The Merseyside derby; Friendship, hatred and 125 years of footballing rivalry
(Photo via Getty Images)

The 238th Merseyside derby will be played between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield on Saturday. 

Liverpool have won the fixture 96 times, which is 30 more than their neighbours throughout the history of the fixture. 

Historically, this local derby took the handle of 'the friendly derby' which was coined from the fact that sets a friends will, and as with families in the city being divided with both clubs. 

The catalyst for this term stems back from before Football was being played in the city, and it has carried the same nostalgia and relevance since. A typical derby will see social, political or religious division that has caused an increase of hatred that has spilled onto Football pitches. Yet in the city of Liverpool, like minded people tend to go to the Football, and their political beliefs tend to be along the same variant. 

There is no division caused by sectarianism as history shows in Glasgow, nor is there the argument of one club being born outside of the area, perhaps like Manchester or North London. 

It is stemmed simply from two sets of fans being brought up in a widely crazed footballing city, where the two sides are divided by 0.9 miles across Stanley park. 

The defining era;

An era of Merseyside dominance was set upon English football stretching from Liverpool winning the league in 1976 and ending with the Reds lifting it for the 18th time in 1990. During this decade and a half the league title was won on Merseyside twelve times. 

Liverpool were dominating in Europe, having lifted the continent's most prized trophy 4 times in 7 years. While at Goodison Park, despite not being as successful, Everton were enjoying a period of achievement themselves. 

The social climate in the city was at an all time low during the 1980's. A Thatcher led government was on a mission to push the Liverpool people as far as they could possibly go, and wrongly expected no backlash.

With mass unemployment in the North of England, Football was one of the things people used to escape from there everyday life. It was a flee from reality. It was a flee from depression. 

As described poignantly in BT Sport's documentary 'Two tribes -how football saved a city'. https://www.bt.com/sport/watch/video/catch-up/2019/march/bt-sport-films-two-tribes

The negative perspective of the city rose through both the media and Newspapers as the decade went on. In retaliation active shows of defiance were enhanced and thrived upon by Liverpudlians, and none more so than both sets of supporters collectively singing "Merseyside, Merseyside, Merseyside" at Wembley.

Both sets of supporters had their political beliefs and both associated themselves with socialism. Since, young Football fans brought up in the city have harnessed this and portray similar attitudes. This is engulfed perfectly in Tony Evans' book - 'A city on the brink'. 

Important games throughout the rivalry; 

Liverpool 3-1 Everton. May 10th 1986. 

Perhaps the two most important games throughout this long standing rivalry came in FA cup finals. 

The first being in 1986 and just seven days after Liverpool had secured the league title away to Chelsea at the expense of their nearest competitors, Everton. 

This was a game that significantly manifested the feeling of the city, and there attitude towards Football. However, it symbolised the growing power and dominance that the Reds would take control of in the city. 

If a Liverpool fan is questioned, What is your favourite season following the club? If alive at the time, a lot of the answers would be the 86 campaign which seen Liverpool win the double over their neighbours. 

The season was topped off with what was then, the finale of the English campaign - the FA cup final. Which seen an attendance of over 98 thousand. 

Everton took the lead through Gary Lineker before Ian Rush once again showcased his 'hoodoo' over the Blues with a double. A goal from Craig Johnston meant Liverpool won the cup 3-1 and completed the marvellous double over a broken Everton. 

20th May 1989. Liverpool 3-2 Everton. 

A poignant and special day, and one that will be kept very close to the heart of all supporters. 

Five weeks after the Hillsborough disaster, both clubs were once again  at Wembley. 

With black armbands on, a rendition of 'You'll Never Walk Alone' was sung by Gerry Marsden. The anthem which had become synonymous with Liverpool Football Club. 

Again, Liverpool brought the cup back home. And again, a double from Ian Rush was enough to clinch it. Liverpool's domination of the fixture went on under Kenny Dalglish. 

What about the rivalry since?

There is no love lost between the two sides since that defining era, and the intense nature between the two supporters has grown with each passing Merseyside derby. Three decades have nearly passed since Everton last won a trophy, while despite Liverpool for a while not being what they once were, always maintained that advantage in the city. 

Liverpool are now the most successful club in English football, and while Everton have shown signs and flashes they have never been able to be consistent enough to challenge. 

Both clubs now have managers who resonate well with the city. There isn't a more perfect match in world Football than Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool. With Everton finally managing to get their hands on a serial winner in the past in Carlo Ancelotti. 

While off the pitch the city will always stand together through the thick and thin, on the pitch the intensity has grown and there are yet more chapters to be written. 

https://www.bt.com/sport/football/features/two-tribes-explores-how-football-gave-the-city-of-liverpool-hope. 

Two Tribes: Liverpool, Everton and a City on the Brink (2018)

VAVEL Logo