The Merseyside derby - the name given to matches between Everton and Liverpool football clubs - is the longest continuous local derby in the top tier of English football, having been played at that level for more than fifty years.
It is also known as ‘the friendly derby’ for a variety of reasons: families in Liverpool are often split in their allegiances to either club; total fan segregation is not enforced; the clubs are situated less than a mile apart with only Stanley Park between the two football stadiums, and their histories are intertwined, going back to Liverpool Football Club’s origin and including a period between 1902 and 1932 when they actually shared a match day programme.
The first ever derby match in this league fixture was played at Goodison Park on 13th October 1894 in Division One of the Football League, two years after Everton had left Anfield (resulting in Liverpool being formed as the resident football club there). This was Liverpool’s first season in the top division.
Everton won the match 3.0 with goals from Thomas McInnes – who thus scored the first ever goal in a Merseyside derby - John Bell and Alex Latta in front of a crowd of 44,000. John Bell was Everton’s first Scottish International player and at a time when Scots playing in England were rarely picked by the national team.
All subsequent league meetings between the two sides to date have also taken place in either the old First Division or the Premier League.
Everton won the first three league derby matches at Goodison Park before Liverpool finally won there on 24th September 1898 with two goals from Andrew McCowie (one a penalty); John Proudfoot replied for The Toffees. Two years later – almost to the day – came the first draw in this fixture: 1.1 on 22nd September 1900 in front of a crowd of 50,000. The first ever league draw in a Merseyside derby had come at Anfield six years earlier on 17th November 1894 (2.2) in only the second derby game played and the first at Liverpool's home ground.
Everton scored five goals against Liverpool in April 1904 and again, five years later, in April 1909. The match in 1904 took place on 1st April and ended 5.2 to Everton. Alex ‘Sandy’ Young scored four of Everton’s goals. Sandy Young is one of Everton's all-time highest league goal scorers and also scored the only goal in the 1906 FA Cup Final against Newcastle United. The Liverpool Echo described him as "one of the most fascinating players that ever toed a ball." Young allegedly suffered from mental instability throughout his life and, upon emigrating to Australia on his retirement from football, was convicted of manslaughter for shooting dead his brother in a dispute over money. He died, in September 1959, aged 79, in an Edinburgh mental asylum.
Liverpool also scored five goals in this fixture – on 6th November 1982. The Reds - on their way to their fourteenth league title - won 5.0 that day in front of 52,741. Ian Rush scored four of their goals and is the record Merseyside derby scorer in all competitions with 25. Everton’s Dixie Dean holds the record for league goals in derby matches with 18.
On 18th September 1948 the fixture attracted a crowd of 78,599 – the highest ever for a Merseyside derby - and finished 1.1. Jock Dodds scored for Everton and Willie Fagan for Liverpool. Dodds scored 36 goals in his 55 league appearances for Everton, helping to plug the gap left by centre-forward Dixie Dean who had retired and Tommy Lawton who had been sold to Chelsea for £11,500.
On 20th March 1988 Everton won 1.0 with a goal from Wayne Clarke in front of 44,162. This ended Liverpool’s run of 29 games unbeaten since the start of the season which was a record they shared at the time with Leeds United.
One of the most dramatic finishes in this league fixture came on 16th April 2001. Liverpool scored first, after just five minutes, through Emile Heskey. Duncan Ferguson then equalised for Everton before Markus Babbel put Liverpool ahead again. Robbie Fowler missed a penalty for Liverpool before David Unsworth did score a penalty at the other end to make the match all square, before Liverpool’s Igor Buscan was sent off and the pendulum finally seemed to be swinging towards the Toffees. However, Gary McAllister scored from a long-range free kick in the 93rd minute to win the game for the ten men of Liverpool: 3.2. It was Liverpool’s first success at Goodison Park since 1990.
The match on 20th October 2007 was a particularly stormy affair. Liverpool won 2.1 in front of just over 40,000 spectators with two penalties from Dirk Kuyt and also contributing an own goal from Sami Hyypiä who, bizarrely, lashed Alan Stubbs’ corner past Pape Reina and into his own net. The result of the match - which Everton largely dominated - almost certainly hinged on an altercation between Liverpool's Steven Gerrard and Tony Hibbert of Everton, as a result of which Hibbert was sent off. Referee Mark Clattenburg had initially just shown a yellow card to him but changed his mind after appearing to have a further conversation about it with Gerrard. Kuyt scored from the penalty spot to equalize and then got his winning penalty in added time after Everton’s Phil Neville was also sent off for handling Lucas' goal-bound shot. Everton’s own appeal for a penalty came when Jamie Carragher appeared to drag Everton's Joleon Lescott to the ground following a corner kick but Clattenburg waved their appeal away and did not change his mind this time.
Remembering the dramatic ending to that match in 2001, and after four successive draws in the league fixture at Goodison Park, Liverpool grabbed an even later winner in the match which was played there on 19th December 2016. An injury to Everton's goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg in the second half meant that eight minutes of added time were played. After four of these Daniel Sturridge - a late substitute for Liverpool - hit the post and Sadio Mane was quickest to the rebound, scoring to give Liverpool a 1.0 victory.
Author: Mark Rasdall
Title: Founder, The Football Ground
Updated: 21st December 2016