Everton v Liverpool classics: What is your favourite Merseyside derby of all time?

And here we are as another Merseyside derby comes round. Always a landmark fixture in the English game, there are the usual local bragging rights up for grabs and a lot more besides for both teams on Sunday.

Liverpool badly need victory after a wretched run (by their own high standards of course) that has seen them already ranked as title outsiders and knocked out of the Champions League.

Everton haven't been helped with a chronic injury list, but after defeat against Hull on Wednesday they could do well do without losing on derby day.

Fernando Torres and Phil Jagielka

Taking a tumble: Liverpool star Fernando Torres and Everton's Phil Jagielka in action during February's FA Cup replay at Goodison Park

Now I'm an outsider as far as Merseyside derbies are concerned, a mere observer to these skirmishes, but I've always remembered the maxim that you don't have to be an actor to be a theatre critic.

I can say one thing with certainty. It will be never be anything less than a delight to visit that town and spend time with its lovely warm people. While writing this I have come to realise that wherever I have been in my life and met a Liverpudlian I can't help but ask the same simple question: Liverpool or Everton?

Now Liverpool's achievements are well documented and deserve the highest praise: 18 league titles, five European Cups (that's what they call history as the anti-Chelsea song has it) and a number of other big pots over the decades.

What is less well remembered that Everton too are a club that have been among the high achievers in English football history. If anyone had the temerity to question their big club credentials all any supporter would need to do is point to their nine league triumphs.

Let's put that into perspective. Manchester United and Liverpool have won 18 titles each - those two clubs remain the benchmark and at the very centre of English football's soul.

Dan Gosling

Pure joy: Dan Gosling celebrates scoring the goal which knocked Liverpool out of the FA Cup last season. Many television viewers missed his extra-time strike as ITV were inexplicably showing adverts at the time

Arsenal have 13 titles, which is a more than decent return for the north London club. Then along come Everton with nine.

A few other clubs, some of which fill a lot more column inches than Everton, trail miserably in that regard. Chelsea have three titles (and only one before the money starting to pour in from Russia), Tottenham two and Manchester City two.

It is a great credit to the city of Liverpool, and surely a source of immense pride, that it has been able to sustain two such magnificent and successful clubs.

Many years ago, the media led us to believe that the Merseyside derby was one of sweetness and light, with fans of both clubs sitting among each other, many of course hailing from the same family.

My gut feeling is that there is rather more bitterness and rancour in the meetings between the pair today, and my spies in the north-west back up that suspicion.

Before the latest Merseyside derby on Sunday, let's once more spend some time in that avenue that shapes us all. I've included four games which stick out from my own personal memory lane. I'd certainly like to hear about your favourites.




Some games are simply so evocative of a certain era, or time, and this one falls into such a category. Pure, unadulterated Eighties here.

I put on record last week the admiration I still have, along with many millions of other football fans, for Everton's superb 1984-85 team and their victory at Anfield was symbolic of a changing of the guard that season.


Everton had won the FA Cup the previous season but Liverpool were champions of both England and Europe. They would of course go on to reach another European Cup final in this season, one that would sadly be remembered for only tragic reasons.

Everton were threatening to take the title off their city rivals with a fine start to the season.

On this autumn afternoon they were most certainly the better side, and deserved the win that came courtesy of a quite magnificent strike from Graeme Sharp.

The Scot smashed home a dipping volley that stunned Liverpool keeper Bruce Grobbelaar and most of Anfield.

Graeme Sharp and Howard Kendall

Everton heroes: Graeme Sharp and manager Howard Kendall

Football fans weren't spolit back then as they are today with goals from every game. Goodness knows how many special goals we will never know about, on reflection.

This one would be repeated ad nauseum over the following months.

Everton went on to win the league title at a canter that season, and added the European Cup Winners Cup for good measure.



A classic Cup final day that already belongs to a different time. Did I imagine Tarby, Cilla et al singing round the old Joanna on Her Majesty's ITV?

Thinking about it, don't you agree the Cup Final began to lose gravitas when the practice of both main channels covering the game live was brought to a halt?

This was simply a huge footballing day. I can still see images of supporters climbing into Wembley in a desperate attempt to witness this special Merseyside occasion.

