Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Merseyside Derby

If you want a summary, read Wikipedia. I'm not going to say it's the best rivalry in sports, let alone soccer, but it has such interesting origins. A rent dispute caused Everton to move from their original home at Anfield to Goodison Park (if you want to know how far apart the two stadia are, check out Google Maps. It would be like if Shea and Yankee stadium were just across Central Park from each other... and they were both 100+ years old). During the move a faction of the Everton squad, including the President of the club, split off to form Liverpool FC. It's an amazing history.

Last year was the best series of Merseyside Derby's that I have witnessed since I began to support the club in 2006 (the first MD I saw was a 3-0 thrashing by Everton at Goodison-awesome video). But last year was what the rivalry is all about. Usually the two teams only meet twice -a home and away- but in the 2008/2009 season, we were spoiled with four Merseyside Derby's. The first was at Goodison where Fernando Torres dominated the Toffees and won the game 2-0 pretty much single handily. The second game was a fantastic 1-1 game that was tied up by Tim Cahill in the 86th minute.

And then the two teams met in the FA Cup (a tournament that would be the equivalent of every baseball team -pro/semi-pro- in the US playing in a tournament), in which Steven Gerrard (Liverpool's white knight) played a quick one-two with Torres and blistered one into the net to tie the game 1-1 (although Timmy Howard would want that one back). Since the game ended as a tie, the two teams played in what they call a replay, the grounds are switched and by the end of the second game, it comes down to aggregate score.

So the teams met two weeks later at Goodison, and the game played out as a stalemate 0-0, which led into extra-time. And in the 118th minute, Dan Gosling scored the winner that eventually led Everton to the FA Cup Final (The Super Bowl of English Football). I have never felt as good after an Everton win than that game.

The first derby (pronounced darby, by the way) this season was a game in which Everton dominated but lost at Goodison 2-0; they had three goals called off-side and carried the run of play for most of the game, but were a bit unlucky. This has not been Liverpool's best season, and Everton have not lost since that first Merseyside Derby; it's always tough to even get a point from a trip to Anfield, but now would be as good a time as ever.


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