By Alan Myers
Reading a tweet by @PED7 recently made me smile when he said “I never watch Everton at Anfield” and also reminded me of my own indisposition for attending our neighbours’ ground.
It was just over twenty-four years ago I last attended a game against the Reds at Anfield, and despite me working for Everton for six years in the 90s and again more recently, the experience of the 20th March 1993 troubled me so much that I never really watch the derbies even at Goodison!
We hadn’t enjoyed a great time in the early 90’s and a draw at Anfield was seen as ‘not a bad result’. it was 0-0 as the game went in to time added on and I rather stupidly, in the middle of the main stand, had already started to celebrate our point when Ronny Rosenthal was fed by that ‘Derby Devil’ Ian Rush and smashed the ball past Big Nev to win the game in the 91st minute!
As you can imagine, the Liverpool fans around me took no time at all in letting me know what a late derby winner felt like. I scarpered, head down and totally devastated, never to return.
Well that’s not exactly true.
18 years ago, the last time we won there, I watched the game on television at home before driving to Anfield after the match to see Walter and Archie about the rest of the week’s schedule.
Kevin Campbell’s sixth minute winner meant I drove down Queens Drive singing at the top of my voice on my own in the car – oh yes I was brave now!
When I arrived at Anfield I went down the tunnel to where the gaffer, Archie and Dave Watson were in with the Liverpool management team sharing a post match drink. As we drove away I was told that apparently Waggy had gone a bit earlier causing a bit of a stir in the process.
The former Everton Captain and then coach, had allegedly announced that he had to go early as he had to attend the hospital, when the Reds contingent enquired if he was alright he calmly answered “yes, I’ve just got to go and get this smile taken off my face”.
I never did find out whether that was true or just hearsay but if I was a gambling man I’d put a pound on it, I could certainly imagine Waggy saying that!
Growing up in a family of Liverpudlians, I had six brothers all Reds fans and my dad too, I had to be able to take the banter. I even stood on the Kop with my Everton scarf on age 8! But the thought of losing there is just too much to risk for the grown-up me. Of course through work I have been to Anfield on many occasions when Everton are not involved and have always been welcomed when doing so. I have many Liverpudlian friends but attending the derby there is just a step too far for me.
Even when I rejoined the club three years ago, I remember saying to Roberto “I’ll see you on Thursday, as I don’t go to that ground.”
He was surprised and said “you should come, it’ll be a good night.” But despite me taking the same advice ahead of the 1-0 win at Old Trafford a few weeks earlier, I’m glad I stuck to my plan that night! (No need for an explanation here)
The Derby is unlike any other game for Evertonians and Liverpudlians alike, they bring out the best and the worst in us. The old adage that it ruined your week is so true, in fact it ruins your month, maybe even your year. I keep hearing that the relationship between both sets of supporters has changed but I’m not so sure it has, I still think we all walk away with that love/hate relationship still intact. I think the intense media spotlight these days can sometimes be misconstrued.
So please forgive me if you feel I should be there on Saturday morning but I just can’t! I will be pacing around my garden listening for any noise emanating from my Liverpudlian neighbours’ front room!