Steven Gerrard’s Retirement (Part 2): The Merseyside Derby

In an interview with the Liverpool Echo, Gerrard stated that his hat-trick against Everton marking his 400th Premier League appearance was his favourite Anfield memory.

Gerrard had a real talent of terrorizing the Blues. In fact, he has scored 10 goals in the Merseyside Derby making him 4th in the list of all time Merseyside Derby goal scorers:

  1. Ian Rush (Liverpool) – 25
  2. Dixie Dean (Everton)- 19
  3. Alex Young (Everton) – 12
  4. Steven Gerrard (Liverpool) – 10

Arguably Gerrard’s most controversial Merseyside Derby was his sending off on 27th September 1999 at Anfield. Kevin Campbell, the Everton striker, had put the Blues ahead by scoring past Dutch keeper Sander Westerveld in the Kop end. Westerveld had gotten himself into more trouble in the second half exchanging blows with Everton striker, and Scouse boy, Francis Jeffers. Both players were naturally sent off in a complete moment of madness. Steven Gerrard completed the hattrick of red cards on the day. The red mist came over him and after only 47 seconds on the field he was sent off.

Steven recalled the incident in his autobiography. He described his disappointment at being left out of the starting XI and explained his game plan:

“just belt one of them. Fucking belt a Bluenose. Let Gerard (Houllier) know he is not dropping me for another derby. Ever.”

He shortly admitted that he was “a red card waiting to happen”. His temper had gotten the better of him, and instant regret followed when he ran up the tunnel. This wouldn’t be Stevie G’s last red card, nor would it be his quickest. A bit more on that in the next edition.

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The Merseyside Derby hasn’t been all doom and gloom for Stevie. In fact, it’s been rather successful.

Gerrard got off to a winning start in his first Merseyside Derby. On April 3rd 1999, The Reds eventually ran out as 3 – 2 winners at Anfield. On September 15, 2001 Gerrard finally got his name on the score sheet. He scored the equalizer as the Reds came back from being a goal down at Goodison to win the game 3 – 1. He made sure the Evertonians would remember the name for years to come as he celebrated his first Derby goal by pointing to the name on the back. Not the first time he’s done that against rival teams.

Gerrard picked up his first Merseyside Derby hat-trick on 13th March 2012. His hat-trick was the first in the Merseyside derby since Ian Rush at Goodison Park in 1982, and the first hat-trick at Anfield since 1935 when Fred Howe put four past Everton. Only four Liverpool players have managed the feat, and now 77 years on Gerrard joined the exclusive club. (Harry Chambers in 1922, Dick Forshaw in 1925, Harold Barton in 1933, Fred Howe 1935, Steven Gerrard 2012)

Gerrard’s derby delight was a sickening blow for Everton, and manager Davie Moyes, as it was the manager’s 10th season in charge of the Blues. His third goal, rattled in at the Kop End, was Liverpool’s 300th against their rivals in all competitions. This was the performance that the Reds were hoping for. Kenny Dalglish, the Liverpool manager on the day, had suffered a bad run of games. Liverpool were at crisis point, so who would step up and prove the doubters wrong but Captain Fantastic himself, Stevie G.

In Gerrard’s book, ‘Steven Gerrard: My Story’, he admits that “every Merseyside Derby generated fear in me”. Gerrard had a fear of losing against the Blues, especially at Anfield. He had only lost to Everton once at home (Anfield), and that was in 1999 after the sending off incident previosuly discussed.

Gerrard also has a great respect for his city rivals. He has often thanked the club for their support with the Hillsborough Inquest, and their charitable giving towards the Hillsborough Family Support Group. In his biography he wrote:

“It was easy to speak sincerely of my gratitude to Everton in regard to Hillsborough; their compassion had been sincere. We were united in grief and a desire for justice. Hillsborough, and the families of every single fan we lost, will always matter far more than the next derby.”

On 28th January 2014, the Reds recorded their biggest Premier League win over Everton winning 4 – 0 at Anfield. This was Liverpool’s biggest Merseyside Derby win at Anfield since 1972, and their biggest in the derby since 1982. Steven Gerrard got himself on the score sheet that day beating Everton centre back Alcaraz to the ball with a header in the box, after a Luis Suarez corner.

In Gerrard’s final season he looked set to steal the headlines. On 27th September 2014, in what was Gerrard’s final Merseyside Derby at Anfield, the captain found himself on the score sheet once more. His second half free-kick soared into the top corner past American International Tim Howard, only to be cancelled out by one of the best Premier League strikes of the season. Phil Jagielka’s incredible volley, described by Roberto Martinez as perhaps “the best strike I’ve ever seen”, stole the show from Gerrard who was minutes away from grabbing the headlines for scoring the winner in his final derby day at Anfield.

Gerrard didn’t get a victory in his last Merseyside Derby and had to settle for a rather drab nil-nil draw but he had some terrific moments in the Merseyside Derby, and no group of fans is more delighted about his retirement than the Evertonians. For many seasons, he was the symbol of their inadequacy. He was the suppressor of Goodison, always keeping the friendly neighbours in their place below the might of his Liverpool.

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