philblundell

IT simply doesn’t get any better than that. Just when you’re telling yourself that it’s a tough game, a hard place to go, a point is a decent result and eight points to Chelsea is a gap that can be bridged, Sadio Mane pops up and taps the ball into an empty net. Joel Robles does a Rigobert Song impression, Leighton Baines flails an arm, and 3,000 Reds go absolutely bananas.

I genuinely don’t think I saw the ball hit the back of the net, I’m not even sure I saw Sadio Mane touch the ball but it was definitely a goal and I’ve got the bruises on my legs to prove it. I’m in a great deal of pain for a wide variety of reasons, all of which are self-inflicted. That’s what football does. If it’s bad, it hurts. If it’s good, it also hurts.

Everton away is my favourite game. I tried to explain this to a West Ham fan on the train back to London after we played them last weekend. He couldn’t really grasp why I disliked Everton more than Manchester United and found it a little bit strange.

Well I do. I really, really dislike them. I didn’t regularly encounter a Manchester United fan until I was 21 and moved to Guernsey; we’d play them, we’d lose to them, I wouldn’t have to go to school on a Monday morning and hear about it again and again and again. It would hurt, obviously, but it’s a lot more bearable when you haven’t got a snotty 11-year-old telling you about it.

Everton was different. Obviously they were in a minority, because we’re in Liverpool and that’s what they are, but they were a loud minority. When I was growing up we couldn’t beat them. Telling them to look at the league was a good riposte, but when you’re seventh it doesn’t work that well.

We beat them three times while I was at primary school. The first victory I really remember, and I’m 30 next month (30, not 40, or 50 or whatever number Atkinson assigns next), saw Steven Gerrard clear a ball off the line in injury time. I was 12 before I actually remember Liverpool winning a derby.

I remember plenty of others, though: Steve McManaman and Bruce Grobbelaar having a fight, Andrei Kanchelskis scoring twice, Danny Cadamarteri rinsing Bjorn Tore Kvarme, and Steve Staunton having to go in goal.

– Here is The Review our in-depth analysis in the aftermath of the win over Everton, free this week as part of the TAW Christmas Hamper.

The ‘90s weren’t fun at all. They had some absolutely bizarre hold over us. OK, we weren’t a great side in the 1990’s but they were absolutely terrible and we couldn’t beat them. Rubbish footballer after rubbish footballer would put a blue shirt on and somehow turn into Pele when faced with the sight of Liverpool Football Club.

Ironically, they used to beat us regularly with loads of players who, in terms of quality, wouldn’t get near their bench now. They’ve now got a striker in Romelu Lukaku who is about 600 times better than Duncan Ferguson, for example.

Playing Everton used to haunt me, I’d be filled with dread and just could not be doing with them crowing about it. How things have changed, eh? When Gary Mac scored a free-kick from near the Black Bull, it was our first victory at Goodison for 11 years. I was 12 before I really remember beating them, and 14 before I remember us winning at their place. And they weren’t even any good.

We’re currently in a really funny time where we can point and laugh at them about a variety of things. Since they last won a trophy, people have been conceived, born and are a few months away from getting themselves a degree from university.

Since they last won at Anfield, we established that the Millennium Bug wasn’t a thing. We’re even on the verge of now being able to talk about things that have happened since they just beat us in a bog standard game of football. Not needing to create a landmark out of anything more than an actual game of football.

It really is bizarre, Torino can’t beat Juventus, Atletico Madrid went something ridiculous like 16 years without beating Real Madrid, and Everton are on the verge of creeping into that territory.

Monday night makes it three victories in the previous 34 Derbies, and a whopping four victories this Millennium. Since they last beat us, the man who opened the scoring has played on three different continents. You could go on like this for weeks, coming out with fantastic new things that emphasise just how absolutely atrocious they’ve been against us in recent times.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, December 19, 2016: Liverpool and Everton players clash after a late tackle on captain Jordan Henderson during the FA Premier League match, the 227th Merseyside Derby, at Goodison Park. (Pic by Gavin Trafford/Propaganda)

But, I think my favourite of all is the following.

Since Kevin Campbell bagged them a 1-0 win in 1999, they’ve come to Anfield and led for 63 minutes. Sixty-three. Havant and Waterlooville have led for 32 at Anfield during that time.

It’s unlikely that this will last forever, so let’s enjoy this while we’ve got it. Poke fun in their general direction, laugh at them, send your kids to school to laugh at the Everton kids. Make a 50-foot banner in the style of a birthday card. Well, maybe that’s going a little bit far, but it was funny in the ground the other night — the creativity of the Spion Kop 1906 lads continues to be fantastic.

They, however, once turned up at Anfield with a banner that said ‘Analfield’. It didn’t even make any sense and it wasn’t funny either. Banners like that are there to fit two criterions. Be funny or have someone off. They made no-one laugh and had no-one off.

By the way, there are kids who started high school in September who won’t remember October 2010 when they beat us. Eleven-year-old kids who don’t remember Everton having ever beaten Liverpool. Good to see that we’re inflicting on them what they inflicted on me.

And now we’ve got a just under a week without the Reds before we get football on speed for about a week. It’s going to be a big, big period. Tuck yourselves in and hope for nine points and some dropped Chelsea points. Then focus everything on January the 31st. If you’re going, get yourself a half day sorted immediately, get yourself down to the pub for 2.30, and go far and beyond the Michael T. Nevin ‘everyone should have four pints inside them’ rule.

Merry Christmas, Everton. We’re all laughin’ at you.

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