Football. It’s not a topic you’d expect to see on this blog. Long ago (and I mean a very long time ago when I was in my teens) I was a big football supporter and used to go to all my local matches. I even got asked out on a date by a footballer! But as I say, that really was a very long time ago.
Today football and history came together in the news in a way that really interested me. Everton football club, which is based in the city of Liverpool, has apologised to its fans after 22 000 people signed a petition criticising the club’s new badge. I don’t think I had seen the club badge before – here it is in the picture – and I loved what I assumed was the little beehive on it. I couldn’t see the relevance of a beehive to football, but hey. Then I read on and discovered that the beehive was in fact a place called Prince Rupert’s Tower. Ok, so then I was hooked.
Prince Rupert’s Tower is an old lock up on a hill called Everton Brow. It was opened in 1787 and used to hold criminals and drunks before they were brought before the magistrates in the morning. The tower is said to be named after Prince Rupert of the Rhine because his army camped locally in 1644 before attacking the parliamentarian garrison holding Liverpool Castle. Prince Rupert, commanding the Royalist cavalry of Charles I, allegedly stayed in a cottage on Everton Brow. From there he is said to have looked down on the castle and dismissed it with the words: “It is a crow’s nest that any party of schoolboys could take!” It eventually fell after a week of heavy fighting and the loss of 1500 of his men so perhaps the castle was not quite as easy a conquest as Rupert imagined. But that was Rupert all over.
Liverpool is a great city, rich in world history and known as the Gateway to America. I think it’s a fascinating reflection on the links in the chain of history that a tower built in the 18th century took the name of a Royalist soldier from the 17th century and that when Everton Football Club was founded in 1878 it used the symbol of the tower on its badge. Three different elements of Everton history come together here in one emblem.