Manchester v Liverpool – football aside, which is actually better?

Corrie or Brookie? Coogan or Bishop? We ask the questions that need asking...


Manchester and Liverpool: two throbbing metropoles separated by about 35 miles with cultures so similar it can be difficult to tell them apart. Football, of course, is a huge source of rivalry between the two but it’s much more than that – music, clubbing, the arts and even soap operas have made these two cities the worst of enemies.

Ahead of Sunday’s latest Premier League showdown at Old Trafford, lets take a look at which city really can claim to have the off-field bragging rights.


Liverpool plays its joker immediately and although “The Roses” can take huge credit for changing the musical landscape of Great Britain in the late 1980s, Ian Brown, Mani and company are simply not in the same stratosphere as Paul, John, George and Ringo. Go anywhere in the world and you will see Fab Four merchandise on the shelves, but it’s unlikely that you’ll find a Stone Roses bootleg at a Guatemalan flea market.

The two bands do have something in common in the fact that they spent good parts of their careers experimenting with mind-enhancing drugs. The difference once again however is that The Beatles went to India to buy their gear from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, whereas “The Roses” were more used to scoring in the bogs of a seedy Manc boozer.



Manchester is on level terms pretty much immediately thanks to what has now become a national institution. Corrie has pretty much seen off all-comers with only Eastenders left to challenge its supremacy in the soap world. Emmerdale, Crossroads and El Dorado have all fallen by the wayside and despite Liverpool’s early 80’s challenge on the newly founded Channel 4, The Street is still one of the most popular shows on TV.

When Brookside first aired in 1982, writer Phil Redmond produced controversial storylines to try to shock the nation into watching: bodies buried in back gardens, girl-on-girl action and drug dealing were all on the agenda and despite showcasing the superb talents of Sue Johnstone and Ricky Tomlinson, Brooky devotees could only sit back and admire as 200 gazillion viewers tuned into ITV to see if Deirdre really was going to leave Ken.



The man who gave us Alan Partridge, Paul & Pauline Calf and a host of other memorable characters and who was able to put up with Rob Bryden for long enough to record two series of The Trip puts Manchester in the box seat. Coogan is surely one of the most important figures in British popular culture over the past 25 years and his latest role playing Stan Laurel is the work of a master craftsman at the top of his game.

Bishop, on the other hand, has gone from cheeky Scouse stand-up to someone prepared to pimp himself around the networks to try to get prime time coverage and become the housewives’ choice. You won’t see Coogan popping up on “A League of their Own”, or guest starring on turgid shows like “A Night with Olly Murs” – and if you asked one of Coogan’s most popular alter-egos to comment on Bishops work, he would simply reply, “Bag o Shite!”



Probably the most difficult category from which to pick a winner. During the mid-to-late 1980s The Hacienda became the most important club in Britain as the House scene, then Acid House, swept across the country and made Manchester the trendiest city in the country. The problem was that the club’s founder, Tony Wilson, who was the head honcho at Factory Records, never intended the place to become as popular as it did and, as the 1990s gathered pace, clubs like the Hacienda had made way way for “super” clubs such as Ministry of Sound and Cream.

The latter opened in Liverpool in 1992 and became a whole industry in itself thanks to superstar DJ’s like Paul Oakenfold and Carl Cox. Just like its football team in the late 1990s and early 1990s Cream dominated Europe with thousands flocking to Ibiza for the world’s biggest House party. The Hacienda will always be fondly remembered by anyone who visited, but Cream took dance music and clubbing to new heights and for this reason, Liverpool draws level.



First impressions are always important and when you travel to the North West by train, it’s likely that at some point you’ll be heading to either Manchester Piccadilly or Liverpool Lime Street. Up until a few years ago, the former was a seedy looking edifice where you would not want to spend longer than the time it took to have your ticket stamped by the local hector. Nowadays, after a multi-million pound facelift, it’s a place where you can pass the time whilst waiting for your delayed train, by sampling cuisine from all around the world before washing it down from a wide selection of craft beers.

Lime Street is like Piccadilly’s younger sibling, a bit like comparing a Tesco local with one of it’s out of town superstores. Yes you can have a pint and a bite to eat, but the fare on offer does not encourage the traveller to use their apple pay like its big brother down the road. Of course when all said and done, both cities have some wonderful places to visit but for the purposes of this article, it’s Manchester that just comes out on top.


United – 2/1 | Draw – 12/5 | Liverpool 5/4

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