Skip to Main Content
Members:   Log In Sign Up
Text:  A  A  A

Red and Blue and Orange and Green?

By David Kennedy :  31/01/2010 :  Comments (68) :


A sectarian division between Everton and Liverpool football clubs is, for some, an irrefutable part of our local football culture. There is a prodigious amount of anecdotal evidence claiming Everton to be the team traditionally supported by the city’s Catholic population and Liverpool being predominantly supported by Protestants.

For others, though, sectarian affiliation is more urban myth than reality. Football historians in particular have dismissed notions of sectarianism as being without foundation and a divisive intrusion on the city’s football affairs.

The issue, though, has never been investigated in any great depth and, perhaps, deserves closer scrutiny than hitherto afforded it. Whilst the claim of religious differences has little or no meaning in defining the relationship of the modern day Everton and Liverpool football clubs, the specific question to address is whether there is any justification for the perception that, in an earlier period, the basis for such claims existed?

Click this link for the full article, Red and Blue and Orange and Green? which has been posted here on ToffeeWeb in Portable Document Format (pdf) [178 kB] and requires some kind of appropriate reader software (such as Adobe Acrobat Reader 9) that you probably already have installed.

Then please return back to this page if you have any comments or discussion points to submit, using the form at the bottom.

Reader Comments

Note: the following content is not moderated or vetted by the site owners at the time of submission. Comments are the responsibility of the poster. Disclaimer

Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
1   Posted 31/01/2010 at 21:23:29

Report abuse

A excellent treatise, David, with a tremendous depth of research that indeed makes it the most authoritative analysis of this subject.

It is really fascinating on the one hand to read how strong the division actually was at Board level — through the combination of politics and religion, rather than just religion alone — and how it cannot be fully understood without the contemporary social and regional setting you bring across so well.

A tremendous piece of work, sir, and many thanks for sending it in. I do hope those with any interest in the history of Everton Football Club take the time to read it.

Christine Foster
2   Posted 31/01/2010 at 22:46:15

Report abuse

David, an excellent article and wonderful to see the facts behind the myths. That the supporters of both clubs viewed the leadership as being symbolic of their own beliefs is a paramount question. Like a magnet, it can be argued that supporters of both clubs would adopt the political and religious persuasions of their Board and more so that the same persuasions attracted those of similar.

The support became polarised around an informal membership criteria that existed certainly into the 60s that you were Catholic if you supported Everton and Protestant if you supported Liverpool.
It really did almost allocate support based on geographical location in the city itself (often where the Orange lodge walked) and I seem to remember that when either club toured the city after a final win or title, it was predominantly kept to the catholic or protestant boundries or communities. At least that's how it was seen.

As a family of such Liverpool Irish background, living in Scotland Road was a second Dublin to many and still is to some today despite the fact that the population of the area has diminished greatly. As a child I remember Sunday Mass in Collingwood Street at All Saints, where the Irish priest would praise the fortunes of Everton FC and demonize the efforts of the red side.

It was another, albeit at a support level, a re-enforcement of religious and club identity that has seen the clubs become linked to either religion over the years.
Thomas Williams
3   Posted 31/01/2010 at 23:04:07

Report abuse

I was always led to believe and was certainly the case in the 50s, that Everton were the protestant team. St Domingo was a Methodist Church/Anglican Church hence the club was Protestant based.
David S Shaw
4   Posted 31/01/2010 at 23:33:16

Report abuse

Our support base was larger than the residents of Scotland Road. I went to a protestant school and there was only one Liverpool fan in the whole year.

The tale was always that families were mixed blue and red. While parents could be mixed religion the kids never were, yet they were mixed in support... doesn’t add up does it?

By the way, who remembers in the 60s those into the sectarian stuff going in the Park End?
Robert Daniels
5   Posted 31/01/2010 at 23:34:09

Report abuse

Good article, Dave.

As a Catholic Evertonian, with an Irish grandmother, I was always led to believe that Everton was a Catholic club, and to this day still believe it to some degree!

There have on many occasions been catholic priests I have spoken to who support Everton. Let's face it, the other side or whatever you may call them, and it has been said by many, appear to have sold their soul to the devil.

So, Jesus, if you're reading ToffeeWeb, how about the meek shall inherit the earth? You know... when's it our turn?

Our father who art in Goodison, give us this day a derby win. And forgive us our sins, as we laugh at the twats going bust!

Andy Crooks
6   Posted 31/01/2010 at 23:45:21

Report abuse

Excellent, David. Here in Belfast, I know that for many friends the three teams to support are Linfield, Liverpool and Rangers.

I supported Linfield, home and away, until an eye-opening incident made me pack Irish league football in. I lived in Glasgow and saw Celtic more often than Rangers. Things are changing here and sectarianism, even at international level, is slowly and thankfully dying out.

Of course, there are those who will never change and it is still there to some degree. However, I have seen the Republic of Ireland cheered to the rooftops in areas of Belfast where a few years ago it would have been dangerous to do so. Let’s leave all in the past, the dark ages are over.

Still a fine article.

