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SK Retro: Reliving one of the Merseyside classics and the legend of Gary McAllister

  • Reliving one of the best Merseyside Derbies in recent history.
Sumedh Pande
FEATURED WRITER
Modified 19 Dec 2016, 19:10 IST
Liverpool versus Everton has always been a fixture of immense importance in English football

Liverpool and Everton, two of the biggest and oldest first division clubs in English football have a rich history of fiery rivalries. The Merseyside derby is one of the biggest fixtures in the Premier League calendar and this city rivalry is different from any other derby in the world. No other derby divides families on the basis of their loyalty to their favourite club. 

The mood in the city is just electric when a derby comes close as this is the fixture that every Scouser looks out for when the fixtures are announced before the start of the season. Merseyside derby is Liverpool city's civil war which gets nasty on the field but off the field, it is a derby like no other. No victory tastes sweeter and no defeat seems more painful than the one in the derby. 

Also read: 3 key battles that will decide the Merseyside Derby

Tonight will be the 227th Merseyside derby which will be played at Goodison Park. Rivalries will be renewed as one set of supporters will get the bragging rights while the other half will have to walk home in shame. This is a match which pits the working class against one another and it is that which makes it such a classic fixture. 

Let's take a trip down memory lane and talk about the game which became one of Premier League's classics and was decided with the last kick of the game. This was one of the most memorable derby wins for the Reds at Goodison. Here, we relive the Merseyside classic of 2001, a game that made a certain Gary McAllister the hero of the Kop with a single kick: 

Liverpool won the Merseyside showdown in 2001 thanks to a last minute freekick from Gary McAllister

The game kicked off after a minute’s silence in respect of the 12th anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy and much was expected from the encounter as a memorable season was underway for the Reds. With the return of Everton's main man Duncan Ferguson to the starting lineup after a shoulder problem, pundits had predicted a tough game for the Reds.

Emile Heskey, who partnered Robbie Fowler in attack for the visitors, managed to silence the Everton faithful as Liverpool took a 1-0 lead after just nine minutes. Ferguson, who before this derby had never been on the losing side in his previous eight derbies, equalised for the Toffees from 15 yards out to level the game at halftime. 

Markus Babbel, the Liverpool fullback, restored their lead after some neat work from the likes of Dietmar Hamann and Robbie Fowler. Igor Biscon received his marching orders in the 76th minute for Liverpool and the visitors played the last quarter of the game with a man down. Everton received a penalty in the 81st minute as Sami Hyypia was adjudged to have fouled Duncan Ferguson in the penalty area and Unsworth got the hosts back on level terms. 

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This was the second penalty in the game as Liverpool had received a penalty on the hour mark but Robbie Fowler got it horribly wrong to keep their bitter rivals in the game. After the end of the stipulated ninety minutes, Liverpool received a free kick 44 yards out which was expected to be the last kick of the game. Gerrard Houllier urged his defenders forward for the set piece delivery. 

Everyone was hoping for Gary McAllister to dink the ball in to Everton's penalty box but he decided to go for the spectacular. His sensational strike from a whopping 44 yards out gave his side a last-minute win over Everton and restored the balance in the city. That win at Goodison Park is still spoken about by the Liverpool faithful and Gary McAllister, in just two seasons at the club, became a Liverpool legend. 

Gary McAllister's career and impact at Liverpool: 

Macca was a passionate Liverpool player who wore his heart on his sleeve

July 1st, 2000 was the date that Liverpool signed a 35-year-old midfield veteran on a Bosman transfer who later proved to be one of their best ever signings. The then Liverpool manager had described Gary McAllister's signing as the "most inspiring signing" during his time at the club.

Despite playing just two seasons at Anfield, the veteran won five trophies at Liverpool and his presence helped nurture the young midfielders including Danny Murphy and Steven Gerrard.

His calmness in the game and his set piece ability made him an instant hit with the supporters as they embraced the player as their own. Scoring a winner against Liverpool's rivals at their own ground and also getting on the scoresheet in a cup final did his reputation no harm whatsoever.

The Reds lacked a leader at the time and they were crying out for an experienced player in their team who could help them out in difficult situations. And McAllister did just that. The courteous player that he was, he always knew 'the Liverpool way' and the Kop sang their heart out in support of their favourite 'baldy'. 

His chant is a Liverpool classic and it goes like this - 

"Oh we love your sweet right foot (Oh we love your sweet right foot) Your sweet right foot (Your sweet right foot) We signed you free (we signed you free) We won all three (we won all three) Your Dortmund Pen (your Dortmund Pen) Your Bradford goal (your Bradford goal) Your Coventry goal (your Coventry goal) Your Spurs Peno (your Spurs Peno) Your Barca Pen (your Barca Pen) Your Derby goal (your Derby goal) Your baldy head (your baldy head) Your Gary Mac (your Gary Mac) Ooooohhh Gary Macca, Gary, Gary Macca Gary Macca, Gary, Gary Mac."

Steven Gerrard, in his autobiography, revealed that as a teenager he used to run to the team bus before the away games to occupy a seat next to Gary McAllister. This is the love that Macca generated from the players and the supporters alike. He won a treble, helped the youngsters and left the club just the way he had arrived; with the utmost dignity.

Published 19 Dec 2016, 18:39 IST
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