Divided by a park, divided by so much else
For reasons best known to themselves, there are some in the local & national media who persist in referring to Liverpool v Everton encounters as "the friendly derby". The last time such a description was merited, Degsy & co. ruled the civic roost & some decidedly dodgy hairstyles were considered cool.
Sunday's encounter at Anfield was not without incident on & off the pitch. It was about as friendly as a chance encounter between Macca & Heather Mills:
Incidents included Everton's Phil Neville receiving abuse at very close quarters from Liverpool fans in the Lower Centenary Stand as he prepared to take a throw, Liverpool's Steven Gerrard subjected to taunts from Everton fans in the Anfield Road End concerning the provenance of his daughter, & Everton's Joleon Lescott --who suffered a facial disfigurement as a child-- being called "the Elephant Man" by some intellectuals on the Kop.
Everton have initiated Merseyside Police's involvement in the matter, claiming that the Anfield stewards failed to do their job properly. A fair point. However, it conveniently obscures the equally billious atmosphere at the Goodison derby last October.
Everton FC spokesman Ian Ross (a Guardian football journalist before he moved into PR) muddied the waters with his crack, "Mr. [Rafa] Benitez should, perhaps, remember his comments of 12 months ago when he sought to belittle one of world sport's oldest and most respected institutions by describing us as a 'small club'. Respect is a two-way street."
It remains open to conjecture whether the "small club" quote was made by the Liverpool manager in a goading manner, or in the context of teams outside the "Big 4".
Mr. Ross' missive may well have the effect of pouring oil on the hitherto fading flames from Sunday. For someone supposedly attuned to public relations, it seems an incredibly maladroit statement.