Merseyside Derby: Switching Sides

First of all, sorry if this isn't a great read, I haven't had enough time to make this text more entertaining. Still, I hope that some of you enjoy reading a bit about the 'traitors' of Liverpool.


While it's a common opinion among fans that a player shouldn't leave a club to play for the rival, there have been a lot of players who did it. I want you to get to know some of the people who moved clubs but stayed in the city of Liverpool.

In 1892, when Everton left Anfield and made the Goodison Park their new home ground, the Liverpool FC we all know and dislike was founded. Two players, Duncan McLean and Tom Wylie, and manager William Barclay decided to stay at Anfield and play for the new club.

Three years later, one of the first Everton legends switched blue for red: Fred Geary, a small and fast striker who scored 78 goals in just 91 league matches and was the star of the 1891 squad that won Everton's first league title. Despite leaving Goodison Park as an injury-prone player (only 9 appearances in the last two years), he still managed to score 11 goals in 19 league matches in his first season at Anfield. Unfortunately, further injuries forced him to end his career at the age of 30.

Two other high-profile Everton forwards of the late 19th century, Alex Latta (70 goals in 148 matches) and Abe Hartley (24 goals in 50 matches), also joined the LFC but hardly played for them (Latta retired without a single appearance, Hartley left after 7 matches to play for Southampton).

The first player to leave Anfield to play for the Toffees was Harold Uren, he was acquired in a player swap deal that sent Tom Gracie and Bill Lacey to the Reds. Ignoring Benjamin Howard Baker who was a better highjumper than goalkeeper anyway and represented Great Britain at the Olympic Games twice, Dick Forshaw was the next footballer to do it. Forshaw helped Liverpool to win multiple league titles and scored 117 goals for the club before joining Dixie Dean's Everton and winning another league title to become the first player who won the championship with both teams.

One of the best LFC players of the WWII era was Jack Balmer. In 291 league matches, he scored 99 goals and was captain of the team for two years. He never played a professional match for Everton but was a part of their youth squads and surely would have scored a lot of goals for them if Liverpool's manager didn't offer him a contract when he was 19 years old.

Combine the stories of Balmer and Geary and you've got the biography of Jimmy Payne. Just like Balmer, he was an Everton fan but signed a professional contract with the Reds. Just like Geary, he had a very successful career and, struggling with injuries, switched sides just to retire shortly after.

The next high-profile player to join the local rivals was Johnny Morrissey in 1962. After 36 league appearances for Liverpool, he was sold to Goodison Park where the left wing appeared 259 matches and became a legend.

One of the most successful eras for both teams are the early 1980s and there were a couple of players involved who moved across Stanley Park. David Johnson started his career at Goodison and, four years after moving to Ipswich, returned to Liverpool in 1976 to play for the Reds. Six years, 55 goals and several lifted cups later, the first player to score a goal for both teams in a derby joined the Blues for another two years shortly before retiring.

Two former LFC players were a part of the famous 1985 squad that won the European Cup Winners' Cup, Alan Harper and Kevin Sheedy. Harper played for Liverpool's youth squads and then was sold to Everton where the defender played more than 100 matches. Sheedy appeared in only 3 matches after leaving Hereford United so in 1982 he was sold to the Blues. He stayed at Goodison for ten years, scored 92 goals including the third against Rapid Vienna in the Cup Winners' Cup final and became an Everton legend.

The 90s featured two players switching sides and both left Anfield for Goodison. In 1991, it was Peter Beardsley who left the Toffees after just two years to return to his home town and play for Newcastle United. Gary Ablett joined Everton in 1992 and helped the team to win the FA Cup in 1995, something he had already accomplished six years earlier with the Reds. So far he is the only player to win the FA Cup with both Liverpool-based teams.

41 years after selling the last player to Liverpool, Everton did it again. They sold Nick Barmby for £6m, a record fee between the two rivals. Barmby won the UEFA Cup in his first season at Anfield but was sold just a year later.

The most recent case of switching sides is Abel Xavier. The Portuguese is probably best-known for his handball in extra time of the Euro 2000 semifinal against France that lead to the deciding penalty kick to elimintate Portugal from the tournament. At that time, he was an Evertonian, but 18 months later he was sold and joined Liverpool. He surely wasn't the last to move across Stanley Park but switching sides isn't as common as it was decades ago. One of the main reasons probably is that, due to globalization, improved infrastructure and higher wages, moving to a different city or country is easier nowadays.


Transfer fees LFC paid Everton: £6.766.060

Transfer fees Everton paid LFC: £2.065.000

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