The Merseyside derby has led to a host of dramatic clashes over the years, but few can match Liverpool’s record 7-4 win over Everton at Anfield in 1933.
With the drums of war beating ominously in Europe, the English Football League plodded on as if nothing was happening.
Future battles lay ahead on the continent, but at Anfield on February 11, 1933, Liverpool and Everton fought out a titanic battle that would see the Reds emerge victorious from an 11-goal thriller.
A reporter known as ‘Stork’, writing for the Liverpool Daily Post and Mercury, had “never seen a more thrilling game,” and gushed at the “non-stop football.”
This was a youthful Liverpool lineup, pitted against a vastly experienced opposition, who had held a six-year hoodoo over their rivals from across Stanley Park.
The average age of the Blues’ side was over 26, and spearheading their attack was the legendary Dixie Dean, the arch nemesis of Reds ‘keeper Elisha Scott.
The press sensed an air of complacency around the Everton camp in the run-up to the game, and their cockiness seemed justified in the opening 15 minutes.
The Blues controlled the game, stroking the ball around effortlessly, and when Dean opened the scoring in the eighth minute, everything seemed to be going according to the script.
However, the Reds’ attack was fast and immediately tore into Everton. Local journalists commented on how they seemed to lack any kind of respect for their opponents’ experience, and had only one thing on their minds: to crush the enemy.
Liverpool snatched control of the game from Everton and immediately went in search of an equaliser.
The crowd, officially 41,469, were in raptures. Newspapers reported how the terraces swelled as the game wore on, with locals pouring in from the streets around the ground.
Huge cheers greeted the Reds’ leveler, as Harold Barton smashed the ball into the net.
They would be drooling, too, after a 20-minute spell saw Liverpool race into an unexpected 3-1 lead, with Alf Hanson and Tom Morrison adding to Blues stopper Ted Sagar’s misery; Liverpool’s second had flown in, with the Sagar rooted motionless on his goal-line.
The Toffees seemed annoyed at Liverpool’s cheek and launched a series of raids on the Reds’ defence. But for a series of stunning saves by Scott, they may have been level at half-time.
Instead they had to make do with a Tommy Johnson goal, a minute before the whistle, to halve the arrears.
This was turning into a classic. Could the Reds hold on for a famous victory, their first in six years? They would do more than that.
As the restart got underway, Scott’s brilliance once again kept Liverpool in front. He dived spectacularly to save a certain goal from Jimmy Stein and his heroics kept Everton at bay throughout the half.
Liverpool were not to be outdone though, an one sweeping counter-attack led to penalty appeals from the Reds’ front line being waved away by the referee. Another saw the ball crash back off the bar.
Liverpool’s young charges would not be denied though, and restored their two-goal advantage in a 10-minute spell that saw Harold Taylor net Liverpool’s fourth and Barton make it 5-2 in the 68th minute, with his second of the game.
The fifth had a hint of offside about it, and the referee had to consult his linesman before pointing to the centre circle and signalling a goal.
The ground erupted and the Liverpool fans went wild. Surely, this was an unassailable lead and the Toffees were vanquished.
Dean had other ideas, and Everton‘s resistance flickered briefly. They won a series of corners and from one of them Dean scored with a brilliant header, in the 75th minute, to make it 5-3.
The celebrating Blues, scattered around the stadium, may have thought this was game on, but Liverpool immediately went up the other end and grabbed their sixth through Syd Roberts.
The supporters were reeling now, as both sets of players traded blows. This was becoming the finest derby match in an age.
You can only imagine the scenes of raucous joy when Barton grabbed his hat-trick and Liverpool’s seventh after a calamitous error by Blues defender Warney Cresswell.
The game was now won, with Liverpool leading 7-3 as the teams went into the final few minutes. However, Everton‘s pride would not allow them to see out the game without one last attack.
In the 87th minute Jimmy Stein bagged a goal that must have felt a hollow consolation for his team’s efforts in the game.
This had been a titanic struggle between two teams desperate for victory and playing for the pride and passion of their supporters.
It was, and remains to this day, the highest aggregate score ever recorded in a Merseyside derby.
The Evening Express would record in its report that this was also the first time since the First World War that Everton had conceded seven goals in a single game.
The result mattered little beyond Merseyside. Both teams were languishing in mid-table.
Everton were in 11th, with the Reds sitting in a miserable 13th place, and that’s where they both finished the season.
You can bet, though, that the memories of the fiery encounter at Anfield kept Kopites happy for many a year to come.
Liverpool 7-4 Everton
First Division, Anfield
February 11, 1933
Goals: Barton 15′, 57′, 68′ & 85′, Hanson 22′, Morrison 36′, Roberts 76′; Dean 8′ & 75′, Johnson 43′, Stein 87′
Liverpool: Scott, Steel, Jackson, Morrison, Bradshaw, Taylor, Barton, Roberts, Wright, McPherson, Hanson
Everton: Sagar, Cook, Cresswell, Britton, White, Thomson, Geldard, Dunn, Dean, Johnson, Stein
Referee: E. E. Hull