Gerry Marsden, lead vocalist of the English band “Gerry and the Pacemakers” and singer of Liverpool FC’s famous footballing anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” passed away on Sunday at the age of 78.
Gerry Marsden epitomized the Merseyside spirit. Born in the Toxteth district of Liverpool, he’s a lifelong fan of Liverpool FC who wholly embraced the identity of the club and city. He formed his band in 1959 with the help of the famous Beatles manager Brian Epstein, and quickly rose to popularity with the rise of English rock. While the band is known for several hits including “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying” and “Ferry Cross the Mersey”, football fans know it worldwide for “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, released in 1963, which Liverpool FC quickly adopted as its club anthem. Marsden in particular continued to support Liverpool, and famously performed “Ferry Cross the Mersey” with Paul McCartney after the Hillsborough disaster in 1989. In 2020, he released a new version of YNWA for the workers of the National Health Service, in honor of their efforts combatting COVID-19.
Borussia Dortmund fans are, of course, well-acquainted with Marsden’s legendary song, which reverberates through the Westfalenstadion before every game. Although the version played at the Signal Iduna Park is a cover from 1996 performed by the Dortmund-based band Pur Harmony, BVB’s decision to play “You’ll Never Walk Alone” before games was undoubtedly inspired by Liverpool’s tradition. The two clubs share quite a lot, from their respective storied histories to a firm working-class/industrial identity, and the decision to play YNWA is an affirmation of the respect that Borussia Dortmund hold for both Liverpool and Gerry Marsden. You could see the respect played out, when supporters of both clubs sang the song in unison at Anfield back in 2016:
Although the Pur Harmony version of YNWA is a faithful adaptation that accurately captures the spirit of the song, it’s hard to argue that Marsden’s original version is the best:
I don’t care what club you support, whether it’s Liverpool or Borussia Dortmund, Manchester United or Schalke. When the 60,000 fans at Anfield are in full voice singing along to Marsden’s melancholy but ultimately hopeful melody, it’s impossible not to feel goosebumps along your arm, or a shiver down your spine. No other song in world football encapsulates the collective and sometimes conflicting feelings of loss, triumph, despair, joy, and above all, community, that unites all football fans, which Marsden’s iconic voice perfectly encapsulates.
You’ll never walk alone.