Previously Ste Speed shared his five most memorable Merseyside derbies – for the right reasons! Here, Keith Perkins presents his five worst derby days ahead of our double header against our neighbours from across Stanley Park, the first of which takes place in the League encounter tonight….
THERE’S always something special about Liverpool versus Everton, no matter what the competition or where we stand in the table relative to each other. As long as we are both in the Premier League, then we’re guaranteed two matches a season against our neighbours, and in some seasons we are lucky enough to face them in one or the other of the domestic cups. This season we have already beaten them in the Premier League match at Goodison (2-0, both from Torres) and would be looking forward to our home fixture coming up next week as a chance to really rub it in. But then, following our win over Preston and their win over Macclesfield in the FA Cup Third Round, we were the first two names drawn for the Fourth Round of the cup, and that gives us the chance to show them who ‘œThe Pride of Merseyside’ really is by playing them twice at Anfield in six days.
First up is the already scheduled Premier League fixture on Monday, January 19th. The FA Cup fourth round match then comes on the following Sunday, January 25th. Of course we want to win both of those, but a question that came up recently was, ‘œIf we could only win one of those, then which one would you want?’ The answers were almost unanimous that it should be the League fixture, as that’s the prize we want more than any other right now, and we want every point we can get. But, what surprises me is that not very many respondents pointed out that with this being the 20th anniversary of Hillsborough, it would be fitting to go all the way and win the cup, in memory of the 96. If only it could have been arranged for Everton to be our opponents in the final, then that would have been the biggest and most fitting anniversary of all.
Then again, such questions are pointless really since when do we ever think of only winning one out of two? Surely we go out to win every match, no matter who the opponents are or what the prize is at the end. There’s really no other way, and I’m confident that we can easily win both and use the two victories to build momentum for the run to the end of the season. If history is anything to go by, then the odds would be more than a little in our favour, with Liverpool winning 80 out of a total of 206 matches in all competitions, to Everton‘s 64 (and 62 draws). In those 206 matches, we’ve outscored them by 281 to 240. If we look at home fixtures only, then the odds are even better with 38 wins to 24, and outscoring by 138 to 104. But as we all know only too well, history and statistics don’t mean a damn thing on the day (or in this case on two days) and so everything is up for grabs. It could well be the turning point of the season for one of us, either for better or for worse, and neither side will be thinking about past performances.
We’ve had some fantastic tussles with the blue half, with two of the most memorable being the FA Cup finals of 1986 and 1989. Ian Rush must have been their worst nightmare with him scoring four goals in those two finals, and who can forget his four goals in the 5-0 humiliation at Goodison in 1982? Liverpool went on to win the League that year, but strangely could only manage a 0-0 result at Anfield in March. We’ve also had a number of memorable come-from-behind wins, including the 1970 thriller with Shankly’s new-look Liverpool coming back from 2-0 down to win 3-2. Two of the goals in that match came from new players Heighway and Toshack, as Liverpool began the decade as they meant to continue. Then of course there was the famous Gary McAllister 44 yard free-kick in the dying moments to take all three points in 2001.
Those were just two of the most exciting Merseyside derbies, to go along with the rest of the wins, but of course we should also remember that we haven’t always had it so easy. Out of those 64 losses to our local rivals, many of them have been ones that we’d rather forget. It’s never easy to admit defeat, but it’s sometimes useful to remember that we have to have the right mentality or we can be easily caught out. So, as a reminder that we can’t be too careful, here’s my list of Our Worst Five Merseyside Derbies.
Everton Football Club, who were founded in 1878 and were one of the twelve clubs to form The Football League in 1888, then moved away from Anfield in 1892, leading to the formation of Liverpool Football Club who entered the Lancashire League the same year. After one season, Liverpool were then accepted to the Football League (second division) and were promoted to the first division in the summer of 1894. That allowed for the first ever derby between the two Merseyside clubs, which was not a great day for the newcomers. Everton came out as 3-0 winners at Goodison, which is perhaps not so surprising given the gap in experience between the two clubs at that time.
The mid-sixties were an amazing time for all of Merseyside. Both clubs had their share of success, and of course the terms ‘œMerseybeat’ and ‘œScouse Humour’ were becoming well known all over the world. Liverpool had won the FA Cup in 1965, in between League Championships in 1964 and 1966. Everton won the FA Cup in 1966, and had been League Champions before Liverpool in 1963. The 1966-67 season began with the Charity Shield being contested between Everton as FA Cup winners and Liverpool as League Champions, at Goodison. That particular match was also memorable for Roger Hunt and Ray Wilson coming out with the 1966 World Cup trophy between them, as two of the players who had helped England win the World Cup earlier that summer.
By the spring of 1967, Liverpool and Everton had already played each other twice in the League, and once in the Charity Shield, with one win each and one draw. Then, the FA Cup Fifth Round tie pitted the two Merseyside giants against each other in what was described as the equivalent of a world championship. As Bill Shankly remarked at the time, it’s doubtful if this would ever happen again, with the Champions versus the Cup holders in a city as fanatical as Liverpool. The match, to be played at Goodison, was sold out in no time and so closed circuit television screens were erected at Anfield. Separate programs were printed and sold at each ground, and a total of 105,000 saw the match decided by a single goal, scored by Alan Ball, to put Liverpool out of the cup. The feeling of loss was all the greater after such a build-up, but at least we’ve had plenty of revenge since then.