Dennis Stevens
7   Posted 31/01/2010 at 23:47:17

Report abuse

A very interesting article. It shows how the political divide which undoubtedly contibuted to "the split" in 1892 & the Boards of the respective clubs which could have lead us to an "old firm" scenario, was consciously addressed at the repective clubs to avoid that level of sectarianism. Although there have been indications of people relating their support of one club or another due to their perception of the club as representing them in some sense beyond football, it is not for the most part borne out by the evidence as being based on fact.

I’m rather hoping the next piece will further investigate issue touched upon in this article: the influence of freemasonry on & for RS!
Derek Thomas
8   Posted 01/02/2010 at 05:28:23

Report abuse

No, No, No, NO! Not this hoary old chestnut yet again (file under 1. Urban myth; 2. total Bollocks, )

Just coz you support A, your religion has to be B.

Stands to reason dunnit... well no.

Everybody knows Blue and red families, brothers, Fathers and Sons etc etc. In this polyglot City of ours there are plenty of mixed religion Marriages and mixed Colour for that matter.

So for any permutation Blue red Orange Green Black White there are bound to be Hues that cover the rainbow.
Ciarán McGlone
9   Posted 01/02/2010 at 10:37:16

Report abuse

Superb article...

Fast forward a 100 years and the Ttories are still playing the Orange card..

Politics premeates everything...
Stephen Ryan
10   Posted 01/02/2010 at 11:54:45

Report abuse

Having been raised in Scotland Road at the same time as Christine, I have no recollection of religion being a factor in determining allegience to either club. Both teams always paraded their trophies along Scotland Road on the way to the city centre as opposed to Netherfield Road which had a large protestant community.

My dad and one of my brothers were blue while my eldest brother was a red and that was quite common. Prior to moving to Sydney 7 years ago, the situation was pretty much the same as when I was a kid.

Alan Kirwin
11   Posted 01/02/2010 at 13:48:07

Report abuse

Sorry, pointless & irrelevant.

One club was spawned from the other. Ipso facto, they are/were the same. Everton was, if anything, Methodist initiated, but even that is a tenuous link. My primary school (St Finbar’s) and secondary school (Cardinal Allen) were split down the middle. As are families, including those up & around Scotty Road for generations.

Sure, there will be consituencies that develop & decline over time. But I’m sorry, I can’t abide this fixation with some that Everton & Liverpool simply MUST have been sectarian at birth, or at some point. if it ever was it was clearly only in the minds of some, and not others. It was not, in fact was never, a de facto divide.

Rather than superb, I’m afraid I find such things superfluous, and more than a little insidious. Why does it deserve scrutiny?

Ciaran - I’m guessing you had the word permeate in mind.
Trevor Lynes
12   Posted 01/02/2010 at 13:48:16

Report abuse

In the late 40s and early 50s, EFC did indeed have a lot of Irish Catholics playing for the team. They included Farrell, Eglington etc... but I am a protestant and I supported them based on what I saw on the field. Indeed, that particular bunch took us into the Second Division for three years...

My two sons have each decided to support EFC and Liverpool and I can never remember any religious bigotry between the two sides. In fact, back then, the crowds were not segregated and I have been at games with well over 70,000. Both clubs quite often transferred players to each other including ’so-called’ legends like Hickson, Morrissey and Sheedy.

One time, EFC played Rangers and their fans were singing anti-Papist songs but our fans were puzzled rather than angry as it was never a problem at the football matches. Luckily, the religious bigotry crap took place away from Goodison and Anfield and I have had friends and family who have supported whoever they fancied without any bias.

Ciarán McGlone
13   Posted 01/02/2010 at 13:59:54

Report abuse

I guess I appreciate a good piece of research and an insight into the historical, demographic and political influences of the club..

Rather than searching for typo’s (consituencies?), perhaps some people would be advised to actually read the article... The author doesn’t conclude that there was ’a de facto divide’...
Chris Butler
14   Posted 01/02/2010 at 14:09:00

Report abuse

The derby is far more to do with geography than religion. Liverpool have always had a larger support outisde the city whereas both clubs have pretty equal numbers in the city. This goes back down to when supporters used to chant "Rangers", "Celtic" to each other depending on which ever team they preferred.

I’ve always preferred Celtic and I’m not Catholic. Load of nonsense really... I mean compared to Bosnia and Russia, we don’t have that much of a problem. I wish that the goverment would scrap religious schools and ghettos and try and intergrate everyone.

Eugene Ruane
15   Posted 01/02/2010 at 14:59:59

Report abuse

Very interesting piece.

This subject has come up many times over the years (suggesting it’s something people ARE interested in)

This is (by a mile) the best researched piece I have read.
Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
16   Posted 01/02/2010 at 16:28:19

Report abuse

I think the significance of a piece like this is its dispassionate quest for knowledge of our history, backed up by the tremendous authenticity of the research behind it. Yes, the personal experiences are illustrative... but only of those personal experiences — not of the fuller picture that David paints.

It’s a pity that some seem to miss the point which for me is:

1) Yes, there was definitely a basis, a very strong one, seated as much in politics as in religion;


2) The clubs and the people of Liverpool, to their eternal credit, somehow escaped the worst ravages of sectarian bigotry and did not allow it to taint their football teams.

