So it's that time of year again - the transfer window opens.
As football fans it's in our nature to look forward. Lets mix it up a bit. Here's a piece looking back on the history behind the rivalries in the north West.
Football. Just a game, yes? Just twenty two overpaid egos chasing that elusive ball and that ever so tantalizing media spotlight? No more than just a sport?
Well, if that's how you feel and you do not plan on changing your mind, please put down the magazine and move on.
Rest assured we will not be offended. If you're still here then you too will appreciate the importance and the impact that association football has had in shaping our society. In 2010 a war torn country, ravaged by violence and apartheid came together to host the largest footballing event on the planet.
A war was halted and the guns fell silent on christmas day in 1914 so the chaps could have a kick-about. But let’s face it, despite the appeal of the appropriately named beautiful game, something so passionate, so tribal, is bound to create some intense rivalries. Buenos Aires you might ask. Istanbul perhaps. El Clásico surely. All immense adverts for the importance of the game. But we need look no further than the British Isles. The north West. Merseyside. Manchester. The hot bed of English football, where it all began.
Rivalry has always been there in football for all to see, perhaps more so in the 1970s and 1980s when hooliganism was at its height, football was put on the back burner and it was more about one up man-ship among the fans. As long ago as that may seem to some of our readers, the now deep rooted hatred felt in the north West existed long, long before the days of terrace warfare. Back to 1894 to be exact. Now worry not, this is not a history lesson, though it is vital in the birth of this struggle for supremacy. Liverpool, the mighty harbour, source of all import in the north West.
Thriving. Bustling. Now, imagine the folk from Manchester disrupting this with the construction of a canal bypassing Liverpool. Imagine losing your job, livelihood and all that comes with it. The animosity was always there, football merely added fuel to the fire.
Jealousy has too been an ever present factor in this inter-city conflict, and this can be felt from the chief executive right down to the everyday punter. The Liverpool of the 1970s and 1980s ransacked the continent, taking everything from expensive European sportswear to four European Cups. As you can probably imagine this would not have gone down so well in pubs and playgrounds throughout the red-half of Manchester. Fast forward to the nineties and noughties and the roles were reversed. Manchester, as it had done in the past, knocked Liverpool off their perch with the meteoric rise of United. A treble, two Champions Leagues and overhauling their Merseyside dwelling enemies in terms of league titles and this bitter rivalry was more hostile than ever.
The evolution of this north West derby is still on going, taking on a new meaning. Thanks to the huge rise of Manchester City, and the recent dip in Liverpool's fortunes, some would argue this once titanic clash has diminished in importance. Try justifying that logic in the Stretford End or the Kop and a hard stare, and perhaps cries of insanity are sure to follow suit.
Now let’s not forget these two great footballing cities have more than just the two red giants, the blue under studies to these great dynasties are often overlooked. The ever present Everton and the mega rich Manchester City contribute hugely to the persistent bout that is football in this region. Not since the days of 'that goal' from Dennis Law has a Manchester derby had so much meaning, well, that was until a certain Sergio Aguero popped up with his own version of 'that goal' to snatch the title away from United's grasp in the dying seconds, not that you need reminding.
Just a short trip down the M62 and Liverpool too share their city with the boys in blue from Everton, whom Liverpool owe their very existence to. Thanks to Everton allowing Liverpool to play at their former home of Anfield, now how could anyone fall out with that? Well quite easily it would seem, the Merseryside derby is the longest currently running top flight derby, mix that with massive one sided success, the most amount of red cards in any Premier League fixture and a city where you are either one or the other.
The north West may not have the glamour of Barcelona or the ultras of Rome, but this is the breeding ground of English football rivalry. The evolution of the on-going conflict that can be found in Merseyside and Manchester is one worthy of any big screen adaptation, canals and all!
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