Football Read Review: Defining Liverpool – no easy job

THERE is no other football institution like Liverpool in Britain, yet most of us don’t really understand the club or its fans. Our view of Liverpool has been coloured by TV caricatures, media bias and by footballing mythology. Rarely has that view reflected the football team itself, for mostly, Liverpool’s players and management have been a credit to the game, both at home and abroad. 

Rarely has anyone disliked Liverpool’s teams, they have always been a box-office draw and usually respected for their relentless pursuit of success. Even today, while fans of opposing clubs taunt the red men, not many people will say a bad word about the likes of Klopp, Salah and Henderson.

Dan Fieldsend’s book, Locãl, attempts to explain why Liverpool is unique and why the club and city are so intertwined. For most of the book, the author succeeds, the historical material is engaging, objective and informative. Later on, when the focus turns to the current era, the narrative becomes less balanced and reads like myopic fan-lit. Overall, though, it is an engaging book that entertains and answers many questions. 

There are some misconceptions, such as the comments made about the difficulty of winning the European Cup/Champions League if you’re a club from a non-capital. There is nothing to support this theory – of the 22 different winners, 17 are from non-capitals, including Liverpool and Manchester United.

But where this books truly wins is in revealing the history of Liverpool as a city and the culture of the club. It also explains why Liverpool’s fans have the attitude of “us against the world” and why they are among the most “unEnglish” of fan groups. It is arguably one of the reasons why the city has produced so many creative people and why talent still roams the streets.

We have largely forgotten how low the city fell in the 1980s under the Thatcher government and how bad the treatment of Liverpool was by an administration that considered managing the city into submission. This is really quite shocking and it is incredible that during the city’s steep decline, Liverpool won countless trophies and dominated English football until the heartbreak of Hillsborough derailed the club for many years.

Although the book is obviously written by a die-hard fan, there is enough objectivity to gain a clear picture of what Liverpool Football Club means to its home city and why their fans have a special bond with the club. Very few books of this kind have been written, which makes it a valuable addition to any serious football library.

Locãl by Dan Fieldsend is published by Amazon KDP

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