"Sorry, pointless & irrelevant." — Alan, I’m disappointed. I thought you were above that. What a criminal assessment of an excellent piece of historical research.

I too absolutely abhor religious bigotry — surely you can see past as a motivator for this analysis and at least appreciate the incredible amount of work that goes into producing something like this.
Dennis Stevens
17   Posted 01/02/2010 at 16:40:56

Report abuse

Hear! Hear! Ciarán, some of the responses do seem to be knee-jerk reactions to the subject matter involved rather than a comment related to the article being responded to.
Larry Boner
18   Posted 01/02/2010 at 17:25:14

Report abuse

Picking up on the Labour/Tory thread: Tarbuck, Everet, Boardman, Priscilla White, these are the people who make me, a Socialist, realise that I took the right path when my Dad introduced me to the religion that is Everton.

The above are traitors and cowards who abandoned their heritage and sold themselves to the other blue that is right wing Toryism. I will never forget the Liverpool squad at Downing St with Mr Sun (Keegan) and Phil Thompson, Emlyn Hughes etc kissing Thatcher on the cheek at the time when she was destroying the lives of working class people in Liverpool, as well as the rest of the country... Bill Shankly would have spit in her eye, metaphorically of course.

There are many more who sold out Liverpool and profess support for the RS and I’m sure there are Tories who are also Blues (Carter), but I don't see any of them selling out the city. I will never criticise a Scouser born and bred in Liverpool who supports LFC, but who supports the Tory party and Liverpool, well that's a different matter.
Come on, let's hear it from you!!!

David Alexander
19   Posted 01/02/2010 at 17:42:23

Report abuse

Didn’t we play in black and white stripes back then?

The split and the reasons for it are facinating, and I supose it's likely that the large number of Irish players at Everton attracted Irish Catholic imigrants and their families to watching Everton, that of course doesn't make the club Catholic, even if it did make lots of Catholics Evertonians. Seems the religion thing is all a little chicken and egg, and the club divide was more political.

Might be interesting for the editors to invite some red’s to read it and see what they think?
Dave Wilson
20   Posted 01/02/2010 at 17:17:45

Report abuse

I’m another who grew up on Scotty in the sixties and A Kirwin is right, in my six years at St Anthony’s infants and juniors, the split was always very much down the middle. You could always get a decent argument in most families or a Red Vs Blue game going in the street.

However, this piece of research goes way beyond our own personal experiences, it is a genuine history lesson; have another read, Mr Kirwin.
Ian Pilkington
21   Posted 01/02/2010 at 17:30:25

Report abuse

Over the years I’ve had many neutrals ask me about the alleged Everton / Catholic connection. I’ve always believed it to be a myth, my late mother (born in 600 yds away from Goodison Park in 1916) and all her relatives being staunch Church of England Evertonians. I’m sure in reality the religious divide in the city is reflected evenly between supporters of the two clubs.

However I did hear a story that John Moores’s famous taxi sacking of Johnny Carey did have something to do with Carey upsetting Moores by signing too many Catholics.

Christopher McCullough
22   Posted 01/02/2010 at 18:15:41

Report abuse

Interesting article David and may I doff my cap to Larry Bonner. Well said. In my opinion, the political, rather than religious, aspects of this article are enlightening. Perhaps Everton really deserve the ’People’s Club’ moniker after all.
Andy Crooks
23   Posted 01/02/2010 at 18:33:45

Report abuse

Alan, this article was a lot of new stuff to me. In Belfast, Everton have been seen as a Catholic club and to support them, when I was a teenager, was to make a point. Can anyone tell me if there is a division in other English city?

Believe me, Alan, take yourself to an old firm derby and be grateful that Liverpool has moved on.

Andy Crooks
24   Posted 01/02/2010 at 19:31:03

Report abuse

Larry, Everton have their fair share of champagne socialists and the people you name are appalling for many reasons other than their political allegiance. The "peoples club moniker" is quite silly, Christopher. If we get a billionaire owner, the title will be a joke and there are plenty of Evertonians, I’m not one of them, who will be happy to enjoy the capitalist ride.
Christopher McCullough
25   Posted 01/02/2010 at 20:10:19

Report abuse

Andy, my comment was meant in the historical context of this article. I don’t buy in to the contemporary phrase either. I also know that competitive individualism is the name of the game these days, unfortunately.
John Keating
26   Posted 01/02/2010 at 21:00:18

Report abuse

Obviously a well researched piece but I’m not too sure what the author was trying to achieve. He certainly showed a religious split at the boardroom level but thankfully it stopped at the boardroom door. He has more or less proved I think, what most people already know, that being there is, and in our lifetimes never has been a religious divide.

I’m Catholic and only went to Catholic schools from 1959 onwards until 1970 and there was always a split in supporters. My family are predominantly Blues though we do have a sprinkling of Reds. I believe if you speak to all Evertonians or Liverpudlians you’ll get the same story.

So was the author's piece written to prove there is no secterianism? If so, he has... but it seems a bit of a waste of time apart from info on boardroom politics.

