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The Derby Diaries: Merseyside Derby

Two of the most illustrious clubs in England, rich with history, full of controversies. Here we dive into the culture of Football in the city of Liverpool.

Vinayak Manoj
Last updated: 02.10.2019
The Derby Diaries: Merseyside Derby | Sports Social Blog

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Regardless of the league standings, this contest seems to be one of the biggest and hotly anticipated fixtures in the entire season. The rivalry between Liverpool and Everton is truly something like no other. It is a contest between teams whose home grounds are just a few miles apart. From big scorelines, controversial celebrations to replayed FA Cup semi-finals, this is a fixture that has seen it all. One of the most enthralling and pulsating experiences that English football has to offer. It is one of the longest-running derbies in top-flight football. What was once referred to as the ‘friendly derby’ has now become one of the most fierce rivalries on and off the pitch.


As the original tenants of Anfield, the Toffees were forced out and had to move to Stanley Park. This resulted in the formation of the Goodison Park which is their home ground till date. The roots of rivalry formed at that point of time and has been growing ever since their first contest in 1894. The match was popularly known as the City of Liverpool Derby and the Lancaster Derby as well, the term Merseyside Derby came into use later. The name Merseyside Derby has been in use well before the Merseyside County came into being. These names are nothing more than titles for the media to sensationalise the fixture, it was always ‘The Derby’ for the locals. 

What makes this derby unique is the sense of respect the fans hold for each other, nowhere else will you witness the kind of demeanor that is visible between the opposing Merseyside fans. It is a conflict, it is a rivalry, it is a passionate power struggle to earn the tag of the finest in Merseyside. Regardless of whatever may happen on the pitch this rivalry is built on the foundations of respect and deference. Look at the Manchester, North London or Glasgow Derbies, you will never see opposing fans sitting together enjoying a game of football together. It is more than just football for the people of this city.

Football is knit into the very fabric of the city of Liverpool. It is a part of their culture, it has shaped the city into what now stands tall. People have completely surrendered to their love of the game for over a century. Traditionally people living under one roof support a common club, it is a tradition, something to be passed on to the next generation of your family. This traditional setup does not exist in Liverpool. You will find sets of brothers and sisters, fathers and sons whose alliances are mixed up. One will support Everton, the other Liverpool.

You will find families going to watch the match together, having fun and enjoying themselves but they could be sporting opposing colors of blue or red. 


Here are some that we will never forget because of their significance, controversial nature and more -


1. Liverpool 3-2 Everton(1989 FA Cup Final)

After witnessing one of the biggest tragedies in the world of football, people looked to football to heal themselves. The tragedy being referred to was the Hillsborough accident in which 96 Liverpool fans lost their lives in the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. The Reds went on to win the FA Cup final against all odds. The game itself was a huge rush. It ended up going into extra time and substitute Ian Rush scored the decisive goal to take the Reds all the way.


2. Liverpool 3-2 Everton (1999)

This bout between the two was an extremely exciting and eventful fixture. The first on the scoreline was Olivier Dacourt, scoring within the first minute of the game. Their lead did not last long as Robbie Fowler equalised from a penalty given away by Marco Materazzi. The way Fowler celebrated this goal was what resulted in him getting banned for the following six games, where he pretended to snort cocaine off the backline. This celebration was later explained by the then Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier as “eating grass”. This fixture was also one of the initial games of the legendary Steven Gerrard, the 18-year-old played a key role in keeping the ball out of the Liverpool net eventually winning them the game. The match ended as 3-2 in favour of Liverpool thanks to Robbie Fowler’s brace and Patrik Berger’s goal.


3. Everton 2-2 Liverpool (1977)

Another controversial fixture that surprised a lot of people. Everton believed they had snatched a 3-2 win, securing a place in the FA Cup final, however, the Welsh referee Clive Thomas disallowed their winner scored by Bryan Hamilton as an offside. A disappointing day for the blues, having clawed their way back from a 1-0 deficit followed by a 2-1 deficit. The worst was yet to come when they were thrashed 3-0 in the replay and Liverpool went on to the finals, where they lost 2-1 to Manchester United.


4. Everton 1-0 Liverpool (2009)

A dramatic late winner in the 119th minute of the game from the 18-year-old Don Gosling ensured Everton’s win over the Reds. Their victory ensured that Liverpool were knocked out of the FA Cup. Tim Howard was able to hold the Reds off successfully. One of the key moments of the match was when Liverpool captain; Steven Gerrard, limped off the pitch because of what looked like a hamstring injury after only 15 minutes. A loud roar from the Everton fans displayed the importance of that moment. Disaster struck for the reds as their Brazilian defender was sent off after earning a second yellow card for a tackle on Joleon Lescott. 


5. Liverpool 2-2 Everton(2012)

Before the Merseyside clash, David Moyes, the then Everton boss had commented on Liverpool’s Luis Suarez, calling him out for excessive diving. The Everton boss had been critical of the Uruguayan, claiming that ‘divers’ such as the Liverpool striker were turning fans away from the game. Suarez was more than aware of Moyes’ comments and after his deflected strike found its way to the back of Everton’s net, the Uruguayan ran up to the sidelines and dove right in front of Moyes mockingly. Ironically enough, it was the Everton skipper Phil Neville who was booked for simulation after an apparent challenge from Daniel Agger.


Both Anfield and Goodison Park have hosted some memorable contests that will be in the hearts and minds of the fans till the end of time. However, it is needless to say that Liverpool are the Pride of Merseyside, considering the rich history of both these clubs as well as their current form. The chances of that changing anytime soon are slim to none.




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