Liverpool v Newcastle, a tale of two cities
As the Premier League anticipates one of its most exciting fixtures, TOTT takes and early look at the characteristics of the backgrounds to Liverpool and Newcastle.
Newcastle is of course a proud city, on the banks of the Tyne with a history recorded back to the Roman settlement of Pons Aelius, then with a population of around 2,000. Liverpool is altogether much newer, established as a borough under King John around 1,200 years later. It was only in the 16th century that Liverpool achieved parish status, then with a population of around 500.
Newcastle played a central role under various occupations of Britain, after the Romans becoming a settlement for the Saxon rule of Northumbria and the access point for many Vikings. The Normans arrived, building the new castle and affording Newcastle city status in 1080, a mere 800 years before Liverpool.
Even before Liverpool was recognised as a major centre, Newcastle had become a mediaeval base for repelling the Scots who were later to play a major role in the footballing heritage of the city. Following the potato famine, Liverpool was to host a migration from Ireland.
Newcastle`s fame and fortune was initially built on trade, notably wool in a prosperous period of Britain`s history, being a gateway to the North Sea and continental Europe. Liverpool on the other hand emerged as a centre for the slave trade, being a major Atlantic gateway to the West Indies and the Americas.
The pulse of both cities has historically been its rivers. The Tyne became a centre for shipbuilding and the centre for trading mineral wealth with the south. The Mersey relied on its crueller trades, people from Africa to the Caribbean plantations and seals.
Newcastle`s ship building role had a notable military history link that went with it. Collingwood played his part in Trafalgar, whilst Liverpool have at times been yielded to the Spanish, memorably, Rafa Benitez. Liverpool are known as being the registered port for the Titanic, folklore associating this ship as the roots of the Liverpool strip of red shirts, red shorts red socks and a black armband.
The two cities vied for the title of culture capital of Europe in 2008, the Scousers winning the sympathy vote, which the city encourages so well. It is a rare event for a city to be simultaneously both a culture and crime capital.
In footballing terms, both teams were founded in 1892, Newcastle with the history of two teams merging, Liverpool being the result of a split from Everton. Until the 1970s, both teams had a similar record of trophies won. Liverpool have since forged ahead, the crucial years being those when stability was provided by Shankly and his boot room, Durham`s own Bob Paisley, Hoe Fagan and current manager Dalglish.
Both teams have a shared history with managers. Dalglish gained honours at his main English club as a player, then Blackburn and Celtic before his sabotage act on the Tyne. Souness was similarly drafted using the stepping stone of Liverpool among others before exacting a smog-like revenge on behalf of his first English club as a player.
After a successful playing career on Merseyside, Keegan became manager at Newcastle, producing arguably the most entertaining side of the Premier League years at least. Presumably he was rejected by the Scousers on the basis they prefer to mourn than be entertained.
Liverpool`s slave trading past has served them well in the football world, as they have taken players away from their roots. Their nouveau riche world, gained on the backs of human trafficking has seen them exploit local talent, most recently taking young bairn Andy Carroll away from his family, having already done the same with the likes of Peter Beardsley. Other potential plucked from the North east included one of England`s most cultured left backs, Alan Kennedy, and back in the 1970s, Terry McDermott among others.
Transfer traffic has not always been one way, however. Newcastle has provided a retirement home for several figures, as well as the aforementioned Terry McDermott, the Tyne has welcomed Ian Rush, John Barnes and Mike Hooper for their swansongs. In their cases, it is a shame that the swans were mute. Michael Owen is another who gave up playing club football when he arrived in Newcastle.
Other comparisons can be made with club ownership. After a few rocky years under Hicks and Gillet, the former of which left an alleged legacy of unpaid redundancy payments to workers in the North East. Their successors have started to invest in the squad, appearing to be set to develop a side to challenge at the top. Newcastle`s British billionaire has adopted the reverse policy, having the highest transfer surplus of any British football club during his tenure.
A large part of that surplus is down to the sale of Andy Carroll. He has joined a team with few other established English stars, namely Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard who are examples to him of the rewards that loyalty to your home club can yield.
Carroll could have been a hero in his home city. Instead, whether it is down to Ashley`s machinations or his own greed, he is unlikely to join those other two Geordie number 9s to be revered on Tyneside, Shearer and Milburn. At this stage of his career, it is hardly likely that Carroll will even emulate the last lad local to Liverpool to feature among their legends, 5th top historical Liverpool scorer Robbie Fowler. Rush, Hunt, Hodgson, Liddell, Dalglish, and even Michael Owen might be out of reach. Carroll has consigned himself to being an also ran.
Liverpool`s new owners do appear to have ambition, something which would be welcome on Tyneside. Even though there have been a handful of local players to break through the ranks, the new strike force of Carroll and Suarez seem to be a pair for the future, potentially to match the Welsh Toshack and Yorkshireman Keegan, or even the Scottish Dalglish and Welsh Rush.
In the meantime, Ashley`s Newcastle have to make do with free signings Ameobi, yet to manage double figures in a top flight season, and Lovenkrands who has yet to even reach double figures of Premier league goals. Carroll had 11 before Christmas. We do however have a midfield core of Scouser Nolan and Evertonian Barton, supplemented by latin flair in other areas of the field.
We can look forward to the hype of the 4-3 years. There will be interesting battles, not least the industrious Dutchman who rejected Newcastle against the Spaniard, Enrique, the central American Suarez against Argentine Coloccini.
As for the managers, we can compare the man who dismantled the Entertainers to the man set to asset strip on behalf of Ashley. Dalglish has managed to replace the gelding stud that was Torres with a future generation strike force. Pardew is a serial failure at the top level, accepting consecutive false assurances from the hierarchy.
Although there may be no black armbands at the sports franchise of Anfield on Tuesday, Ashley has given us his own entrepreneurial tribute to the departed John Sullivan, creator of Only Fools and Horses. He has given the visitors their own Del Boy Llambias with his sidekick, Rodney Pardew.