Anfield – Field of Dreams

This is Anfield? Well yes but...

This is Anfield? Well yes but…

It’s not about football it’s art. OK, well it is about football in a way. In the art of Christine Physick, now on display in the Meeting House Café, in the Quaker Meeting House in School Lane, Liverpool. Just next to The Bluecoat and Radio Merseyside.

Art you can take part in creating. This Saturday, 15th November.Anfield23If you’ve been reading this blog for a while now, you’ll know that the Meeting House is currently one of my favourite places in Liverpool. Not just for its café, the wonderful joint operation with Blackburne House, but for the people and the place as a whole. Peaceful, dignified and welcoming to all.

So a great place for an exhibition which is a serious and dignified debate in itself. Containing depictions of the debates so many of us have witnessed and even lived through this past decade and more, as Anfield has struggled so hard with its future.

Most of the words that follow are from the artist’s own description of her work and the reason for its existence. Interspersed with some of my own pictures from Anfield over the years.

“Football as the national game inspires both positive and negative emotions in equal measure. Those who follow the game tend to support a particular club for life: football helps to shape their identity but in return it demands tremendous loyalty.

Exhibition here, at the Quaker Meeting House.

Exhibition here, at the Quaker Meeting House.

With the establishment of the Premier League in 1992, competition on and off the pitch has increased exponentially as clubs compete against each other for TV revenues and world class players to keep their club in pole position. These concerns have tended to create a distance between the traditional fan and their local roots as the clubs compete to build an international reputation on the world stage of football.

Art all round the walls of The Meeting House Café.

Art all round the walls of The Meeting House Café.

The work on show reflects two of the major sources of conflict between the club and their local supporters who have increasingly been priced out of watching live games at their local stadium as the cost of tickets increases season on season.

Anfield04

 The second issue of concern in this strained relationship is the club’s proposed expansion of the ground at Anfield. These plans have brought the club into conflict with the local community as many residents have been forced to leave their homes. Those who have remained in the area have been left to cope with serious issues linked to urban blight.

Anfield05Anfield07The exhibition seeks to generate a debate between the club and local supporters whilst exploring many of the issues faced by both sides.

The title ‘If you build it they will come…This is Anfield’ relates to LFC’s need to either build a new stadium or extend the footprint of the existing ground.”

This is Anfield, 2005. Closest I ever got to the first team.

This is Anfield, 2005. Closest I ever got to the first team.

Sarah filming from the roof. Streets now swallowed by the Housing Market Renewal Initiative.

Sarah filming from the roof. Streets now swallowed partly by LFC plus the reviled Housing Market Renewal Initiative.

Christine also goes on to explain the title’s referencing of ‘Field of Dreams.’ The ‘magic realism’ Kevin Costner baseball film that took place partly at Fenway Park in Boston. Home to the Boston Red Socks, and co-incidentally owned by Fenway Sports Group, the current owners of LFC.

Christine's art.

Christine’s art.

And us walking around in 2005.

And us walking around in 2005.

The power of sponsorship.

The power of Premier League club sponsorship.

Versus the power of the people.

Versus the power of the people.

Streets turned into fenced off fields.

Streets turned into fenced off fields.

While the club changes owners and finally decided to expand the ground.

While the club changes owners and finally decides to expand the ground.

Meanwhile community gardens grow where there were once communities.

Meanwhile community gardens grow where there were once communities.

We visit generations who will never walk alone.

We visit generations who will never walk alone.

And brick by brick a rebirth begins.

And brick by brick a rebirth begins.

The miracle of Homebaked.

The miracle of Homebaked.

Right outside the ground.

Right outside the ground.

'If you build it they will come...'

‘If you build it they will come…’

And Homebaked doesn’t sort the whole place, of course it doesn’t. But the whole city loves the idea and loves what they’re doing. The whole city cares.

This is Anfield. An argument. A debate. A thing of intense beauty.

Don't miss it.

Don’t miss it.

The Meet the Artist event is this Saturday, 15th November, as advertised above. Some of the Anfield people from Homebaked people are going to be there and so will I.

And the Exhibition’s on from now until 28th January 2015.

At The Quaker Meeting House, School Lane.

At The Quaker Meeting House, School Lane.

Open Monday to Friday from 10:00 to 3:00pm. And Saturday 10:00 to 5:00pm.

Open Monday to Friday from 10:00 to 3:00pm. And Saturday 10:00 to 5:00pm.

This is Anfield. An argument. An exhibition. A debate. A thing of intense beauty. For us all. And it’s not just about football.

 

 

2 thoughts on “Anfield – Field of Dreams

  1. Cathy Alderson

    I had NO idea that this brilliant exhibition was on! Thanks Ronnie for highlighting it.

    So much of the content of today’s blog is very personal to me. I think you know I’m a HomeBaked member, but I’m also a lifelong LFC supporter, and have been in (a somewhat one sided) dialogue with the club for some time, regarding the shameful rise in ticket prices and their steely determination to wring every penny from the fans. This has resulted in pricing out the ordinary, local, supporter, replacing them with tourists who spend mega bucks in the club shop and enjoy corporate hospitality. They then view the match, expecting the famous Anfield atmosphere, (usually filming each other and taking selfies, with their back to the pitch). Said atmosphere, as a result, diminishes weekly, as more of them replace the singing, chanting, passionate supporters who have given up.

    Every person has a limit and mine has been reached. I’ll stand on the Kop for the last time on New Years Day. Loyalty to LFC is now measured in Pound notes.

    Sorry for the rant, but thanks once more for making me aware of the Christine Physick exhibition, which I’m dying to see.

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Thanks for this Cathy, eloquent and insider testimony to the theft of football from its true owners and supporters. If people like you are now being priced out of the ground then, like the people of other cities, we are now in the late days of these football clubs having any real connection to the places they claim to represent.

      Maybe it’s not too late, even at this very late hour, for them to change this? From what I read the Bundesliga seems to be making a much better job of local ownership and support in Germany than we are here – and at the moment they seem to be better at playing football too (not unconnected?).

      I’ve no wish to go back to my own boyhood days when, unknown to me, my Ian St John and Gerry Byrne heroes were on lower wages than my Dad and living near us in Club Houses they could never have afforded to buy. But the system of today, where billionaire owners fleece anyone they can to watch dilettante badge-kissing mercenary millionaires already conspiring with their agents for their next big payday somewhere else, is barely even the same game that used to make me stand and dream in the late 1960s Paddock. It’s just not.

      And the damage all this greed has done to Anfield (along with Labour’s nasty ‘housing market initiative’) – well that’s what Christine’s exhibition is all about. About the debate between LFC and the people surrounding them. Including you. Maybe it’s not too late. Maybe?

      Christine’s been in touch about the open event at The Meeting House on next Saturday, 15th. And I know she’s keen to create a new piece of work for the debate at that event. So it would be great if you could come to that. Along with other Anfield and Homebaked people?

      There you go. A rant in reply to a rant!

      Reply

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