Juke Box .

Pre­sented by Ever­green’s very own disc jockey, Bill “The Beat” Bax­ter

Evergreen - - Contents - Bill Bax­ter

As a long- time fan of Liver­pool FC, Jo, my other half, in­sists that there ex­ists film footage of her stand­ing on the fa­mous Kop at An­field. Not only that, she is one of thou­sands of sup­port­ers with their scarves raised above their heads singing the spine- tin­gling club an­them: “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. I be­lieve her, of course — although I have the good sense not to ask whether the clip is in black and white or colour — but as it only lasts a few sec­onds and there is no way of know­ing when it is go­ing to ap­pear on the screen, set­ting the recorder to cap­ture her mo­ment of TV fame isn’t pos­si­ble.

We have both sung along to the song at a Six­ties Gold con­cert, when Gerry and the Pace­mak­ers were one of the acts, and although over the years dozens of other artists have recorded the num­ber, from Elvis Pres­ley, Johnny Cash and Andy Wil­liams to Judy Gar­land, Doris Day and Ali­cia Keys, it is that ver­sion by the Liver­pool group ( num­ber one in the UK pop charts in Oc­to­ber 1963) that is by far the most well known and best loved. As the “Mersey Sound” swept all be­fore it at the be­gin­ning of the Six­ties, “You’ll Never Walk Alone” was the group’s third chart- top­per, fol­low­ing “How Do You Do It?” and “I Like It”, also in 1963. These two hits were writ­ten by pro­lific, award- win­ning song­writer Mitch Mur­ray, but the group’s vo­cal­ist Gerry Mars­den him­self penned a cou­ple of songs that made the top ten the fol­low­ing

year: “Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Cry­ing” ( their big­gest hit in the USA) and “Ferry Cross The Mersey”.

The lat­ter, for ob­vi­ous rea­sons, is an­other song that is steeped in the spirit of Liver­pool and its proud peo­ple, and has prob­a­bly led many lis­ten­ers — me in­cluded, for many years — to as­sume that “You’ll Never Walk Alone” was also writ­ten by Gerry. In fact the song is from the sound­track of the 1945 Rodgers and Ham­mer­stein mu­si­cal Carousel, sung by one of the char­ac­ters, Net­tie Fowler, to com­fort her cousin Julie Jor­dan af­ter her hus­band Billy Bigelow com­mits sui­cide. It isn’t a mu­si­cal I know, but I recog­nise some of the other songs: “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over” and “If I Loved You”.

There are a num­ber of the­o­ries as to why and when “You’ll Never Walk Alone” came to be as­so­ci­ated with the city’s foot­ball team. Dur­ing the 1960s, be­fore each match at An­field a count­down of the top ten hits was played over the sound sys­tem with fans singing along; Gerry and the Pace­mak­ers’ num­ber one was bound to be one of these, so, given the ex­tra con­nec­tion it had with the sup­port­ers be­cause it was per­formed by a lo­cal group ( and, like The Bea­tles, man­aged by Brian Epstein), it re­mained in their

reper­toire even af­ter the record had dis­ap­peared from the charts.

Most im­por­tant of all, of course, is that, as a song, “You’ll Never Walk Alone” is a su­perb sin­ga­long an­them, with lyrics that cel­e­brate sol­i­dar­ity and tri­umph over ad­ver­sity, some­thing that would chime with great res­o­nance among the largely work­ing- class spec­ta­tors who were no strangers to hard times. Added to this was the fact that shortly be­fore it en­tered the pop charts Gerry Mars­den pre­sented le­gendary Liver­pool man­ager Bill Shankly with a copy of the record. The foot­ball- ob­sessed Scots­man, who was al­ways a man of the peo­ple, was so im­pressed with what he heard he sub­se­quently named it as one of his Desert Is­land Discs on the pop­u­lar ra­dio pro­gramme.

When Liver­pool played Leeds United in the FA Cup Fi­nal at Wem­b­ley in 1965 and Liver­pool

fans sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, com­men­ta­tor Ken­neth Wol­sten­holme de­scribed it as “Liver­pool’s sig­na­ture tune”, ce­ment­ing its place in An­field folk­lore.

“You’ll Never Walk Alone” has also been adopted by the fans of Scot­tish club Celtic and can even be heard each week on the ter­races of Borus­sia Dort­mund in Ger­many. How­ever, with its power and rel­e­vance re­newed in the wake of the Hills­bor­ough dis­as­ter and sub­se­quent crim­i­nal cover- up, its home will al­ways re­main, first and fore­most, where the red scarves and ban­ners wave on the Kop at An­field.

“Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart”.

See­ing and hear­ing the Kop sup­port their team is an in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ence.

The Shankly Gates at An­field.

Gerry and the Pace­mak­ers in 1964. Left to right: Les Chad­wick, Les Maguire, Gerry Mars­den and Fred Mars­den.

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