18 October 2011

The (Not So) Friendly Derby

Most of us are well aware of the Friendly Derby. Although matters on the pitch are far from friendly, it makes the casual observer wonder why in the world the Merseyside derby is given the Friendly label. Look a little closer and you'll realise that it's the fans that give rise to the derby's name.

Football fans in blue shirts mingle freely with their counterparts in red be it at Anfield or across Stanley Park at Goodison. As far as I know this happens no where else in the football world. Yes, other football clubs might have sets of fans where the father supports one club while the son supports their cross-city rivals. The same goes with brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles and the best of friends - all separated because of their differing choice of football club. It's a normal enough situation worldwide but it's only in Liverpool that one can see the two sets of fans mingle almost freely on match day.

It doesn't mean the rivalry is of a lesser grade though. Far from it, the familiarity and closeness with the other side is what makes the pain of defeat so much harder to take.

So, what about the non-Merseyside based Liverpool fan?

The same applies but with a key difference - the taunts come from those in red shirts too. Not from down the East Lancs but from faraway places like Malaysia, Indonesia, Nigeria, Japan, etc. where like on Merseyside, fans from the other side can be those close to you.

And, the rivalry in this case is seldom friendly.

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