the fact that Imran got Abi pregnant after Cory walked and Kelly got sent down. Putting aside the plausibility of the two characters getting together it was obvious that a pregnancy was going to happen. Now that saga will drag out in a paint by numbers story.

Now we have ‘I know what you did last summer,’ after Emma and Faye knock down a old man. Why they made a big deal of Emma being hungover considering everybody is at least half pissed in Corrie, God knows.

Anyhow despite getting up and appearing to be okay, Emma and Faye go over to check up on Tony. Upon entering the flat after no answer they find him dead in his armchair believing that it might have been them that killed him.

Naturally for Corrie there is a lot of humming and rring on whether to do the right thing and call or an ambulance or risk prison, especially as Faye has just got out of clink.

They decide as you do, to leave Tony there but for some weird reason decide to clean his flat. Someone of course knocks and they take the parcel.

Of course they bump into the Ginger cop Craig who is dating Faye despite being a convicted criminal. He suspects something and once this long drawn boring saga will be drawn out, Super Cop Craig will have the dilemma of either covering for the pair or doing his duty.

As for Emmerdale that needs a restart. What used to be a mix of drama, humour, and the usual touch of soap action is in a rut. Now the storylines just consist of arguing, someone having an affair, conniving behind someone’s back and then repeat.

The misery storyline with Meena holding her injured sister Manpreet is just crap. Will Meena get Manpreet a typewriter and get her to write a decent script, who knows?

To keep up with the recycling theme, Emmerdale did this five years ago as another nurse Emma Barton did the same to her estranged husband James Barton.

I know Stephen King’s misery is a brilliant novel but he has written loads of great books. Maybe Marlon could walk the green mile or a mysterious clown shows up offering balloons with kids disappearing. Perhaps they could have a shining theme in the B&B with Eric Pollard smashing through the door with a axe and going here’s Eric!’

Here’s Eric!!!!!

The script writer’s should look up Stephen King’s bibliography on Wikipedia if you want something different.

Once again the Woolpack has been blown up that it’s surprising that it has any insurance. Nothing is memorable in that soap anymore or has a good mix of characters.

Twenty years ago you would have had Jack Sugden, Rev. Ashley, Edna, Seth, Betty mixed with Trisha, Kelly, Terry, Viv, and the Dingles. Now who have you got? Paddy the vet was a lightweight back then, whilst Zak is past his best that it’s probably Diane and like the other three has been there for twenty odd years.

Maybe it’s time to reduce the amount of episodes of both soaps with Coronation street to start being more realistic. I.E. getting characters who actually work outside of the street would be a new start.

Emmerdale needs to stop having the affair, arguing, and backstabbing on repeat and realise you have to mix it up.

Whether either will is debatable but it will come to a point when an audience won’t be watching it religiously no matter what and will have to stop being so lazy.

Boris Johnson takes the real life ‘thick of it,’ to a dark side

The French President Emmanuel Macron allegedly called Boris Johnson a ‘clown,’ and a ‘knucklehead.’ Which in the circumstances is pretty tame. In the midst of a global pandemic, Britain has the worst person in charge to steer it through this difficult period. Even if the Covid-19 pandemic had not happened, Johnson would still be nailed on to be one of the worst Prime Ministers to enter number 10.

For Boris Johnson it all about entitlement and running the country as though he was still a member of the Bullingdon club. The warning signs were emblazoned like a Las Vegas casino night sign. A proven liar that has been sacked from a newspaper, lazy, and always winging it on a populist wave.

Much has already been written about the slow reaction to the Coronavirus pandemic, the care homes thrown to the wolves, and reacting rather than trying to be proactive.

This though should be no surprise as Boris Johnson has winged it his entire life. Everything has been laid on a plate for him and it is a sense of entitlement that he should be Prime Minister rather than feeling he has the skills and ability to do it.

So it was no surprise that Boris Johnson would not admit to a Christmas party being held at number 10 last year, whilst the rest of the country was under tier three of Covid restrictions. Quite why they thought a party was appropriate whilst people couldn’t visit loved ones or in some cases say their last goodbyes, just shows the arrogance and disdain.

Boris Johnson just couldn’t take the responsibility and instead tried to brazen out by sending out cabinet members to bat. It shows that the likes of Raab and the rest have no backbone or principles to turn round and refuse to lie. Better still, admit a party took place and those responsible would take the consequences.

Instead we had a scene straight out of the thick of it with the mantra of a party took place but the rules was adhered to. You could imagine Malcolm Tucker screaming ‘For fuck’s sake,’ whilst legging down Whitehall to try and stop. You could imagine Malcolm asking ‘when is a fucking party not a fucking party? Jesus fucking Christ, why didn’t you have a secret Santa!’

The response would be well with the respondent feeling the heat from the volcanic eruption of Malcolm Tucker at the stupidity and arrogance.

Now that video of the mock press conference has been seen it shows that they were aware of the implications. The jokes and giggles was just salt being rubbed into the raw wounds that saw Allegra Stratton resigning.

It would be easy to be say Johnson is incompetent but the fact is he just doesn’t care. Take the Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe case where Johnson not only did nothing to help but indirectly extended her prison sentence by what the Iranian authorities implied was him admitting she was a spy which was not the case.

Bluster and winging it is what Johnson tries to do. Just look at the clip below, to see Boris Johnson trying to grasp his role when travelling to meet the French. You can see the glazed bored look in Johnson’s eyes as his aid acts as the patient teacher trying to teach the idle class clown who has fallen way behind.

Why should we be surprised that there should be any repercussions for Boris Johnson when he hasn’t suffered any consequences for his actions. In the past talking about clearing away the dead bodies on Libyan beach and making it in the new Doha would have seen him dismissed. And that’s not mentioning his racist comments of refering to black people as ‘piccaninnies with watermelon smiles,’ muslim women wearing the burqas as postboxes and homophobic comment as he said how gay men were ‘tank topped bum boys.’

Normally comments like that would see you getting sacked in the work place never mind government, but ‘Teflon,’ Boris Johnson comes through unscathed.

Why should we be surprised when Boris Johnson picks the most expensive wallpaper to decorate number 10 or not wanting to work weekends. Added to which, not being arsed to attend crucial Cobra meetings regarding the pandemic.

Boris Johnson is the symbol of the new Tories or the spawn of Thatcher ‘there is no such thing as society.’ ‘Fuck ’em and let’s make some money,’ seems to be the mantra. PPE contracts given to ‘chums,’ nothing was off limits.

Cuts to school meals and taking £20 off Universal credit was something they did without a second thought. Yet, the scandal of MPs taking second jobs sees some of them bleating how they could possibly survive on their £81,000 MP salary.

The likes of Matt Hancock are lucky not to be under criminal investigation over giving contracts to a friend who had no knowledge of PPE but owned the local boozer that he visited. At present they are quietly looking to privatise the NHS.

Even the recent scandal of fifty people attending a Christmas party at number 10 last year which broke the Covid rules sees no resignations or being sacked. Instead you have the brazen attempt of just a shrug of the shoulders and not confirming or denying it.

All it shows is that for the likes of Boris Johnson and his ilk, is that the rules do not apply to them. Whilst they drink champers at the Bullingdon or Hellfire club, for them they are the Masters and we are the Plebs that are there to serve. Until people wake up and demand real change in terms of bringing in Proportional representation in voting and getting Johnson out then they will not lose any sleep over the consequences of their actions.

Stewart in the thick of it succinctly sums up the Tories as ‘a party built on a foundation of cunts.’

‘Worthless Sidney,’ Mary Norris & the Speke Hall ghost of the baby thrown into the moat.’

One of the most infamous and well known ghost stories in Liverpool revolves around Speke Hall and the claimed occupants at the time in the 1730s. Namely, Sidney Beauclerk and his wife Mary Norris.

The story is of how Sidney was such a notorious rake that liked to gamble, drink, and lived a exuberant lifestyle, much to the detriment of his wife Mary Norris who had inherited Speke Hall and the family fortune that came with it. Sidney saw it as the keys as if it were the bank of England’s vault and proceeded to spend it with a wild abandonment that would make Blackadder III, Prince Regent blush.

Even when Mary gave birth their to son Topham Beauclerk it didn’t stop Sidney continuing with his lifestyle and spending money as though it had gone out of fashion.

Matters came to a head when Sidney had disappeared for nearly a week in a haze of drinking and gambling with his cohorts. Staggering into Speke Hall, he went up to the bedroom to see Mary who was not pleased at the rough and worn look of her husband.