The rivalry between the two Merseyside clubs was becoming intense as the 1980’s came to a close, and so when Liverpool and Everton were drawn to play each other in the fifth round of the FA Cup in early 1991 it was billed as another ‘œClash of the Titans.’ Liverpool were defending League Champions, and had beaten the blues in the FA Cup final of 1989. Liverpool had already beaten Everton 3-1 in the League on the 9th of February, with the Cup match to come just eight days later on the 17th. It’s never possible to predict the outcome of a cup fixture based on a league match, no matter how close together they are played, and it was not really so much of a surprise that Everton managed to hold on for a 0-0 result forcing a replay at Goodison. That replay, coming only three days later on the 20th, also resulted in a draw, but it was far from a boring 0-0 result. Liverpool took the lead no less than four times, only to see Everton claw their way back and equalise each time. The draw forced a second replay, also to be played at Goodison. That 4-4 draw is remembered not only as possibly the most exciting FA Cup match in the history of the competition so far (at least to the neutrals watching), but also as the last Liverpool match to be played under the management of Kenny Dalglish. The pressure of the job was becoming too much for him, and that replay turned out to be the final straw. His surprise resignation was announced two days later, and Liverpool were left in the hands of caretaker-manager Ronnie Moran. In spite of Ronnie’s best efforts, all of Liverpool‘s promise in the early going came to an end, first with a loss to Luton in the League and then a loss to Everton in that second replay. It would be a major turning point in the history of Liverpool, but fortunately one that we would eventually recover from.
Liverpool reached a peak under Gerard Houllier in the summer of 2001, winning five trophies in a period of six months. It was not such a great time after that, with a gradual decline in fortunes beginning to worry us all. In the summer of 2004, the club and Monsieur Houllier parted company, and in came new manager Rafa Benitez. There was no doubt that the new manager knew how to win, but one of his first big tests came with the Premier League match against Everton at Goodison. This was to be the 200th Merseyside derby, and Rafa’s first, and should have been his first victory over his new rivals. As always, it was a tight match with plenty of physical tackles, and with Liverpool looking more likely to come out as winners. That was until two thirds of the way through when Everton scored. At least that brought the match to life, with Liverpool pushing hard for an equaliser, but it was not to be their day. The season ended with glory for Liverpool, winning their fifth European Cup, but finishing behind Everton in fifth place in the League. Everton were granted a third qualifying round place in the Champions League, while Liverpool had to apply for permission to defend their European title. If that match had finished with a Liverpool victory instead, the final league positions would have been reversed, there would have been no need for that special permission from UEFA, and no taunts of ‘œRafa Beneathus’ from the blues. At least we had the pleasure the following season of seeing the blues knocked out of both European competitions in short order, and then at times struggling to avoid relegation from the Premier League.
Liverpool were defending FA Cup Champions, and Charity Shield winners over League Champions Chelsea, following an impressive 2005-06 season. We were unlucky not to take second place in the league, finishing a single point behind Manchester United, and 32 points ahead of Everton who had finished a dismal season in 11th place. Added to that, Liverpool had lost only once to Everton in the last eight seasons, so it should be pretty much a foregone conclusion. Only the most faithful of the Evertonians, would have given the blues any chance in this one, but it was one of those days when everything seems to go wrong and against the odds. Liverpool were a goal down in less than half an hour, but so what? We had fought back against bigger deficits than that and so were not too worried. Then, when Everton scored a second, it didn’t look too much like it was going to be a day to remember for the Reds, and by the end of the match it became a farce. A long hopeful volley in the last minute of the match was seriously misjudged by Reina, who almost fell backwards with it into his own goal. Instead of that embarrassment, he tried to palm the ball away from him, only for it to go straight to the head of Andy Johnson who nodded in his second of the day. The final score of 3-0 was the third ever biggest win for Everton, and their biggest since their 4-0 victory way back in 1964! In that season of forty odd years ago, we had the pleasure of winning the League in spite of the big loss to the blues, taking the title directly from them. In this particular case it was part of a poor run of form for Liverpool as we struggled for consistency. Still, by the end of the season we finished in third place again, 10 points clear of the blues, and finished off with a trip to Athens for the European Cup Final, all of which can be enjoyed on a disc of the season in review. Meanwhile, the blues enjoyed watching that one match over and over on a specially released DVD to commemorate the rarity of the occasion, and to celebrate the one and only significant success of their season. Sad, isn’t it?
So there’s my five choices for the five worst ever Merseyside derbies. Obviously a list such as this is going to be compiled very much from my personal opinion. These are not the only candidates for worst; they are just the ones that I’ve chosen for their significance ‘“ at least as far as I see it. The order is simply chronological, starting with the first and ending with the most recent. Any loss to the blues is bad, but the most recent is always going to take the number one spot on my list. All I can really say to end this depressing trip down memory lane is that I hope that I have no reason to update this article before the end of the month.