LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, December 19, 2016: Liverpool supporters celebrate 21 years since Everton won a trophy with Happy 21st Birthday balloons and banners before the FA Premier League match, the 227th Merseyside Derby, at Goodison Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

I DON’T know about you, but I’m knackered.

This glut of games before New Year isn’t even half complete and I’m flagging already. Imbued with Bill Shankly’s notion of “professional” support; pre-match drills, the matches themselves, and even the warm downs involve a lot of drinking.

As much as the short hop to Stoke and schlep to Brighton were great days and nights out, they were bloody exhausting. In the Potteries I picked up an ankle knock when my foot got trapped under a seat as Mo Salah ripped the net out. On the South Coast, the post-match celebrations were those of actual superstars as we painted that beautiful town red and seduced the locals.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?  A social life – or for some us even a working life – that revolves around football is indeed a God-given gift but just the like the players, every now and again we could do with a rest.

Big Jürgen Klopp, if I were prepared to admit to my aching limbs and battered kidneys, might rotate me at the weekend. Go like for like boss, but be aware there’s no quality cover for my position. To the potential January recruitment of a centre half, goalkeeper or holding midfielder you need to add loudmouth. I’ll need a break in the New Year or my career is in jeopardy.

For now though, I’ll plough on and rinse that poor voice again on Sunday. Just like the men in red, we don’t really feel tired when we’re winning. The sound of the ball leathering the net drains the legs of lactic acid. Anyway, I can’t afford to stand down for fear I’ll lose my place. So, I’ve declared myself fit for the derby.

We go again; as appallingly shite as that fan boy saying goes.

So, the bloody derby then. We should absolutely batter them. In theory, given our frequent recent hammerings of The Ev, there should be no “derby belly” this week. But as I write, the heart is already pounding, the stomach churning.

They’ve got to beat us some time; the law of averages says The Blues’ last Anfield victory can’t forever be etched in books as 1999. There’s a new Kevin Campbell or an Andrei Kanchelskis out there waiting to put a big Bluenose spanner in our works.

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Then there’s Sam Allardyce. He might be a big bloated Yam Yam cum Woolyback, but he’s not a bad manager. He also fucking hates us. He’ll have been plotting a low-block, backs-to-the-wall, dogs of war masterclass all week. Despite The Reds’ seven-goal Spartak Moscow salvo in midweek, the fat man will have a plan.

God knows how many mushy peas Sam has spilt down his crotch doing his homework this week. Even the famous Byrne’s chippy in town has run out of sausage dinner since Sam landed his fat arse on the Mersey like that stricken plane on the Hudson River.

Allardicci might not be as suave as Roberto Martinez, or as decorated as poor, recently bin-bagged Ronnie the Red, but he can’t half scran; for England in fact until he dropped his metaphorical knife and fork.

Our bi-annual butterflies are justified. The old adage that “the form book goes out the window” on derby day does still ring true, even if Everton have gone down like a pack of cards in recent seasons.

To this day, I’m woken up with a start in the middle of the night still haunted by Phil Jagielka’s last-minute rocket back in 2014. The ghost of Andy King at Goodison in 1978, the mere mention of “Big Dunc” Ferguson and Danny Cadamarteri, the Andrei Kanchelskis brace that did for Roy Evo’s buccaneers in 1995. And, the last time when the unthinkable happened, walking home in a downpour listening to Travis’s Why Does It Always Rain On Me? after Kevin Campbell’s Kop end winner at the end of the last century.

Of late, The Blues haven’t had much to shout about but they’ve had their moments down the years and still retain a remarkable Evertonian arrogance, expecting that season-coating famous victory year on year. This, despite being eternally fucking shite.

“Tell me ma, me ma” they used to crow, until we ransacked their favourite song by telling them to “wipe away all your tears.”

They never learn. “And we’ll hang the Kopites one by one on the banks of the Royal Blue.. argh fuck off Coutinho, yer lady-boy fuckin’ Redshite cunt”.

To be fair to them, 3,000 of them will turn up on Sunday, phones going off to Z-Cars all morning, bile in their throats and with hopes anew. As much as they’ve morphed into a different breed and left their former style behind for better pitch-invasion grip offered by Lonsdale trabs, they’re still passionate, committed football supporters.

Just like us but with more grass stains on their arses.

The poor sods remain devoid of romance in life; their pitiable long-suffering partners never treated to chocolates and flowers because that’s “Kopite behaviour”. You can’t blame them for remaining straight as a dye, for eschewing the idea of colour and the continental flamboyance of The Kop. Let’s face it; they can’t even let a smoke bomb off in the right colour. Imagine breathing in purple sulphur, while Liverpool reassert themselves and The Kop taunts your pyro fail with a mocking chorus of “what the fucking hell is that?”

You’d be tempted to pack it all in and watch chess on the telly.

But, the brave knobheads keep coming back for more. Fair play to them for not refusing their allocation and watching instead at one of three blue alehouses, among Liverpool’s plethora of licensed premises. It would easier to hide but they’re gluttons for punishment.

But there’s the catch for us expectant Reds. The ball is round. They might win. One day they will.

Just don’t make it Sunday, Reds. Get those teeth whitened, those prayers to Allah offered, that hair slicked back, that curly wig lacquered.

We want 10. We want 10.

In the meantime, we’ll get on the ale. Again.

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