The most memorable Merseyside derby for me was in 2001 when Gary McAllister scored the winner four minutes into added time at Goodison Park.
It was a clever free-kick that caught everyone out by surprise – particularly Everton keeper Paul Gerrard! We were pegged back twice after leading 1-0 and 2-1 at Goodison, but then to win the game in the last seconds was a massive confidence booster on top of an already confident team.
Gary Mac scored again three days later when we beat Barcelona 1-0 in the UEFA Cup semi-final.
In terms of intensity and hype, the Merseyside derby is up there with the best in the world. It’s fast, it ferocious and there are split loyalties through whole families.
The games at Goodison are always a bit quicker and more physical. The ones at Anfield always felt a little bit more civilised.
Derby games like this can create a feel-good-factor that can’t be matched. A month after that 2001 derby we were still unbeaten and had lifted both the UEFA Cup and FA Cup.
There’s a lot at stake on Monday night and the fact that both teams are bouncing back after a little blip puts some extra emphasis on the game. Not only in the teams, but also around either the red or the blue half of the city.
Everton got a great result coming back from behind to beat Arsenal 2-1, but that was only their second win in 12 games. Liverpool were convincing 3-0 winners at Middlesbrough on Wednesday but they dropped points to West Ham and Bournemouth before that. Whoever wins on Monday, could put the other team into the mire again.
I had a good record in the derby, only losing twice in seven years while I was at Liverpool. They were always very enjoyable and memorable games. Considering it is the top flight’s most ill-disciplined game I did OK as well – only picking up three yellow cards in 10 games!
I lost my first ever derby at Anfield – that hurt. Kevin Campbell scored the winner after just four minutes and we had Sander Westerveld and Steven Gerrard sent off. That taught me everything I needed to know about the Merseyside derby.
As a player I’d obliviously read about it – but playing in it was a different story. It hurt when we lost to Everton, because we always felt that we should have their measure.
They’d very good teams at times, but we had a formula to beat them. Sometimes you got teams who you always do well against, and at that time we always felt we could beat Everton. I’m not from the area, but I feel I can still relate to the people who live there and the derby means an awful lot to them.
Everton always stepped their game up against us because most years they didn’t finish above us in the league. Beating us in a one-off game was the only thing that gave their fans something to cheer about.
These clashes were great, but they were always fair – despite the disciplinary stats!
There was the odd challenge that was over-the-top and the referee had to make a decision accordingly, but overall after the game there wasn’t any hassle or agro. We shook hands because you used to see the lads from the other team out around town after the game or during the week.
Both sets of players had a lot of respect for each other – although I’m not sure if there were any particular friendships between the players from either side. But just because they play for your nearest rivals it doesn’t mean you can’t have a conversation off the pitch in town.
You have to rise above those kind of things. It should just come down to the 90 minutes on Monday night, and before and after it’s forgotten.