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What were the social and cultural roles of football and cinema in Liverpool in the interwar period?


Liverpool Echo, Everton skipper Dixie Dean and Liverpool skipper Elisha Scott lead out the teams in a 1920s Merseyside derby, at http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/merseyside-derby-legends-everton-v-6318921 accessed 7.May.2016.

Introduction

This dissertation will explore the interwar period in Liverpool and how people escaped the economic turmoil and depression with entertainment like football and cinema. The study will also delve into the role of the club in the community as well as fans in the city and look at the gender divide that football and cinema were involved in. Britain, much like the rest of the world, saw the end of World War One as an opportunity to recuperate and recover. However the British people were left frustrated ‘by the scale and the persistence of the interwar depression’.[1] This dissertation is not just examining the depression and recovery of interwar Europe rather the social reaction to these events. As Pugh noted; ‘Interwar social history has often been portrayed in a light-hearted way ... after the privations of wartime many British people were keen to seize any opportunities for leisure and self-indulgence’.[2] The examination of the interwar period is of how the public reacted to terrible situations and its link with the rise of popular culture. The key aspect under discussion is whether popular culture effected society and culture and whether it helped people deal with difficult periods of economic depression. The situation was so extreme that ‘unemployment soared in 1921 to two million’ in the UK and the population would have been forgiven if they had given up and stayed in their homes. [3] The exploration of the habits of the people struggling and their turn to popular culture is both interesting and noteworthy. These figures were not unique to 1921 as ‘For almost twenty years there were never fewer than a million people out of work in Great Britain’.[4] Of course not all people did turn to forgetting their problems through popular culture, as ‘in 1932, two unemployed men committed suicide everyday’.[5] The fact that some people could put worries, that for some provoked suicide, to the back of their mind and carry on with social activities is testament to the mentality of the population of the period. The popular ideas of ‘powerful wartime motifs of ‘all in it together’’ in adversity illustrates how people believed that they would come out the interwar period stronger if they worked together.[6]

More specifically the investigation is targeting the rise of popular social activities and their role within the culture of Liverpool and the surrounding areas during the interwar period. Liverpool is a northern city which is one of the most famous ports in Britain. Its standing was so large in the period that ‘Liverpool was known as the ‘second city’ of the British Empire (after London) and its most important port city with approximately 870,000 inhabitants in the 1930s’.[7] This large population was hit by the depression of the interwar period and had to deal with the harsh realities of economic depression. The unemployment was affecting Liverpool and the surrounding areas so bad that ‘In Birkenhead during the crisis in the shipbuilding industry in 1932, there were several reports of unemployed men committing suicide’.[8] Liverpool, as a port city, was of major importance during both World Wars because of ship building and the large numbers of people and war equipment being shipped in and out of Liverpool. The city was ‘noisy with the clanking of trams, the rattling of horse-drawn carts on the streets, the cries of coalmen, rag and bone offering balloons for children, paper boys and factory hooters which marked the different shifts’.[9] The wide variety of different people and cultures entering Liverpool had a big affect on culture with foreign influences, exemplified by a large Chinese population that came from trade links between Shanghai, Hong Kong and Liverpool.[10] For some, the escape from interwar depression was leisure activities in popular culture; the dissertation will involve the exploration and examination of the key areas of cinema and football.

To examine the key areas the dissertation will use a range of (public) primary evidence. Newspapers will be a major help as the Liverpool Daily Post, Liverpool Echo and Liverpool Evening Express all printed during the interwar period. Key resources will be the Liverpool Echo as well as The Daily Mirror who produced a weekly ‘Week-end Sport Programme’ which also included plenty of pictures and reports. It must be stated that it is an image of reality that is presented by newspapers as editors are trying to make money from their stories or pictures. Therefore, it can be difficult to analyse newspapers as they often represent sensational news. Nevertheless, the newspapers will highlight popular culture of the time as they will report what people will find relevant and interesting. News reels from sources like British Pathé will help to visualise and expand knowledge about the subject areas; again these may only feature an exaggerated image of Liverpool but will still help depict the city between the wars. Video clips will be vital to see how the fans acted; although recordings were predominately of the biggest games (cup games and international matches), it is still interesting to see the actions of fans towards the game and each other. Very few pieces of evidence are fully accurate yet they are personal and private documents so will be interesting to see an individual take on the period.

The dissertation will also use a range of secondary sources. Ranging from general texts about the interwar period as a whole and delving more specifically into British and Liverpool life. Within this, the dissertation will also use a range of books, websites and journals to analyse modern opinions on the interwar years within Liverpool and the key areas of cinema and football. Despite terrible conditions the people within Liverpool could distract themselves with cheap entertainment. Football was a predominately male escape and cinema had more female interest. This illustrates how important football and the cinema were as a form of escape for the struggling inhabitants of Liverpool in the interwar period.

Chapter 1 – The Role of Football Clubs

This chapter examines the role of football clubs and their mass appeal during the interwar period in Liverpool. The Liverpool region boasts three professional teams: Tranmere Rovers, Everton and Liverpool Football Clubs, the latter two have had immense success both domestically and in Europe. Football was and still remains a huge part of life in Liverpool and tens of thousands of loyal fans watch Liverpool and Everton home and away every week. This was true of the interwar period as Liverpool ‘became the first-post war winners of the First Division title’ and fans in the city could use the success of their team as an escape from post-war depression.[11] Attendances were high at the time, on Boxing Day 1924 Liverpool played Notts County at Anfield, their home stadium, in front of a crowd of 46,187.[12] Everton fans were also supporting their team with mass numbers; their highest average attendance for a season during the interwar period was in the 1927-28 season with 37,461 fans supporting their team.[13] Perhaps most interestingly, although male dominated, women too were involved in football.[14]

Fig.1. Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club Women’s Season Ticket (1930-31), at http://thegoldstonewrap.com/2013/07/25/ancient-albion-season-tickets-from-the-1920s-and-1930s/ accessed 7.May.2016.