Dennis Stevens
27   Posted 01/02/2010 at 21:47:02

Report abuse

Andy, I don’t think sectarianism is really much of a feature in English football at all. However, I do remember an article, a great many moons ago, trying to identify clubs in other cities in this way — claiming that in Manchester the Catholic club was United & City were the Protestant club.

I think the article also did the same trick with the two Sheffield clubs, although the author seemed to miss the two Bristol clubs! As I recall there was no explanation as to the "logic" being applied.

As far as I’m aware there’s no great basis for such a theory in English football — and if the evidence is flimsy for Everton & Liverpool, it seems inconceivable that there’d be a stonger case for any other clubs.

James McGrady
28   Posted 01/02/2010 at 21:54:56

Report abuse

Obviously Liverpool originated out of Everton which undermines the sectarian differences. However, I think Houlding (Liverpool’s founder) being a lodgeman and with Dr Baxter at Everton may have marginised some early fans.

Carey and the Irish players in the 50s also added to the notion of Everton as the Catholic side, but it's all down to the fickleness of fans identifying themselves to one club. through religion. However, I do believe that Everton does have a stronger Catholic support than Liverpool but it's not religous reasons behind this, it's geographical.

Vauxhall, Everton, Bootle, Kirkdale are all traditionally Catholic areas. These are the heartland of the Everton support along with Walton.

Liverpool’s support base is traditionally more East of the northend and the south of the city which are more Anglican areas.

Yes families are split and there are different churches all around the city but I think it's more of a case geographical than religious, it just happens that religion is also geographical.

David Kennedy
29   Posted 01/02/2010 at 23:04:13

Report abuse

First of all, thanks for your responses so far: pro, anti and not that arsed!

The idea of submitting this paper was to add some detail into the mix of anecdotal evidence which the issue has pretty much trundled along on for decades. It isn’t (as Michael underlines) an attempt at nailing Everton (or Liverpool) to a particular religious heritage. The question as to where these Catholic/Protestant tags came from had always puzzled me given the Methodist roots of St Domingo….a club rooted in a Methodist boy’s team identified by many later as a club that Catholics gravitated disproportionately toward.

The research I carried out edged me toward what I feel could be argued to be the substantial basis for the beginning of these claims: that they are rooted in the social and political profiles of the hierarchy at each of the Merseyside clubs. I wont go into that argument here as it’s all in the paper.

Christine said earlier that those clear differences between the men governing both clubs in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century may have acted as a ‘magnet’ for identification from different communities. That’s the inference I was making: a speculation informed by the evidence unearthed - which is all you can do really, unless you’re able to be transported back in time to canvass Victorian and Edwardian supporters on why they chose to support EFC/LFC or what they thought of their founding fathers (if they gave it any thought at all)!

So, this was me offloading the data I’ve gathered and putting it out there for consideration. Hopefully others — if they’ve a mind to look into the area — can add more knowledge to our understanding of the issue and either falsify or underline the claims made here.
David S Shaw
30   Posted 01/02/2010 at 23:25:24

Report abuse

There was a surprising lack of Catholic influnce in some of our past songs. I can only think of a small number Irish songs we had versions of.
Brendan O'Doherty
31   Posted 01/02/2010 at 23:20:14

Report abuse

Fascinating read, David, and incredibly well researched. You certainly got to the origins of this perception.

I had always been led to believe that there had been a ’divide’ in the past, but that this has now thankfully disappeared, and this is shown by some of the comments posted.

Despite growing up in a sectarian society myself, (NI),I can thankfully say that I only started supporting EFC at an early age for purely footballing reasons (and Bally’s white boots!).
David Hallwood
32   Posted 02/02/2010 at 00:18:37

Report abuse

Like another poster, my dad told me that we were a Catholic side because we had a large number of Irish players, from the 1920s through to the 1950s, therefore it's quite a long association with Ireland and I always grew up believing that we were the Catholic team, although it had died out by the 1960s.

But there was a song from the 1960s: We hate Bill Shankly and we hate big Ron, but most of all we hate St John, and we’ll hang the kopites one by one, on the banks of the royal blue Mersey. To hell with Liverpool and RANGERS too, we’ll throw them all in the Mersey and we’ll fight, fight, fight with all our might for the lads in the royal blue jerseys.

So there was a secterian element even then.
Jamie Crowley
33   Posted 02/02/2010 at 03:41:20

Report abuse

Great piece David. I’ve often searched and scoured the internet for information regarding this very topic. Your piece is by far the most informative and well written I’ve found to date. My thanks for an outstanding read.

As an American who is not a life-long Everton fan but a more recent convert, I’ve taken a great interest in the historical make-up of the club. Who are we and from what root did we spring? Surely that history has some point to it, even if it no longer manifests itself?
In that vein, how is this pointless, Alan K?

Eugene Ruane
34   Posted 02/02/2010 at 09:34:47

Report abuse

John Keating, you finish by saying..

"So was the author’s piece written to prove there is no secterianism? If so, he has... but it seems a bit of a waste of time apart from info on boardroom politics"


So let me get this straight.

