“18 years, 18 years/on his 18th birthday he found out it wasn’t his.”
As Kanye West memorably pointed out, 18 years is quite some time wait for anything. Imagine what it must be like for Everton still waiting nearly two decades on for a win at Anfield over their eternal rivals, Liverpool.
The year was 1999, when Merseyside took a break from preparing for the impending Y2K apocalypse to watch the Reds welcome the Blues in a Premier League clash. Gerard Houllier, having only replaced Roy Evans as manager a season before, was still a fresh face for the Kop, the Frenchman still struggling to settle in with his 12th placed side.
The Toffees on the other hand came into the derby clash on form, sitting a lofty seventh in the table and full of vim. The gap was apparent from kickoff. Four minutes saw a 21-year-old Jamie Carragher make an error to allow Francis Jeffers to find Kevin Campbell in the box for a stunning opening goal.
"I had a really poor game,” Carragher would admit years later, “And will never forget it."
Walter Smith’s men were then content to sit deep and attack on the counter, spurning a number of chances until a classic Merseyside derby moment upped the ante late on. A confrontation between Liverpool’s Sander Westerveld and the youngster Jeffers led to actual punches and swift marching orders.
With his side out of substitutes, defender Steve Staunton donned the gloves and actually made a stunning save near the end of normal time to keep the score at 1-0 before a promising young substitute named Steven Gerrard commemorated his debut derby with a red card of his own to seal his team’s fate.
A lot has happened since that game was taped on a VCR: Ben Woodburn was born, Andre Agassi won the last U.S. Open of his career, beards became cool again. However, through the peaks and valleys of the years that followed, Liverpool have always managed to find pleasure in walloping their crosstown rivals whenever they ill-advisedly chose to venture into Anfield.
That being said, the recent ignominious end to the Reds’ dominance of Tottenham is evidence of the gambler’s fallacy does make the changing in the state of football affairs quite sudden (“I've flipped heads with this coin five times consecutively, so the chance of tails coming out on the sixth flip is much greater than heads”). Nevertheless, when Jürgen Klopp and Liverpool on a solid run of recent results invite the Blues into their parlor this Saturday, history will undoubtedly, ominously weigh heavy.