Enlarge   Ian Rush rounds Everton goalkeeper Bobby Mimms to score Liverpool's equaliser

Crucial moment: Ian Rush rounds Everton goalkeeper Bobby Mimms to score Liverpool's equaliser in the 1986 final

Liverpool had already clinched a dramatic title, courtesy of Kenny Dalglish and his final day winner at Chelsea. There was very little to choose between the two teams over the whole campaign however, and nobody could predict a Wembley winner with any confidence.

Gary Lineker put Everton in front, and the Toffees were good value for it in a first half they largely controlled. Bruce Grobbelaar had to make one brilliant sprawling save to prevent Everton doubling their advantage.

Liverpool came out fired up after the break and were soon level when Ian Rush rounded Bobby Mimms to turn the ball into the net (did Craig Johnston apply the final touch before the ball crossed the line? I always remember wondering that).

Johnston scored Liverpool's second goal, as the champions quickly turned the match round, and Rush smashed a third to seal victory - the one that we all remember hit the camera inside the goal.

Enlarge   Liverpool players celebrate victory in the 1986 final

Pure delight: Liverpool players celebrate victory in the 1986 final

Liverpool had won their first league and cup double, and it should have been the first of a few for them. As it happens, Wimbledon, Arsenal and Crystal Palace put paid to that in the years soon after.

Alan Hansen lamented that Liverpool were 'forever blowing doubles'.



Football had become largely irrelevant in the final weeks of the 1988-89 season, due entirely to the tragic events of April 15 at Hillsborough and a football disaster that still casts its shadow over the game today.

Liverpool eventually beat Nottingham Forest in a rematch of that ill-fated FA Cup semi-final, and understandably nobody had really remembered amid the overwhelming sadness that Everton had seen off Norwich to reach the final.

Enlarge   John Aldridge

Perfect start: John Aldridge celebrates his early goal for Liverpool in the 1989 FA Cup final

The Wembley final was awash with emotion, with Gerry Marsden leading the crowd in a poignant pre-match singing of 'You'll Never Walk Alone'.

It was fitting that, only a month after the city had been united in grief, Wembley would once more host a Merseyside final.

The match itself was a dramatic affair, with Liverpool seemingly always in control. John Aldridge put them in front after only four minutes. It looked like that goal might be enough until Stuart McCall scored a last-gasp equaliser.

Ian Rush

That man again: Ian Rush fires home the first of his two goals at Wembley

Liverpool needed to pick themselves up for extra time, and to their credit they did. Ian Rush fired them back in front, and even though McCall volleyed his second goal brilliantly, Rush glanced a header into the net to give Liverpool victory.

They should have gone on to win the double, but in the most dramatic match ever played on a Friday night Michael Thomas scored the latest of late goals at Anfield to win the league title for Arsenal.



Simply a marvellous night of FA Cup drama which the 38,000 present at Goodison Park would long remember. The rest of us had to make do with highlights on the BBC's fondly remembered midweek show Sportsnight.

Everton had sneaked past Woking in the previous round (I'm not joking either. I spent many years watching the non-league club from Surrey and with a bit of luck they could have easily snatched a draw or better at Goodison).

The hosts started as second favourites for this fifth round tie, and Peter Beardsley gave Liverpool the lead in the first half.


Graeme Sharp equalised just after the break, and even though Beardsley fired a splendid second to put Liverpool back in front, Sharp applied the final touch after a scramble to make it 2-2.

By now Merseyside was completely enthralled but the real drama was still to come.

Peter Beardsley

Super strike: Peter Beardsley fires Liverpool's second goal at Goodison Park

Tony Cottee

Saviour: Tony Cottee scored twice for Everton on a night of FA Cup drama

Rush headed a third goal for Liverpool, but just when their supporters were making preparations for the sixth round Tony Cottee scored a last minute equaliser to send Goodison Park wild with delight.

John Barnes and his cross-cum-shot in the first period of extra-time looked to have finally won the game for Liverpool, but Cottee popped up where it mattered again six minutes from time with the eighth goal of a breathless night.

Two days later, Liverpool boss Dalglish stunned football by resigning. Opinion is still divided over whether the team had started to show signs of decline with Dalglish in charge, and whether he knew the time was right to get out.

Everton won the second replay 1-0, but lost in the sixth round to West Ham.

Liverpool lost out in the title race to Arsenal - and amazingly they are still waiting to win their 19th championship.

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