“I never saw such a crowd. As early as one o’clock all streets, for miles around, leading to Goodison Park began to be thronged with men, women, and boys, all tramping to one place.” So read John Humphries’ report in the North Wales Chronicle after the first-ever Merseyside derby took place on this day 125 years ago.
“As far away as the Pier Head every tramcar was loaded with excited intending spectators of the game, and these, together with a heterogeneous assemblage of omnibuses, wagonettes, drays, pony carts, hansom cabs, fourwheelers and every imaginable description of wheeled vehicle, formed a huge procession stretching (to take one route alone) from the bottom of Scotland Road right up to the ground.”
Everton, founding members of the Football League and First Division title winners just three years earlier, went into the match against Liverpool as huge favourites and duly won against the freshly-promoted new boys.
The Toffees believed they were the true club of the city, having been formed 14 years before their new foes. Liverpool had been born out of Everton’s acrimonious departure from their old home of Anfield, but it was the elder statesmen who ran out 3-0 winners at Goodison Park. They have rarely had it their way since.
It was to be the first clash of many, many battles. October 13, 1894 was the day the Merseyside derby was born and ever since then, families have been split and loyalties divided: Red versus Blue.
Astonishingly, during this first meeting - played in front of a crowd of 44,000 - Everton played in red as they would only settle on their famous blue a year later, while Liverpool wore pale blue and white halves. How times change.
On the anniversary, a century-and-a-quarter on, The Sportsman looks back on one of the fiercest, most historic and passionate rivalries in world football…
Hailing from statistically the most successful football city in England, Liverpool and Everton boast a combined 27 league titles and 12 FA Cups. While they have never met outside of the top flight in league competition, the 1980s truly belonged to Merseyside with the pair dominating English football.
But it is those in the red half of Merseyside who currently hold the bragging rights for victories between the two sides.
Having faced each other 233 times, the Reds boast 93 wins while Everton have got the better of their enemy on 66 occasions. They’ve drawn 74 times.
In all competitions, Liverpool have scored 325 goals while Everton have found the net 260 times.
Ian Rush, a Liverpool striker and boyhood Evertonian, is the all-time top scorer in Mersey derby history with 25 strikes to his name.
Having famously appeared in an Everton shirt in an iconic April Fools’ front cover transfer prank by Shoot Magazine, Rush had many Toffees wishing he’d made the switch in real life given how much he became a constant thorn in their side.
He even scored four goals in FA Cup finals against the Blues, netting twice in the 1986 3-1 Wembley win over Everton before repeating the dose as a substitute in the 3-2 victory in the 1989 final.
Next on the goalscoring list is Everton hero Dixie Dean with 19. Alex ‘Sandy’ Young is third with his 12 goals at the start of the 1900s, followed by Liverpool talisman Steven Gerrard with 10.
Separated only by Stanley Park, the match is known as ‘The Friendly Derby’, though supporters of both sides might tell you the reality is somewhat different, and the red card count is suggests they may be right.
Since the inception of the Premier League no fixture has seen more dismissals, with 21 sendings-off in total. Captains Gerrard and Phil Neville were each given their marching orders twice in derby fixtures.
In the modern era, it’s been an unhappy, dreaded, Groundhog Day sort of fixture for the Blues. While Everton haven’t beaten their rivals since 2010, they have also not won at Anfield at all this century - the last victory coming courtesy of a Kevin Campbell strike in September 1999.
The Toffees will be desperate to end the run when they go to Liverpool on December 4 before hosting the Reds again on March 14.
THE BEST EVERTON-LIVERPOOL QUOTES
“If Everton were playing at the bottom of my garden, I'd shut the curtains.” - Liverpool manager Bill Shankly
“I used to stick the ball in the net and bow three times to the Kop. They never liked me doing that.” - legendary Everton striker Dixie Dean.
“Liverpool are magic, Everton are tragic.” - Former Reds captain Emlyn Hughes.
“Don’t forget boys, one Evertonian is worth 20 Liverpudlians.” - ex-Blues skipper Brian Labone.
"It was nice to beat them, beat them comfortably and to bag three and keep the match ball. I can keep that for the rest of my life... Especially after all the stick I’ve had off Bluenoses over the years!" - Steven Gerrard after his Merseyside derby hat-trick in 2012.
“I’d break every bone in my body for any club I play for, but I’d die for Everton.” - Ex Everton and Liverpool striker Dave Hickson.
FIVE MERSEYSIDE DERBY CLASSICS
Everton 4-4 Liverpool, February 20, 1991
The Mersey rivals met in an FA Cup fifth-round replay which produced an eight-goal thriller.
Liverpool took the lead at Goodison three times but Everton kept replying before Tony Cottee then bagged a fourth equaliser in added time after John Barnes had scored what looked like an extra-time winner.
Kenny Dalglish resigned the day after, with the Toffees going on to win the second replay.
Liverpool 3-2 Everton, May 20, 1989
Just a month after the Hillsborough tragedy, the two sides met in the FA Cup final.
The result seemed irrelevant but Liverpool sealed a special victory, Rush scoring the winner in extra-time to cap his own double after Stuart McCall’s pair of equalisers for Everton.
Liverpool 0-1 Everton, October 20, 1984
Howard Kendall’s side arrived at Anfield ready to stop the dominant Reds and left with three points courtesy of one of the finest streaks in Merseyside derby history.
The ball was floated forward and Graeme Sharp took it down on his left, got across the defender and unleashed a wicked dipping drive from distance to send the travelling Blues into raptures.
“And the Evertonians have gone beserk,” John Motson shouted as one fan deliriously drifted across the pitch in celebration to go down in Toffees folklore.
Everton 0 Liverpool 5, November 6, 1982
Ian Rush became the only Liverpool player to score a hat-trick at Goodison Park as he bagged four goals to sweep Everton aside.
Mark Lawrenson got the other to hand the red side of the city full bragging rights at a time when they were Europe’s dominant force.
Everton 3-0 Liverpool, September 9, 2006
Andy Johnson took advantage of some horrendous Liverpool defending to write his name in the Everton history books with a brace 13 years ago.
After Tim Cahill had slid in to give the Blues the lead, Johnson, who had only joined months earlier from Crystal Palace, took advantage of a Jamie Carragher miskick to place the ball into the net.
He would later make sure of a famous win, pouncing to head home as Pepe Reina fumbled the ball from an innocuous Lee Carsley effort from distance.