According to you, he proved what he set out to prove and (again, according to you) his information on the boardroom politics of Everton and Liverpool WAS valid.

So... um... where is the ’waste of time’?

Presumably Louis Pasteur’s journals were "a bit of a waste of time... apart from info on Pasteurization"

Question: What for you WOULDN’T be a ’waste of time’? (and why?).

Hibbo or Neville?

I’m genuinely curious.
Jamie Rowland
35   Posted 02/02/2010 at 10:53:46

Report abuse

I agree with Alan Kirwin — pointless and irrelevant.

Catholic and Protestant divide? Really? And here’s me thinking we were started by a methodist church?
Tom Hughes
36   Posted 02/02/2010 at 11:22:08

Report abuse

Jamie, No-one is refuting the argument that both clubs sprung out of St Domingo’s. The point is that this research shows that, upon the split, the make up of the respective boardrooms could not be more diametrically opposed in terms of the politics of the era. The correlation between religion and politics in Victorian/Edwardian Liverpool is the subject of many extensive research papers and notable texts and is referenced in the piece.

I can certainly understand people’s aversion to the subject, especially when considering the effects of sectarianism in Ulster and Glasgow, but historical connections don’t vanish just because they don’t suit us or have distasteful connotations we might not want to associate with.

If anything, the article in some ways illustrates this city’s relative success in diffusing the very real and intense bigottry of yesteryear to the point that the vast majority of its residents now have little or no memory of it. This is despite the fact that as stated in the article, by the turn of the 20th century the potential for serious disharmony or even insurrection in this city was seen by many as greater than that in even Glasgow. The fact that this never manifested itself definitively in terms of the clubs’ support is something we can be thankful for and indeed highlight.

That said, it might be interesting to know if any of those labelling this as irrelevant are in the lodge ;)

Ciarán McGlone
37   Posted 02/02/2010 at 11:49:07

Report abuse

"If anything, the article in some ways illustrates this city’s relative success in diffusing the very real and intense bigottry of yesteryear to the point that the vast majority of its residents now have little or no memory of it."


I think that just about covers it Tom — History is not something to scoff at — it’s a meaningful tool that should inform and warn...

The solidarity of the workers that Liverpool quite clearly profited from after the turn of the century was stamped out in Belfast. The powers that be trampled all over Larkin’s attempt to bring some unity — there are certainly lessons to be learnt... and in Belfast the issue is as contemporary as ever...
Karl Masters
38   Posted 02/02/2010 at 11:42:50

Report abuse

I am surprised at anybody who cannot see the importance of our History.

For me, Everton FC is more than just a football team, it is social phenomenon that has lasted from the age of horse and cart, through the inventions of the light bulb and, telephone, two World Wars, radio, television, the motor car, landing on the moon, de-industrialisation of Britain and into the internet age.

That ’’22 men kicking a ball around a field’’ can have retained its interest for so many through all that suggests something more than just sport is going on here. So why not look into what may have prompted people to follow the Clubs in the past?

I don’t think the religious thing is relevant these days, but I always remember about 25 years ago the Liverpudlian Mother of my best mate (who was a Red) suddenly coming out with ’Everton are a Catholic Club and there was always fighting after a Derby game’ as if the whole world knew that. To me, having only seen Reds and Blues side by side in the Street End at the Derby, this was surprising, but I can’t really see why she would have said it, unless it was true back in the 50s, which is when she was referring to.

Just to add one little point, I have also heard of Everton being favoured by Irish immigrants as long ago as the early 1900s and ’Toffee’ coming from an Irish slang word, but who knows, eh? Still interesting to those of thus that like to understand why the world is the way it is now.
Trevor Lynes
39   Posted 02/02/2010 at 12:15:15

Report abuse

James, it was not Carey who had the Irish team, he signed Collins, Vernon, Parker, Young and gabriel amongst others....his team played great football and he used the ’Moores’ money to at least produce the best football ever played at Goodison.

The problem was our away record was not keeping up with the home results... BUT, the best football I remember played at Goodison was the season we finished FOURTH.

Catterick's team won the league but he gradually replaced flair players with hard working players. He brought in Royle and Stevens for example and Young’s days were numbered.

James McGrady
40   Posted 02/02/2010 at 13:00:02

Report abuse

Trevor, sorry yes. I was talking about Corr, Eglington, Farrell etc who were there earlier. I can’t think of an successful Irish internation at liverpool (except for one of the Scott brothers in the 30s, we had the other) until the 70s.

Personally, I don't think Everton are the Catholic team or Liverpool are the Protestant team because they are from the same origins. It's just that Everton fans tended to come from Catholic area’s around the northwest of the city centre.

There is a group on facebook called the "Everton and Celtic Brotherhood", and there is not any Everton-Rangers groups, but there is probably a Mikel Madar is the greatest striker ever on there as well!

I think it should be noted that, while there a lots of Celtic-Liverpool scarfs, they did play them four times in CL. You see a fair amount of Rangers-Liverpool scarfs and they must have been purposly made because I don’t remember the two playing each other for a long time.

