The Merseyside derby is the name given to matches between Everton and Liverpool football clubs from Liverpool, England. It is the longest running top-flight derby in England, having been played at that level since the 1962ā€“63 season. Everton play their home games at Goodison Park, while Liverpool play theirs at Anfield. The match has been called the “Merseyside derby” since at least 1955.

Traditionally, the Merseyside derby was referred to as the friendly derby because of the large number of families with both Liverpool and Everton supporters and it is one of the few local derbies that does not enforce total fan segregation. The 1984 Football League Cup Final at Wembley saw almost all sections of the ground mixed and combined chants of “Merseyside, Merseyside” and “Are you watching Manchester?” Since the mid-1980s however, the rivalry has intensified on and off the field, and since the inception of the Premier League the Merseyside derby has had more red cards than any other game and has been referred to as “The most ill-disciplined and explosive fixture in the Premier League”

Everton F.C. were founded in 1878 and from 1884 played their home matches at Anfield, which was owned by club chairman John Houlding. Several board members of Everton were members of the Liberal Party who were associated with the National Temperance Federation whilst Houlding was a Conservative Party member and a brewer whose business interests were diametrically opposed to the temperance movement. Politics and disputes over money meant that Houlding was increasingly at odds with other members of the Everton board. The result was that in 1892 the Everton directors vacated Anfield and purchased a new ground at Goodison Park on the other side of Stanley Park. Houlding responded by founding a new club to use Anfield: Liverpool.

The professional clubs of the 1890s attracted much interest among the public, on and off the field. The 1867 Reform Act had given what would become football attending masses the opportunity to vote in the local and national elections. Everton and Liverpool attendances would reach around 10ā€“15,000 in a local authority ward with a population of 23,000. Local politicians saw involvement in the two football clubs as an opportunity to gain media exposure to the local electorate.

At Everton board level, the main friction that emerged was that between the retention of an autocratic ownership structure and the creation of a more democratic one which closely mapped the sociopolitical divide.

Religion is sometimes put forward as a reason for the split with Liverpool founder Houlding a prominent Orangeman and Everton’s new chairman George Mahon a rival Liberal Home Rule advocating MP, but at the time of the split, among the Everton committee members, James Clement Baxter was the only Catholic, the rest were Protestants.

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