The image is interesting as not only does it show that women must have attended games but also the price of £1 7s 6d (around £80 in today’s money), for a whole season, is considerably cheaper than tickets today and could have been afforded by even the lowest earners. Football was managing colossal crowds throughout the interwar period within Liverpool. Cheap prices and local success meant that football became a means of distraction from the harsh conditions of the interwar period where fans could forget their turmoil for ninety minutes a week.

In the modern era footballers are accustomed to earning hundreds of thousands of pounds each week and retire from the game as multi millionaires. In the 2012-13 season the ‘average player in the Premier League earned £1.6 million’.[15] This season (2015-16) the highest paid footballer in Britain is Liverpool-born Wayne Rooney who reportedly earns ‘£260,000-a-week’ illustrating the astronomical amount of money in the game today.[16] During the inter war period Liverpool and Everton both won the First Division Championship meaning at one point they had the best team and best players in England. One such hero of the interwar period was Everton striker Dixie Dean, signed from Merseyside neighbours Tranmere. In the ‘final act of the 1927-28 season’ Dean was on the cusp of ‘breaking all English League records by getting three goals’ and with ‘50,000 spectators’ present Dean broke the record and won the league with Everton.[17] Dean was at the peak of his powers and still holds the record for most goals scored in a season in England his ‘amazing total was exactly 100 goals’, a feat that was only beaten in Europe by FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi in 2012.[18] ‘Football has changed dramatically since Dixie Dean was terrorising defences in the 1920s and 1930s’ as players today can retire in their thirties and wages are incomparable.[19] Comparing Messi and Dean illustrates the gulf in financial recognition that players received in the inter-war period. Messi earned close to ‘£600,000 a week’ including ‘extras and endorsements’, Dean earned ‘£8 a week’ during their record breaking seasons. Messi has a collection of sports cars whereas Dean ‘never owned a car and travelled to training and matches by tram’. It is also unlikely that Messi copied Dean’s diet of ‘a bowl of tripe, poached in milk and washed down with a glass of bitter’, when breaking his record.[20] Although Dean’s £8 wage seems dismal in comparison to modern footballers, it does equate to nearly £500 a week in today’s money, which is certainly enough to live on. ‘In 1938 87.2 per cent of Britons earned less than £250, with 33 per cent earning less than £125’, meaning that Dean was better paid than the average working man in Britain.[21] Dean and Messi are exaggerated examples of footballers as both are legends for their respective clubs and not all footballers attract as much attention and money as the two men. Footballers did earn a good wage but they were still on a fee that was low enough for them to be involved in Merseyside interwar depression. Footballers today are almost inhuman as they earn so much money they will not face financial problems, however, interwar stars earned a much more modest wage and so were immersed in interwar Liverpool culture.

Dean was amongst the highest paid players as ‘the FA attempted to limit the role of money by imposing an £8 maximum weekly wage for footballers’.[22] This wage cap meant that football remained a more level playing field as money could not really lure players to bigger clubs and players were more loyal to the team they played for which is not as common today. The introduction of the wage cap shows that football has always been consumed by money, ‘though only ten per cent of players received that much’ which also further illustrates the prestige of Dixie Dean.[23] This illustrates how football provided a distraction for footballers too. Not only were they able to distract themselves from worldwide issues whilst playing but they were earning a fair amount of money for themselves and their families. Many of the footballers in the English First Division had fought in the First World War and so were happy to have financial security in harsh economic times. Obviously many would have played because they loved football but the wage provided meant that the majority of top class players would not need another job to be able to survive. Therefore players were somewhat removed from the cultural struggles of interwar Merseyside and could live a relatively secure life during their playing career.

A key reason why football has been chosen to be examined is due to the large impact it does have not just as a game but on the political field. This is evident too in the interwar period. From 1937 to 1940 Chamberlain’s government is best known for its appeasement foreign policy with Germany and the Nazi Party and this strategy can been seen in football. An incident occurred in 1938 when the English football team joined in with the German Nazi salute. This infamous image has been depicted as ‘Munich-style national humiliation’, the Football Association (FA) in England supported Chamberlain and ‘arranged a fixture played in Berlin two months after the German takeover of Austria’.[24] In May 1938 England faced Germany at the Olympic stadium in Berlin ‘in front of one hundred and fifteen thousand people’ and during the national anthem of the Germans the English team joined their opponents in the Nazi salute.[25] The salute was met with distaste from the British press as Adolf Hitler was not even present at the game and it was though that ‘England’s presence in Germany that day was less about sport than politics’.[26] The game was thought to have helped pave the way for Chamberlain’s meeting with Hitler and his famous “Peace in our Time” quote. This illustrates how important football can be on the world stage, it was a highly political decision to face Germany and give the Nazi salute. Despite not being in Liverpool this incident had nationwide consequences and exemplifies the importance of football and why it is being examined. This illustrates the cultural role of football, as a friendly was organised to symbolise the relationship between Germany and England at the time.

Today UEFA, the governing body of football in Europe, hosts The Champions League and the Europa League which brings together the top teams in Europe, however no such competitions existed in the interwar period and England had a very insular opinion when it came to football. Football was rather successful on Merseyside in terms of attendances and ability. Everton in particular were a major force in English football and this led to interest from further afield. Football teams often play pre-season friendlies (or holiday games as they were formally known) against foreign opponents to test themselves against new opponents and try and increase their fan bases internationally. This was also true for the teams on Merseyside in the interwar period. In 1932 Everton was invited to play matches abroad yet they did not give a good representation of themselves. Performances were damned with reports like ‘Our Degrading Football. England’s lost prestige’ and ‘the results of these Continental matches, holiday games as they must be called, do matter ... The people who let British football down are letting Britian down’.[27] To fans in Liverpool and across England, English football was dominant yet its popularity was increasing internationally. England had ‘exported football, especially to Europe and South America’ yet deemed foreign football ‘too delicate and artificial’ and as a result ‘the sport became very insular and nationalistic between the wars’.[28] This may help to explain why few foreign players came to the country and failed to have an impact across England. Again this illustrates the cultural role of football, Everton were representing the whole of England during these matches and presented an inferior depiction of British life in comparison to other European powers at the time. Football had a huge impact on English and Liverpool culture, yet this cultural influence of English football, did not travel much further than the British Isles.