Amidst the complaints of Mary who for the hundredth time berated Sidney for letting her and their young son Topham down, there was a pause as Sidney had to force out the words that he no doubt dreaded.

No one knows what was meant to have been said. Whether Sidney rambled or casually told Mary as though it was a mere inconvenience, the gist of the story, was that he had been drinking and gambling.

Sidney did not have much luck at the gaming table and as with all gamblers tried to recoup their losses only to fall further and further into debt. With literally a last throw of the dice, Sidney told Mary that he had gambled and lost their fortune.

Upon hearing the news, Mary screamed as she picked up their new born baby and threw him into the moat. After that, Mary went to the Great Hall and dramatically stabbed herself to death so that she no longer had to suffer the indignity of being banished into poverty.

After that gruesome and sad ending, Mary is said to haunt Speke Hall or now known as the ‘grey lady.’ There is also said to be the sound of a crying baby in the early hours of the morning, with Mary’s ghost meant to have made a presence when the then occupant of Speke Hall, Adelaide Watts was entertaining guests. Others have talked of seeing a woman at the window cradling a baby while the empty cradle is rocked without anyone near.

Many have wondered whether the story is true and if not, where and why was it told.

Despite Sidney Beauclerk being one of royal blood, (his Grandparents was Charles II and Nell Gwynn) he was seen as a notorious fortune hunter.

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu described Sidney as ‘Nell Gwyn in person, with the sex altered.’  To much mirth amongst those in her circle when it was discovered that Sidney had the 63 Duchess of Cleveland in his sights, Lady Mary penned the following ditty.

‘Her children banished, age forgot

Lord Sidney is her care;

And, what is much a happier lot,

Has hopes to be her heir.’

During this period and right through up to the Regency the upper classes like Sidney lived life excessively and in particular gambling on high amounts.  Donald A. Low’s book ‘the Regency underworld,’ describes how a aristocrat called Fox, blew £10,000 recuperated with a profit, then proceeded to lose again.  Nonchalant, Fox went to his gentlemen’s club to continue drinking. 

For Sidney, it would be a case of keeping up appearances and what was expected of him.  With his lineage, more would be expected of him as he attempted to put his mark on the world. 

Like many other ‘gentlemen,’ of that era, money was not easily accessible and Sidney would have been no different to the other notorious fortune hunters skirting around society.  However, the records show that Sidney was hardly subtle in using his looks.  One record shows the scandal to snare Lady Betty Germaine who was in her old age to marry him. 

It took her family and the Duke of Dorset to persuade her that marrying Sidney Beauclerk was not a good idea.  Rather than genuinely being in love with someone who was old enough to be his Mother (Lady Germaine was born in 1680), Sidney was more interested in the huge inheritance that her husband Sir John Germaine who had passed away in 1718 had left her.

According to the history of parliament online website, Lady Germaine paid Sidney £1000 ‘to be off with you.’

Due to the scandal and being blatant in seeking out old rich widows, that Sir C.H. Williams dubbed him ‘worthless Sidney,’ a nickname that stuck.

Sidney Beauclerk (1703-1744) or ‘worthless,’ Sidney

Undeterred, Sidney put his next mark in his sights which was the considerable rich and elderly Sir Thomas Reeves. This time around, Sidney managed to ingratiate himself with Sir Reeves and when he passed away, left ‘worthless,’ Sidney, part of his large estate around Windsor and Old Windsor.

After Richard Norris had passed away in 1731, the estate passed to his eldest brother Thomas’s daughter Mary Norris who also inherited Speke Hall. Due to her father passing away when Mary was a child, she was brought up by relatives at Aston Hall in Cheshire. Mary lived here with Molly Aston and seven cousins.

There is no record of how Mary and Sidney met or whether it was an arranged marriage. Either way, with Mary aged thirty-six it probably became imperative at the time that Mary marry and produce an heir. With Sidney’s aristocratic bloodline it probably seemed a good match. For Sidney, it meant adding to the fortune that he had already inherited.

It must have seemed an unlikely match with Sidney being seen as flash and charming whilst Mary was described as having no notion of a joke and was quite obstinate.’

The couple married in London, 9 December, 1736 and set up home in Windsor. Three years later, Mary and Sidney’s only child Topham Beauclerk was born. Certainly, there is no mention of Mary and Sidney ever taking residence at Speke Hall, much less the dramatic tragedy of Sidney blowing Mary’s inheritance and in response throwing their baby into the moat.

If anything, Speke Hall had been left in woeful neglect by the farmers and tenants who took residence. As for Sidney, he had attempted to make a career in politics after winning the Windsor seat in a by-election in 1733.

Although appointed a member of the Privy council, Sidney was not highly regarded, with the 1st Lord Egmont describing Sidney as ‘one of the dead voters and creatures of Walpole,’ (the then Prime Minister Sir Robert Walpole).

Eight years after marrying Mary Norris her husband Sidney passed away in November 1744, leaving everything to his son Topham.

As to where the infamous story of Mary Norris throwing their baby into the moat and killing herself, after Sidney had blown away her inheritance, nobody knows.

Some believe that Adelaide Watts (the last occupant of Speke Hall) made the story up to keep unwanted visitors away from the Hall. Others think it may have related to an unwanted baby or even a miscarriage of one of the servants, or maybe a malicious story due to Sidney’s notoriety.

Either way, there is no way of knowing where the tale comes from. Suffice to say every old house has to have its resident ghost and Speke Hall’s is they grey lady or Mary Norris looking for her baby. Rumour has it, that the last person to leave the tapestry room, will see the ghost.

Despite evidence pointing to Mary Norris and Sidney Beauclerk never residing at Speke Hall, with their son Topham growing up to adulthood, there are those who are convinced of a presence in the room and certainly there is a touch of the otherworld in Speke Hall.

The Liverpool race riots of 1919

Liverpool race riots

In times of upheaval, unemployment, and uncertainty there are always those that look to outsiders and minorities to blame for their ills.  Even now that is evident with the xenophobic views after the Brexit vote. 

As soldiers were starting to be discharged after fighting in trenches and mud in one of the bloodiest conflicts they returned home.  For their sacrifice they assumed that they would be taken care of in terms of at least being provided jobs. 

That though was not forthcoming with work hard to come by and some finding that their old jobs had not been saved.  Immigrants who had been brought in to keep essential work going such as the docks were brought in.  Not that it was rare incidentally of immigrants finding work across the country prior to the first world war.  With poverty high and no sign ‘of a land fit for heroes,’ there was a scapegoat that was used for the inability of getting work and that was anyone who was African or black even if they were born in Britain. 

Right across the country there had been outbreaks of racist violence with Cardiff seeing four men murdered simply because of their colour.  At times it was that bad that the Police and army had to be called in to restore order. 

Despite Liverpool being a cosmopolitan and diverse city, it too was to suffer from hateful bigotry and racism.  Liverpool had always relied on immigrants from West Africa and other parts of the globe for work there was some that believed that they had taken the work from them on the docks whilst they were fighting in the war.   Although Africans and other nationalities had also fought in the war this was an inconvenient truth that was ignored by those wanting to blame someone’s skin colour for their inability for finding work.

Tensions had been rising with racial insults and attacks being reported across the city.  Nothing was done to try and reduce the hostility that was brewing.  Inevitably the spark came when it led to serious trouble and murder that would be a tarnished part of Liverpool’s history.

It came in June when John Johnson, a West Indian was in a public house enjoying a quiet drink.  Two Scandinavians approached him either to intimidate or provoke John Johnson using the pretext of asking for a cigarette.  When Johnson refused the Scandinavians got more hostile with a fight breaking out and ended with John Johnson being stabbed in the face. 

The news quickly spread and the next evening eight of John Johnson’s friends went to the pub to hunt down who was responsible for their friend’s injury.  Upon entering the ale house, they threw beer over those that they thought were responsible for John Johnson’s attack.  A fight broke out with the Police called to try and restore order.  In the ensuing melee a Police Officer was knocked unconscious as it was reported that Johnson’s friends escaped.

Although the Police didn’t seem to make much effort in finding the assailants of John Johnson, they now sought to find the culprits who had assaulted their colleague.  Upon finding the boarding house that they believed the men were holed up in, they quickly raided the premises. 

It quickly turned violent as the men fought back furiously using weapons with one even using a revolver that was fired.  One Policeman was shot in the mouth whilst another was hit in the neck as the fight continued.  News of the event spread like a flame across a gunpowder trail as a lynch mob now used it as an excuse to storm the boarding house and mete out their own punishment.

