Experiencing the Merseyside Derby In Person at Anfield: The Heart Of English Football

Right, just to forewarn you all, if you’re upbeat after making it through to Wednesday and feeling pretty decent as a whole, this write-up might be best avoided; I don’t want to drag you down. We’ve got loads of brilliant stuff to peruse here at World Soccer Talk; the podcast is great, and there are some excellent pieces ahead of tonight’s games that will keep your good mood well intact.

But if you’re a bit of a doom-monger, fancy indulging in a bit of schadenfreude, or a Liverpool supporter, you might as well carry on. But don’t say I didn’t warn you…

As an Evertonian, you get used to walking out of Anfield downtrodden, “You’ll Never Walk Alone” ringing in your ears on the back of an abject performance from the Toffees. But last night provided an even stronger dose of the annual dejection.

In a category that has no shortage of stellar nominations, Everton served up one of their most abject, naive and downright embarrassing performances at Anfield in the last 15 years. Probably the worst of the lot. So congratulations, lads.

In truth, the whole day didn’t really feel like your classic “derby day”. It’s hard to get excited about the game when you’re sat in work until 5pm and have to rush straight to the ground when you clock out. It’s only when you’re on the way to the pub the nerves start to emerge and you can get fully geared up for the match. Compare that to the previous game, which was at a weekend, the whole week is a hyperbole of derby chatter.

For the Anfield derby, our routine is very much the same as any typical game at Goodison. Last night we were in the pub and I’ll admit, when the teams were announced we were delighted with the line-up. Ross Barkley, Phil Jagielka and Steven Pienaar had all made it despite fitness concerns. All-in-all the XI resembled something comparable to a full-strength outfit despite the injuries that have crippled the rest of the squad.

Naturally, as the booze flowed we talked up our chances and were in pretty buoyant mood on the way up to Anfield. After all, we’d already won at Old Trafford under Roberto Martinez, why couldn’t the Blues repeat the feat at Anfield? Perhaps this is going to the year after 15 years of make-shift non-performances? We’re certainly due one.

BT Sport in their “studio”.

The BT Sport panel set-up in an elevated studio around the back of the ground near the away end; maybe not the best idea, as Steve McManaman and David Ginola were on the end of a fair bit of heckling. As we walked into the ground, the Evertonians sounded in pretty fine fettle. We got a drink, sung through the back catalogue of songs and the atmosphere transcended into the stands as we walked up to take our seat.

In terms of my seat, it was probably the best I’ve ever had at Anfield, as you can see below. But we were just metres from the Liverpool supporters, a lot whom were wearing those half-and-half “friendship” scarves (seriously, who would buy one of them?). As the game went on, as you’d expect, we copped a fair bit of stick.

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