By Euan Burns
One of the most important and constant fixtures on the Premier League calendar is the Merseyside derby, played by Liverpool and Everton. It’s an incredibly historical and different soccer game from many different rivalries around the world.
Often referred to as the ‘friendly derby’, the Merseyside derby cannot be placed in the same group as hometown derbies such as Lazio v AS Roma and Boca Juniors v River Plate where there is real hatred and regular crowd problems between the two sets of supporters.
That doesn’t mean it doesn’t mean a lot to both fan groups and the city’s residents. Here’s the history of the derby and what it means today.
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Origins of the Merseyside derby
This derby is the longest running in England’s top flight as it has been played every single season since 1962, which cannot be said for the North London derby or the Manchester derby.
Everton are one of the founder members of the English football league and have spent more seasons in the top flight than anyone else. Since 1888, it has played 117 seasons in the top flight and since 1954 has not played in a lower division.
They started life playing at Anfield, the current home of Liverpool FC. Due to a rent dispute, however, they moved to Stanley Park and have now been playing at Goodison Park since 1892. When two teams are only a patch of grass away from each other, it stands to reason that a rivalry. .
Sheer closeness is what made the rivalry exist, and was later exacerbated when Everton been denied access to European football twice following the behavior of Liverpool fans on the continent during the 1980s. Sectarian and political differences also existed between the teams during the early years, with Everton being seen as the Catholic club and Liverpool as the Protestant club, although this is definitely not a factor in the present day.
Why is it known as the ‘friendly derby’?
This was mainly because violence between the two sets of supporters never seemed to be the order of the day. Sure, there have been incidents over the years, but not on the same scale as other major football matches in England or the rest of the world.
This may be due to the fact that being from the same area of the city, it is common Liverpool and Everton fans that they are close friends with each other or even belong to the same families. Brothers and sisters may not speak to each other for a few days before the meeting, but they won’t be found arguing in the streets.
The Hillsborough tragedy is also a factor. Liverpool as a city felt repressed and neglected by the authorities. Although it was Liverpool fans who lost their lives, it was seen as another example of the city and its people being treated badly. Many Everton fans had friends and family who were killed or injured that day in 1989.
The Merseyside derby today
As time has gone on, particularly over the last decade or so, Liverpool have been the favorites for almost every encounter between the two sides. Everton got stuck in a self-destructive cycle where they regularly fought against relegation without ever actually going downhill.
Liverpool meanwhile have found success in the last handful of seasons under Jurgen Klopp and have been a very good team at various times over the past decade. Everton are definitely the favorites at this stage in derby history.
The derby has been played 242 times since 1894. Liverpool have won it 98 times and Everton have won 67 meetings. There were 77 draws.
The two teams will face each other on Monday 13 February at Anfield. The game kicks off at 19:45 GMT.
Merseyside derby record
The biggest home win saw Liverpool win 6-0 at Anfield in the 1935-36 season. The biggest away win was Everton 0-5 Liverpool in 1982/83. Everton won 5-0 at Anfield in 1914/15 Highest scoring match: Liverpool 7-4 win at Anfield in 1932-33 season Most appearances: Everton’s Neville Southall with 41 Most caps goals: Ian Rush with 25 goals for Liverpool Record attendance: 78,599 at Goodison Park 18 September 1948.
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This article was originally posted on 90min.com as Why are Liverpool and Everton rivals? Merseyside derby explained.