Last week, I watched the deeply moving memorial service for the Hillsborough 96 on TV and, during the sequence where homage was being paid to Kenny Dalglish for the remarkable support he has given to survivors and the families of those less fortunate, it occurred to me that for most of my own 72 years, Scottish players and former players have provided the backbone for Liverpool Football Club (LFC). Evidently, right from the start, the likes of Sir Matt Busby played a part in making the club what it became and, during my own lifetime, Billy Liddell, Bill Shankly and the aforementioned (soon to be "Sir", perhaps) Mr. Dalglish have left an indelible impression; not just at Anfield - but throughout the whole city.
I was born in Liverpool and, more recently, spent the best part of ten years living in Scotland; so, I'm fairly familiar with both regions and there are a couple of things which strike me as being intriguing. For instance, one might have expected LFC to have a stronger association with Wales than Scotland. After all, Liverpool has been called the capital of north Wales. What's more, it could be argued there are more grounds for rivalry than compatibility between Clydeside and Merseyside. Ship-building, for example, is an industry in which they have competed against each other for generations. Yet, despite differences, a bond seems to have developed - and, in particular, between LFC and Glasgow Celtic FC.
It may surprise some in this day and age - but I can recall when someone's religion could be ascertained by asking which football team they supported and, although that sort of bigotry has almost completely disappeared in Liverpool, it still exists in Glasgow. So, I'm intrigued (amused, even) by the strength of the bond between The Reds and The Hoops - especially since Everton FC would seem to be the more likely team with which Celtic fans would wish to be associated.*
It can only be supposed that many are not aware of this fact and, in that respect, it might be fair to say that, "Ignorance is bliss". However, if 'ignorance' seems too a harsh choice of words - then, perhaps, 'illogical' might be more appropriate because it is difficult to see any logic in the predominately Catholic Celtic fans forming an alliance with a team with a strong protestant tradition - whilst, at the same time, being part of what is probably the most intense rivalry in UK sport. i.e. with Glasgow Rangers FC.
In any event, if the relationship between LFC and Celtic fans goes some way towards reducing the bigotry which I have witnessed, at first hand, when I lived in the west of Scotland, then it can only be seen as a move to the good. Long may it continue.
* Religious differences have been cited as a division, with Everton usually placed on the Catholic side; but sectarianism is not a problematic issue. In actual fact, both teams were founded with Methodist involvement, somewhat undermining the notion of a Catholic–Protestant split.