Derby memories

Liverpool 3 Everton 1, 29 October 2000

When the editor of this site asked us to put pen to paper about our favourite Derby Day moments, ‪@mark_curriemmc ‬got in there quicker than Ian Rush used to run away from Everton defenders to lay claim to the “Gary Mac” Derby of April 2001!

So I’ve gone for the game at Anfield earlier that season, one that was played with the most contentious ever transfer between the two clubs fresh in the mind.

Nick Barmby was Everton’s star player when he announced he wanted to sign for Liverpool in the summer of 2000, a declaration Bill Kenwright described as the “six worst words” an Evertonian could wish to hear.

When he joined for £6m he became the first player to move directly from Goodison to Anfield since Dave Hickson in 1959.

Despite Gerard Houllier trying to play down the significance of the transfer by saying Barmby “wasn’t changing his religion”, the move caused uproar.

For those too young to remember, just look at the recent reaction from some Evertonians because Ronald Koeman put red decorations on his Christmas Tree and you can only begin to imagine how losing their best player to the Reds went down!

“Die Die Nicky Nicky die” was a popular ditty at Goodison that season, and to pinch a joke from the Simpsons they definitely weren’t singing “the the Nicky Nicky the” in German!

And so, on 29 October 2000 at Anfield, Barmby faced Everton as a Liverpool player.

Unlike nowadays, our record in derbies was dreadful at the time. Everton had took 4 points off us the previous season, including a win at Anfield that remains their last, and the Reds had won only 1 of the previous 12 meetings.

On a foul afternoon in the teeming rain, the headlines were written in the 12th minute.

A Christian Ziege cross deflected off Alex Xavier into the path of Barmby, whose header back across goal beat Paul Gerrard in the Everton goal to cue manic celebrations inside Anfield.

There was none of this refusing to celebrate against his old club lark from Barmby, that’s for sure!

Kevin Campbell equalised shortly after from a corner, but the Reds took control after the break. Emile Heskey, who was in the form of his life, smashed one past Gerrard to restore our lead on 56 minutes, and the points were sealed 12 minutes from time; Vladimir Smicer was dragged down by Thomas Gravesen when clean through on goal, the Dane was sent off and Patrik Berger hammered home the resulting penalty. Game over!

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The return fixture the following April was even more dramatic as Gary McAllister’s sensational winner sealed our first win at Goodison in a decade and it’s hard to think of a better season for derbies than 2000-2001 from a Liverpool perspective.

After years of being bullied by the so-called “dogs of war” this was the season we regained the upper hand in this fixture, an upper hand that other than 1 or 2 exceptions we’ve held ever since.

As for Nick Barmby, he only scored one more league goal for the Reds, and never faced Everton again as a Liverpool player. His Liverpool career never really took off in the way we’d hoped and he was sold to Leeds in 2002.

But for that goal alone, one of the great Anfield Derby moments of recent times, it was six million quid well spent! He’s red, he’s white, he scored against the…………….

Written by @Pilnick_Jimmy

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