It lacks the pointless hatred of the Old Firm derby. It’s not quite as posh and overly self-confident as the North London derby. And thankfully it’s got a lot less stupid mind games than they have up the road in Cottonopolis.
The Merseyside derby has become known as the ‘Friendly Derby’. Family, friends and colleagues are often divided into red and blue portions. Hurling a severed pig’s head at the opposition fans isn’t as much fun when it smacks your granny in the face.
The friendly derby moniker must be based on not kicking lumps out of each in the hostelries of Merseyside because on the pitch, it tends to be a combative affair. In their last 20 meetings, the tie has used up more referee pen ink than most, with 94 yellow cards and 12 of the red variety being handed out.
That’s more sendings-off than any other top-flight English match-up in the same period. Which, on the face of it, doesn’t seem all that friendly. Perhaps Joey Barton just being friendly to that young man he met outside McDonalds. And that trainee who said he could use his eye-socket as an ashtray. And the time he….
That enjoyable bit of Barton-bashing does segue nicely in to an interesting little drilldown in to the Merseyside derby red card figures. It turns out the Blue half is considerably dirtier than the Red half. Everton have picked up eight of those twelve red cards to Liverpool’s four.
There are a number of things which could explain this.
1. Everton players are inherently dirty.
2. David Moyes gives his players the “Paul Scholes Guide To Tackling” DVD every season.
3. Referees favour Liverpool.
4. Blue is a very angry colour.
5. Liverpool players are diving scouse cheats.
6. Everton haven’t been as good over the last ten years so they get frustrated more easily.
Some of these may be partially true, most were added in a desperate reach for comedy. The exact truth will be a mixture of many different reasons with a heavy dollop of random happenstance.
What the above graphic does show is that Dirk Kuyt is not a classically handsome man. Though he does possess his own charm.
What the above graphic also shows is that Merseyside Derbies can be described as feisty. In much the same way that Alan Davies isn’t especially popular in Liverpool right now.
This season’s meetings have been relatively tame affairs which means we are due a bad tempered ding-dong. The cup factor is sure to add to this possibility and the conclusion, which is the underlying point of this piece, is that our money-back special on this game is really rather nifty. If we do say so ourselves. Which we just have.