The First Division was not as globally recognised as the Premier league is today and the number of foreign players in the game is almost incomparable. In August 2015 of the ‘220 players who started for their clubs at the weekend, only 73, or 33.2 per cent, were eligible to play or England’.[29] This is a good statistic to present how foreign players and football has influenced the game in England today. However, in the interwar period foreign players were in the minority. There are very few examples of foreign footballers on Merseyside. Jacob Lewin signed for Everton in 1913 and became their first foreign and Jewish player. The Swedish international never featured for the first team whilst he was at the club.[30] Other than Lewin, and he did not have much impact on football in Liverpool, the overwhelming majority of players were locals from Britain. Instead players from across the United Kingdom were viewed as foreigners and the thought of a European or South American player was rarely entertained. When England faced Wales on the 17th of October 1936 in Cardiff the commentator stated ‘and just to show how far they’ve gone in invading English soccer, 10 men out of the Welsh team normally play for English clubs’.[31] Liverpool had one foreign player throughout the entirety of the inter war period. Lance Carr was from Johannesburg and spent three years on Merseyside, he was also an ‘accomplished cricketer and boxer’ and, although not being a star player, had an impact on the club scoring eight goals in thirty three appearances.[32] The £8 a week wage cap on players helped keep English players in England as no one club could really dominate and buy all the best players so English talent was spread throughout the leagues and teams had no need to look abroad. This perhaps can help explain the love for football in the country and in Merseyside as fans could relate to the players on the pitch if they were from their own country. Players would travel around England to play for teams but vary rarely from anywhere other than the United Kingdom. A great way for fans to distract themselves from interwar turmoil was football, if fans could aspire to be one of the players on the pitch and help escape the poverty they were in by football then the best way for them to have these aspirations would be for them to relate to players on the field and foreign players were not a part of football culture.

Often when discussing football in Merseyside it is easy to forget Tranmere Rovers. They often stand in the shadow of their Merseyside neighbours Liverpool and Everton in terms of support and success. Being based in the Wirral and in lower divisions they attracted less attention than the two Liverpool clubs yet it is important to mention them when discussing football in Merseyside. Tranmere faced Liverpool in the FA Cup in 1934; they were originally drawn at home but requested the game to be played at Anfield to attract more fans. This request was granted and over 61,000 were at Anfield, many from the Wirral club.[33] Tranmere Rovers spent much of the interwar period languishing in the lower divisions, they did join the new Third Division in 1921 which meant they were only two divisions below the top league and their Merseyside neighbours and later won the Northern Division in 1938.In 1935 they also achieved the record victory for a Football League side beating Oldham 13-4. Tranmere are by no means a major force in football yet they were a functioning club and provided football fans in the Wirral a distraction from interwar issues. Perhaps their biggest role in this era was transferring Dixie Dean to Everton.

Football was huge during the interwar period in Liverpool. Merseyside fans enjoyed a fair amount of success in this period and this is a major reason why fans used football as a distraction from interwar Liverpool. Football played a key cultural role for fans to aspire for better lives and enjoy their weekends away from, often labour intensive, work. Football can have huge cultural significance, as illustrated by the events in Berlin in 1938, and was certainly more than just a game. Success of the Merseyside teams meant that fans could use their trips to Anfield and Goodison Park to remove themselves from harsh economic realities they lived in and enjoy a sociable day out away from interwar struggles.

Chapter 2 – Football Fans and the Influence of Football on the Community

Liverpool was ‘a very black and dirty place in the 1920s’ yet despite ‘poverty, Liverpool was a lively, vibrant, industrial city’ and ‘this recovery was helped by great football players of the time’.[34] For many people there ‘is only one real religion in Liverpool – football – with places of worship at Goodison Park and Anfield to witness the claim’.[35] Fans of Liverpool, Everton and Tranmere used football as a form of entertainment and escapism to distract themselves from the harsh realities of the interwar period. Not only did football provide ninety minutes of distraction but it was cheap so people did not have to sacrifice much to be able to support their team every week.

Thousands of fans turned up home and away for Liverpool and Everton every week. Perhaps unsurprisingly the highest average attendance for both teams was during league winning seasons. Liverpool had an average of 38,086 fans in 1921/22. Everton had 37,461 in their title winning season of 1927/28. This does suggest that success bread more fans in the period. The all standing stadiums at the time meant that there was no real maximum capacity for either ground so when local fans who could not always make the game saw that their teams were successful they decided to go to the game. The previously stated statistic that 870,000 people lived in Liverpool in the 1930’s can be used in conjunction with the average football attendances. If Liverpool had an average of 31,026 and Everton had 33,233 in the 1930’s that would roughly equate to around 64,259 people a week watching both teams which is about 7.5% of the population. Of course this is a very crude estimation which presumes no fans would watch both Liverpool and Everton. Nevertheless, this provides some insight into how many people watched football in Liverpool every week. If considered that each person who went the match had a family who contributed to finances or just knew about football games, then the amount of people engaged with football increases vastly. When compared with contemporary figures, these attendances still remain impressive. In the 2014/15 Season Liverpool had an average attendance of 43,313 and Everton had 38,343 on average for each home game. Both grounds have increased in capacity but stadiums are all seated now therefore they have maximum capacities, unlike in the interwar period where many more fans could attend. It appears that attendances remained high during the interwar period and fans were not affected by war and depression when it came to supporting their local teams. These large attendances show the vast social elements of football and the amount of people that were involved with the game.

