What is it about the Merseyside rivals that earned their the nickname? Goal takes a look at the reasons
The Merseyside derby between Liverpool and Everton is one of the most eagerly anticipated rivalries in the Premier League, with good reason.
Both sides have long, storied histories, no shortage of silverware in their trophy cabinets and extremely passionate supporters who back their teams with gusto.
Interestingly, however, despite the intensity of games the derby encounter is sometimes referred to as ‘the friendly derby’.
Why is that the case? Goal takes a look at the reasons for the alternative moniker.
Why is Liverpool vs Everton called the friendly derby?
There are many reasons why Liverpool versus Everton is sometimes referred to as ‘the friendly derby’ by observers, but, put simply, it is because there is no real deep-seated animosity between the supporters.
While some rivalries may be divided along well defined lines, there is something of a blurring of the line when it comes to the Merseyside derby.
Strikingly, it is not uncommon for one family to have both Liverpool and Everton supporters in it, with a kaleidoscope of red and blue jerseys to be found in homes, in stadiums and bars on matchdays.
The perceived friendliness among Liverpool and Everton fans was perhaps best encapsulated in the support leant to the Reds by the Toffees during the Hillsborough campaign for justice.
Less than a mile separates Anfield from Goodison Park and the connection between the clubs was made literal as fans stretched a chain of scarves across Stanley Park – the green area between the stadiums.
Such intermingling and expressions of solidarity is generally unheard of when it comes to other high profile derbies across the world.
Some rivalries have grown up around stark sectarian divides, such as with the Old FIrm between Celtic and Rangers, or historical socio-political issues, such as in El Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid.
However, while small issues may have arisen among some supporters, there is no widespread sense of pure hatred between Liverpool and Everton fans.
Is Liverpool vs Everton still the friendly derby?
Of course, that’s not to say that the rivalry is a cuddly one where everyone loves one another.
While it remains a relatively friendly derby today, there are certainly arguments, bragging rights at stake and the odd grudge that festers over time.
In fact, there is a sense that the Merseyside derby has grown a bit more choleric in recent seasons, with the camaraderie that had been built up diminishing slightly.
Games between the sides have been quite hot-tempered and in early 2020 there was an obvious display of disrespect by some Everton fans, who turned their backs while making a two-fingered salute when You’ll Never Walk Alone was played. Police were heavily present on that occasion after the game, with reports of small minorities stoking tensions.
Everton 2-2 Liverpool
The game that had everything 🤯pic.twitter.com/QifXAP3PtV
— Goal (@goal) October 17, 2020
Later that year, injuries sustained Virgil van Dijk and Thiago in the Merseyside derby drew sharp criticism of Everton’s apparent aggression from Jurgen Klopp.
The German coach was furious about losing two of his most influential players, saying: “Injuries happen in football, very often in challenges – very often both players try to play the ball but it was not the case in these two challenges (by Jordan Pickford and Richarlison) and that makes it very difficult to take.”
Worryingly, the Merseyside Police had to investigate abusive tweets that had been sent in relation to Jordan Pickford and Richarlison, who were perceived to be at fault for the injuries.
Ahead of the return fixture in 2021, Klopp insisted the injuries were in the past and that the focus was not on revenge, but on winning the game.
“When we got the diagnosis for Virgil, it is good we didn’t play Everton immediately again, let me say it like this,” Klopp said. “That’s how it is, we are all human beings and it was not nice.
“Now, it’s long gone and we just don’t think about it anymore, but it’s still a derby and that’s enough to be motivated on the absolute highest level and trying to play the best possible football you can play.”
Recent flare ups between players on the pitch and fans outside it aside, the depth of resentment between the two sets of fans arguably pales in comparison to that between Liverpool and Manchester United fans.
Unlike the neighbourly rivalry between Everton and Liverpool, the Northwest derby between the Reds and the Red Devils is rooted in historical grievances between the people of Liverpool and Manchester.
Having said that, Steven Gerrard once remarked, “I hate both of them!” when asked if he would rather win against Man Utd or Everton, so it might just depend on who you ask.