Upon getting inside one of the inhabitants Charles Wooten a twenty-four-year-old ship fireman, who was not involved in any of the fights fled the building.  This didn’t deter the mob of three hundred who ran after Charles Wooten like a pack of hunting hounds with two Police Constables also in pursuit. 

According to the reports the mob had chased and cornered Charles Wooten at the edge of the docks.  Upon seeing their prey, the mob grabbed hold of Charles Wooten and threw him into the water.  Not content with that they pelted him with rocks as he tried to swim out.  Growing more tired as he was unable to get out, Charles Wooten drowned.  None of the Police Officers that were present tried to stop the mob or attempted to get Charles Wooten out.  Nor was one person arrested for his murder. 

Despite the shocking killing it did nothing to quell the racist attacks that had been happening across the city.  If anything, it increased with gangs indiscriminately attacking any black person that they could find.  The Liverpool Mercury tells how a black man who held a good position with a prominent liner was hauled out of a car and robbed, whilst a black ex-serviceman who was awarded three war service medals was severely beaten up.

Another report from 10th June states how in Toxteth park, thousands of people were in a wild state of excitement.  Any houses that they believed were occupied by black people were fair game to attack.  Some homes were looted with one house even set on fire.

‘There is a feeling of terror amongst the coloured people of the city,’ wrote the Liverpool Post on its report.  ‘All night long until sunrise black men could be seen in companies hastening along unfrequented thoroughfares to the nearest Police station or Ethiopian Associations.’

Over time order was restored but no effort was made to bring those who had attacked someone simply because of their colour to justice.  Furthermore, the mood and violence only added to the uncertainty that had come with the end of the war and the industrial unrest that had followed.  

The drama and excitement of the 1986-87 football league season

For some reason, the 1986-87 is forgotten in the annals of time. Some seasons are still talked fondly about such as Liverpool’s samba like football of the 1987-88 season with John Barnes, Peter Beardsley, and Aldridge terrifying defences. There is also Arsenal’s dramatic win at Anfield to seal the title in 1989 or Man Utd’s treble season in 1999.

Yet the 1986-87 had more than its fair share of drama, excitement, upsets, stories that were gut wrenching such as the career ending tackle on Jim Beglin.

Then there was the story of Wimbledon who had powered their way up the Southern league in 1977 to earn a place in the football league fourth division. Nine years later, they were ready to debut in the first division.

Not that it was a Roy of the Rovers story as Wimbledon’s football and approach was akin to a rough Sunday league team.

Foundations were also laid that season with managerial changes at Manchester United, George Graham was starting at Arsenal with Kenny Dalglish building one of the most exciting Liverpool teams.

It was also the start of the decline of one of the 1980s powerhouses (not that Everton knew it at the time) as well as one of the exciting FA cup final in years. The 1986-87 was a season full of goals (Spurs Clive Allen and Liverpool’s Ian Rush who enjoyed a goal spree) that the season deserves to be revisited and fondly remembered.

The previous season had produced an exciting climax as Liverpool hauled in the reigning champions Everton to seal the title on the final day at Stamford Bridge 1-0. It was a story that belonged to Roy of the Rovers with Dalglish chesting the ball before hitting a sweet finish with the ball in the back of the net.

As Liverpool’s new player-manager held his arms aloft it became an iconic image in the football history books.

For Everton, it became a season to forget as a week later Liverpool came from a goal behind with their kryptonite Ian Rush scoring a double with a goal sandwiched in-between the bubble permed Craig Johnston to win the FA cup 3-1 and win the double.

To rub salt in the wounds, the Everton team had to endure a tour of the city behind the Liverpool bus who proudly showed off the trophies that they won. Graham Sharp recalls that the only highlight of the day was a furious husband kicking out the Everton team after his wife kindly let the players use their toilet. Her husband, being a red saw it differently.

The 1986-87 season saw both Liverpool and Everton clubs as the favourites for the league championship. Manchester United who started the season previously on a ten game winning streak with the pundits declaring them as champions elected, came down as quickly as the Christmas decorations in January to finish nowhere near the top. Consequently, there was pressure on their manager Ron Atkinson to go one step further.

Changes were afoot for Liverpool as this would be the last season Ian Rush would wear the red shirt after agreeing to join Juventus in time for the 1987-88 season for £3.2 million. In effect, Liverpool were loaning Rush for another year.

It was also a season as to how long Kenny Dalglish could keep playing, especially as he was now manager. The question mooted was whether Liverpool could wean themselves off the influence that Dalglish had on the team.

Everton themselves saw Lineker join Barcelona after one season with the toffee’s, after he had finished top scorer in the Mexico world cup. The Catalan giants paying Everton £2.8 million for his services.

The big signing for Everton in the summer of 1986 was Dave Watson from Norwich for £900,000. Watson incidentally was a former Liverpool youth team player who was unable to break into the first XI so sought his chances elsewhere.

Also signed that summer was Neil Adams from Stoke City and Kevin Langley from Wigan Athletic.

For Liverpool they signed Barry Venison the young Sunderland captain who had captained the Black cats to the 1985 Milk cup (league cup final) where they were beaten by Norwich. Venison was a young exciting prospect as Liverpool also signed Steve Staunton from Dundalk.

However, Sammy Lee who had worked his way through the ranks and been a major player in previous years was sold to Queens Park Rangers for £200,000.

The curtain raiser was the Charity shield with Everton hoping to gain revenge for being beaten at the death for the double by Liverpool.

Once again it was to be Everton’s arch nemesis Ian Rush who was to snatch victory after Adrian Heath had given Everton the lead with ten minutes to go. Rush equalised with two minutes to go, and ensured that Everton and Liverpool would share the shield.

Everton were also beaten by Liverpool in the Football league super cup 7-2 on aggregate. The tournament was as much loved as Cinderella’s ugly sisters and dragged on like a crap song as it went from 1985-86 into the 86-87 season with the final two legs taking place in September.

Once the trophy was lifted by Alan Hansen it was never to see the daylight again. A bit like the Queen’s cousins Nerissa and Katherine, such was the poor attendance and lack of interest.

Due to Wimbledon’s rise from the Southern league and going right from the fourth division to winning promotion to the first in 1985-86, there was a lot of media focus on the club.

Much as the media tried to paint Wimbledon as a fairy tale they were anything but, despite the nickname of the Crazy gang. Although the Don’s football was route one and being physical, the likes of Vinny Jones and John Fashanu behaved liked thugs and bullies.

Team mates such as John Scales and Terry Phelan spoke of the bullying culture that went way beyond the lines of socks and ties being cut. Players would be either tied to a car rack whilst being driven at high speed or locked in the boot.

During the BT sports documentary on Wimbledon, John Fashanu was accused of trying to break a teammates legs and throwing one teammate around the dressing room like a rag doll.

Although there was a funny story from Mark Crossley on how Brian Clough stormed into the Wimbledon dressing room and smashed their ghetto after refusing to turn it down.

‘Play your fucking music now Wimbledon,’ Brian Clough was meant to have told the gobsmacked Crazy gang.

Wimbledon actually led the table for the first two weeks in September and finished the season in sixth place defying the critics who had Wimbledon as a cert to get relegated.

For the early part of the season, Nottingham Forest led the table and George Graham in his first full season as Arsenal manager saw the Gunners lead the table from November to early January.

Over at Old Trafford, matters on the pitch was not great for Ron Atkinson’s Manchester United. Pressure was already on Atkinson to deliver after the way United faded way into the distance in the second half of the 1985-86 season.

It took until 13 September for Utd to get their first three points on the board with a 5-1 against Southampton. However, it didn’t give the Red Devils the kickstart required as they went into another slump and were hovering around the relegation zone around Halloween.

This was a horror show that United fans were not happy to accept and after Utd was dumped out of the Littlewoods league cup 4-1 by Southampton in a replay on the 4th November, the man from Old Swan Ron Atkinson and his big leather coat was shown the door Another manager who failed to banish away the ghost of Matt Busby which still lingered around Old Trafford.

It was to be a seminal moment for Manchester United as they appointed former Aberdeen manager Alex Ferguson. The signing had hardly been a surprise, and due to the Glaswegian smashing the hold of the old firm Celtic and Rangers in the Scottish Premier league, was seen as the man to break up the hold of Everton and Liverpool.

Ferguson certainly had the credentials having won three Scottish Premier League titles, four Scottish cups, one league cup, and of course beating Real Madrid in 1983 with Aberdeen winning the European cup winners cup.