As aforementioned, the average wage in Britain ‘In 1938 87.2 per cent of Britons earned less than £250, with 33 per cent earning less than £125’.[36] However, ‘In Liverpool only 1 per cent of the families which contained more than one breadwinner was living in poverty, but 16.6 per cent of these families were overcrowded. On the other hand, over half the families in which there was no earner were living in poverty, and only one in twenty were overcrowded’.[37] Liverpool, being a port city, was hit worse than many others yet fans continued to attend. Despite economic troubles ‘Admission charges were raised to a shilling after the First World War, but local derby games rarely drew less than fifty thousand and both clubs played before an average gate of 35,000 for league matches’ again illustrating the social importance of football.[38] One could assume that raising the prices would force many fans to miss games but the popularity for football was so high that attendances remained high throughout the period. Indeed, bigger matches would draw bigger crowds and for fans on Merseyside it did not come much bigger than when both teams faced each other. Prices did not remain that low as the clubs realised the financial potential of increasing prices. Therefore, for an FA Cup tie in February 1920 Liverpool raised prices due to the competitions growing reputation ‘Admittance 1s, Paddock 3s (instead of 2s 6d), Kemlyn-road stand 3s 6d ... The grand stand (centre) is priced at 7s 6d, ends of new stand 3s 6d’.[39] The club were right to raise prices as the attendance was still 50,000 people which further illustrates how much of a social event football was in the city, particularly for significant games, despite increased prices. Yet even with these increased prices, in today’s money no ticket would be more than £10 which illustrates just how affordable football was in the interwar period. Fans would be paying around £3 a week to watch their team, even in frugal times this was a luxury many fans could afford. This is a major reason why football was so appealing to fans, not just to support their team but as an affordable social event.

Players were in a similar position to the fans during the interwar period. Many players played for the same team before and after the First World War and this was true of Liverpool who ‘had the nucleus of the team which had played in the last season before the war’.[40] Fans loved to associate with the players and feel like they were part of one big family and there was no greater sense of pride than hearing ‘the chanted name of a local hero growing ever louder as he moves nearer the goal with the ball at his feet’. [41] This sense of togetherness would have aided the social aspect of the game. Fans and players had been through an ordeal during the First World War and many came out of the conflict with the intent of getting back to ‘normality’ and for many that was through football. One interesting case study is that of Jim ‘Parson’ Jackson. Not only was he a talented footballer, exemplified by him being captain of Liverpool, but he was also a key figure in the community. Following a 2-2 draw away to Chelsea, Jackson stayed in London after the game as he was ‘preaching the sermon at the Presbyterian Church, North-side, Clapham Common’.[42] This was reported in the national newspaper and so was obviously not a typical occurrence of a footballer but shows how players were involved with fans. Although giving a sermon in London, Jackson ‘invested his earnings playing football to study first at Liverpool University’ and later ‘left the game to take up the Church full time’.[43] Jackson later became ‘president of the Liverpool Free Church Council’ which shows his affinity to the city as he was originally born in Newcastle but remained in Liverpool after his football career ended.[44] Jackson could be used as a positive role model for children at the time, he illustrated the benefit of working hard whether it be to achieve success in football, earn a degree or become a minister in a Church. Jackson managed to build an extremely successful and fulfilling life whilst stuck in a troublesome time in history and is the perfect example of remaining defiant in tough situations and achieved a life he wanted through his football success in Liverpool.

It has previously been discussed that football had major political connotations; well its influence was also religious. Schools were placed with the ‘problem when supporters would not allow their sons to play for the school soccer team if it meant wearing the colours of the rival club’. Indeed, ‘For many supporters the football club was a second religion that dominated their lives, ... success of their club more than compensated for low standards of living and unemployment’. ‘They revelled in the atmosphere of a cup tie or a local derby ... where fifty thousand fans shared the tight arena’ whether in ‘the close double-decker stands of Goodison Park’ or ‘the great mass of surging humanity on the Kop at Anfield’.[45] Football was a way of life to many and was as important as religion. Liverpool has always been a city intertwined with football and it is a huge part of Scouse culture, fans loved football as much as they needed it to survive during the interwar period.

As seen by the cover image of the dissertation, football was a completely different game during the interwar period. There was certainly less advertisements on the pitch and on the kits which illustrates the lack of money in the game. The kit itself looks almost formal with the long shorts of the players, with Elisha Scott (pictured on the right) leading the Liverpool team out whilst wearing knee pads to play in goal. It is also interesting to note the lack of police or people of authority. This was the era before football violence really became a major issue in English football and it appears the fans are almost unsupervised. Players and fans are within touching distance and there seems to be little stopping any of the fans from reaching out to their heroes yet they are respecting the players and fellow fans. The lack of police presence shows how different football was during the period as football was seen predominately as a form of entertainment. The major difference though is the fans. Firstly, the crowd is all male, there does not appear to be one woman in the image. They would have been normal working men of Liverpool, and perhaps further afield, and it is striking to note the dress code. You do not see many fans in modern day football wearing suits or their best clothes to a football game, yet here all of the men pictured are very well dressed. They have clearly made a big effort to go to the game all wearing fine suits, jackets and hats. One fan has even taken off his hat to greet the players entering the pitch which further illustrates the respectful nature of fans in that era. All the fans are transfixed on the players and do not appear to be in conversation with one another which illustrates how important football was and is in the city. Not only are they staring intently at the players walking out, which is expected as they have just appeared out of the tunnel, but the joy on their faces shows how excited they are to witness both teams on Merseyside face one another on the pitch. To look at the hundreds of fans pictured with beaming smiles on their faces it is easy to forget the plight that they were living in. The period provided huge unemployment and economic issues yet the fans are there for football. That day their issues were not important, they had ninety minutes to escape the harsh realities if interwar Liverpool and enjoy a theatrical spectacle. They may not all leave the ground happy with the result but they certainly arrive jovial and are happy to leave the harsh realities of Liverpool in the interwar period, at home.[46]

Fig.2. Liverpool Echo, Everton skipper Dixie Dean and Liverpool skipper Elisha Scott lead out the teams in a 1920s Merseyside derby, at http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/merseyside-derby-legends-everton-v-6318921 accessed 7.May.2016.