Ciarán McGlone
41   Posted 02/02/2010 at 13:20:02

Report abuse

I think the Liverpool - Celtic connection probably stems from over here — where it appears to be compulsory to support both these teams...

This would appear to be an observation that runs contrary to the irish/Everton connection.... But it’s probably got more to do with the number of Liverpool players in the Republic squad in the 80s...
Jamie Rowland
42   Posted 02/02/2010 at 13:42:48

Report abuse

Tom Hughes - I’m Catholic...

So definitely not in the lodge!

I think it's somewhat tosh to look at this in a footballing context because, for me, it's blown out of proportion and as James McGrady states — it's probably owing only to the fact that more catholic people lived around Everton.

I really can’t buy into the divide of clubs etc. owing in part to religious faction. Again, I could be very wrong, but for me its coinicidence only.

Jamie Rowland
43   Posted 02/02/2010 at 13:46:41

Report abuse

Another thing (slight): seeing as (as mentioned by Stephen Ryan) Netherfield Road was predominantly Protestant, it stands to no reason whatsoever that Everton (a Catholic club by claim in the article) would hold against its crest an item from such a road (the tower)...

You could mention bullshit here but at the times, given the political stances explained, why would a Catholic club be wanting to issue a new club crest with reference to an area that is Protestant in days when divide was seemingly vast? Perhaps we were pioneers in bringing the differing groups together... doubt it's that thought out though...

Chris Butler
44   Posted 02/02/2010 at 13:41:36

Report abuse

James, I totally disagree. There are raically divided areas such as Toxteth which is divided between Asian, Afro Carribean, and Somalians but I cannot see the evidence that one part of the city is Catholic and the other C of E. Both clubs have large supports in Ireland from both sides.
Jamie Rowland
45   Posted 02/02/2010 at 13:52:16

Report abuse

Having said all that, football is important socially and is more than just a game — that much I will agree with.

Interesting article but I just can’t accept that there was such a divide. My Dad, Grandad (their pet dogs) etc all supported Everton and they were not Catholic... and my family support for Everton runs back a long, long way...
David Kennedy
46   Posted 02/02/2010 at 14:03:06

Report abuse

Jamie, If you believe the article is claiming an Old Firm scenario ever existed in Merseyside football then you’ve drawn the wrong conclusion.

As I’ve stated, a perception has always existed around religion and football in the city and I wanted to look behind the claims people made to see if there is a reasonable explanation for having them... to unearth something more substantial than: ’A feller down the pub said you could get your confession heard by priests in the Paddock in the 1960s — Everton were therefore the Catholic club’!! I’ve offered what I think might have gotten the ball rolling with these perceptions. That’s all.

I realise the subject is an emotive one, though, so it doesn’t surprise me that reaction to the paper is mixed. I must say, it’s very interesting to read the responses so far.

Kevin Hudson
47   Posted 02/02/2010 at 13:44:21

Report abuse

Looks like A Kirwan’s in a "Consituency of One" here, as I too found it an enjoyable read, and an excellent, worthwhile submission.

As a Catholic altar boy in my youth, my dad used to "gib," me in to Goodison, wearing my Everton/Celtic bobble hat, while lots of my Protestant mates wore bobble hats of the Liverpool/Rangers variety. You know the ones: each hat divides equally to display both crest. To this day, I still look out for Celtic’s results every week, as I always assumed they were my natural second-team.

A very early childhood memory I have is of throwing stones at the Orange Lodge on July 12th, but I also recall back in the late 70s,or early 80s a concerted campaign to rid the city of Sectarianism — and evidently it worked. The fact that my missus is Protestant, and that I don’t "brick" the Lodge anymore, or care about such bullshit, bears testament to that!!

Despite all this, I did find it bizarre to see the Liverpool/Cetlic love-in (In the 90s, I think) when the clubs met in the Uefa Cup, all naturally centred around YNWA. It jarred with my sense of heritage, awareness, and unforgotten memory of tribe. It seemed fundamentally wrong — and it looked weird!!

That said, my best mate is a Catholic, and a rabid fan of both Celtic, and the Darkside. So... rather than looking to red, blue, orange and green, the colour grey comes to mind. As in area, and shades of...
James McGrady
48   Posted 02/02/2010 at 15:31:31

Report abuse

Kevin, its another case of kopites "not knowing their history"
anyone got any photo’s of the old bobble hats?
James McGrady
49   Posted 02/02/2010 at 15:33:32

Report abuse

I also seem to remember that, in Boys from the Blackstuff, the young lad’s bedroom wall is adorned with Liverpool and Rangers scarfs and posters.
Jamie Rowland
50   Posted 02/02/2010 at 15:58:35

Report abuse

The divide is simple...
we are hard working, honest, trying to make ends meet club - with good players who replicate our ethics...

...they are whinging, robbing, lying scum bags who cant see the woods for the liverpool badges on many a footballing debate...

Shaun Brennan
51   Posted 02/02/2010 at 16:47:08

Report abuse

David, a very interesting read. I was always under the impression that Everton were the majority Catholic supported club.