Although United didn’t set the rest of the season alight, Ferguson led them to eleventh place. The next few years would be tough, but Ferguson not only banished the ghosts of Matt Busby but created a dynasty where it is his legacy that other managers since he left the Utd hot seat in 2013 have failed to match.

The Christmas period and the second half of the season was certainly memorable. Some of the football from Tottenham, Liverpool, Everton, and Nottingham Forest was entertaining.

January saw no runaway leaders with the leading pack all confident that a good run could be enough to see them over the line.

Back then the FA cup was a prestigious trophy which was also seen as a chance to rescue a poor start to the season. With the introduction of first and second division teams for the third round of the FA cup there was the anticipation of the draw. As usual there were the usual potential hopes of giant killings with the romance of the cup of anyone being able to be heroes for one day.

For Liverpool, they started their defence of the cup away to Luton Town at Kenilworth road. This tie was to be controversial and it wasn’t just the plastic pitch that was to anger Liverpool.

Not many teams were happy at having to play on the plastic pitches of QPR and Luton Town. Unlike the artificial pitches of today, Kenilworth and Loftus road were awful to play on. The ball bounced unexpectedly high and there were genuine concerns about the damage the hard pitches had on the knees and joints of the players who had to play on the surface.

With a cold freezing spell gripping the UK with places under snow, it was a chance to get out the orange ball. There was always something iconic, even exciting at seeing the orange tango coming out and although the match wasn’t a classic, it finished 0-0 there was still something iconic about seeing Paul Walsh on the ball as the Luton Town defence give chase.

The replay at Anfield was to be the controversial point. Although Liverpool had managed to ensure the pitch was in good enough condition to play, Luton Town messed up their travel plans and were stranded in Luton due to the cold snap and not being able to get a flight to Liverpool.

Not surprisingly, Liverpool were furious, especially as Luton Town fans had managed to make the trip to Anfield. ‘If you can’t turn up for a match, you shouldn’t be in the competition,’ Dalglish commented.

Another gripe was that the coin was tossed prior to the Anfield replay as to whether to play at a neutral venue or go back to Kenilworth road should the Anfield game be a draw. Dalglish knowing that Luton would be extra defensive when they won the toss questioned whether the toss should have been after the game.

That game finished 0-0 with Luton Town winning in the third game 3-0 knocking the holders out at the first hurdle.

Other notable results from the third round was Aldershot beating Oxford United 3-0, Leyton Orient taking West Ham to a replay, whilst Wimbledon beat under pressure Lawrie McMenemy’s Sunderland 2-1. McMenemy had promised to take Sunderland out of the second division that season. He duly did, as Sunderland dropped down to the third division.

With no European football due to the Heysel ban, the league cup took on extra importance. The quarter-finals had pitted Everton and Liverpool at Goodison park.

A solitary goal from Ian Rush gave Liverpool victory but it was overshadowed by Jim Beglin suffering a leg break following an horrific tackle by Everton’s Gary Stevens.

So bad was the tackle that Liverpool captain Alan Hansen responded that ‘apart from being a mile high and an hour later it was fine.’

The leg break in effect ended Jim Beglin’s football career. He had broken into the team in 1985 and was ever present in the team as well the Ireland national team. Although Beglin later moved to Leeds United, he only played an handful of games before being forced to retire due to the leg break.

As the football started entering the business end of the season it wasn’t a surprise that the usual suspects Liverpool and Everton were the ones competing to be champions.

Tottenham were having a good season with the likes of Glenn Hoddle, Chris Waddle, and Ossie Ardilles adding a flamboyant touch to the side. However, it was Clive Allen who stole all the plaudits as he scored forty-nine goals in all competitions with thirty-three in the league.

Although Spurs were easy on the eye, they were too inconsistent in their results, dropping points when they needed to take advantage when Everton or Liverpool didn’t win.

Liverpool already had an eye on a future without Ian Rush as they signed John Aldridge from Oxford United for £750,000. Being a boyhood Liverpool fan and hailing from Garston, Liverpool, it was every Christmas and birthdays all at once for Aldridge who used to stand on the Spion Kop.

Nigel Spackman was also signed from Chelsea for £400,000 whilst Liverpool lost out to sign Leeds United Ian Snodin, who decided to join their arch-rivals Everton.

The first major final was played 5 April 1987 as Arsenal and Liverpool met at Wembley to decided the winners of the Littlewoods league cup.

Arsenal had overcome a 1-0 deficit against North London rivals Tottenham to win the second leg 2-1 and the subsequent replay at White Hart lane 2-1. There had been controversy as Spurs openly declared on how to apply for tickets for the final. Arsenal ensured that it was more than literally jumping the gun.

Over at the south coast, a bad tempered first leg that ended 0-0 saw Paul Walsh sent off for punching Kevin Bond after the Southampton defender spat in the Liverpool striker’s face. In his autobiography Walsh states “We had a bit of a grapple but no more as I backed into him and though it was handbags at that point, he crossed the line when he leant in and spat in my face.”

 “I checked to see that the ref wasn’t looking and then turned around and smashed him as hard as I could in the face.”

“What I hadn’t noticed in my eagerness to plant one on him was the linesman, who was stood about five yards away and saw the whole thing.

“I was sent off and I was waiting for my bollocking in the dressing room when Kenny walked in after the final whistle. We’d drawn 0-0 and he said,

‘Wee man, you know you were wrong don’t you?’ I nodded, waiting for the inevitable, then he said, ‘But if there’s one person I don’t mind you smacking, it’s that twat.”

Liverpool as they always did back then, ensured the job was done at Anfield by beating Southampton 3-0 and facing George Graham’s young Arsenal team.

It was a bright spring Sunday afternoon that looked more in tune with a FA cup final. Two classic strips were on display, with Arsenal wearing their red home shirts and white sleeves. Liverpool were in their away of white shirts, black shorts and white socks.

Much had been made of Ian Rush’s record of going one hundred and forty-four games of Liverpool remaining unbeaten when he scored. A early goal by Ian Rush made the omens favour Liverpool, even when Charlie Nicholas equalised seven minutes later.

This game was to be the highlight of Charlie Nicholas’s Arsenal career. There had been a lot of clubs including Liverpool who had been interested in signing the young Glaswegian from Celtic in 1983. However, Nicholas had failed to live up the hype and was seen as more of a playboy, hence his nickname ‘champagne Charlie.’

It was Nicholas’s second goal that was deflected off Ronnie Whelan that won Arsenal the Littlewoods league cup and meant that Ian Rush ended up on a losing side despite scoring in the game.

For George Graham, it was an important win as it gave his young side the catalyst to challenge for the bigger honours which resulted in the Gunners clinching the league title in dramatic fashion in 1989.

As for Liverpool, they had no time to lick their wounds as there was the matter of defending the title with it becoming a shootout (yet again) between the reds and Everton.

In early March, Liverpool put themselves into pole position after beating Luton Town 2-0 at Anfield to go top. Liverpool had been in this position so many times before in the final run in that many expected Liverpool to go on and finish at a canter.

This certainly seemed to be the case as the next three games were won on the bounce. A 1-0 defeat away to Spurs was seen as a minor setback, but then Liverpool lost to Wimbledon and Norwich which both ended 2-1.

Although Everton had a injury crisis they had still kept it together and took advantage of Liverpool’s wobble by winning seven games on the bounce after the defeat away to Watford.

Chelsea were beaten at Stamford Bridge on the 4th April 2-1 which saw Everton leapfrog Liverpool who were playing Arsenal in the Littlewoods league cup final the following day.

It was to be a position that Everton wouldn’t be shifted from. Certainly the Easter Monday game saw a gap open between the pair as Liverpool were beaten 1-0 by Manchester United with Everton beating Newcastle United 3-0.

Liverpool might have beaten Everton 3-1 in the Derby in April, but it was a case of winning the battle not the war. Especially as the following week Liverpool lost to Coventry City at Highfield road 1-0.

The Toffee’s strong run of form saw them cross the line after beating Norwich 1-0 at Carrow Road 4th May and lifted the league championship on the 11th May with a 1-0 win against Spurs.

Some might view that league campaign as run of the mill, but it was anything but. There had been drama, a newly promoted team in Wimbledon whose style was akin to a Sunday league football team, roughing up the established teams.

More importantly, there had been good football with the two marksmen Liverpool’s Ian Rush and Clive Allen competing for the golden boot. As it was, Allen won that race with his thirty-three goals to Rush’s thirty.

