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Wednesday, 2 November 2011

History Of The Merseyside Derby

There are a number of reasons for the "friendly derby" tag. Firstly the clubs are situated in the north of the City and very close to each other (less than a mile), with only Stanley Park separating the two.

Everton actually played at Anfield, now Liverpool's ground, before a rent dispute with the ground owners saw Everton relocate to Goodison Park and the formation of Liverpool F.C.

From 1902 to 1932 the two clubs even shared the same matchday programme.

Today there are no evident geographical, political, social or religious divides as in other derbies, although for many years a sectarian divide did exist within the city. It is unclear how (if at all) this influenced the support bases of the two clubs and more recent research has indicated that it was more likely to have been a political allegiance that influenced support .

During the 1950s and 1960s Everton were coined as the Catholic club mainly as a result of successful Irish players Tommy Eglington, Peter Farrell and Jimmy O'Neill as well as manager Johnny Carey.

This in turn caused Liverpool to be thought of as Protestant club, not signing an Irish Catholic until Ronnie Whelan in 1979. However, it should be noted that this notional divide was never seen as a basis for supporting a certain side as is the case with Celtic and Rangers.

In truth both teams have strong support from all denominations as well as many fans from Presbyterian North Wales and Catholic Ireland. Most importantly, the actual clubs themselves did not act to strengthen sectarian divides and in fact both clubs stem from a Methodist origin.

Aggro Between The Neighbours?

Unlike other local derbies (such as the Bristol, Birmingham and Stoke derbies, where the clubs are separated by long distances across their towns, in Liverpool violence between Evertonians and Liverpudlians is a rarity.

However, in the fallout from the Heysel Stadium disaster, fan relationships became strained, with Everton fans blaming Liverpool hooligans for their subsequent ban from European club competitions.

However, relations improved after the Hillsborough disaster when both sets of fans rallied together, with Evertonians even joining in on the boycott of The Sun while Everton and Liverpool scarves were intertwined stretching across Stanley Park between Anfield and Goodison Park.

The Most Successful Football City

The city of Liverpool is statistically the most successful football city in England with Everton and Liverpool winning a combined 27 league titles, and there has never been a season without one of either Everton or Liverpool competing in the top flight.

Both clubs have rich histories, with Everton being one of the twelve founder members of the Football League.

Everton have only been relegated twice and have competed in over 100 seasons of top-flight football, more than any other English club.

To date Everton have won 9 League Championships, 5 FA Cups and 1 European Cup Winners Cup. Liverpool, the most successful club in English football, hold the current joint record, with Manchester United, for the most League Championships with 18.

Other Merseyside Derbies

Since 1892 the clubs have appeared almost every year in the Liverpool Senior Cup, although Liverpool, Everton and Tranmere Rovers only field reserve sides against the likes of Prescot Cables, Southport and Marine.

Matches between Everton/Liverpool and Tranmere Rovers, based in Birkenhead on the other side of the River Mersey, are also classed as Merseyside derbies, but Tranmere have never been in the top division, so competitive matches are a rarity.

Pre-season friendlies are often played but the dislike between Rovers and the two City of Liverpool Giants stems from purely geographical reasons rather than footballing tradition.

Everton and Liverpool also have affiliated women's teams playing in the Women's Premier League, although only Everton ladies have won titles in the women's top division.

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