Chris Darwen

Two Tribes - BT Sport explores how football gave the city of Liverpool hope during troubled times

Chris Darwen
Two Tribes - BT Sport explores how football gave the city of Liverpool hope during troubled times

·       Film explores city’s sporting success in the ‘80s amid political and cultural upheaval

·       Features interviews with Lord Heseltine, Peter Reid, Derek Hatton and David Morrissey

·       BT Sport accessible in more ways than ever: mobile app, TV, app for connected devices

Two Tribes – How Football Saved a City, the next film in the award-winning BT Sport Films series, will premiere at 9pm on Saturday 30 March on BT Sport 1.

Marked by unrest and economic decline, Liverpool in the 1980s found itself disparaged by many. Militant councillor and ardent Evertonian, Derek Hatton, the deputy leader of Liverpool City Council, led a rebellion against government cuts and put the city on a collision course with the Conservatives and with the Labour Party itself. Meanwhile, TV programmes such as Boys from the Black Stuff pricked the nation’s consciousness to the plight of Liverpool’s suffering while unwittingly reinforcing negative images of the city.

Against this backdrop rose the city’s two football teams, with Everton and Liverpool dominating the domestic and European game for the next ten years, offering Liverpudlians fresh hope and an identity that was not limited to Red or Blue. Their sporting dominance reached a high in 1984 when the League Cup Final between Liverpool and Everton became the first ever all-Merseyside Wembley Final. A third of the city’s male population made its way to London allowing 100,000 Liverpudlians to demonstrate civic pride.

The league title stayed on Merseyside for eight out of ten years as performances on the football pitch became the city’s primary form of opposition. But then, in tragic circumstances, the sport that had given its people a voice, shook the city through the disasters at Heysel and Hillsborough.

Together with interviews with those who lived through the era, Two Tribes features rare archive including the 1984 League Cup Final and the Merseyside derby FA Cup Finals of 1986 and 1989. Contributors include Hatton and Lord Michael Heseltine, footballers Peter Reid and Steve McMahon, actor David Morrissey, plus musicians Peter Wylie of The Mighty Wah! and Peter Hooton of The Farm, with archive featuring Holly Johnson from Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Ian McCullouch of Echo and the Bunnymen.

Simon Green, head of BT Sport, said: “Two Tribes is a thought-provoking examination of how football transcends sport and becomes central to wider society. The film continues BT Sport Films’ strong output of original films this season, following Brian O’Driscoll’s moving exploration of the Irish national rugby team in Shoulder to Shoulder, and Too Good to Go Down, the story of how relegation allowed Manchester United to find a new identity.”

Tenmonkeys have been commissioned by BT Sport to produce the film. Sally Brown is executive producer for BT Sport, with Caj Sohal producer and Andy Wells director for Tenmonkeys. It is the latest in the award-winning BT Sport Films series.

The film had its premiere at Liverpool’s Everyman Cinema on Monday 25 March to resounding approval from the audience which included its producers, contributors such as Reid, McMahon, Hatton and Mark Lawrenson, and Liverpudlians for whom the era was defined by the success of the city’s two great football clubs against the backdrop of such political and economic turmoil. For a city that can often find itself embroiled in division and upheaval, the 1980s proved to be a time of great unity as people struggled to survive mass unemployment and a government whose intention it was to manage Liverpool’s decline.

Encapsulating that fighting spirit were Everton and Liverpool who dominated the football landscape of England giving Scousers of both persuasions reason to be proud.

This fabulous documentary, Two Tribes – How Football Saved a City, will premiere at 9pm on Saturday 30 March on BT Sport 1.