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1970s football fan culture in the picture

16 July 2019 by Kay

“Art College was a far more attractive idea than prison”

These fantastic artworks were recently kindly donated to the Museum of Liverpool. They were painted by Andrew Kenrick in the 1970s and evocatively capture football fan culture at the time. Andrew grew up in Hoylake and is a big Liverpool fan. He mostly painted these particular pieces whilst at Art College in London and when he worked as a teacher. He would travel back up to Liverpool for home games and attended away matches whenever he could.

Andrew tells us more about combining his love of football and painting –

“I always loved art and decided that Art College was a far more attractive idea than prison. I wasn’t evil or “off the rails” but had left a top academic school at 14 to live an alternative life. A couple of years travelling, hitch-hiking and sleeping rough enabled me to see the disadvantages of low paid jobs and the potential benefits of further education. I undertook a Foundation Couse at the (then) London College of Printing and then went to Hornsey College of Art to study Fine Art and History of Art. I painted and sculpted and became interested in the excitement of crowds and fights at football matches. I found that I struggled to render the movement of crowds in 3D so my degree show (1974) was mostly based on boxers and their movements.

Half of my family are Blue and the other half Red (my uncle is the editor of the Everton Fanzine). I always watched Liverpool whenever I could. I travelled back to Merseyside, stayed with family in Wallasey and hitch-hiked and cycled to matches. In 1975 I was living in Shepperton and teaching Art and Games in a school in Woking, Surrey. I was very interested in the theatre of football, the fans’ clothes, badges and scarves. It was this fascination and my own experiences that led to the first paintings.

My first painting was  ‘Walton Breck Road, March 1974’.

© Andrew Kenrick

In 1974 Leeds were running away with the title and their visit to Anfield on 16th March 1974 was their first defeat of the season. I had travelled with my friend Dick from Art College. We came up on Friday, stayed with my aunt and travelled to the stadium at about 9am. My recollection is that the turnstiles opened around noon and the stadium was full soon after. I wanted to capture the lively movement of the crowd and was very disappointed with how static this was. I took photos a few weeks after the game, but invented the crowd. Dick and I are just left of centre talking to a friend. He pointed out that I am taller than I painted myself (I was 6 foot 4). I moved the pie shop (Mitchell’s) from its actual location, because I wanted to include it and I think the shop on that corner was empty.  All of the other details are attempts to capture the pre-match excitement of that day. Some of the other figures are portraits from memory of individuals or groups. I made a second version of this painting, painted in a Futurist manner, which I always liked better. However, I am not sure if I still have it. It was very much influenced by Umberto Boccioni’s paintings of crowds in the streets.

‘Molineux, 4th May 1976′
Division One Championship. Wolverhampton Wanderers v. LFC

© Andrew Kenrick

I always collected newspaper cuttings from matches and scoured football magazines for photos of the crowds. Although we could hear ourselves on Match of the Day and there were sometimes references to chants or particular songs, photos of crowds were rare. I found this one soon after the match and pinching the idea of using popular culture for images from Peter Blake and Walter Sickert. I used it with many modifications. In those days, crowds often went onto the pitch and that day the crowd was bubbling onto the pitch at every goal and at the final whistle a party began on the pitch. I found the photo before I travelled to Molineux and made studies of the background when I was there. On the day of the match, I stayed high up in the South Stand with my brother.”

‘Rome, 25th May 1977′

© Andrew Kenrick

The city was awash with Reds. I took photos of many groups and this is a composite of several of my photos. I used images of red cars to emphasise the takeover. I saw battered vans from Runcorn pull up and disgorge crowds of lads who kissed the ground before joining the party.  Strange to consider what an all male experience it was in those days. There were few women at any matches and although I took my wife (I married in 1972) to some games, I was never completely confident about her safety in large crowds of inebriated fans.

‘Wembley, 1978’
European Cup Final. Liverpool v. Bruges.

Liverpool did it again the following year and I was there. 10th May 1978, I was less ambitious in this painting, but tried to capture the atmosphere of old Wembley. I was teaching Art and Games at a Boys’ Grammar School in Blackpool at this time. I had a friend who had travelled to Belgium and bought 20 tickets but the disadvantage was that it was in the Bruges End of the ground. It was the day of the Town Sports and Ted Schools. The Head of Games put me on “car park duty” which meant I was free at lunchtime. I hired a Ford Escort for the day (I was a cyclist) and…and this is the mad part, I took four Sixth Form boys with me. They had tickets and were sworn to secrecy.

© Andrew Kenrick

Kenny Dalglish scored the winner at the other end and I was standing with a group of my friends. Whilst we celebrated the defeat of Club Brugge it was dark and dingy and there were quite a large number of miserable Belgians standing around us. I have another painting of my friends in Wembley before the darkness; Dave, Mick, Doctor John but again no Big Ron!

I was pleased with the atmosphere in this painting and prepared some others of the Kop seen from the side but never really settled on a composition.”

Many thanks to Andrew for very kindly donating his paintings and sharing his memories.

  1. Mark dooley says:

    Enjoyed these but have to admit some bias as a reds fan and his cousin!

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