The city boasts two premiership football teams Liverpool and Everton and the rivalry results in at least two huge Derby games taking place in the city each season. The heart of Liverpool football is centered around the events that happen each week at Anfield and Goodison Park. The homes of Liverpool and Everton are barely 400 meters apart travelling by foot across Stanley Park.
The success of football in the city has certainly gathered momentum since Liverpool appointed the Scotsman Bill Shankly to become their manager in 1959. The side was in the second division and on his appointment, he sacked 24 players and reshaped the back-room team. The side was promoted back to the First Division at the end of the 1962 season and have not looked back since. Everton meanwhile have been in the top tier of English football for a record 114 season. By the start of the 1970 season they had won the League title on 7 occasions, which was the same number as Liverpool. However, since this date Liverpool have gone on to lift the title another 11 times while Everton have only managed it too times more.
There are no derbies in the world like the Liverpool one. There is no segregation of support based on religion or location, and often members of the same family are divided by who they support. When the sides play supporters of both sides will often share the same terrace and at times the fans will chant “Merseyside”.
The good feelings off the pitch are not matched on the pitch with the fixture being as fiercely competitive as any game that is played in domestic football. The Liverpool Derby has seen more red cards that any other game that has been played in the history of the Premier League.
The passion of the players on the pitch has evolved because of the historical make-up of the teams reflecting the ethnic nature of the city. The sides have regularly contained players from all over the British Isles which is the same as the population of the city. Bill Shankly was a Scotsman and other Scotsman who have played major roles in the Liverpool’s football have included Kenny Dalglish, Alan Hansen and Graeme Souness. Meanwhile at Everton Graeme Sharp, Andy Gray and Stuart McCall had also emanated from north of the border.
With Liverpool virtually on the North Wales border many players were attracted from the country. John Charles, John Toshack and Ian Rush all played their football in title winning teams for Liverpool. At Everton the Welsh influence was seen with players such as Kevin Ratcliffe, Neville Southall and Gary Speed all playing regularly for both club and country.
One of the major parts of watching football on the terraces is listening to the fans sing. Liverpool’s anthem is “You’ll never walk alone” and the song has been adopted by many other teams around the world by other teams. When Everton run onto the pitch they do so accompanied by the theme music from the television series “Z cars” which has become a firm favorite at Goodison Park.
Another song that is sung with fierce passion at Anfield is the Irish ballad “Fields of Athenry”. At both grounds the Irish flag is seen regularly waved among supporters, and each week many fans travel across the sea from Ireland to support either the blues or the reds. Over the years many Irish players have played their football in the city including Kevin Sheedy, Richard Dunne and Seamus Coleman at Everton, and Mark Lawrenson, John Aldridge and Steve Staunton at Liverpool.
The close community feel of the city is reflected with the career of Jan Molby who played for Liverpool between 1984 and 1986. The Danish international arrived in the city speaking very little English but when he departed he left speaking with a pure “scouse accent”. The football on Merseyside reflects the culture of the city.