Things looked pretty rosy for Liverpool when they lined up to play Everton at Anfield on Christmas Eve 1949.
They were top of the First Division, in spite of losing their previous two away matches, and were determined to steady the ship against their local rivals.
In fact, the Reds were unbeaten until they succumbed 3-2 to Huddersfield Town on December 10th and then went down by the same score to Sunderland a week later.
Everton had already lost 10 league matches and were struggling to find their form. A bright spot was the 3-1 victory over Middlesbrough on December 17th.
The Christmas Eve match ended in a 3-1 win for Liverpool with striker Kevin Baron and fellow forward Willie Fagan on the score sheet for the Reds. Everton were 1-0 up at half time.
Liverpool were still top of the table by Good Friday, but were trounced 5-1 away by Newcastle United on Easter Sunday. They then lost three matches out of four to finish in eighth place – five points behind champions Portsmouth. Everton were 18th.
Both Merseyside teams enjoyed strong FA Cup runs, eventually meeting in the semi-final at Maine Road, Manchester, on March 25th 1950. Liverpool won 2-0 with goals from future manager Bob Paisley and Billy Liddell, but lost the cup final to Arsenal 2-0.
More than a decade later, Liverpool and Everton played a goalless Christmas derby at Anfield on New Year’s Eve 1966. The teams were evenly matched, finishing fifth and sixth in the league that season.
Three years later, Liverpool notched up a memorable 3-0 victory at Goodison Park on December 6th 1969 with goals from Emlyn Hughes and Bobby Graham as well as an own goal.
Liverpool were in a transitional phase under manager Bill Shankly at the time with many players from the 1960s’ side leaving the club. World-cup winner Roger Hunt was one of them.
Everton, on the other hand, were riding high! Under the shrewd leadership of Harry Catterick, they won their seventh league title finishing nine points ahead of second-placed Leeds United.
Liverpool were triumphant again in the Christmas derby of December 8th 1973, winning 1-0 at Goodison Park thanks to a goal from striker Alan Waddle.
It was the 14th and final season at the helm for manager Shankly, who saw his team win the FA Cup by beating Newcastle 3-0 at Wembley.
The Reds missed out on the double by finishing second in the league to Leeds United. Everton, under Billy Bingham, were seventh.
The Merseyside teams fought out a 1-1 draw at Anfield on December 11th 1988 in a season overshadowed by the Hillsborough disaster. Ray Houghton was on the scoresheet for the Reds while Wayne Clarke replied for Everton.
The two sides met again in the FA Cup final when Liverpool, under Kenny Dalglish, triumphed 3-2 after extra time.
The Reds were again deprived of the double thanks to a last minute goal by Arsenal during the final match of the season at Anfield. The Gunners took the title on goals scored.
On December 28th 1991, Everton and Liverpool drew 1-1 at Goodison Park. The scorers were Nick Tanner for the Reds with the Toffees’ goal coming from Mo Johnston.
Liverpool, under Graeme Souness, finished the year in sixth place in the First Division – a position they occupied at the end of the season. Everton, managed by Howard Kendall, were 12th.
In 1992, the inaugural season of the Premier League, the Merseyside Christmas derby took place on December 7th with Everton emerging victorious 2-1 at Goodison Park.
Johnston and Peter Beardsley scored for the Toffees while Mark Wright found the net for Liverpool.
The Reds’ own version of the Nightmare Before Christmas took place a fortnight later on December 19th when they were hammered 5-1 by Coventry City at Highfield Road. It was truly one of the shocks of the season.
Fortunately they rallied on December 28th to draw 1-1 with Manchester City at Maine Road. Liverpool finished the season in sixth place with 59 points, 25 points behind champions Manchester United.
Everton, meanwhile, had lost nine of their 17 league matches before facing Liverpool. They ended the season in 13th place with 53 points.
*Clive Hardy’s latest hardback book, The Home Front – Britain 1939-45, is now on the sale at the special pre-order price of £14.99 including UK postage and packing.
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