Passing Rhythms: Liverpool FC and the Transformation of Football

Passing Rhythms: Liverpool FC and the Transformation of Football

Passing Rhythms: Liverpool FC and the Transformation of Football

Passing Rhythms: Liverpool FC and the Transformation of Football

Synopsis

Liverpool Football Club, in stark contrast to its competitors, remains locally owned, not a conglomerate or media business. Unlike its main rivals, the Liverpool club has been loathe to pursue global markets for merchandizing - though it attracts a huge fandom around the world - and its ambitions remain resolutely fixed on footballing success. No football club has ever had such an extended period of dominance inthe English game, nor extended that dominance to Europe so effectively.Many of the current crop of top young players are locally born and are a central feature of the city's nightlife, as well as national icons in pop/football/youth culture. But there are fears that the Club's great days have now passed. At the height of its powers in the 1980s, Liverpool FC was the site of two catastrophic crowd disasters, which effectively transformed the sport and added to wounding perceptions about the city's alleged sentimentality, fatalism and irreversible decline. The legacy of the Heysel and Hillsborough tragedies continues to shape the self-image of the Club and those who support it. A seething rivalry with nearby corporate giant Manchester United is a constant reminder of football's new order.Addressing all of these concerns, as well as Liverpool's global reputation as the home of the Beatles and the 'Mersey sound', this book takes an original approach to the study of football by examining its links with other important popular culture forms, especially pop music, but also television and youth styles. In particular, however, it looks at the very special meaning of football in Liverpool.

Excerpt

This book is about football in the city of Liverpool, but it is mainly about the history and place of one football club in that city, Liverpool FC. The other major football club in Liverpool, Everton FC, has a key role to play in the very beginning of our account of the origins of professional football on Merseyside, but it soon fades from obvious view. In fact, of course, Everton, though not often mentioned explicitly in what follows, never fully disappears from our vista at all. ‘The Blues’ are forever helping, dialectically, to shape their Liverpool football counterpart in their vital co-struggles for Merseyside - and latterly national - footballing hegemony. The nature and meaning of this domestic struggle between near neighbours, born of the same seed, also changes as the respective identities of these clubs shift over time.

Today, for example, in an era of football ‘brands’ and global marketing, when ‘What is increasingly being produced are not material objects but signs’ (Lash and Urry, 1994: 14), footballing antagonisms and rivalries in the city are as likely to revolve around symbolic - as well as commercial and spatial notions of Liverpool FC as a ‘national’ or ‘global’ club, with Everton as a more ‘local’ or ‘regional’ concern - as they are around more historic and domestically-rooted religious, kinship or territorial distinctions around Merseyside football (Williams, 2000). The meanings and values specifically attached to Everton Football Club deserve their own extended investigations, of course, not least because of the club's extraordinary history, but also because of more recent struggles around the ownership and control of this famous North West football club. But this is the subject of another book: it is not our task here.

Local histories, fan remembrances, life biographies and statistical accounts are pretty much all available now on most top football clubs in England. They are part of the astounding growth of recent interest in football as a cultural product: football is certainly one of the key media sports ‘texts’ which are at the leading edge of the recent ‘culturalization’ of economics (Rowe, 1999: 70). The market for books and other media texts about football and its fans seems to be an everexpanding one. Indeed, as this book was being written, a number of popular other books about Liverpool FC and the recent managers and players of the club, emerged . . .

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