One of the most important days of the footballing calendar is nearly upon us – the first Merseyside Derby of the season. As the 217th recorded Merseyside Derby takes place at Anfield tonight, let’s remind ourselves about all that makes a Derby day special with a look back on the Top 10 Merseyside Derbies of all-time. There’s blood, sweat and with it, the obligatory tears to boot. Let’s take a look.
1. Liverpool 4 Everton 4 (Anfield) – FA Cup Fifth-Round, 1991 – Quite rightly regarded as the best Merseyside Derby of all-time and memorable for the fact that it was Kenny Dalglish’s final game in charge of his first spell at the club with the Scot resigning the next day. Peter Beardsley drew first blood after Ian Rush dispossessed Kevin Ratcliffe and had his shot saved by Neville Southall, with Beardsley banging in the rebound. Graeme Sharp equalised right after the break before Beardsley bagged a spectacular left-footed effort from 25 yards into the top left-hand corner. A mix-up between Steve Nicol and Bruce Grobelaar saw Sharp equalise once more with a tap in from two yards before Ian Rush saw Liverpool take the lead for the third time in the 77th minute with a deft header from a Jan Molby cross. A hopeful punt up field led to Tony Cottee, on as a sub, bagging Everton’s third to make it 3-3. John Barnes handed Liverpool the lead in extra-time until Cottee once again pegged Liverpool back with a 114th minute equaliser. Everton went onto win the replay 1-0. Simply put, one of the best FA Cup ties of all time and a great advert for the Merseyside derby.
2. Liverpool 3, Everton 2 (Wembley) – FA Cup Final, 1989 – Held just five weeks after the shocking, traumatic and deeply upsetting events of the Hillsborough disaster where 96 fans lost their lives, this game went some way to cathartically healing the wounds for many across Merseyside. On the footballing front, the final didn’t disappoint. John Aldridge gave Liverpool a crucial early lead before Stuart McCall struck back in the 90th minute. In extra-time Liverpool sub Ian Rush put his side ahead once more. Stuart McCall, the unlikeliest of scorers, then struck a sensational second before Rush once again, the scourge of Everton fans everywhere, bagged his second and Liverpool’s third and with it the FA Cup on a very moving day for all connected with either club and the city.
3. Everton 2, Liverpool 3 (Goodison Park) – Premier League, 2001 – Both clubs approached the tie with very different priorities in mind. Liverpool were on the cusp of an infamous treble, Everton under Walter Smith, were trying to stave off relegation for a further season. This has to go down as the finest Derby of the Premier League era, notable for the final kick of the game, a 40-yard free-kick by Gary McAllister that crept into Paul Gerrard’s net – a truly astounding goal. This game had everything. Liverpool surged into a two-goal lead courtesy of Emile Heskey and Markus Babbel before terrace favourites Duncan Ferguson and Dave ‘Rhino’ Unsworth reduced the deficit and levelled the tie. Igor Biscan was sent off, there were 12 cards in total and even an uncharacteristic Robbie Fowler penalty miss to throw into the mix until McAllister stepped up with an unlikely and breathtaking winner. Pulsating.
4. Liverpool 0, Everton 1 (Anfield) – First Division, 1984 – The turning of the tide? Everton announced themselves as the new dominant force in English football with an era defining victory over Liverpool at home. Liverpool were the reigning European Cup champions, but on this display, it was to be Everton that were to go onto bigger things that season. Graeme Sharp’s thunderous volley that later went onto be named Goal of the Season was the difference in the score lines, but the difference in performance was startling. Everton went onto claim the league title, European Cup Winners Cup and narrowly lost out on a momentous treble with a defeat to Man Utd in the FA Cup.
5. Liverpool 3, Everton 1 (Wembley), FA Cup Final, 1986 – The first ever all-Merseyside FA Cup final. A close-run league campaign eventually saw Liverpool edge out their close rivals. At Wembley, Gary Linekar continued his only ever campaign in an Everton shirt in predictably prolific fashion giving Everton the lead. However, perennial thorn in the side Ian Rush struck twice and Craig Johnston added the icing on the cake.
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6. Liverpool 2, Everton 2 (Maine Road), FA Cup Semi-Final, 1977 – What is is about the FA Cup that brings the best out of these Merseyside Derby encounters. Perhaps the most controversial on the list, Liverpool fans the world over will still be left wondering quite how they came away from this game with a draw and a replay. Bryan Hamilton had a goal unfathomably disallowed by referee Clive Thomas in the dying moments with the scores level after Jimmy Case and Terry McDermott had scored for Liverpool and Bruce Rioch and Duncan McKenzie had done the same for the Toffees. Liverpool went onto win the replay 3-0 to further add insult to injury.
7. Everton 0, Liverpool 5 (Goodison Park), First Division, 1982 – Ian Rush completely destroyed his boyhood heroes with a four-goal salvo. Everton weren’t helped by having debutant Glen Keeley sent off early on, though. Mark Lawrensen added the other with a tap in from a Kenny Dalglish cross. This game is memorable most for the true finishing masterclass put on by Rush.
8. Everton 3, Liverpool 0 (Goodison Park), Premier League, 2006 – A game personally memorably for me for so many reasons. Could it be the tortuous four-hour long journey home in a car with three Everton fans? Could it be the one-word riposte of Phil Neal in the stands when asked what he thought of the performance…’disgusting’? Or could it be the now infamous chant of ‘Reina drops keep falling on my head’ that was sung in the crowded streets after the game in reference to the third goal of the game? Everton recorded their biggest victory over Liverpool in 42 years with a display of clinical finishing. Tim Cahill notched the first before an Andy Johnson double ended the contest.
9. Liverpool 3, Everton 2 (Anfield), Premier League, 1999 – Liverpool went into this game seeking their first victory over their nearest rivals since 1994 in a run that stretched to 9 games. Olivier Dacourt put Everton ahead inside the first minute with an excellent strike from 30 yards. Marco Materazzi then gave away a penalty after clumsily lunging for the ball and bringing down skipper Paul Ince in the process. Robbie Fowler dispatched the penalty before then celebrating with the now infamous ‘snorting the line’ celebration which manager Gerard Houllier bafflingly laughed off stating that Fowler was “eating the grass”. Fowler added a second with a header before Patrick Berger added a third with a fine volley from the edge of the area. Francis Jeffers got Everton’s second late on with a neat turn and finish. There was still time for more drama, though, as an 18 year-old sub by the name of Steven Gerrard managed to clear off the line from Danny Cadamarteri in the dying embers of the game.
10. Liverpool 0, Everton 1 (Anfield), Premier League, 1999 – A typically feisty Derby day encounter saw Kevin Campbell’s 12th goal in 19 games since arriving back from Turkey prove the difference in the fourth minute. Francis Jeffers and Sander Westerveld were both shown a red card for what can only be described as handbags at dawn and Steven Gerrard was also given his marching orders for a scything (not the first time that could be said of his challenges in a Derby game) challenge on Campbell late on.