Is The Merseyside Derby Still The ‘Friendly Derby’
One of the biggest derbies in British football history is the Merseyside Derby, as Liverpool’s primary clubs Everton and Liverpool have some of the closest-together home grounds in the UK. While traditional rivalries are often marred with bad blood, the Merseyside Derby has been known as the friendly derby since its inception in the 1960s.
A closer look at the Merseyside Derby
As Everton and Liverpool’s stadiums are so close together (they’re less than a mile apart, in fact), the Merseyside derby quickly earned the moniker ‘the friendly derby’. It is one of the only rivalries in UK history that has never had to enforce fan segregation during matches, as many supporters of these opposing teams are friends and family members outside of the pitch. As both teams once regularly saw success, their Premier League matches were often highly anticipated, but as Liverpool has grown away from Everton, things have started to become a little more disjointed.
Is it still fair to call the Merseyside derby friendly?
In general, there is no social divide between areas in Liverpool that cause issues in the city on the whole and this has contributed to the inclusivity when it comes to local football. Typical rivalries, like those between Arsenal/Tottenham and Leicester City/Nottingham Forest, often see fans getting quite heated – and this can also spill over onto the pitch. There have been some instances of fan segregation, namely in 2015, but overall, the teams and fans are on good terms.
Having said this, the rivalry does seem to have grown since the mid-80s and this could be contributed to the fact that the Liverpool/Juventus match played for the 1985 European Cup Final ended in disaster – and saw all English clubs banned from competing in Europe for 5 years. It was at this time that many believe that Everton was performing at its best and as a result, missed out on European matches that could’ve cemented their status in the wider football environment; especially as they went on the win the title in 1987. In the years to come, Liverpool has gone from strength to strength, whereas Everton’s success has been marred by serious financial struggles and only one FA cup win (which happened much later in 1995). For many fans, this doesn’t seem to be something that comes up often, but there is an underlying sense of a deeper divide as successes have changed for both clubs.
What to expect in 2023?
Everton’s Merseyside derbies against Liverpool are due in both mid-February and early September – and while there may be more red cards during matches in recent years, the general sentiment in 2023 is still one of friendly rivalry, camaraderie and a unique blend of fans that simply isn’t seen anywhere else in the niche. If you want to experience this one-of-a-kind derby for yourself, why not stop by the home of Liverpool tickets?