Peter Crouch. Target man. Fan favorite. Peerless header of the ball. Possibly a giraffe in a clever disguise.
Though he left Anfield years ago, Crouch still casts a long shadow over Liverpool. (And I mean that literally. He’s very tall, you see.) His three years with the Reds left an impression and is largely remembered fondly by the fans.
So it’s only natural that he would be invited to offer reflections on his past fixtures with Everton ahead of the 229th Merseyside Derby later today.
In particular, Crouch said advice given to him by Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher stuck with him through the fixtures and over the years since.
“These matches have the power to define reputations and change how someone is perceived by fans. That was something Jamie Carragher told me before my first Liverpool-Everton game in December 2005. I’d suffered a difficult start to my time at Anfield but I’d just found a little bit of form before we went to Goodison Park. Carra and Steven Gerrard both spoke to me in the build-up and their message was clear: ‘If you do something here,’ they said, ‘you’ll always be remembered. This is the one.’ Those words stayed in my head and, as it turned out, things could not have gone better.”
Crouch also recalled one of his Derbies, in which Liverpool won 3-1.
"I got the first as we won 3-1. Stevie put me through and I went round Nigel Martyn before scoring in front of the Gwladys Street Stand, where Everton’s hardcore support sit. I remember it like yesterday and can still see the angry faces and the programmes flying down at me. Funny."
But he also noted some less-than-pleasant memories from the Derby.
"I’ve some brilliant memories but the dark ones are there, too. The day Everton beat Liverpool 3-0 at Goodison in 2006 was horrendous. The feeling you have afterwards in the pit of your stomach is so bad. You’re empty.”
Of course, that’s the thing about Derbies (and the Merseyside Derby in particular). The highs are higher than in almost any other fixture, but the lows are unfathomably low. There’s no real medium baseline here. Whether you’re a player or a fan, you just have to accept that.
Anyway, Peter Crouch is good and pure and I miss him.