This was also a period of change, although at the time nobody realised it. Alex Ferguson had took the job at Old Trafford and started building the foundations of his dynasty at Manchester United.

For Liverpool there was a sea of uncertainty as many supporters including critics wondering if this was the end of Liverpool’s dominance. Many wondered where the goals would come from after Ian Rush’s departure to Juventus and whether player-manager Dalglish could still influence matters on the pitch.

Indeed, during the late stages, Dalglish was still having to play at thirty-six when it was expected that Dalglish would quietly drop himself out of the team to concentrate on managing.

Liverpool fans were to have a nice surprise when the arrival of John Barnes and Peter Beardsley, shook up the Kop and the footballing world with the scintillating football that would be played next year. It was to be one of the most attacking Liverpool teams as they went twenty-nine games unbeaten in 1987-88 on their way to clinch the title.

Sadly, for Everton, this was to be their purple patch, especially after Howard Kendall left to manage the Basque club Athletic Bilbao. Although Kendall’s number two Colin Harvey took the hot seat, he was not a Bob Paisley that could keep the success going.

It didn’t help that the likes of Trevor Steven left for pastures new joining Everton right back Gary Stevens at Glasgow Rangers a couple of years later.

Big money was spent in the attempt to keep Everton fighting for trophies such as a record transfer fee for young West Ham striker Tony Cottee. Pat Nevin, Stuart McCall, and Peter Beagrie but none reached the levels expected.

Colin Harvey did lead Everton to the 1989 cup final, but were beaten 3-2 with that man Ian Rush coming off the bench to score twice. The move to Juventus had turned sour with Rush coming back to Anfield for only one season.

Back to 1987 and there was still the small matter of a FA cup final to play. David Pleat’s Spurs were gaining all the plaudits for the their football. Unlike ‘Diamond lights,’ a song performed by Spurs stats Glenn Hoddle and Chris Waddle.

Undeterred of bad cup final songs, Chas and Dave released the Tottenham cup final song with ‘Spurs are on their way to Wembley.’

Coventry City had reached their first FA cup final beating Man Utd away in the fourth round, amongst others before dispatching second division Leeds United 3-2.

As per usual in that period, Tottenham were hyped by the media who felt that Spurs had too much for Coventry and would keep their one hundred percent record of never losing a FA cup final. Wins against Newcastle, Scunthorpe, Crystal Palace and a 4-1 against Watford in the semi-finals saw Tottenham reach the final.

What isn’t talked about is how much of a classic the 1987 FA cup final was. Right from the whistle it was a game that you couldn’t take your eyes away. It had everything that a blockbuster film could only envy.

A Coventry team who were the plucky underdogs against the glamour boys of Tottenham Hotspur. Even the weather was classic cup final with blue skies and a warm spring afternoon.

It took only three minutes for Tottenham to breach Coventry’s defence as Clive Allen claimed his forty-nine goal of the season. Many expected Spurs to turn this into a rout but Gary Bennett equalised six minutes later.

The game was back and forth with either side having chances to take the lead. As it was, a free kick from Glenn Hoddle fell to Gary Mabbutt who scored the goal to give Tottenham a 2-1 lead prior to the referee ending the first half.

A diving header from Keith Houchen in the second half saw Coventry City equalised and take the game to extra time.

It was to turn into agony for Spurs and Gary Mabbutt as a McGrath cross deflected off the Spurs defenders knee to go past Ray Clemence.

Spurs could not get the equaliser with Coventry deserved winners as they won the FA cup for the first time in their history. The smiles on the Coventry players, manager, coaches and fans showed how much it meant to them as they milked every minute of it.

Back then it was about the memories and enjoying the special moments of winning the cup rather than celebrating a solitary fourth place finish in the Premier league.

The FA cup final was a perfect end to the season that had provided drama, stories, and good football.

Messi, the leaving of Barcelona and the arrogance that leaves Barca in limbo

The thing with football is that time passes by so quickly that it is ten years since Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona outplayed Manchester United in the 2010-11 UEFA Champions league final at Wembley 3-1.

In that same year they also won the league with ninety-six points, four more than Real Madrid as the two clubs went head to head. That year it was a clash of styles and personalities as the then coach Mourinho used every trick in the book to get in the minds of Barcelona’s players and particular the manager.

Pep Guardiola’s team was a fantastic team to watch. Breath taking football, that neutrals outside of Madrid also admired.

When Guardiola took charge of Barcelona in the summer of 2008 the club were at a crossroads after Frank Rijkaard had took the club to two La Liga titles and a much coveted second European cup after beating Arsenal 2-1 in Paris. After the 2006 final, Barca were off the pace with players such as Deco and Ronaldinho coasting.

It was a massive risk by the Barcelona board. Guardiola was a new coach who had managed the B team but the board knew that Guardiola knew the club inside out and crucially knew that he had the players to turn it around.

Guardiola stamped his authority from the off as Deco and the club’s biggest star at the Ronaldinho were sent packing.

Fortunately, it wasn’t a massive rebuild that was required. Just a professional attitude and getting the players to buy into his tactics which the team did. Added to which, there was the emerging talent of a young Lionel Messi.

The Barcelona team at the time was strong in every area of the pitch. From the goalkeeper, defenders, midfielders, and forwards, every player was strong in their position. They could press aggressively, and make the quick pass and move required by Guardiola that blew teams away.

Iniesta and Xavi finally got the recognition they deserved whilst Lionel Messi became the global star to rival Ronaldo.

Supporters around the world enjoyed watching Barcelona with many becoming fans of the club as they bought into ‘more than a club.’

As the big money continued to slush around the game it propelled Barcelona into one of the global giants. Sponsors wanted to be associated with the success and plaudits that was showered on Barcelona FC.

The only thing is that nothing lasts forever. A player like club captain Puyol may not be a glamourous name nor have the skills of Messi, but he is a fundamental part of the team.

In essence a successful team is built like a swiss clock. Every part, even the smallest ensures the team functions well. Not that the Barcelona board at the time was aware of this.

When Puyol called time on his career due to injuries a centre half didn’t seem to be a priority. Mascherano a defensive midfielder was put in defence alongside Pique. Not that it seemed to matter at the time as success still came but there was not the eye on the future. So long as Xavi, Iniesta, and Messi were still the heartbeat of the team, Barcelona were always in the running.

La Masia was always talked about producing players and to listen to the board and certain critics, they bragged that they built teams and not bought stars like Real Madrid.

This wasn’t true as it was only during Guardiola’s reign as manager that La Masia graduates like Xavi, Iniesta, Pique, and of course Lionel Messi came to the fore. Barcelona were just as committed to buying big stars as their history shows. If you want to look at a club that is committed to their youth team then look no further than Athletic Bilbao.

Big money was splashed around like a drunken sailor on leave. In modern football it isn’t so much the transfer that is the killer it is the colossal wages that can hurt a club, especially if the player isn’t as good as they thought.

You can accept a lower transfer fee but unless you can afford to pay the player the remaining years of his contract, or a club is willing to match the wages there is not much you can do to force the move unless the player is happy to take a cut in pay.

This though is what Barcelona did consistently after Guardiola left. No thought to their finances, no thought as to whether the player would fit the tactics and style of the team. Money was spent as a form of status that they were a big and global club.

When Neymar joined Barcelona in 2013 for a stated £57 million Euro fee from Santos it transpired, following an investigation into tax evasion that the transfer had cost Barcelona £86.2 million euros with £40 million euros going to Neymar’s Parents. The jokes knocked around that Neymar’s Dad cost more than a top flight transfer fee.

By now Barcelona’s influential players such as Xavi and Iniesta were looking towards the end of their careers. Dani Alves who had been their marauding right back was on his way out as he was in his mid-thirties. Yet Barcelona didn’t look at bringing in players that could do a job but were obsessed with the star dust that comes with a superstar footballer.

The thinking was that they always had Messi. Someone who would always get them out of trouble and more than likely score the crucial winner. However, whereas previously the team could cope without Messi, this time they relied more and more on Messi.

Just by having their talisman coming on as a substitute after injury boosted his teammates and the crowd.

Luis Suarez was signed from Liverpool in the summer of 2014 with Barcelona winning the treble that season of La Liga, Champions league and Copa Del Rey. That though was to be Barcelona’s Indian summer.

Nothing was done to ensure the balance of the team was still in place. Not even after Xavi and Iniesta left. When Neymar left for PSG (apparently, Barcelona had become fed up with the circus that came with Neymar’s entourage) the club signed Dembele from Borussia Dortmund for £105 million euros with another £40 million euros in add ons.

