By Greg Seltzer
Unlike most heated local derbies, where lines are drawn never to be crossed, the once-friendly Merseyside Derby between Everton and Liverpool regularly divides friends and families on game day.
Located at either end of Stanley Park from each other, less than a mile apart, the two Mersey clubs are practically kin themselves.
In fact, Everton were the first Anfield Road tenants when it opened in 1884. Eight years later, the club departed for Goodison Park over business disagreements, compelling the Anfield owner to form his own soccer team: Liverpool FC.
Even after the rivalry began on the field, a 3-0 Everton home win in 1894, the clubs remained rather cozy. They shared the same game day programs for three decades and until the '80's even sat mixed in the stands for derby matches.
Things turned sour between the two after the Heysel Stadium disaster in 1985. Liverpool fans battled those of Juventus shortly before the European Cup final, causing a melee that would leave 39 dead and hundreds injured after a wall collapse.
At the time, Everton were the rising power in England, having just captured the First Division crown. In the aftermath of the Heysel incident, UEFA banned English clubs from their cup competitions for five years, costing Everton their fair chance at European glory.
To make matters worse, the son of longtime Everton chairman Sir John Moores cost the Blues even more at Liverpool's expense. With his ailing father resigned from the club board, he pulled the large family investment out of Goodison and took it across the park to Anfield.
Everton and its fans were left fuming at Liverpool over these incidents, which had the Blues struggling financially while the Reds continued winning trophies. The derby now had everything, including unchecked animosity.
The supporters' rivalry is not so much violent, but any hearing person would certainly blush from the vicious verbal abuse tossed back and forth at derbies.
Nevertheless, there are still countless ties between the two and they do find occasion for solidarity. For instance, the Hillsborough disaster - which saw 96 Liverpool fans perish in Sheffield - saw an intertwined Red/Blue chain of supporter scarves hung between Anfield and Goodison.
Field loyalties have also shifted plenty. Despite decades-long voluntary transfer freezes between the two, Nearly 50 players have donned both jerseys in a derby.
What's more, Liverpool icons Jamie Carragher, Robbie Fowler, Steve McManaman Michael Owen and Ian Rush (who tops the all-time derby goal chart with 25) all grew up as Evertonians. Not to be outdone, current Toffees Leighton Baines and Leon Osman came up as Reds.
In all, through the friendly times and the nasty arch enemy times, it has been a glorious match-up. The teams have met over 25 times in domestic cup action, including two FA Cup finals and one League Cup final - all won by Liverpool.
Everton and Liverpool will also play their 200th league derby at the turn of the next decade and there's little doubt it will be a most divisive bicentennial on Merseyside.
Merseyside Derby Records:
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