Liverpool, Everton and a City on the Brink
The story of the 1985/86 football season, when Liverpool and Everton were the top two teams in the land and how, during this epic season, both the game and the City of Liverpool's reputation, changed for ever.
Cup Final Day, 1986, and the eyes of the world are on Liverpool and Everton as they walk out on to Wembley’s lush green turf. Pumped with pride and passion, the two best teams in Europe are about to engage in a gladiatorial battle in front of 100,000 fanatical supporters. But this is not just another match, another cup final. On this warm day in May, the future of English football – and a city’s reputation – is on the line.
A year before this momentous Cup Final, Liverpool fans had been involved in the Heysel disaster. Thirty-nine people had died in the decaying stadium – a tragedy which cast a long, dark shadow over the sport. English clubs were banned from Continental competition, and football reached its lowest point.
Tony Evans’s Two Tribes recalls the tumultuous 1985/86 season and the titanic struggle for supremacy between the two great Merseyside clubs. Set against a backdrop of social and political turmoil, it reveals the full impact of Thatcher’s policies, the vibrant northwest music scene and the burgeoning anti-establishment vibe on the streets and on the terraces.
Giving voice to players, managers, politicians and musicians, Two Tribes follows the remarkable twists and turns of a season and how Merseysiders took over London for one unforgettable day with deafening chants of ‘Merseyside! Merseyside!’ ringing around Wembley Stadium.
Ultimately, this is the story of Liverpool’s renaissance and Everton’s private agony, masked by a show of solidarity and communal spirit on the day, and how a season which began in shame ended in pride.
“The power of Tony Evans’s writing emerges from the juxtaposition of football passion and political insight. A writer who understands that the meaning and beauty of football emerges not from mere tactics and line-ups but from the social context.”
Matthew Syed, author of Black Box Thinking
“Politically charged, and flashing between scenes of gallows humour and improbable sporting achievement, Two Tribes is an uncompromising portrayal. Tony Evans brilliantly captures a city under fire through its rival footballers.”
Simon Hughes, author of Ring of Fire and Men in White Suits
“Highly recommended– not just on Merseyside, but for all who remember that season fondly and for those who wish to recall or understand an era when English football and society existed on a knife-edge.”
Oliver Kay, The Times
“Tony Evans is a brilliant writer who knows these teams, this subject, this era, this culture, these themes and this city better than anybody, and this enthralling book makes that so clear.”
Miguel Delaney, Independent
“Thatcher, tumult, tunes. This is more than just a football book.”
Michael Calvin, Sunday Times
“A great read. As a Liverpool fan there is obvious interest. But to me the book goes a lot deeper than that, covering Liverpool City’s political climate in the ‘80s, the growth of football television coverage, etc. Lots of fun.”
Marco Giocomelli, Evening Standard
“Not just a funny and forensic account of the year the city of Liverpool was the undisputed capital of British football, but a proud and unapologetic tribute to how that city stood up, in all its radical beauty, to a brutal Thatcherite pounding. Two Tribes is social history of football writing at its finest.”
Brian Reade, Daily Mirror
“‘Two Tribes perfectly illustrates the relationship between football and society in Thatcher’s Britain with as many twists and turns off the pitch as on it…The sheer beauty of this book is its ability to take you from the stinking alleyways and crumbling terraces that were the norm for football supporters at that time to London’s West End or the drinking dens of the North West quicker than a Pat Nevin pirouette thanks to the author’s uncanny ability to depict the city he lived in and the game that he and so many like him followed religiously across a country that was on a knife edge… Two Tribes is not a Liverpool book. It’s not an Everton book either. It’s a snapshot of a time when watching football was often a matter of survival, a social history of a highly charged political tinderbox of a city which was in danger of tearing itself apart; interspersed with anecdotes of the time which were as relevant in Middlesbrough and Manchester as they were on Merseyside. And that’s what makes it so good.’ ”
Matthew Crist, The Sportsman
“A coruscating snapshot of football and life on Merseyside during Thatcher’s Britain.”
The Observer - Best Sports Books of 2018