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By Sam Tomlin

This article is the second in a mini SJF series: ‘Football and society, then and now’. See here for the first article in the series.

English football is about as ‘modern’ as you can get. The brand of the Premier League is known world-wide with boys and girls all over the poorest parts of Africa, Asia and South America wearing replica shirts with Rooney, Lampard and Tevez emblazoned on the back.Modern football

But football was not always this way. In many ways a microcosm of wider societal change, subject to the introduction of neoliberal thought in the Thatcher/Reagan experiment, major changes occurred in the 1980s. Many of these changes were positive: tackling the hooligan culture that had emerged was vital (although this was clearly not the fault behind the Hillsborough tragedy, as some have claimed), re-branding the game to make it more family-friendly and the insertion of some more private investment. I remember my Dad telling me going to games in the late 70s was often like going to a football fight hoping that a game might break out. Read More

The following article is the first in a short series of articles on SJF: ‘Football and society, then and now’

By Sheila Coleman

My friend Diane (Diane Graham) and I first went to see Liverpool play when we were seven. We lived in Kirkdale, a neighbouring area of Anfield. All members of my family were fanatical Evertonians so none of them would take me to see Liverpool. At that time Everton were the more successful team. However, I have no recollection of ever liking them. I believe that I was born a red therefore it was only natural that I sought refuge with Diane’s family who were all Liverpool supporters.  It might seem strange in the present day to think of two little girls heading off to a football match totally unsupervised but we had no sense of danger, only excitement at what the day would bring. As Diane says: “I think we were quite unique as very few little girls were interested in football at that time but we both came from football mad families so it was in our blood!”

The Kop, Anfield

The Kop, Anfield

Most games were on a Saturday and that day would be packed with fun from beginning to end. In the morning we would take in a film at the local cinema (we were ‘ABC minors’ – a film club for children), hopefully catch a wedding at our church (we sneaked into many a wedding album) and most importantly we would then go to watch our beloved Liverpool FC.

We wore whatever clothes our mother’s made us wear. We didn’t have much money so choice was limited. We did however, have our Liverpool scarves; hand knitted in our beloved red and white.

We went in the ‘Boy’s Pen’. This was long before the age of sex discrimination legislation and no one ever thought that girls might want to see a match. It could be quite rough in there. A large number of boys in a penned area now seems quite a frightening prospect but I guess we managed to stand our ground. The Liverpool writer Dave Kirby wrote a brilliant poem about the Boy’s Pen but I reprimanded him for not saying about the girls who bravely entered it! Read More