Everton v Liverpool: the Toffees seek a new Merseyside derby hero
The international break has seemed longer than normal for Everton fans as it has meant an extended build-up to this weekend’s Merseyside derby. The dour draw at Crystal Palace and the desire to make amends has also made the wait for the arrival of Liverpool a long one. But that wait is nearly over.
November 21st, 2013
The game at Goodison is the first the fans pick out when the fixtures are released, and for the players it represents a chance to write their name in the Everton history books.
For while football is a team game, these local tussles more often than not throw up a (often surprise) hero who secures bragging rights for the Blue half of the city and ensures his status as a fans’ favourite for years to come.
These five players have written their name in derby folklore and their experiences should act as motivation for the current generation – Saturday could well be the defining point in someone’s career.
Teenage midfielder Dan Gosling was a relative unknown when he came off the bench at Goodison Park in an FA Cup fourth-round replay in February 2009. He had only signed from Plymouth the previous year and perhaps was only playing because injuries had ravaged David Moyes’ already thin squad. However, he soon announced himself on the national stage with a winner in the final minute of extra time to send Everton through to the fifth round. Sadly that proved to be the peak of Gosling’s career at Everton. A contract dispute saw him engineer a free transfer move to Newcastle in 2010 and his progress has stalled since. He is currently on a three-month loan at Blackpool.
2) Lee Carsley
The Republic of Ireland midfielder was one of Moyes’ unsung heroes but stepped out onto centre stage during the Goodison derby in December 2004. With the game deadlocked at 0-0, Carsley side-footed home Leon Osman’s pass into the corner to send Everton fans into raptures and secure all three points. The win sent Everton up to third in the table in a campaign where they would eventually finish fourth.
3) Kevin Campbell
Kevin Campbell was already a terrace favourite after nine goals in his first eight games for the club ensured they escaped relegation in 1998/99. The following September he became even more popular when he fired home the winner at Anfield. To put his achievement in perspective, Everton have not taken three points at the home of Liverpool since.
4) Duncan Ferguson
The 1990s were generally a tough time to be an Evertonian, with the club regularly battling against relegation. Duncan Ferguson was a beacon of light amongst the gloom; with his all-action, aggressive style resonating with the supporters. He was always a big-game player and loved nothing more than to take on the old enemy from across the park. He scored his first goal for Everton in a 2-0 win over Liverpool in November 1994. He would also score goals to secure draws at Goodison in April 1996 and Anfield in February 1998. His final derby goal came at Goodison in April 2001. It was his ability to inspire others though that made him such a popular player, as his attitude reflected the passion that was spilling down from the terraces.
5) Tim Cahill
The undoubted Everton derby star of the 2000s, Cahill’s first game v Liverpool was the ‘Carsley derby’ in 2004 and like Ferguson he relished the chance to put one over Everton’s local rivals. His first derby goal came in defeat in 2005 but he would go on to become the first Everton player since Dixie Dean in the 1930s to score in three Anfield derbies. He would score five goals against the Reds in all, including the opener at Goodison in October 2010; the last time Everton beat Liverpool. A player who wears his heart on his sleeve, his presence will be missed on Saturday but should be held up as an example for those who are lucky enough to take to the field.