I’m reading this excellent book by the moment, and I find that it’s a must read for every KOPite.
In “Red Men”, a unique and exhaustively researched history of Liverpool Football Club, John Williams explores the origins and divisive politics of football in the city of Liverpool and profiles the key men behind the emergence of the club and its early successes. The first great Liverpool manager, Tom Watson, piloted the club to its first league championships in 1901 and 1906 before taking his team to the FA Cup final in 1914. Watson and the key members of those early Liverpool teams are analysed in depth, as is the role of the club and its fans in the city at a time when Merseyside balanced self-improvement and cosmopolitanism with almost unimaginable problems of poverty. Liverpool secured consecutive League titles in 1922 and 1923 with the incomparable goalkeeper Elisha Scott as its totemic star and the darling of the Kop. In the ’20s, Liverpool became the first British club to internationalise its playing staff. The club’s next league title came in 1947, but in the bleak ’50s the Liverpool board ruled with an iron fist and controlled the purse strings – until Bill Shankly arrived and won that elusive first FA Cup in 1965. The recent tragedies that have shaped the club’s contemporary identity are also covered here, as are the new Continental influences at Liverpool and, of course, the glory of Istanbul in 2005. Reds is the definitive history of a remarkable football club from its formation in 1892 to the present day, told in the wider context of the social and cultural development of the city of Liverpool and its people.
The Independent wrote the following words:
“The proposed purchase of a football club does not normally dominate the front pages, but then Liverpool are different. The “second team” of many fans, they have inspired more affection among the uncommitted than any other English club.
Their fractious formation in a breakaway from Everton in 1892 and the many glorious seasons from the mid-Sixties onwards are well known, but John Williams has unfashionably chosen to concentrate on the years in between.
Tellingly he calls it a biography rather than a history as he draws the early years from the shadows through largely forgotten heroes such as Elisha Scott, Billy Liddell and their first great manager, Tom Watson. This could be dry fare but Williams brings the social and sporting heritage of the club, and the city, to vivid life.
We cannot know what the future holds for Liverpool but thanks to this admirably impartial, impressively researched account we know much more about their past.”
You can order this book via amazon.