There is no rivalry quite like that of two teams who share a city. In the case of Merseyside giants Everton and Liverpool, the clubs are separated by just 970 meters.
The two clubs have been competing at the highest level of English football for over a century. Although the rivalry has become rather one-sided in the 21st century, that has not always been the case in the past.
The history of the clubs
Everton Football Club was founded in 1878 as St. Domingo’s and started to play football at Anfield in 1884. The land Anfield was built on was owned by club chairman and Conservative party member John Houlding.
However, several members of Everton’s board were members of the Liberal Party, which created a political divide between Houlding and the club’s other board members. This tension reportedly boiled over after a disagreement over the rent of Anfield in 1892.
Everton refused to pay Houlding what he was asking for, and the Toffees moved to the other side of Stanley Park to Goodison Park.
Houlding was left with a football ground and no team, leading him to form Liverpool Football Club. The rest, as they say, is history.
Who has had the better of the Merseyside derby?
In the 21st century, Liverpool dominated the fixture, with Everton going through one of the worst periods in the club’s history. Liverpool has also dominated derbies during the Premier League era.
When it comes to the overall history of the fixture, the teams have met 242 times in all competitions (as of 13th February 2023), and Liverpool has claimed 98 wins, with 77 games finishing in draws and Everton recording 67 victories. Liverpool has scored 341 goals compared to their rival’s tally of 267.
However, in the Premier League era, the two teams have met on 62 occasions, with the Reds claiming 27 victories, 25 games finishing in draws, and Everton winning just ten times.
Who has won the most trophies?
This is an easy one to answer, as Liverpool is the most successful English club when it comes to overall trophies in their history, they have won 67 trophies at home and abroad.
Only Manchester United has won the English top-flight title on more occasions than the Reds tally of 19. At the same time, they are the most successful English club in the history of the European Cup, having won the competition six times. Liverpool’s last English top-flight title was in 2020, while they last claimed the Champions League in 2019.
Everton, on the other hand, has won just 27 trophies. However, only Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal have won more English top-flight titles than the Toffees. Their last English top-flight title came in 1987, while their last silverware was in 1995 when they lifted the FA Cup. The Toffees are currently going through the longest trophy drought in the club’s history.
The record statistics and other interesting facts
Liverpool holds the record for the longest unbeaten streak in Merseyside derbies, which is 23 games between 2011 and 2020. The record ended when Carlo Ancelotti’s team recorded a 2-0 win at Anfield. The game also saw Liverpool’s record of 20 home derby games unbeaten between 2000 and 2020 end.
Everton actually holds the record for the longest away unbeaten record in the derby, though, as the Toffees went 16 games unbeaten at Anfield between 1899 and 1920.
The Merseyside derby is the Premier League fixture that holds the record for the most red cards, with 23 players dismissed in the ‘Friendly derby’. Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard and former Everton captain Phil Neville hold the joint record for dismissals in derbies, having both seen red cards twice.
Wales international teammates Ian Rush and Neville Southall are legends at Liverpool and Everton, respectively and feature heavily in derby folklore. Rush holds the record for most derby goals, as the striker scored 25 goals in the fixture. He took the record from the Toffees legend Dixie Dean, who previously topped the derby scoring charts with 19 goals in the fixture.
Southall holds the record for most derby appearances, having featured in 41 Merseyside derbies. Rush made just five fewer derby appearances than the Everton hero.
Players who crossed the battle lines
There is a long list of players who have represented both Merseyside giants down the years. One of the most high-profile players to make the move was Everton icon Dave Hickson, whose best form came in a blue shirt before a switch to Liverpool later his career.
One of Howard Kendall’s great 1980s team, Kevin Sheedy, moved to Everton from Liverpool in 1982 and became a hero at Goodison Park. Toffees stalwart Dave Watson also started his career with Liverpool and moved to Everton in 1985, having spent time at Norwich in between his spells with the Merseyside clubs.
Defender Gary Ablett crossed Stanley Park from Liverpool to Everton in 1992 and made history by becoming the only player to have won the FA Cup with both teams.
The likes of Steve McMahon, Don Hutchinson, David Johnson, and, more recently, Conor Coady are other notable players to have pulled on both blue and red shirts.
Merseyside rivalry is still a fierce one
Despite the clubs experiencing contrasting fortunes in the 21st century and establishing new rivalries with other clubs, the rivalry between Everton and Liverpool has remained fierce.
Everton’s lack of recent success has somewhat diluted the rivalry. However, for the players and the fans, the rivalry is still a fierce one, which means that the Merseyside derby is still one of the fixtures that both sets of fans look for when the fixtures are announced, maybe for different reasons, however.