city of Liverpool was founded in 1207, on the northwest side of the Mersey
River. Since the location was ideal for a shipping port, Liverpool was
established (The Bootle Group, 2001). Throughout the eighteenth century
the city grew. Liverpool was the second most important port in Britain,
and became known as “the port of a thousand ships” (Mersinct, 1999 as cited
by Woolton Group, 2001). The wealth of Liverpool peaked in the first
part of the twentieth century, and work was abundant (Jones, 2002).
After the Second World War, the
economy began to decline and by the 1960's, the profitability of the shipping
industry decreased; many Liverpudlians were without work (Jones, 2002).
The group found the working class highly unemployed, which was often noted
as one sociological factors related to deviant behavior. In the
1960's, football evolved into an important sporting event, mostly because
fans had plenty of time to dedicate to the game. The city was one
of the largest in the United Kingdom, but it was isolated from London (Counties,
2002). The isolation and unemployment gave Liverpool the opportunity
to develop its own culture, and way of life.
With an increasing popularity of
football in the 60's, there was a need for a huge stadium. The “KOP
Stadium”, home to the Liverpool Football Club was named in honor of the
1900's, Britain battle “Spion Kop” in South Africa. Since many Liverpudlians
lost their lives during this battle, naming the stadium KOP was a fitting
memorial of the combat (Hillsborough Justice Campaign, 2002). Bill
Shankly became the new manager for the Liverpool Football Club’s team,
the Mersey Reds on December 1, 1959. The Reds won the United Kingdom
Football League twice during the 1960's, including the Football Association
Cup in 1965. Fans were thrilled, and over half a million people filled
the city to greet the team upon their return (The Resurrection, 2002).
Liverpudlians were very passionate
about football, and some violent behavior at matches was expected.
Violent conduct displayed by Liverpool fans occurred as early as 1555;
the year the game was banned in the city because of fighting and rioting
amongst football supporters (Marsh et al., 1996). The term later
coined for these tough, violent, aggressive fans would be “hooligans”.
In Europe, the British fans gained a reputation for being the most violent
hooligans, and many people regarded this the “English Disease” (McCallum
& O’Brien, 1998).
Supporters did not need to be present
at a football game to be considered hooligans. Residents of Liverpool
complained about fans waiting in line overnight for tickets. As stated
in the Liverpool Echo Newspaper, they spent the evening drinking, and become
rowdy while waiting for the ticket booth to open in the morning (Police
chief to ask about those ticket queues, 1968). In England, fans commuting
to and from away games sometimes wrecked trains while fighting on board.
Liverpool and Everton fans were responsible for the worst train wrecks
in the early 1960's. They became a nuisance to British Railways,
and Liverpudlians quickly earned a bad reputation, which they did their
best to live up to. Football supporters became more organized; the
fans made plans of action for each game, and organized chants, slogans,
and signs to wave (Marsh et al., 1996).
In 1964, many hooligans emerged
who did not support any team in particular. There were numerous hooligans
at these football games, and often the well-behaved observers felt out-numbered.
Football hooligans were significant to the popular culture of the 1960's,
and part of Liverpool’s history.