How English Football Rivalry Makes More Sense Than School

The old rivalry of Liverpool and Manchester United have dominated English football for a long time but they also know how to dictate a generation of young people too

Liverpool and Manchester United have battled it out for a long time and their rivalry has even confused the most educated of reds but they’ve also provided a lifetime of entertainment to a generation too

Rivalry is perhaps the most bitter part of sport.

But it’s also the most exciting.

Photo by Jack Hunter on Unsplash

In 1994 when I was 13 years old on a cold winter’s night I sat in my living room with my father to watch two famous red teams who had lots in common battle it out to become the best.

Not long after Christmas and still in the silly season of early January an argument between two others in red, namely Mr. and Mrs. Claus on whether they delivered all the gifts around the world would have been easier to settle than the battle that went ahead between bitter rivals in red Liverpool and Manchester United.

Both just as renowned around the world as the famous two who fly in the sky every Christmas eve, the two English football teams battled it out to beat one another and have the bragging rights on who was the best in England that night.

Dating back to the late 1800s the Liverpool and Manchester United rivalry goes deeper than football.

In 1894 the Manchester ship canal was built by merchants from Manchester as they were angry at the costly import fees they had to pay to the port of their neighboring Liverpool. In time many Liverpool dockers lost their jobs. And because of that, the mark of rivalry was set in stone for a long time to come.

Now one hundred years later both clubs met in the Premier League where the winner would be rewarded 3 extra points in the table.

But in truth, the game was about more than this.

And this particular meeting of the sides was no different and even more hyped up than usual.

Liverpool, who were playing at home in their beloved Anfield were managed by their former great Graham Souness. Largely in a rebuilding process as they hadn’t won the league in that decade Souness’s work wasn’t winning over supporters as much as his playing days did.

But on the other hand, Manchester United was flying high towards the top of the table and was defending league champions.

For Liverpool losing to Manchester United in their back yard was unthinkable so it was a disaster when the Manchester United center-back Steve Bruce popped up after only 8 minutes in the first half and put United up 1–0. But that shock lasted longer than they would have liked as by the 20th minute young United winger Ryan Giggs had them 2–0 up.

The challenge was now clearly set and the red devil’s writing was on the Liverpool wall.

Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash

But the misery didn’t end there. Within two minutes Manchester United was 3–0 thanks to Republic of Ireland international Dennis Irwin.

Disaster had struck and the bragging rights were firmly with the loud Manchester supporters as the Liverpool fans sat in shock.

However, within a couple of minutes, the fightback was on.

Nigel Clough who was the son of the legendary Nottingham Forrest manager Brian, netted for the home side to put some respectability on the scoreboard. And then the home crowd was motivated. Because the same player netted again 13 minutes later to make the score 2–3 in favor of the visitors.

By half time the hot cups of tea weren’t needed as much as the fixture had both crowds warmed up and ready for the red blood of the opponent.

Still one goal behind, Liverpool had to battle it out for most of the second half but they eventually got their due reward when center half Neil Ruddock equalized only ten minutes from the end.

The game ended in a draw at 3–3.

Photo by Thomas Serer on Unsplash

It was a classic.

But the talk after the game was only starting as the pressure was on both clubs to win more often than not. Even Liverpool goalkeeper on the night Bruce Grobbelaar was later accused of match-fixing against the Untied such was the importance of any fixture between the two clubs at any time.

For the following couple of decades, Manchester United went on to dominate English football.

They won the league title 13 times after that and the FA Cup 5 times before Liverpool gained their very first Premier League title in thirty years in 2020.

From then I went from early adolescence to my 5th decade before I saw Liverpool win the league after that date. It was a long time and one that included many battles between the two great rivals of English football.

Not long after that 3–3 draw one of my young school teachers who was a devout Liverpool fan jokingly told an obsessive Manchester United supporting the student in our classroom that United would never have as many league titles as Liverpool and that he should give up supporting them. The announcement brought a lot of classroom rivalry with cheers and boos from over 30 teenage boys who supported one red team over the other.

How wrong he was as by the time Liverpool won their next championship Manchester United had already overtaken them as the most successful domestic team in England.

And even though the wisdom of an educator proved to be incorrect, by the time he was proven wrong the Christmas wishes of 1993/4 of the visiting red team turned into a plethora of silverware gifts from all their Christmases at once.

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Dr. Conor Hogan Ph.D.

Dr. Conor Hogan Ph.D.


Forbes, INC. & Entrepreneur Magazines, CBS, & NBC Featured, Dr. Conor Is The World’s Leading High-Performance Neuro Socio-Psychologist & Co-Authored 4 Books