The time has almost come to go through it all again. On Sunday, at 1:30pm (scouse time, for the USA's amongst us), the 219th Merseyside Derby will kick off. All week the build up here has been gathering motion. Families start to separate loyalties, mates separate friendships, colleagues separate... well stop talking to each other unless its to have a dig about the other team and send abusive emails and texts to each other and, well, you catch my drift.
I said in a previous article last season something along the lines of "Friendly Derby? Love thy neighbour? Not a chance." Personally, I always have and always will adopt this stance. Yes, I'll show solidarity when it comes to just causes (and by the way, I wish Anne Williams of the JFT96 a very speedy recovery), but when it comes to Derby day and the footballing side of things everything else as far as that lot are concerned goes out the window.
I thought I would have a delve back through time and pick my top five derby days. Read on my friends, read on.
After drawing three days earlier at the tin hut, the sides met at the Old Lady in an FA Cup fifth round replay which was recently voted the best FA Cup tie in recent history on a national radio station here and played out over two hours of top drawer stuff. There really is something special about Goodison Park under the lights midweek isn't there? Anyway......
On 32 minutes, Liverpool took the lead when Peter Beardsley followed in an Ian Rush shot which was cleared off the line. One minute after the break, the excellent Graeme Sharp equalised when he nodded home an Andy Hinchcliffe cross.
Liverpool again took the lead on 71 minutes. Beardsley took on Martin Keown and smashed the ball past Neville Southall. Sharp again equalised two minutes later when Steve Nicol misjudged a challenge and the ball headed towards the Gwladys Street goal. Sharp slid on his backside and burst the net.
Yet again, the red half scored through some fella who scored a few, Rush or something, only for little Tony Cottee to answer Howard Kendall's request to "just get us a goal, son" with six minutes left. Neil McDonald flung a ball into the box. It was flicked into space behind the defence and Cottee beat Bruce Grobbelaar to poke the ball home.
Into extra time, John Barnes cut in from the left and tried his luck. He hit a lovely right foot pearler past the fully stretched Southall to make it 4-3 Liverpool.
The final word went to Cottee, though, as the end of extra time approached. As an underhit back pass was pinched by the pacey forward and lashed home, nutmegging Grobbelaar and hitting the back of the net, sending the Gwladys loopy. And no, he wasn't paid to let that one in!
The game proved to be the end of King Kenny, who walked out, resigned, did one, whatever a few days later, and we went on to win the replay's replay.
21st November 1994 - Everton 2 v 0 Liverpool
We weren't having a particularly good season. Mike Walker's reign had just ended and in stepped Everton Giant Joe Royle - and what a baptism of fire. First game at home against Liverpool. I've been to a few sportsman's dinners where Joe was the guest speaker and he always speaks of this game. He said the first thing he did was watch continuous videos of our performances under Walker with his assistant Willie Donachie. They both agreed: "We're too easy to break down and score past, we need to be more solid defensively" and this is what they worked on in training.
He also speaks about a tall, gangly lad Walker had signed from Rangers on loan. Royle wanted to run the rule over him before making a decision about his future. He didn't have long to wait before making a decision.
From an Andy Hinchcliffe cross, the big man Duncan Ferguson headed home to make it 1-0. He caused Liverpool problems all game and when he challenged David James to a long ball the ball fell to Paul Rideout who somehow slid with both feet and tucked the ball into the Gwladys Street off the inside of the post. Needless to say straight afterwords Royle knocked on Peter Johnson's door demanding we pay Rangers what it took to secure Ferguson permanently. His reason? "He's just become a hero."
18th November 1995 - Liverpool 1 v 2 Everton
I absolutely loved this game. We were FA Cup holders and were embarking on our first European tour for some time for reasons beyond our control. We had acquired one of the best players I have ever seen in Andrei Kanchelskis and this gave the side a superb balance in midfield with Joe Parkinson alongside John Ebbrell in the middle, flanked by Kanchelskis and Anders Limpar. The pair of them ripped the back out of Liverpool at Anfield, Kanchelskis scoring both.
The first was a one two played with Paul Rideout whilst crossing paths going forward. Rideout played an inch perfect cross which was met by the Russian winger who didnt break stride. He rose and met the ball side on with his head. I swear to this day it is the only header I have ever seen with the same pace and swerve as a shot. Anyway, the ball hit the inside of the post and nestled into the Kop net.
The second was sheer pace and power. Kanchelskis recieved the ball and attacked the defence. He skipped past one before unleashing a hard, low shot. David James got a hand to it but it went through and into the roof of the net. I don't remember who scored for them, and I'm not arsed! We won, 2-1, we went mental, and so did half of the stewards in the ground too!!!
27th September 1999 - Liverpool 0 v 1 Everton
Ah, the Kevin Campbell Derby. In an eventful game, a young Franny Jeffers received the ball from a throw in outside the box. He had the vision to flick it through to Campbell who was one on one with Sander Westerveld. Campbell struck the ball with the outside of his foot and it had too much on it to keep out. Another Kop end winner.
More entertainingly, Jeffers got into a slap war with Westerveld which saw the pair of them sent off. Liverpool had used all of their subs, forcing Steve Staunton in goal in front of the Everton fans for the final stages of the game. I have never seen a more dominant performance in a derby than this by Walter Smith's men. Collins and Hutchison pulling the strings, Gough and Watson having Owen and Fowler in their pockets, and Campbell and Jeffers were too much to handle. I seem to remember the Irish defender being miles better than Westerveld, making a world class save from an Abel Xavier drive in the final minute.
Even better was the stadium announcer, you know the monotone one who scares the kids away? Yeah him, asking us to all remain behind whilst the Liverpool fans went home afterwards. No problem! Let the party begin!
9th September 2006 - Everton 3 v 0 Liverpool
David Moyes had brought stability to the club before progressing us to another level. We had narrowly missed out on the Champions League group stages a few years earlier thanks to a world class Villarreal goal, no sorry, an unlucky deflection. Nope, wrong again, Pierluigi bloody Collini, thats who the thanks go to.
We went into this derby in fine form. Andy Johnson was on fire and Moyes deployed him as the lone striker. On 24 minutes Mikel Arteta crossed the ball into the box. Lee Carsley flicked it on over Carragher to an unmarked Tim Cahill. The Aussie needed no invitation but to smash the ball past Pepe Reina.
Tim Howard was playing really well, and fully deserved his clean sheet.
On 34 minutes, we extended the lead. A hopeful ball forward wasn't dealt with by Carragher and the impressive Johnson pinched the ball from him and slid it under Reina. 2-0, delirium. Easy. Easy.
Then, in injury time, the icing on the cake. Lee Carsley found himself just outside the box and let fly with a shot. Reina, the best goalie in the world, better than Casillas and Valdes put together, juggled the ball in the air and when Andy Johnson challenged him all he could do was catch the striker's bald head, as the ball hit the back of the net and the half empty Liverpool end emptied pretty quickly.
The full time whistle was proceeded by singing, dancing and an alcohol fuelled night of celebration!
There are other games which maybe should have made it. The 1993 Ward, Cottee Derby with the McManaman Grobbelaar bitch fight, the Gosling FA Cup Replay, the game previous at Anfield where Lescott burst the Kop net.
I really hope David Moyes shows this lot no respect, which is about all the respect they deserve. They really are the worst Liverpool side I have seen, and I thought King Kenny's men last year were bad. The semi-final still lives in the memories of most blues, so there is no more perfect chance to silence that nightmare with a good hiding on Sunday. 3-0 will do nicely.
What's your favourite??? Let us know below.