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Jul 16, 2018, 1:32 AM
Team(s): Tranmere Rovers, South Liverpool (the South will rise again), Cammell Laird
You might be interested in this article the Independent carried last year in which the interviewees give first-hand insight into the changing landscape of the Liverpool Sunday and amateur leagues: https://www.independent.co.uk/...ins-fc-a7936001.html
I agree with you about the impact of the modern professional game (TV etc) though I'm not sure that has particularly affected Merseyside more than other places - I remember hearing reports of amateur clubs in Leicestershire struggling in a similar way when the Foxes won the league, for example. Rather, I contrast the current situation with the 80s, when Liverpool and Everton were far more successful than they are now, but the Sunday and amateur scene was thriving. As well as the County Comb, the local amateur Zingari, Business Houses and Shipping Leagues all ran with many divisions, as did the Sunday leagues - your mention of Radio Merseyside brings back some memories, and reminds me that the local Echo also had pages of these tables.
But semi-pro was always the poor relation, especially in 80s when the city was on its knees and people had to watch the pennies - why pay to watch semi-pro when you could not only go and see two of the top teams in Europe for just a few quid more, but you could also watch as good (or better) quality on the local parks for free? Many hundreds regularly did the latter.
As the names of some of those local leagues implies, the collapse of the docks and other traditional big employers hit the amateur scene hard. Added to which the cash-strapped council was forever selling off the land that amateur clubs played on, and grass roots facilities in general were dwindling. The knock-on effect for interest in semi-pro football was arguably minimal, but it didn't lead to an exodus to Anfield or Goodison either.
Over the last decade or so there have been some encouraging signs - the council is investing in facilities again, some of the local semi-pro clubs are enjoying decent increases in support (and a couple of new ones have sprouted up!), and so on. The amateur game on Merseyside will never return to its heyday and semi-pro will always be stuck in the middle to a degree, but that's down to a combination of factors rather than any further domination over people's lives by the big 2, imho.
(This post was edited by paulh66 on Jul 16, 2018, 1:58 AM)