However, to juxtaposition this image of fans being well dressed and behaved is during the 1914 FA Cup final. The Daily Mirror displayed images of fans who were ‘ready to suffer any inconvenience to get a good view’ with images of the fans climbing trees and poles to see the match with captions such as; ‘Balancing on beer bottles’, ‘Sailors up a tree’ and ‘Comfort sacrificed to fine view’ used in the report.[47] This shows that there was a huge passion in the game, during this period. Fans may have been dressed in smart suits but the action of some of the fans does not seem to fit the image formerly presented. It illustrates how huge football was and how passionate fans were. It is important to note that this of course was a cup final so fans of any era would use a cup final as an escape from normality but this would have been a welcome distraction as Liverpool recovered from the First World War. The newspaper also reports ‘the girl who balanced herself on the necks of two beer bottles’, this not only displays the resourceful nature of the football fans but is evidence that women attended football games. Football has mostly been viewed as a man’s game throughout its existence but women have always been involved in some way. Here again it is important to note that this is a cup final so more fans than normal would have attended yet it displays that women also used football as an escape from interwar Liverpool. Videos from the match illustrates how tightly packed the Crystal Palace ground was with ’72,778’ fans attending and how two struggling North West teams used football to distract themselves from the turmoil of war by going to a football game.[48] This is furthered by the aforementioned game where Dixie Dean broke the all time goal scoring record for Everton. On the 5th of May 1928 there was a reported ‘crowd figure of 60,000 for this match but the official figure ... was just over 48,000’ and knowing the magnitude of the day Everton were copying ‘Wembley’s lead, amplifiers had been spread around Goodison’ to ensure everyone ‘keep off the pitch at all times. All they had to do was cheer Everton and Dean’. Nevertheless when Dean scored his goal ‘Two spectators broke through the police barrier’ and one ‘managed to reach his hero and give him a kiss!’. [49] George Green a Liverpool Echo cartoonist would illustrate the game and he was keen to mention the fans as he noted ‘And three cheers for the gallant spectators that told Everton how to do it’.[50]

Fig.3. ‘Hail, The Champions!’, Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, 6.May.1928).

This further exemplifies the immense passion for football, people may have arrived in suits and hats but emotion and love for the game would soon replace their formal attire. This exemplifies how deep rooted football is in Liverpool culture as the passion of the fans has always been displayed, especially at big matches.

Fans were not restricted to Liverpool and would often follow their teams around the country and support them. Liverpool were set to face ‘Second division Southampton’ in the FA Cup. To make the long journey some fans ‘had taken the midnight tram to enjoy matchday to the fullest on the south coast’, a journey which takes over four hours by today’s transport.[51] This would have been a long and relatively expensive journey which further illustrates the commitment and passion of the fans in this period. The biggest away game for either set of fans though was the derby match were Liverpool and Everton would meet and attendances would often comfortably surpass 50,000. One such example is when ‘Liverpool ‘confound the prophets’ by beating ‘unbeatable’ Everton by 2 goals to 1 in great local Cup-Tie ‘Derby’’ in 1932. The crowd was near 57,000 and they were filling every space as videos from the day display.[52] The crowd was so impressive that the Evening Express reported: ‘From an early hour thousands flocked to Goodison park ... Never before has such a hustle been seen in the vicinity of the famous Goodison ground’. They even spoke to a Liverpool supporter who ‘arrived at Goodison Park at 7am’ he went on to say: “I have not missed a Liverpool match for years, and I was determined to see the match today”.[53] This shows that fans were following their team around the country to see football, these travels would not have been too common and for many the only away game they could really travel to was the derby. Nevertheless football was a literal escape for some fans that could travel away from the city to watch football and enjoy a day out around the country. The commitment of many fans was so immense that they would rarely miss a game.

At one point Everton were the only team on Merseyside and even spent ‘eight years at Anfield’ including when ‘they were crowned champions of England for the first time in 1891’.[54] Everton was owned by John Houlding who also owned Anfield yet he was met with troubles in the board room. When ‘Houlding increased the annual rent on Anfield’, tied with religious board members disliking Houlding’s ‘vigorous promotion of alcohol’, distaste that players got ‘changed in one of his pubs’ and insisting that ‘only his beers would be available for sale at Anfield’ a decision was made for Everton to leave Anfield in favour of ‘Mere Green field, which would later become Goodison Park’.[55] Houlding was keen to fill Anfield and create a team ‘to rival Everton FC’ and so created ‘‘Liverpool Football Club and Athletic Grounds Company, Limited,’ which was officially registered on 3 June 1892’.[56] After the ‘acrimonious split’ relationships were strained for many years.[57] The turning point was the death of John Houlding as it was only after his death that his key roles for both clubs were acknowledged. In 1904 both chairmen of the Merseyside clubs (WC Cuff of Everton and John McKenna of Liverpool) came together to launch ‘an official joint 16-page programme’ which over the next 30 years, more than 1,100 issues were produced’.[58] This started a new era of friendship for both clubs and the fans. One such example was at the funeral of John McKenna on the 26th of March 1936 where ‘Enormous crowds gathered at St Margaret’s and there was such a heavy volume of traffic that extra police had to be drafted in’ and his coffin was followed by ‘three Everton and three Liverpool players. It was an expression to show the clubs’ mutual regard for McKenna’.[59] The clubs ran joint programmes ‘until the 1935/6 season’ yet this cease of publication did not ‘in any way suggest a rift had developed’ and instead it was replaced by ‘the annual football services known as ‘Football Sundays’ ... held at St. Domingo Chapel during the 1930s and both clubs joined together in worship’.[60] Liverpool and Everton’s rivalry has often ‘been dubbed “the friendly derby”’ which illustrates the bond between the two clubs especially during this period.[61] An illustration of this bond is during ‘the late 1920s, at the start of a Derby Game between Everton and Liverpool, both teams came out on to the pitch together, for the start of the game, for the first time in the history of football’. This idea was ‘suggested by the late “Bee” Edwards, Sports Editor of the Liverpool Echo, who thought that the practice would encourage a more sporting atmosphere’.[62] This helps to explain the togetherness that came with the ‘powerful wartime motifs of ‘all in it together’’ and to be able to bring together two former rivals in this tough period shows the strong mind set of people at that time.[63] Football could almost be described as the social glue that held the city together during this period.

