Everton vs Liverpool: The magic of the historic Merseyside Derby
The legacy of Merseyside is quite a large plate, with its own share of the sweet and the sour. The savoury of the city of Liverpool is best characterised by perhaps two of the most competitive and evenly divided football clubs in England. The Merseyside Derby is among the most fiercely contested games in the top flight of English football. It always promises genuine entertainment to all those who watch it. With its flavour and exquisite taste for good football, the derbies between the two clubs seldom fail to produce goals.
The sheer thrill of the Merseyside Derby is enough to attract viewers. But the fixture is well known for the ugliness that rears its head. It has the record for producing the most number of red cards in an English top flight encounter. The hotheads of English football are not the only players to watch out for though. It is also known for the sheer skill and significance of some of the best players dancing on their feet, playing with memorable fluidity that graced the pitch.
From the days of Merseyside dominance with the likes of Ian Rush and Kenny Dalgish starring with Gary Linekar and the mysterious maestro Greame Sharp, mustered on by the big Welshman Neville Southall against a Liverpool side which was considered the best ever to play the game, to modern day heroes like the prolific Luis Suarez and Tim Cahill, quality has never been an issue. Even a faltering Liverpool and Everton FA Cup match in 1991 provided quality which most clubs could only dream of as a dramatic see-saw marathon 4-4 draw provoked imagination beyond imagination.
From past encounters to modern day games, Merseyside derbies never fail to entertain
Merseyside Derbies of the 1980s were the stuff of dreams. They were the epitome of splendid unforgettable romantic attacking football. But the high scores stretch back to the 1933/34 season in the top flight with Liverpool winning 7-4 against Everton. It seems as I tear across time to find matches which failed to entertain that there have been none. Even a 1-1 draw in a Merseyside Derby provides enough reason for excitement.
Cut ahead to the recent reverse fixture at Anfield, the erstwhile ground of Everton Football Club. The match headed into injury time as Liverpool led 1-0 when Everton’s Romelu Lukaku won them a corner. The Liverpool defence somehow managed to clear the ball from the box amidst confusion and then appeared Everton’s Phil Jagielka with a wonder goal as his right-footed volley soared into Simon Mignolet’s top left corner to snatch a point as the Everton fans erupted. It was truly a testament to the fact that the Merseyside rivalry truly brings out the best in the players.
Talking of famous matches, it is difficult to discount the 3-0 hammering of Liverpool at Goodison Park a season when they were at their highest point in years coming into the season after the famous Istanbul epic in 2005. The passion in the matches between the two clubs is difficult to match. The two clubs boast of an astounding 80 Trophies and honours between them a mile ahead of the two pretenders (an intentional, well-meaning dig to promote banter) in Manchester who come in with 59 honours.
You could assuredly say that Merseyside is true to football. Unlike the other cities in England, and especially unlike other clubs, what makes it so special between the two clubs is the relationship they share. While most people can almost cluelessly say that there is a great deal of love shared between the two sets of supporters, I can assure you that there is no real love lost between them. In fact, you can doubt the fact of the existence of any love in between the two sets of fans.
However, once the banter dies down and the rivalry is kept on the backburner for a split second, there can be no doubt that the Merseysiders from both sides of Stanley Park are innately proud of the legacy of the two giants of English football. A match between the second most successful team in the top division and the longest serving side in the top division is sure to be one to watch.
The clubs often have supporters divided across families and friends, and therefore the bad blood between them is much lesser when compared to a Lancashire faceoff between either club and Manchester United. The acceptance of the clubs in the fabric of the city’s social structure gives an acceptance of both in the city unlike the outsider tag United and City give each other. And while I am almost apologetic in wasting precious space on the Mancs, I am truly honoured to present the view from the top of English Football.
After all, the unity on display here being a Blue, believe me no Everton fan wants Liverpool to win the league in eternity and I’m sure the “noisier” neighbours from across Stanley Park feel the same. Because in all honesty, it is better to have a cherished object a little further than next door.
The dynamic of the fiercely contested game is simple; you can ignore the probability of a title from either side. But you cannot ignore the true genes of football royalty flowing through on the coastal city of Liverpool. The Everton School of Science led by the most prolific scorer in English history Dixie Dean (383 Goals) and the Liverpool House of Magic with the calibre of the greats like Rush will continue to enthral. The Steven Gerrard era might be coming to an end, but yet another midfield spectacle story in the making is taking shape in the Blue half of Merseyside in the form of Ross Barkley.
I advise anyone with a remote interest in the game to grab a drink and watch as the titans clash on 7 February 2015 at Goodison Park.