Stanley Park Story & the Merseyside Derby.
My memories of Liverpool playing Everton are happy ones. Particularly the two FA cup final victories of 1986 and 1989. The iconic image of Rush putting the ball past big Nev Southall is engraved in my brain. Ironically Neville Southall was a footballing hero of mine growing up. He simply was the greatest of his generation back then. So it was a dream come true to meet him in Dublin last April for a 45 minute chat, prior to his Irish Everton fan club meet and greet.
The rivalry of the Merseyside derby is more deep and more historical than the Spurs/Arsenal & Manchester City/United derbies, simply because of how Liverpool FC was born from the split with Everton, who’d moved out of their ground, Anfield due to rent increases in 1892. Thus two great teams were born. John Holding, was the founding father of Liverpool FC a team he’d created to play at Anfield after the departure of Everton FC. With Irishman, John McKenna as manager. Upon McKenna’s death in 1936, his coffin was carried through the city by three Liverpool players and three Everton players.
Jeff Goulding’s follow up book to his recent No. 1 bestseller, ‘A Red Odyssey.’ A History of Liverpool FC, is based on the Merseyside Derby. Stanley Park Story is a mixture of fiction and facts, charting the rivalry between the two Merseyside clubs, who’ve amassed 61 major honours between them in 126 years of football.
This is a story of two fictional families, one Red and one Blue. Tommy Gardener and Jimmy Harrington. Three generations of their families fill this book with their tales of conflict, solidarity and their love-hate relationship with each other. Although the characters are fictional, the author Jeff Goulding uses his personal experiences to create a compelling story of a unique sporting rivalry, told over a fifty year span. The highs and lows of Everton and Liverpool, respectively. The changes down the decades of Liverpool City itself and the political landscape against the backdrop of the Merseyside derbies which divided families and friends and brought them together in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster.
As previously mentioned, ‘Stanley Park Story’ is a mixture of fact and fiction, it’s a great little book. Well written and the storytelling of the author is simply brilliant. Jeff Goulding has a wonderful knack of informing the reader, whilst entertaining them at the same time. A respected expert in the knowledge of the history of Liverpool FC and the social dynamics of the City, Goulding is well versed to tell this football story mixed with sporting rivalry, and diversity.
In the book the chapter, ‘Shanks, The Saint and The Holy Grail,’ is a beautiful narrative of the excitement in Liverpool leading up to the 1965 FA Cup Final against Leeds United. The story of how the one person on a local street with a television opens up her doors to the neighborhood to watch the Final on the tiny black and white screen. Brilliantly told. Older Liverpool fans will remember and relate to it.
I’d highly recommend this book to all Liverpool fans especially the older generation who’ll reminisce the glory days from the Shankly era. There’s also something for the newer generation of Liverpool fans looking for an in-depth analysts of what it was like to be a fan back in the days long before the Premier League and Sky Sports era. Wonderfully written, this is Jeff Goulding’s second book published with Pitch Publishing. A great addition to your Christmas list of books to get.