Review from a Blue: YNWA show

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'You'll Never Walk Alone show' © Royal Court Liverpool/Twitter

‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ © Royal Court Liverpool/Twitter

This really isn’t my scene.

So I thought as I looked around the Royal Court Theatre, its walls adorned with flags of crimson red celebrating Liverpool’s glories of yesteryear through to the present – from Shankly to Rodgers, Dalglish to Gerrard.

And of course, the inescapable club crest and the ubiquitous ‘YNWA’.

You see, I was indeed ‘behind enemy lines’.

After writing a very difficult match report on the last derby game, I was offered “a night at the theatre” as a reward.

But when asked to review Nicky Allt’s ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone – The Official History of Liverpool FC’, my reaction was understandably suspicious.

Because I am, of course, an Everton supporter.

Still, the challenge was laid down and, with the air of a man heading to his own funeral, I tucked my Blues baseball cap into my jacket and headed into the Royal Court, which will be very much Reds’ territory until March 29.

I needn’t have worried. The show was spectacular.

Told via a family of fanatical Liverpool supporters commemorating the life of their grandfather, the show delves into the history of a football club born out of adversity 122 years ago with pride, self-deprecation and gravity.

Every period of the club’s decorated and tumultuous past was examined in impressive detail, while being peppered with laughter, celebration and, at times, tears.

From tales of their humble beginnings to impassioned recollections of their glory years, there was a lot to be learned about a fascinating football club.

Fittingly, the most focus was given to their spell of unrivalled dominance in the 1970s and 1980s, with massive rounds of applause reserved for the tributes to Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley and Kenny Dalglish.

Liverpool's 1978 European Cup triumph celebrated by Alan Hansen, Kenny Dalglish and Graeme Souness © Trinity Mirror

Liverpool’s 1978 European Cup triumph celebrated by Alan Hansen, Kenny Dalglish and Graeme Souness © Trinity Mirror

Mother and father told son and daughter about trips to Wembley and journeys through Europe, etching smiles on the faces of a hypnotised audience.

Until we came to Heysel and to Hillsborough.

The room was perforated by silence as the deaths of 39 and of 96 were retold with true class and dignity. Both tragedies are inextricable from Liverpool FC, and that fact was acknowledged with tremendous poise.

After that we moved on to modern times, and to events and people that I myself recall from the other side of Stanley Park.

The Spice Boys are invoked with their hilariously garish suits, and the reigns of Gerard Houllier and Rafael Benitez are explored.

And then to Istanbul, which of the club’s numerous triumphs was given perhaps the greatest emphasis. The conclusion moved towards the present day of Brendan Rodgers and Luis Suarez, American ownership and the ongoing Hillsborough campaign of ‘Justice for the 96’.

It was an incredible musical story of heartbreak and triumph; of unbelievable victory and unimaginable tragedy.

Eighteen league championships. Five European Cups. Heysel. Hillsborough. Players. Managers. Supporters.

So I sat, laughing at jokes made at the expense of David Moyes, Michael Owen and others. So I sat, impressed by their triumphs and moved by their tributes.

There I sat, an Everton fan reminded of something I’ve always known about Liverpool.

They’re alright, them lot.

About Paul McIntyre, JMU Journalism