The only problem was that Barcelona gave no thought as to how Dembele would fit in the team. A talented player, but could Dembele adjust to a different style that meant that you had to create, work hard, as well as being a striker.

Unfortunately, the move did not work out as Barcelona continued to spend lavish amounts on players with no thought to balancing the books. Phillipe Coutinho was signed from Liverpool for £105 million rising to £142 million with various add on clauses.

Maybe Barcelona was expecting Coutinho to be a Neymar but he is a completely different player to his fellow countryman. Instead the move was a disastrous flop that saw Barcelona putting him out on loan to Bayern Munich.

To add more salt into the wounds, Coutinho scored twice against Barcelona in a Champions League quarter-final as Bayern Munich thrashed Barcelona 8-2 in Lisbon.

Bayern Munich went on to lift the European cup that year with Barcelona having to pay Coutinho a hefty bonus as they failed to stipulate that Coutinho had to win the European cup with the Catalan club.

Major cracks had already appeared. The debacle against Juventus in 2017 as they were beaten 3-0, blowing a 4-1 first leg lead against Roma to lose on away goals as Roma won 3-0 in the return leg in 2018.

Then came the humiliation at Anfield a year later as they blew a 3-0 first leg lead to be blown away by Liverpool who thrashed Barcelona 4-0. The players physically wilted on the pitch, withdrawing further back with Messi a passenger in that game.

Despite all the money that came from sponsorship, ticket sales, kit deals etc, Barcelona had managed to squander the money that now saw the club in a financial mess. The high wages was crippling the club and despite Messi wanting to leave last year, the club still put a stop to him moving.

It wasn’t just because Messi is one of the best players in the world but the fact that as their talisman, it would make them less of a club in status as well as igniting more anger from their fans due to the mismanagement.

The summer of 2019 saw lessons not learnt from Barcelona. Rather than re-focusing on what was needed for the team, they decided to activate Griezmann’s 120 million euro buyout clause from Atletico Madrid.

Again, no consideration was given as to how Griezmann would fit into Barcelona’s style and tactics. Atletico are more direct in their play and feed their strikers whereas as a Barca forward who are expected to create and pull defenders out of position as well as finding the back of the net. Not surprisingly, the move hasn’t worked out.

Maybe it was to cut down on the wages bill (which was like throwing a glass of water on a house fire), Barcelona let Luis Suarez join Atletico Madrid who not only scored goals but knew how to play for Barcelona.

The pandemic hasn’t helped any clubs although the likes of PSG, Man City, and Chelsea due to their rich owners have managed to cushion the blow. Barcelona’s mismanagement for the past ten years kicked them even harder in the sense that they can scarcely afford anyone.

Even when Messi was happy to stay and take a fifty percent paycut, Barcelona still couldn’t afford it, which led to the unthinkable of Messi leaving the Camp Nou and joining Neymar at PSG.

Matters are so bad that Pique has had to take a pay cut in order for Barcelona to register their new players.

There always was a time when Messi would hang up his boots but that was thought to be at Barcelona. Now they not only face having to live without one of the best players to grace a football pitch they now have to rebuild whilst heavily in debt. This was one of the reasons why Barcelona along with Real Madrid were happy to form a European Super League which collapsed quickly.

Nothing lasts forever and that’s why if you support Barcelona or enjoy the football that Barcelona produced during the past sixteen years, you have to enjoy every minute of it before the sun goes out.

Barcelona are back to earth with a nasty bump and will have to live with being ordinary. Whether they can reach their former glory remains to be seen, but they have not helped themselves with the arrogance that the board believed that success lives forever.

Throw in the financial mess, giving mind blowing contracts to players that didn’t balance the books, didn’t think about where these players would fit in, and more importantly, realise to be successful you have to build a team, it is not surprising that Barcelona are in the mess that they are in.

It is one of their own making and without Messi there is a good chance that they will hit new lows not seen for a long time.

Scouse not English

A banner on the Kop can be sometimes seen that proudly says ‘Scouse, not English,’ as though Liverpool is a separate region from England. Similar to the how the Basques and Catalans see themselves as separate from Spain.

For those born outside or have never lived in Liverpool there is a sense of bewilderment and even anger that some Liverpudlians see themselves as separate from England, even more when supporting the national football team is a shrug of couldn’t care less from Liverpudlians.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I can give my view on why I feel this way. Of course there are Liverpudlians who support the national team and even have the flags out during the tournaments. It would be daft to say otherwise, but for those wondering about why some Liverpudlians do not want to identify as English or support the national football team, here is an explanation.

Liverpool’s identity

Due to Liverpool being a metropolitan city back when it was the second city to London in terms of economic importance and wealth, it was a beehive for immigrants making Liverpool their home.

It truly was a melting pot with every type of nationality taking residence in Liverpool. The biggest group was Irish, followed by Welsh which made Liverpool the biggest Celtic city in England. Added to which there was Scandinavians, and Italians who built huge communities.

Not surprisingly, it had an impact on the city’s culture and the Scouse accent evolved from a Lancastrian accent into the Scouse accent that we know today. Even the Liverpool’s famous meal ‘Scouse,’ is a take from Scandinavian stews.

Liverpool seemed different to other parts of England and with huge communities from across the globe, it was no surprise that they drew support from each other in times of strife.

Take the 1911 Transport strike which was a national strike as the main artery of the British Empire was cut off, when the strikers decided what could and couldn’t come through the docks.

The city took on two gunboats sent by Winston Churchill who pointed the guns at the city. Not forgetting ‘bloody Sunday,’ when the army cavalry charged a peaceful crowd of thousands at St. George’s plateau.

To stop it escalating further and a possible civil war, the government ordered the businesses to concede to the demands of the strikers to end the dispute.

It is the 1980s though where you can see the foundations for the Scouse not English taking roots and lead to Liverpool forming a separate identity from the rest of England.

The 1980s was a tough time for the north and Liverpool was one of the hardest hit. Geoffrey Howe declared Liverpool as a lost cause with the infamous letter that spoke of ‘managed decline,’ which Margaret Thatcher’s government carried out.

That was never going to be taken laying down, and with a militant council fighting the cuts, it seemed Liverpool was involved in its own war with central government.

It is a city that will always fight its own corner. The Hillsborough disaster in 1989 where ninety-six people were unlawfully killed at the FA cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, due to Police incompetence, poor stewarding, and a stadium whose safety licence had expired.

A cover up was attempted, which started with the Sun newspaper headline blaming fans for the disaster, knowing that it was untrue. The Lord Taylor report exonerated the Liverpool fans but didn’t push for the Police commanders like Duckenfield, FA, Sheffield Wednesday board to be prosecuted for causing the deaths that led to ninety-six supporters being killed as well as the mental impact it had on the survivors, family and friends.

Once the Taylor report had been concluded with its recommendations, it was assumed by the establishment that the families and survivors would just go away. Only they didn’t, and had to fight every inch of the way over the years to get justice.

Even now, it is hard to contemplate at the sheer scale of the cover up, altering witness statements, mud throwing that went on led to those in high government and the establishment being viewed with suspicion, and not wanting to be associated with anything that was willing to lie and demonise a city to cover the failings of those in high positions.

Besides which, those establishment figures loathed Liverpool and its politics. Instantly looking at anyone from Liverpool as a second class citizen and troublemaker that filtered down onto to the away terraces.

Chants of ‘sign on,’ ‘feed the scousers,’ ‘Liverpool slums,’ sang at Liverpool fans. This was particularly more galling when it came from areas in the country that had high unemployment and needed investment. You can actually feel the venom of some people when they even hear the word Liverpool.

You can argue that all areas of the UK are subject to stereotypes which is true but when people are going over and over with the same digs, you realise that it is personal. Others viewing you with suspicion and thinking that the majority of city were on benefits and always on the take.

Is it any wonder why any Liverpudlian would want to support England when you are made to feel like an outsider?

There is also a difference between the different parts of the country that support England and Liverpool in the sense of their views and behaviour. For England supporters they don’t seem to be able to go anywhere without trying to intimidate and bully the locals.

It is as though they take great delight in thrashing a bar and fighting the local Police. Throw in the songs from World War II and the ‘no surrender,’ chants, it isn’t something that I want to be associated with. Patriotism with a snarl, is what I call it.

When Liverpool play abroad, it might be loud, but there isn’t any intimidation with the mood normally relaxed.