Do you think it would be possible if we could have a quiz and ask possibly what religion your family were and if you followed the same team as them? That way, we could get a broader idea and see if the results conform. At least for the Everton side only. Still for some it may be a tricky minefield to explore.

Kevin Sparke
52   Posted 02/02/2010 at 17:07:50

Report abuse

When I used to bunk off my lectures and go for a full ’Irish’ breakfast in the Irish Centre Mount Pleasant - it was nice to see all the pictures above around the bar of Everton players from the past (As well as GAA players)

I don’t remember seeing many Liverpool FC flags and posters...

Nice piece of research... I enjoyed reading it.
Adam McCulloch
53   Posted 02/02/2010 at 19:43:32

Report abuse

One quick point, which I think has been raised on a mailbag thread - Robbie Keane’s been quoted as having both Celtic and the shite as his favourite club. Apparently this is not uncommon in Ireland either. Anyone shed any light on this?
Mark Fitzgerald
54   Posted 02/02/2010 at 19:39:04

Report abuse

Really enjoyed the article, David. Clearly well researched and written.

As an Irish Everton fan, I enjoyed reading a bit more of the club's history and of any links with Ireland as opposed to Catholicism. And have come away with a better knowledge of such things than I had previously. Personally I didn’t see how the article in any way confirms a demonstrable religious divide between the two teams, but instead lists a number of alternative political and geographical influences for people's club affiliation. Each one probably as valid as the other.

And you clearly referenced both sides contribution to secular causes. Have to say I was disappointed to see some comments describing the article as pointless/irrelevant. Haven’t enjoyed a well discussed topic since the wine appreciation discussion. Let's give credit where credit is due.

Michael Madden
55   Posted 02/02/2010 at 17:11:28

Report abuse

It is easy to understand why Catholics would support Everton when you consider most Liverpool Catholics voted for the Irish National Party between 1880 & 1930... and even Sinn Fein in the 1918 General Election. The Liberal directors running the club also supported Irish Home Rule.
Chris McCullough
56   Posted 02/02/2010 at 20:55:22

Report abuse

Hey Adam, its true. I’m from Belfast and I know that a lot of Celtic fans, including my mates, who support Liverpool as a second team. It’s a mixture of YNWA and during the Republic’s most successful period of football there were a lot of Liverpool players in the team; Staunton, Houghton et al. When I mention people like Sheedy and some other aspects of Everton’s history, they say they are Evertonians. Fickle bastards.
Stephen Ryan
57   Posted 02/02/2010 at 22:34:11

Report abuse

Kevin Hudson, like you, I can’t beleive that I used to throw bricks at the Orange Loodge while growing up in Scotland Road (forgive me Lord).

Ironically, before moving to Sydney, I managed the former City Council housing office on Everton Brow for my sins and I can confirm that most of our tenants in the high rise blocks close to Everton’s famous crest were staunch orange; indeed, Catholic families on our housing waiting list avoided those flats like the plague.

Our student tenants at the University of New South Wales where I currently work are from all over the globe, mainly South East Asia, and when they sign for their tenancies (often wearing their Chelsea and United shirts), my staff are instructed to show them the big picture of Everton Football Club which I have strategically positioned on the wall in our interview room.

Neil Adderley
58   Posted 02/02/2010 at 22:11:30

Report abuse

David, thanks (again) for a(nother) fascinating thesis. For those interested, I would point you in the direction of an earlier accomplished ’must read’ paper published by David:

Community Politics in Liverpool and the Governance of Professional Football in the Late 19th Century

Excellent work!!
Aodhan O'Faolain
59   Posted 03/02/2010 at 12:53:24

Report abuse

The NI guys might be interested in this one but a few years ago, when the St Andrews agreement was being discussed between the various parties, it emerged that the DUP’s Nigel Dodds, who is expected to be the next First Minister, and the then Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermott Ahern, are both Everton fans.

You could not get two characters with more different religious backgrounds yet they are both ardent fans of the Blues.

For the record, I am a Catholic... my missus is a Prod, and we are both Blues.
Ciarán McGlone
60   Posted 03/02/2010 at 13:49:02

Report abuse

Yes mate,

Was aware that Dodds was a toffee... There doesn’t seem to be any mythical line drawn up between the supportership over here...
Christine Foster
61   Posted 03/02/2010 at 13:33:20

Report abuse

I don’t think there is any point in trying to determine if the club has (still?) a predominately Catholic following because it misses the point of the article. The club attracted the Catholic support because its base was and still is, surrounded by Irish Catholic areas and its Board held strong pro-Irish allegiance politically.The point was that it certainly DID flow over into the general community and fed on the split of religion in the city, which did exist (strongly).

I still remember not being allowed to watch the lodge walk or even venture up on to Netherfield Road from Gt Homer Street. Some areas were no-go areas for religious reasons, not football supporting ones.

As one grew up and the population was shipped out to places like Kirkby the religious divide started to disipate (thankfully), until today, it's a memory rather than a daily fact of life. And thats the point.

Things move on and history is forgotten upon today's perceptions. What was real at the time is now just history and open to interpretation by those who may not have been exposed to its lessons.