Football brought together the city of Liverpool during an immensely difficult time. Fans associated with players who were part of their community. They could afford to see their team play on Merseyside and some lucky fans could travel around the country. The affection for the game was so intense that to some it was pseudo-religious and they worked all week and thrived to watch a game of football. Perhaps even more appealing was that Liverpool and Everton were so close not only geographically but emotionally too. The interwar period hit few cities worse than Liverpool yet many fans had experienced war and knew that they had strength in numbers and solidarity would see them through this period. Little did they knew that the end of this era was to lead to yet more bloodshed but they were happy to use football as a way to galvanise and cement a relationship between the blue and red sides of the city. Football is just a game to many people but not to football fans, not to football fans in Liverpool and certainly not during the interwar period.

Chapter 3 – Cinema

Football was a huge part of many people’s lives in Liverpool yet not everyone in the city will have shared their passion for the game. For a young man in Liverpool the dream of pulling on a red or blue shirt was all the more appealing as there was a chance they could do so if they worked hard and had a talent. Therefore, although football was an escape from normal life it was an aspirational escape in that people could realistically achieve their dreams. However, with cinema people wanted to fully immerse themselves in an experience. Crowds would flock to see the latest Charlie Chaplin and Katherine Hepburn movies and would again be keen to let the doors shut and leave a struggling city outside and escape to whatever the movie they were watching had in store. ‘The interactive milieu of the music hall and concert room gave way to the escapist delights of the cinema’, the whole experience was truly theatrical from the film itself, to the piano players and the ice cream vendors during intermissions.[64] The cinema was a much more accessible and welcoming than the theatre and ‘Across Britain, working-class audiences were abandoning theatre and the third-rate experience of ‘the gallery’ for the cinema’.[65] Football itself can also be thought of as a kind of theatre as it provided drama to a select group of passionate supporters yet the cinema was more accessible to young, old, male and female and that is why ‘At the outset of this period in 1917 20 million men and women attended the cinema per week’.[66]

This chapter examines the role of the rise of cinema and film in the period. The cinema trend may seem somewhat redundant today as ‘Merseyside used to be able to boast a cinema in every suburb and on neighbourhood street corners. Now only two independently owned cinemas remain: Woolton Picture House and the Plaza, in Crosby’.[67] The number of cinemas in the interwar period was around ninety which illustrates the mass appeal of cinema and film in the interwar era. This was by no means unique to Liverpool as ‘By 1939 there were more than 5,000 cinemas, many of them newly built, capable of seating 2,000’.[68] Not only were the cinemas hugely popular but they were also incredibly grand inside.[69]

Fig. 4. Forum/ABC Cinema Liverpool (1931), at http://cinema-theatre.org.uk/our-campaigns/cinemas-at-risk/forum-liverpool/ accessed 7.May.2016.

People did not just visit the cinema to watch a film but for the experience of ‘Art Deco styling, plush seats and the ice cream ladies’.[70] The cinema was a truly immersive experience that appealed to a huge audience at a time when people wanted to escape their somewhat depressing lives in war stricken Liverpool.

The wave of interest in cinema was of course inspired by Hollywood and the rise of stars like Mae West, Marlene Dietrich and Tallulah Bankhead and films like Metropolis and Nosferatu were grossing a lot of money for Hollywood film studios.[71] Both films introduced audiences to wild and wonderful worlds that were very different from everyday life, and displayed how the population aspired to escape interwar poverty for a better and more prosperous life. Metropolis introduced a ‘Utopian society’ inhabited with ‘wealthy residents’ with ‘an underground world of workers’ hidden away, this exemplifies the desire for a better life whilst seeing themselves in the deprived workers.[72] Nosferatu, a fantasy horror film, provided audiences a look at the supernatural starring a ‘vampire’, unsurprisingly perhaps the villain is from ‘Wilsbourg, Germany’ illustrating the ill feeling the British still had to their old enemy.[73] Of course this is only an example of two films yet it illustrates the key desire escapism in interwar film. The low cost meant that even ‘an unemployed man could scrape together a few pennies, he could attend’ and this meant that cinema was a social event for pretty much all of the people in Liverpool.[74]

It is important to further examine whether cinema reinforced gender stereotypes at the time. Gender roles may have been influenced by Liverpool being a port city. Many of the male population had tough manual labour jobs which required strength and this may have helped to reinforce the idea that the men did the work and could enjoy more masculine activities. It is important to note the role that women played in the films they were in and the influence this would have had on women across Merseyside and the rest of the world. A lot more women attended the cinema as ‘courting couples sought out the darkness and relative privacy of the cinema’ which other forms of entertainment could not provide, such as football.[75] The growth of wealth amongst women due to ‘women’s entrance into the workforce’ meant that they had disposable income and were free to participate in social activities.[76] Roles of famous actresses like Katherine Hepburn in Morning Glory, a role which earned her the ‘Academy Award for Best Actress’, again highlights the aspirational tendencies of the period as Hepburn played an aspiring actress, this battle against adversity and chasing a better life would have resonate with many women across Merseyside.[77] Women were drawn towards the cinema as they could associate more with actresses on screen than men on a field. Women were exploring their new cultural roles as workers and the social experiences that arose from visiting picture houses.