Let’s not forget the clip of England supporters chanting ‘we hate Scousers.’ That isn’t a joke but real venom at a city who they look down their nose at.

That incidentally isn’t just football rivalries, it is more personal when you read some of the comments on social media. The insults such as ‘bin dippers,’ aimed very much at the city rather than the football team.

You could feel the panic as Liverpool marched on to win the European cup in 2019 and even more so in 2020 when Liverpool won the Premier League and becoming Champions of England for the nineteenth time. The ‘unbearables,’ as Liverpool were called, became a badge of honour.

So if you are wondering why Scouse not English is a thing it is the hostility directed at the city and not feeling any connection to England. After all, Liverpool’s politics and views differ to the rest of the country.

Finally, if you make someone feel like an outsider, then don’t expect them to suddenly jump on the England bandwagon, when the majority of people have been sneering at a city that they probably have never visited.

Boris Johnson and his naughty hellfire chums are the new Tories, without any values.

Living under Boris Johnson’s government is like living in the pages of the dystopian comic 2000 AD. It isn’t just living under the Covid-19 pandemic, but a government that is corrupt and is not answerable to anyone. None of them have any shame but a shrug of the shoulders and lets move on.

Boris Johnson and his chums are a new type of Conservative. There are no old style values of having to behave to a certain standard, but populists who don’t have any real ideals and believe that they are born to rule.

Take Brexit for example. Boris Johnson is no Brexiteer. All he saw was an opportunity to be Prime Minister. Wave the flag, say ‘boo sucks, to Johnny foreigner.’

For Boris Johnson it probably would have been preferable if the vote had been remain but just enough to put pressure on David Cameron.

As it was, Michael Gove stabbed him in the back but led to Theresa May becoming Prime Minister. That was a disaster, especially after the 2017 election where the Conservatives lost their majority and had to rely on DUP support to establish government.

Once that happened, May was a lame duck with Boris Johnson and his Hellfire chums sensing blood and again used Brexit (this time the vote in parliament) to shove her out of the door, with Boris Johnson taking the big job.

If there is one thing that is consistent on Boris Johnson when you read about him, and that is consistently lazy and a compulsive liar.

David Cameron, George Osborne, Rees-Mogg, Boris Johnson were all born into privilege, went to elite public schools where they were brought up to believe that they were born to rule. Going to Cambridge or Oxford was just a formality, rather than ability.

University was about coasting and putting on a show in the debating society. Even one of Boris Johnson’s teachers thought he felt he was entitled to be head boy.

The truth of the matter is that if Boris Johnson was not born into a wealthy family he would be an habitual criminal, in and out of prison. After all, this is a man who promised to arrange a beating up of a journalist that his chum Darius Guppy took a disliking to.

Another incident involving the Bullingdon club in which Boris Johnson, David Cameron and George Osborne were members, led to a pub being thrashed and Johnson being chased by Police.

Let’s face it, Boris Johnson would be one of those reprobates which he has shouted about, that has no sense of responsibility, an habitual criminal, with children all over the place of some rough arsed estate. After all, Boris Johnson has started running out of names for his children, that his latest child is probably named after his butler Wilf.

Politics at the moment is well deep into a cesspit. From populist dog whistles to outright corruption. Even ten years ago if a High Court had found the Health Minister guilty like it did Matt Hancock when it ruled by not publishing procurement contracts, the government had acted unlawfully.

That just wasn’t the only thing that Matt Hancock did by giving his friends PPE contracts even if they had no experience. Not only that but he lied about the shortage of PPE, allowed elderly patients who had Covid back into the care homes causing unnecessary deaths, the fiasco of the track and trace app. Dominic Cummings released a Whatsapp message from Boris Johnson that called Hancock useless.

Despite all this, Hancock remained in post, but what did that matter when other Ministers and Boris Johnson were involved in other scandals. Remember Boris Johnson and the Jennifer Arcuri £100K grant when Johnson was London Mayor.

Ironically, Matt Hancock was involved in a similar scandal, but despite Boris Johnson not sacking him, Hancock’s card was marked as he had to resign over breaching Covid protocols.

Gavin Williamson is another idiot who could come from the pages of a P.G. Wodehouse, Bertie Wooster books. The fiasco over the exams last year, and the bad performance of a education minister that would mean the door if he was a football manager.

You look at the current cabinet and you do actually wonder what are their principles apart from making and being in power. Just jump on a populist bandwagon such as slating the England players for taking the knee, (despite the fact that the footballers have made it clear it is an anti-racist stance and not the bizarre Marxist take that has made some racists uncomfortable, thereby giving them a reason to oppose it) and then wearing England shirts with a shout of ‘come on England,’ as the national team got to the final.

Aston Villa’s Tyrone Mings got it spot on when he called out Priti Patel for her dog whistling by tweeting “You don’t get to stoke the fire at the beginning of the tournament by labelling our anti-racism message as ‘Gesture Politics’ and then pretend to be disgusted when the very thing we’re campaigning against, happens.”

Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Priti Patel and Matt Hancock are the new breed of Tory. No values, narcissists, and self entitled individuals who are not up to the job. Some of the traditional valued Conservatives are not happy with the bombastic, populist Boris Johnson which accounts for the Chesham and Amersham by-election defeat.

Not that it matters at the moment. So far they are pushing through legislation that will make protesting and striking much harder. Already they are looking to privatise the NHS.

It doesn’t matter what scandal Boris Johnson and his chums are involved in, they are literally Teflon. Financial fraud, incompetence, racism etc it doesn’t matter, it’s all brushed under the carpet as mere inconvenience. So far as they wave the flag and give it ‘boo sucks to Johnny Foreigner.’

Brexit so far is a failure with the pandemic wallpapering the cracks. It isn’t just sorting out trade deals, settlement, security, but the Northern Ireland Good Friday agreement which is under threat. Despite the warning that it wouldn’t be as easy as claimed, they just blustered through. But hey, we now have Blue passports that are worth less than the old ones.

The Brexiteers are a weird bunch. Not only do they want to live in a Britain that never existed, they still aren’t happy with all the anger on social media.

As for Boris Johnson is a liar and as we are seeing now is winging it with disastrous results. He is responsible for the unnecessary deaths due to Covid, the fiasco over track and trace, as well as not shutting the border to India quick enough to avoid a new variant wreaking havoc.

This though is what happens when people vote for a Bullingdon and Hellfire boy who is lazy, has no empathy or regard for anyone and believes he is entitled to rule.

The seeds of the European Super League Was Sown In 1992.

It was all done with the subtlety of a bulldozer crashing into your house when news seeped through of Perez’s ‘dirty dozen,’ announced that they would be setting up a new European Super League on a Sunday evening.

None of that dicey business of relegation and of having to earn a place through your domestic league. You was in, because you either had money or the stardust to attract fans all over the world. This was invitation only.

Shock and anger engulfed social media as fans let rip their revulsion of such an idea. To make matters worse, the managers and the players didn’t know and had the rug pulled out from under them.

Jurgen Klopp was thrown to the wild and left like Withnail’s Uncle Monty ‘naked in the corner,’ as Klopp had to bat questions about something that he only knew as much as the reporter and detested the idea of a European Super League.

As the fury erupted like a flame across gunpowder in a fireworks factory the clubs started to drop out one by one. Man City’s manager Pep Guardiola was openly critical of the Super League as it all started to resemble a mess of Eton proportions.

Probably the biggest factor in the clubs withdrawing from the Super League was the players and Managers. UEFA, who had thought the new Swiss style tournament that would come into force from 2024, would be enough to placate the ‘Dirty Dozen,’ were furious. Retribution was threatened that any player touching a ball in a Super League match would be banned from representing their national sides.

There was also the complex matters of players contracts that was tied up in bonuses and wages that was related to the Champions league, Premier league, plus sponsorship money. It was probably the players and managers anger that saw the clubs drop out. After all, without a team you can’t play.

Fans celebrated as others decried the lack of understanding from the owners of the clubs. Did they not understand the identity of their club or the heritage of the game in this country?

In short probably not and neither do they care. For the US owners for example, it is about making money. Franchises which is what the Super League was, is a model they are used to working with. Plus the added billions from JP Morgan, it would be mad to turn it down, especially whilst we are in the midst of a global pandemic.

Some fans are talking about wresting back control and citing the Bundesliga fifty plus one rule. Others want new owners as others wonder how on earth it had come to this.

