The tour is run by a good friend of Homebaked, Peter Carney. We were picked up at the bakery, then off to the Shankly Hotel to gather together the rest of the tourgoers, a group of fans from Norway.
One of these fans was Trygg Johannsen, who played for a Norwegian team in the 70s.
The tour began in William Brown Street, near the Walker Art Gallery, World Museum, City Library and St. George’s Hall, to name but a few iconic Liverpool places. As Peter pointed out, these buildings are Romanesque in their design, particularly St. George’s Hall with its columns.
This big one’s noisy, but it ain’t practical.
As well as being able to place a bet on the pools, football fans would also enjoy playing “Spot The Ball” – and we all had a little go ourselves while on route.
We had to get a group photo – a ‘shary stick’ even appeared for one or two!
Not the actual Toffee Lady, but what she would have looked like.
I’m not scowling, it was just a very windy day.
Up here, we spoke of not only Liverpool as a city’s history, and pointed out some historical buildings of note, but also other clubs that are nearby. The short-lived New Brighton football club, Tranmere, Chester and Warrington, to name a few.
As we came down from the park, Peter took us closer to the stadium, and to where the new stand is being built. As this (current) pile of rubble marks the place where the Hillsborough Memorial once stood, Peter told us his own story, as a survivor of the 1989 disaster, and read out a beautiful poem, “Tell Bill Shankly About Your Dad” (can be found here, along with the other poems from the ‘Words of Tribute’ anthology.)
It was a moving experience, and just goes to show that Hillsborough is something that will never, ever be forgotten by the people of this city (whether they were directly affected by it or not), and the victims will always be remembered.
As we came round to Stanley Park, and Kemp’s Bistro/the Isla Gladstone, the tour bus was alive with the sound of football songs. I didn’t know the words, but I’d have joined in if I did.
Peter told us his story of the first game he went to alone, as a child, and how he had enough money on him at the time to get an eccles cake to eat during the game.
Old money and (new, fresh!) Eccles cakes were passed out while he told the story, which was probably my favourite part of the tour. As with everything that happened on the tour, I’ve tried to keep this account fairly spoiler free, as it’s really something you should experience for yourself.
We then went over to Goodison Park, to learn a little of Everton’s history. It was a little busy there as there was a game on, so we had to put on disguises (dark glasses, and a wig, in Peter’s case) in case any of the Blues fans didn’t take kindly to us Reds!
(All in good fun, of course, as the rivalry between the teams is both a fierce and friendly one – though I do wish we had some photos of us all in our disguises!)
Then, back round to the Kop again, for a few little last looks and memories (as well as some more songs!) before the tour bus departed again into the city centre to take our Norwegian friends back (they were heading later on to Manchester to watch the game – I bet they enjoyed it, too!).
All in all, the tour was a fantastic experience, and, as it says on the Soccer In The City website, it goes ‘way beyond football’.
From the site:
“Soccer In The City is a unique, new Liverpool visitor service, developed by Peter Carney (tour manager) to give visitors an enjoyable and interesting insight into the relationship between the City of Liverpool, its citizens and soccer, the beautiful game.
Soccer In The City offers a special perspective for supporters & cynics alike, visits to sites no other tour visits, views of the city not seen on any other visitor service. With live commentary and on board activities the tour brings football to life.
Soccer In The City really is unique, enjoyable and interesting. If you want to find out the score, get on our tour.
Both tours last at least two hours and include live commentary, on board activities and hands on experience of historical/hysterical* artefacts/arty facts.”
After experiencing it myself, I can say that it’s all true, and though this post about it doesn’t give absolutely everything away, I can assure you there’s a lot more I’d have wanted to speak about, but haven’t for fear of ruining the experience for you if you want to go on it yourself.
(Which you really should.)
You don’t have to be a football fan (I’m not as such, but I love the history and how football brings this city together with a sense of great pride), but if you are, I’m sure you’ll love it even more.
Thank you Soccer in the City for a great morning out.