Women were not the only minority audience that cinema attracted. Younger inhabitants were also perplexed and entertained by the cinema. ‘Unemployed youths also visited cinemas regularly, a fact confirmed by a study of the young unemployed in ... Liverpool ... in 1936’, cinema was so cheap that even the unemployed, which were plentiful in the city, could attend.[78] The cinema rose to be such a phenomenon in the era that ‘by 1939 some 4,600,000 children went to the cinema every week all over Britain’, many were accompanied by parents but this illustrates again the diversity of the people who regularly attended picture houses.[79] It is also important to note that ‘cinema-going was not a classless form of leisure’ as ‘differing admission prices would ensure that social distinction was often preserved’. Tickets to films could ‘cost from as little as 3d to as much as 2s 6d’ this illustrates how so many people, employed or otherwise, could attend the cinema and do so on a regular occurrence. [80] Low pricing and the vast popularity of the cinema meant that picture houses had a key cultural role across Liverpool to allow citizens to come together, enjoy an entertaining evening and distract themselves from interwar struggles together.

The picture houses used at the time were often very grand as shown in the previously discussed picture (Fig.4). This was replicated vastly across the city and although only two independent cinemas remain in Liverpool (Woolton and Crosby) the art deco design of the cinemas illustrates the relationship with Hollywood that all cinemas had, even as far away as Liverpool. ‘The inter-war years saw ...the influx of Americanised culture’ and cinema at the time depicted the glamour of Hollywood and through the design of the inspiring picture houses people felt as if they had a piece of Hollywood in their neighbourhood.[81] Paramount cinemas were the height of Hollywood cinema glitz and glamour and when ‘the Paramount Cinema on London Road (Liverpool) opened in 1934 it was one of seven Paramounts built in the UK to provide unparalleled levels of luxury and comfort’ which illustrates the success of cinema in Liverpool as it was a struggling city yet demand could support a premium picture house in the city centre.[82] The pictures of the cinema lit up at night helps explain as to why so many people were drawn to the cinema, it really was a focal point of the community and presented an image of Hollywood and was a polar opposite to the quality of life many people were living in and this enhances the idea of social escapism that cinema offered during the interwar period.[83]

Fig.5. Paramount, London Road (1934), at http://blog.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/2016/04/picture-palaces-of-liverpool/ accessed 7.May.2016.

The growing influence of cinema is exemplified by the ‘round-the-clock cinema’ culture that was created.[84] The very thought of cinema being open all through the week was highly controversial as they were thought to be taking away attention and money from the Church. For cinemas to be granted permission to be open on Sundays they had to ‘apply to Liverpool’s Justices for permission’ and were only allowed ‘only two Sundays in any year’ and had to give ‘20% of their takings to charity’.[85] Cinemas were highly accessible to the public with the ‘millions of people who visit cinema each week – and very many go more than once a week’, people would keep returning to the cinema multiple times a week or certainly a month and this illustrates the cultural role it played during the period and the demand for ‘round-the-clock cinema’.[86]

Cinema was a full escape from interwar troubles on Merseyside. For a small fee and a short travel, the people of Liverpool could remove themselves from their issues and be engulfed by a story and a social event that was a key part of Liverpool culture. The fact that picture houses were so numerous illustrates the vast cinema demand. Not only this, but the inspiring art deco design meant that cinemas stood out and people actively looked forward to their next visit. Thanks to low prices and regular screenings these visits were relatively often and cinema became a social phenomenon across Liverpool and most of the world in the interwar period thanks to the growth of Hollywood.

Conclusion

Life in Liverpool could have been viewed as a rather uninspiring and depressing existence. The large unemployment and depression tied with recovery from the First World War meant that for any inhabitant of the city to feel downhearted would be completely understandable. Yet, people within the city remained strong. There was already a solid foundation of football success and popularity before the war had commenced. Instead of this diminishing the impact of football increased. Not only did it increase but it provided a sense of pre-war normality to everyday life. Fans were already obsessed with football but this increased after the war. It appears that times of adversity enhanced the love for football. Football was for the fans and with low prices people could easily use the event as a major distraction from normal life. It is a well enhanced and understandable idea that ‘Without these players lifting the doom and gloom of everyday life many people would have given up on their pitiful existence’.[87] Many people struggled to see light at the end of the interwar tunnel. However, football provided that escape for many. It was a major social event that brought people from the city together. Old and young male and some females would be at games together and it would not cost them too much money. The roles of players in the community added to the culture of the city as fans could aspire to be a player on the pitch. Despite money not being what it is today, footballers earned above average wage and so fans could aspire to be the next Dixie Dean to further escape their interwar struggles. Many players would remain in Liverpool in later life which illustrates the cultural role that fans and players had on each other. The cultural role extends further than this though. Football had religious and political influences. Involvement of the FA in foreign affairs is exemplified by the Germany and England friendly so soon after Austrian invasion. The England football team certainly represented the political stance of Britain that day which illustrates the cultural role of football. The fact that many fans in Liverpool considered football of similar importance to religion again exemplifies the vast cultural role that football played on everyday life. Another major factor that football was such a social success was the fact that two teams resided so close to each other and that they had a thriving relationship at the time. The biggest game of the season was the derby where Liverpool and Everton fans could come together to show the power of Merseyside football. Some fans on Merseyside today do not share a healthy relationship, yet the interwar period certainly many people across Britain together in aid of the interwar effort. This was true too in Merseyside yet football brought people even closer. The joint programmes, ‘Football Sundays’ and the image of Liverpool and Everton players running out together shows why it is often labelled as the ‘Friendly Derby’. Interwar Liverpool should have been a bleak period of history for many yet football seemed to bring many people together as one big family. Football comfortably attracted over 30,000 fans to each team a week and derby days and FA Cup matches were even more influential. Football can be viewed as a key distraction from interwar Liverpool for many fans, however it could also be asserted that the interwar period and the wars the preceded and concluded the era were just a distraction to the football season for thousands of football fans.