The truth of the matter is that seeds of destruction was sown back in 1992 when the then big five of the English football league, Arsenal, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United, and Tottenham Hotspur, wanted a bigger slice of the pie.

It was about making more money and protecting themselves from any intruders who might stand on their toes. One Sunday Mirror journalist (unfortunately, the name escapes me) quite rightly called the new Premiership ‘The Greed is good league,’ a quote attributed to Gordon Gekko, a character in the film Wall Street.

Out went one hundred and four years of football league history and in came the ‘The Greed is good league,’ (Premier league as it is known) with the chasm between the big clubs and other clubs matching the Grand Canyon.

What accelerated the gulf was the money from Sky or BSkyB as it was known back in 1992. In Adrian Tempany’s book ‘And the sun shines now,’ it recounts how Alan Sugar the then Chairman of Tottenham Hotspur and the owner of Amstrad, phoned the Chief Executive of BSkyB Sam Chisholm and told him ‘to blow ITV’s bid out of the water.’

Although Sugar came clean to the other Chairmen of his conflict of interest, it still seems questionable, judging the shares in Amstrad soared once the BSKYB bid was accepted.

This was the moment that the genie was let out of the bottle, never to return. With Italia 90 seemingly starting to see a new interest in football, everybody flocked to watch football and subscribed to Sky and undoubtedly saved Rupert Murdoch’s ailing satellite station.

Football was now a product to be consumed and with the shiny new all seater stadiums or upgraded on the recommendation of the Taylor report after the Hillsborough disaster that led to the unnecessary loss of ninety-six lives, it fitted in with the new image Sky wanted to sell.

Richard Keys the host of Sunday football never tired of telling the audience that the Premier league ‘was the best in the world.’

As the money rolled, it was spent on players across the world, especially after the 1995 Bosman ruling, which ruled players could move freely without any restrictions such as the three foreigner ruling at the time.

The likes of Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Viera, Jurgen Klinsmann, Ravanelli, Juninho, Ruud Gullit, Gianfranco Zola, to name a few, graced the pitches and added the stardust for Sky.

Now it really was ‘the best league in the world,’ when the best players strutted their stuff on English pitches.

Once Arsene Wenger brought success to Arsenal it paved the way to managers from around the globe to coach the big sides. The Premier league was truly global and attracted a huge audience from overseas which increased the revenue for Sky and the Premier league teams.

Some football clubs like Derby County and most notably Leeds United gambled to stay in the Premier League or in Leeds case staying in the top four for a Champions league spot but failed spectacularly even with the parachute payments to soften the blow out of dropping out of the Premier league.

That brings us onto the UEFA Champions League which also plays a part in this sordid affair. After Real Madrid were knocked out in the second round of the European Champions Cup in 1990, they furiously reacted against the dice of chance and wanted a system that still gave them a chance and more money. As did the other top European sides at the time.

So was born the UEFA Champions League that was restructured into a round robin of a group and knock out stages. Most notably, you no longer had to be a Champion but finish up to fourth in some leagues to get the golden ticket of participating. Thus ensuring that the big clubs always had a chance of competing in Europe’s Premium club knockout competition.

Like the Premier league, money from TV and sponsors, splashed into the coffers like Blackbeard the pirate after a summer of pillaging. You didn’t even have to win the competition to make a lottery style killing.

Money became King and whereas UEFA once frowned so heavily on the hint of sponsorship tainting their competition (teams who had shirt sponsors had to have them removed if they reached the final. In the 1981 European cup final, Liverpool even had to cover the Umbro logo, prior to beating Real Madrid 1-0), now threw it at you. Official beer, official soft drink, official video game console, you name it, UEFA were willing to embrace it.

As the clubs gained more influence and wanted an even more bigger share of the cake, it wasn’t any surprise that rich businessmen wanted a piece of the action. Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea and instantly gave them a blank cheque to bring in the best players. Then there was the Glazer’s who upon purchasing United plunged them straight into debt, in order to purchase the club.

Outside of the big clubs there were owners willing to take a quick punt. Some like Portsmouth were asset stripped and dropped down like a stone, before fans rescued the club and helped rebuild the club.

Nobody asked the fans what they wanted or whether they were happy with the changes in the game. Ticket prices soared, kick-off times were re-arranged to suit television. Never mind the distance between Newcastle and Liverpool on New Year’s day and lack of public transport. That kick-off will be 12.30 if television says it is.

Football was turning into a product. Fans were customers, preference was given to those who were willing to pay package deals and spend hundreds in the club shop rather than the old timers who at best would buy a match day programme.

Every game whether it was Stoke City vs Burnley was an event, with the Premier league anthem and the players stood there in their pre-match tops shaking hands. The crowds just added that bit of extra colour and noise to sell to their overseas audience.

When the Fenway group bought Liverpool in 2010 it was a relief for many reds that the club was no longer in the incompetent and greedy hands of Hicks and Gillette.

For John Henry who had no interest in football and never even heard of Liverpool football club, it was a chance to buy a distressed asset on the cheap. This would be how it would be sold to him. Liverpool had a huge global fanbase, an established club, with the money from the Premier league and European competition help boost their return, along with the prospective sponsors who would be happy to chip in, to be a part of their product.

The Main Stand was rebuilt to accommodate more fans and with the success of Jurgen Klopp winning the Champions league and the Premier league it seemed that the good times would roll.

Of course there had been a bumpy ride with the U-turn over the proposed £77 ticket but that was all in the past. The fact is, that the Fenway group are venture capitalists who are willing to do anything that will make a profit. John Henry for example, is a baseball and Red Sox fan, but has received criticism in the running of the team from their fans. Money is what drives the likes of Fenway and Glazers. Not leaving a legacy or being a benevolent owner who buys into an identity. That is something to sell, to make your club somehow special ‘this is more,’ more than a club,’ etc.

That’s why it shouldn’t come as a surprise when they were willing to sign up to the European Super League. A couple of billion to enter a franchise and the extra dough that would come with it.

For Real Madrid and Barcelona who are heavily in debt, it was a chance to wipe the debts clean as well as protecting their interests that comes with being in a closed shop.

Maybe they were initially taken aback from their own fans protests against the proposed European Super League, but if it wasn’t for the players and managers, would have tried to have still railroaded it through. After all, even for those that dropped out, there are enough on the season ticket waiting lists to take that place.

Sky sports might use Gary Neville to protect the threat to their product in saying how the European Super League would destroy competitive football. The truth is that this was a ticking bomb started in 1992. As the clubs got richer, those of the elite wanted more and more as well as protecting their status.

That was why UEFA are still going ahead with the Swiss system leading to more games and a wild card entry for those clubs not good enough to qualify for the Champions league through their past history. More precisely, their global audience.

Nobody asked the fans who actually go the game what they wanted. We are the ones who are expected to pay more money, find the time from work to travel, in order to sell their product.

For those wondering after the protest at Old Trafford what Utd and Liverpool fans want is keeping hold of their identity and values of the communities that the club were born from.

The problem is whether it is too late. Ever since the birth of the Premier league and the revamping of the UEFA Champions league, football has become a commodity to consume across the world. When there is huge bundle of cash involved is it any surprise that capital ventures like the Glazier’s and FSG start sniffing around the big clubs?

Even if the owners of Man Utd and Liverpool did sell would the new owners be any different or even worse? From my point of view, I wasn’t surprised by FSG. I knew that they were in it for the money and at the time were preferable to the two cowboys Hicks and Gillett.

Is it a case of just making the best out of a bad hand? After all, FSG have delivered on redeveloping the main stand, providing support for Klopp in bringing in the players that helped win the league and the European cup.

There are those that argue that you can’t have your cake and eat all of it. If David Moore who was Liverpool through and through, still owned Liverpool, then the identity and principles of Liverpool would still be kept. However, Moore does not have the money that you need to compete which is why he unfortunately sold to Hicks and Gillette.

All of this stems from the formation of the Premier league. It encouraged greed and the protection of the big clubs. Once Sky pumped in the money as well as the money generated by the Champions league, the clubs involved were always going to grow away from their roots. Money talks and selling a dream of principles is something to get extra support from across the globe to buy into.

The die hards are there to make the noise and colour for the cameras in order to sell and the sad reality is that we are viewed as customers.

What happens next is anyone’s guess. The fans need to have more of a say in the running of the club but whether the owners would entertain that is another matter.

As for Sky they can’t hold the moral high ground. They are just as much responsible for turning football into a bloated version of Disney land where everything can sold with the latest transfer news turned into a drama to rival the Sopranos. Everything to keep that Premier league machine going.