Did The Beatles Hide Their Footballing Love Away?

15 Jul 08

Arsenal, Everton or Liverpool? Champions Magazine explores football’s greatest cultural mystery.

For Liverpudlians, trying to identify who The Beatles supported is one of the last great mysteries, right up there with did the ball cross the line in 1966 and when is a player on or off side?

The Beatles were born and raised in Liverpool. Football and music are the city’s twin passions and The Beatles and Liverpool FC have ensured its name resounds around the globe.

Where the beautiful game is concerned, loyalty is split between Liverpool and Everton. Red and Blue. Families and friends may be divided, but the one constant is that everyone supports someone. So what about John, Paul, George and Ringo?

Most of the speculation has centred around Paul McCartney. Photographed on his way to Wembley before the 1968 FA Cup final wearing an Everton rosette should surely end the debate. He’s a Blue. But the same year during The Beatles’ Mad Day Out photoshoot, he’s wearing a Liverpool rosette. So, he’s a Red.

In June, McCartney headlined a concert at Anfield and finally put the argument to bed. “As an Everton fan, what’s it going to be like playing at Liverpool’s ground?” a reporter asked Macca.

“Ha ha! I haven’t been to Anfield before,” he replied. “It’s that thing isn’t it, you’re supposed to be Manchester United or City, Rangers or Celtic. You know, one or the other, but I gave up on that idea years ago. I’m officially Everton, my dad was born in Everton, but the Liverpool team came to one of my concerts at Wembley, led by Kenny Dalglish. He brought the whole team, so that gave me enough of a reason to be able to support them openly. I love both teams.”

Ringo Starr was an occasional visitor to Anfield and Goodison Park as a child, but probably stood in the away end cheering on his stepfather’s team Arsenal, says Andrew Thompson, author of This Is Anfield. Starr was also interested in Chelsea, sometimes talking about them, says Robinson.

John Lennon is thought to have leaned towards Liverpool. There are stories that he went to the 1968 derby and memories of supposed photos of him returning from the 1950 FA Cup final (which the Reds lost to Arsenal 2-0) but no conclusive proof.

Although George Harrison is said to have been spotted in the crowd at the 1957 FA Cup final (when Aston Villa beat Manchester United) he rarely mentioned the game. He did once put reporters in their place telling them: “There are three teams in Liverpool you know, and I prefer the other one.”

Perhaps it’s not so much a question of who did the Fab Four support, as did they have any interest in football at all? Now, the football allegiance of Elvis – his hometown team the Memphis Grizzlies – is another ball game altogether. 

By Stephanie Jones

The full version of this article is in the August/September 2008 issue of Champions

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