This tied with the theme of cinema as another vastly important escape from interwar plight illustrates why Liverpool coped so well. Liverpool was a major port city and their economy was hugely dented by the First World War. Stevenson and Cook note that port cities like Glasgow and Liverpool, when taken at face value, look like perfect examples for uprisings yet the people of the city remained strong.[88] This is certainly thanks to the escapism and distraction that social events helped to provide. This is where cinema had a key role to play. Football was of huge importance to those who were fanatical about their clubs. However, cinema was much more inclusive. People could afford to take a trip to the cinema about once a week and get away from their harsh lives. The glamour provided from Hollywood was depicted by the impressive picture houses at the time which drew in crowds of all ages and both genders. Women had a lot more freedom following the First World War and this was displayed both by the roles played on screen and the presence of women in the picture houses. Football and cinema were both dramatic displays of theatre that brought huge numbers of people in the city together to help distract themselves from their interwar struggles and provide a small period of time to unwind and enjoy life in a great city during a terrible period in history.

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Appendix

Fig.1. Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club Women’s Season Ticket (1930-31), at http://thegoldstonewrap.com/2013/07/25/ancient-albion-season-tickets-from-the-1920s-and-1930s/ accessed 7.May.2016.

Fig.2. Liverpool Echo, Everton skipper Dixie Dean and Liverpool skipper Elisha Scott lead out the teams in a 1920s Merseyside derby, at http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/merseyside-derby-legends-everton-v-6318921 accessed 7.May.2016.

Fig.3. ‘Hail, The Champions!’, Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, 6.May.1928).

Fig. 4. Forum/ABC Cinema Liverpool (1931), at http://cinema-theatre.org.uk/our-campaigns/cinemas-at-risk/forum-liverpool/ accessed 7.May.2016.

Fig.5. Paramount, London Road (1934), at http://blog.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/2016/04/picture-palaces-of-liverpool/ accessed 7.May.2016.

[1] Pugh M, State and Society Fourth Edition: A Social and Political History of Britain since 1870 (London, 2012), p.183.

[2] Pugh M, We Danced All Night: A Social History of Britain Between the Wars (London, 2013), p.vii.

[3] Taylor A.J.P, English History 1914-1945 (Oxford, 2001), p.238.

[4] Stevenson J & Cook C, The Slump: Britain in the Great Depression (London, 2013), p.9.

[5] Ibid, p.95.

[6] Peniston-Bird C.M., ‘‘All in it together’ and ‘Backs to the Wall’: Relating Patriotism and the People’s War in the 21st Century’, Oral History, 40 (2012), p.69.

[7] Museum of Liverpool, Merseyside Historic Characterisation Project, at http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/mol/archaeology/historic-environment-record/historic-characterisation-project/index.aspx accessed 7.May.2016.

[8] Stevenson J & Cook C, The Slump: Britain in the Great Depression (London, 2013), p.95.

[9] Baldursson A & Magnusson G, Liverpool: The Complete Record (London, 2011), p.113.

[10] Liverpool Chinatown, History of Chinatown, at http://www.liverpoolchinatown.co.uk/history.php accessed 7.May.2016.

[11] Liversedge S, Liverpool: The Official Centenary History, 1892-1992 (London, 1991), p.15.

[12] Ibid, p.130.

[13] ToffeeWeb, Everton History, at http://toffeeweb.com/history/records/attendances.asp accessed 7.May.2016.

[14] See Fig.1.

[15] ESPN Staff, Average Premier League wage hits £31,000 per week, at http://en.espn.co.uk/football/sport/story/312907.html accessed 7.May.2016.

[16] Bernstein J, Wayne Rooney will earn around £73million on his current Manchester United deal while five Manchester City players are among the 10 best paid in the Premier League, at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-3227651/Wayne-Rooney-earn-73million-current-Manchester-United-deal-five-Manchester-City-players-10-best-paid-Premier-League.html accessed on 7.May.2016.

[17] ‘The Champions at Play: Everton and Arsenal wind up an historic season’, Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, 5.May.1928).

[18] Lupson P, Everton FC & Liverpool FC, Across the Park, Common Ground (Liverpool, 2008), p.52.

[19] Keith J, Dixie Dean: The Inside Story of a Football Icon (London, 2001), p.5.

[20] Prentice D, Everton FC legend Dixie Dean scored 85 goals in a year – just like Lionel Messi and Gerd Muller, at http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/everton-fc-legend-dixie-dean-3327234 accessed on 7.May.2016.

[21] Kitchen M, Europe Between the Wars (London, 2006), p.87.

[22] Pugh M, We Danced All Night: A Social History of Britain Between the Wars (London, 2013), p.296.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Beck P.J., Scoring for Britain: International Football and International Politics, 1900-1939 (London, 2013), p.1.

[25] British Movie Tone, England v. Germany Football Match in Berlin1938, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jlbLHviSTPc accessed 7.May.2016.

[26] Duffy J, Football, fascism and England’s Nazi salute, at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/3128202.stm accessed 7.May.2016.

[27] Beck P.J., Scoring for Britain: International Football and International Politics, 1900-1939 (London, 2013) p.162.

[28] Pugh M, We Danced All Night: A Social History of Britain Between the Wars (London, 2013), p.296.

[29] Kay O, English talents afforded fewer chances to impress, at http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/sport/football/premierleague/article4523432.ece accessed 7.May.2016.