Gavin Roberts
62   Posted 03/02/2010 at 14:53:44

Report abuse

If Everton are to be linked with any religious denomination then, based on the club’s history, it should be the Methodist church. This is because we started out as a methodist church’s cricket team. The football team came out of this cricket team as the players would play football in the off-season to stay fit.
Joe Cavanagh
63   Posted 03/02/2010 at 17:34:05

Report abuse

I too thought it was a really interesting read - and absolutely fascinating to hear about the interplay of religion, politics and sport which affected those early years.

Like many other contributors, I see no link with today’s supporters, or attitudes.

I did want to add one anecdote, which supports the idea that for many years there may have been a natural link between EFC and Irish catholics. I went to St Edwards in West Derby in the 1960s, which was run then by the Irish Christian Brothers. Like the green behind the ears kid I was then, I assumed that the brothers spent the whole weekend praying. Two revelations destroyed that quaint idea. First, the regular visit of the Guinness tanker arriving to top up the school supply; and second, the brothers had a row of season ticket seats in the EFC stands - the Goodison Road side of the ground, think.

Actually, I think I warmed to the Brothers a bit after that ...
Aodhan O'Faolain
64   Posted 03/02/2010 at 17:13:09

Report abuse

Are we all agreed then that, irrespective of what faith, denomination, social class, ethnic background or particular suburb in Norway they hail from Liverpool FC fans are twats?

Personally, I find the Irish ones the worst.
Mark Reid
65   Posted 03/02/2010 at 18:07:38

Report abuse

Larry Boner wrote:
"Picking up on the Labour/Tory thread: Tarbuck, Everet, Boardman, Priscilla White, these are the people who make me, a Socialist, realise that I took the right path when my Dad introduced me to the religion that is Everton."

Well Larry I’m the opposite, based on current politics of this country. Having both family on Merseyside and immigrant to the area from the midlands, my origins are religously 50:50 split and had nothing to do with my Father watching Everton in the 60s.

Everton is in the blood — because they’ve ALWAYS been a good club for the past 100 years.And in relation to internecine fighting amongst Liverpool’s residents, I doubt it would be anything more than sporadic and isolated, even if you’re a Tory like me or Socialist like you.

Mainly because, above any other interest in the city, there’s always been the football, and up until Shankly, Liverpool where nowhere, according to my father.

It's an interesting article David. Enjoyed reading it the other night.

Personally, I think Everton (and to a certain extent Liverpool) have always risen above the old religious and political divide, and been more interested in sporting matters.
Mike McLean
66   Posted 05/02/2010 at 14:41:26

Report abuse

That's an interesting piece regarding the religious affiliations of the two big clubs in the City. I would be interested to know if someone could answer definitively one or more of the questions it raised in my mind.

My dad was both an Evertonian and Green way back in the early twenties. It's generally known that we sold Mellwood to the filth... dad, who attended SFX, told me that it had been named after two Jesuit priests: Fathers Mellor and Woodcock.

He also told me that Liverpool Scotland and Exchange was represented in Parliament up till 1921 by an Irish Nationalist - the equivalent today of Fianna Fail, I think.

Lastly, is it simply a coincidence that the filth have, as one of their dirges, the anthem of the Orange Lodge — sung to different words of course — The Sash Me Father Wore? Seems to me that there have been deeper currents flowing than the article's conclusions suggest. Perhaps I'm biased. My first football bashing was at the hands of a couple of Kopites who told me"Evertonians are too friendly with the Pope", and memories of one of the first major graffiti on the Scotty exit of the new tunnel, - "No fuckin' popery here". Anyone got answers with real info rather than "Gosh. Thank goodness Liverpool is in the vanguard of religious sanity" variety.

Andy Crooks
67   Posted 07/02/2010 at 01:05:03

Report abuse

Mike, Liverpool may not be "the vanguard of religious sanity" but... not too many scousers have died because of their religion.
David S Shaw
68   Posted 07/02/2010 at 16:39:31

Report abuse

Mike, many fans of one football team have tried to attach ther religion to it. I had mixed religion parents, but went to a protesant school. I am not particularly religious myself. However, all but one in my school were Blue. My dad who grew up in the Scotand Rd area wasn’t interested in football but his family were mainly red.

Liverpool is a bigger area than what I and the residents of Scotland Rd knew though. Point is, many try and make the attachment that they wish to have therefore connections can be made to both sides.

Re songs, over the years I could probably name more ’protestant albeit different words’ Everton songs than I could with ’Catholic albeit different words’ Everton songs.

Incidentally, Grand Old Team was sung by Linfield as well, and We hate Bill Shanky is from a Rangers tune took from the 63 match. It’s about as religious as ’We hate Nottingham Forest’

Add Your Comments

In order to post a comment to Fan Articles, you need to be logged in as a registered user of the site.

Log in now

Or Sign up as a ToffeeWeb Member — it's free, takes just a few minutes and will allow you to post your comments on articles and MailBag submissions across the site.

© ToffeeWeb

We use cookies to enhance your experience on ToffeeWeb and to enable certain features. By using the website you are consenting to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.