The Merseyside derby is the longest running top-flight derby in England. It has been played continuously since the 1962–63 season. Part of the rivalry is due to the two clubs’ home grounds having less than a mile between them. Since the mid-1980s, the rivalry has intensified on and off the field.
About Merseyside derby in brief
The Merseyside derby is the longest running top-flight derby in England. It has been played continuously since the 1962–63 season. Part of the rivalry is due to the two clubs’ home grounds having less than a mile between them and being within sight of each other across Stanley Park. Since the mid-1980s, the rivalry has intensified on and off the field, and has seen more red cards given than any other game since the creation of the Premier League. Unlike other local local derbies, violence between Everton and Liverpool supporters in the derby itself is a rarity. Both teams have strong support from all denominations, despite the actual clubs themselves did not act to strengthen sectarian divides, and both stem from Methodist origins. Everton FC were founded in 1878 and from 1884 played their home matches at Anfield, which was owned by club chairman John Houlding. In 1892, Everton directors vacated Anfield in 1892 and purchased a new ground at Goodison Park on the other side of Stanley Park, with only Stanley Park separating them. From 1902 to 1932, the two teams even shared the same match day programme. In the 1950s and 1960s, Everton became known as the Catholic club mainly as a result of successful Irish players such as 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, especially as Ronnie Whelan did not sign as an Irish player until 1979. However, this divide was never seen as a basis for supporting a certain side, as is the case with Celtic and Rangers with teams such as Rangers and Celtic as a matter of fact.
The 1984 Football League Cup Final at Wembley was nicknamed the \”friendly final\” due to almost all sections of the ground being mixed and supporters of both teams banding together to chant \”Merseyside\”. The 1986 FA Cup Final witnessed similar scenes of solidarity, and it was one of the few that did not enforce total fan segregation. The city of Liverpool has more Irish blood than anyother city in the UK, and division between Protestant and Catholic groups in Ireland closely matched the division between Unionism and Republicanism in Liverpool. The 1867 Reform Act had given what would become football-attending masses the opportunity to vote in the local and national elections. It is unclear how, if at all, this influenced the support bases of the clubs and research conducted in 2013 indicated that it was more likely to have been a political allegiance that influenced support. Everton’s new chairman George Mahon was a rival Liberal Home Rule-advocating MP, whereas someone favouring home rule for Ireland was in favour of some degree of separation of the whole island of Ireland from the UK. The two clubs would reach around 10–15,000 in a local authority ward with a population of 23,000. Local politicians saw involvement in the two football clubs as an opportunity to gain media exposure to the local electorate. In the latter part of the 1980s, Liverpool and Everton were banned from European competition after the Heysel Hills disaster caused both clubs to be banned from the latter competition.