Liverpool is immersed in football history, it’s something you just can’t escape when visiting the city, it’s infectious and an asset we’re proud to embrace.
But one of the best things about our footballing culture is how truly unique the rivalry between Everton and Liverpool is.
It is the longest running top-flight derby in England, having been played continuously since the 1962–63 season and is known around the world as the ‘friendly derby’.
A relationship like no other, the Merseyside derby is built upon the respect between the fans, which is why Liverpool is the only city that could create the first Football Quarter.
Aiming to boost the city’s tourism offer and create hundreds more jobs locally, this proposal is perfect for Liverpool.
Here are some of the things that make the Merseyside derby so unique and why our fans are the best in the world.
The Friendly Derby
Don’t be fooled into thinking that the ‘friendly derby’ refers to how the matches are played, far from it. Liverpool versus Everton matches have seen more red cards than any other Premier League contest in the past 20 years.
Instead, this name comes from the history of good will between red supporters and blue fans.
What makes the Merseyside Derby different from so many others is how similar the fans are to each other. There are no political or social differences between the two clubs, their home grounds are just a mile apart, and there are no defining religious differences between the sets of fans. Unlike in Manchester, there is no dispute around one club being from the city and the other being from outside.
Instead there are simply two sets of fans from the same city who support teams from the same city, making a Football Quarter ideal for this close knit city.
Their Histories Are Intertwined
This historic rivalry was ultimately born out of one man’s bitter dispute with his committee in the late 19th century.
Everton President John Houlding was involved in a rental dispute with the club committee when Anfield was the home of the toffees in 1885.
Following the row, the blues were forced to move from Anfield across Stanley Park and found Goodison Park, which remains their home ground today.
John Houlding then founded Liverpool F.C and made Anfield their home ground.
The roots of the rivalry were formed from that point on, however because of the intertwined nature of their history, it has always been friendly and respectful.
Reds and Blues are Family
Football is part of the DNA of Liverpool, it has shaped the city as we know it.
In most cities across the world, households will support a single club, passed down from generation the generation.
However, in Liverpool on every street in every area, you will find families and friends whose allegiances are mixed. One will support Everton, the other Liverpool. You’ll find husbands and wives walking to the match together, him in a red scarf, her in blue. Or vice versa.
On Derby day, it’s not unusual for both sets of fans to attend or watch the match together, sit together and enjoy the game, no matter what the outcome.
No Fan Segregation
Despite the heated exchanges on the pitch, the Merseyside Derby is one of the few contests that see fans from either side sitting in unity, there is very little segregation in place.
The 1984 Football League Cup Final at Wembley saw almost all sections of the ground mixed and combined chants of “Merseyside, Merseyside” and “Are you watching Manchester?”
There is a huge amount of respect shown from both sides.
Unity in Times of Sorrow
It’s no doubt that Liverpool as a city has been through a lot.
Whether football related or not, one defining characteristic of the community of Liverpool, is unity over everything else.
After the Hillsborough disaster of April 1989, reds and blues came together as a sign of respect, honouring those who lost their lives. Red and blue scarves were tied together and stretched across Stanley Park to connect the two stadiums, held up by fans of both clubs. Everton and Liverpool both reached the final of the FA Cup that year and chants of “Merseyside” could be heard around Wembley.
Similarly following the tragic murder of 11 year old Everton fan, Rhys Jones, Anfield played the famous Z-Cars, traditionally blasted through the speakers at Goodison Park, to greet the Everton players as a mark of respect.
Another thing that sets this derby apart is the number of players who have represented both teams.
Throughout the history of both clubs, there have been 30 transfers between the two teams. While that may not seem a lot over a 120-year existence, you won’t find many other derby matches where the teams have had that many transfers between them.
There have been 20 players who have left Everton to join Liverpool, and 10 who have made the opposite journey.
The Merseyside Reign
Both teams shared in the glory of Merseyside reign in the 80’s.
From 1980 to 1989, Liverpool won five league titles, two FA Cups, four League Cups and two European Cups. Whilst Everton won two league titles, an FA Cup and the European Cup Winners Cup.
Liverpool is statistically the most successful football city in England, with 27 league titles won by both clubs combined.
If there’s anything a scouser loves, it’s a fellow scouser succeeding. So, with seven league titles, three FA Cups, four League Cups and three major European honours between the two clubs in a 10-year period, there was no doubt that the respect is high from both teams.
Famous Derbies Around The World
The Derby of Eternal Enemies between Olympiakos v Panathinaikos in Greece is one of tehe most frosty rivalries from around the world.
This rivalry goes beyond the bounds of the football pitch, with Panathinaikos originally representing the upper class and Olympiakos originally representing the working class.
Athens can come to a complete standstill when the two clubs clash and often for days afterwards. The intense battles spill out on to the streets in the form of fighting, riots, and tragically, deaths on some occasions.
Similarly the Manchester Derby between United and City often erupts in violence and fights, forcing the police to segregate the fans and cordon off areas of the city.
In Italy, the Derby of the Capital between Roma and Lazio is famous for its heated displays of rivalry that often spills into violence.
In 1979, Lazio fan Vincenzo Paparelli became the first fatality in Italian football due to violence when was hit in the eye and killed by a flare fired by a Roma fan from the opposite end of the stadium. This kind of extreme hooliganism has resulted in both clubs being forced to play games behind closed doors as punishment. Something that has never been seen in Merseyside.
There is also, of course, the Old Firm Derby between Celtic and Rangers. Fuelled by religious sectarianism and it’s very clear that these two sets of fans do not like each other.
Last but certainly not least is the El Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid. The rivalry is deeply seated in the political and regional divisions that exist between Catalonia and the nationalist sentiment represented by Real Madrid and stemming from dictator General Francisco Franco.
Rarely has a year gone by where the El Clasico has not been seen as a clash between two of the world’s top teams and a meeting of galaxy of superstars.
The Worlds First Football Quarter
With plans to form the world’s first ‘Football Quarter’ in Liverpool’s centre, between The Shankly Hotel and the new Dixie Dean Hotel, now more than ever it has shown the friendly spirit and healthy rivalry between the two teams.
This outstanding proposal will aim to boost the city’s tourism offer and create hundreds more jobs locally.
It would create a draw to the city, a showcase for the hundreds of thousands of additional football visitors and a real tourist destination for footy fans.
The Football Quarter of the city will be a fantastic place for locals, football fans and tourists to come together, enjoy a piece of history and make some fantastic memories.
Liverpool has long called for an area of the city where Evertonians and Liverpudlians can celebrate their combined success in football, and what better place than between two iconic hotels that pay tribute to sporting greats.
It Could Only Be Liverpool
Despite their on-pitch differences, you’ll never find a more welcoming community than those in Liverpool and it’s this friendly rivalry which has helped the city become what is it today.
Looking at other cities and derby’s, it’s clear to see why Liverpool is the only place that could possibly welcome a Football Quarter.
Go to the Manchester Derby, the North London Derby, the Glasgow Derby and you won’t see scenes like you will at a Merseyside Derby. You won’t see opposition fans sitting amongst each other, or family members supporting different teams.
Driven apart by an undying passion for football, but united by a respect and honour for their great city, Liverpool and Everton’s rivalry in the Merseyside derby is a unique one that has roots as deep as any in English football. Rivalries shape footballing identity and culture and in Liverpool, one of Europe’s most distinctive cultural centres, it is no different.