DAVID RANDLES: Is the friendly Mersey derby about to make a comeback?
FOR years it was known as the friendly derby. It was a fixture where opposing fans would walk to the ground together and stand shoulder to shoulder before grabbing a pint on the way home. It used to be enjoyable. Admittedly there was never a 50/50 split on the Gwladys Street or Kop but generally speaking Blue and Reds were once upon a time happy enough to mingle on derby day. For those too young to recall such memories, all of this will seem like gushing nostalgia borne of a romanticism seen only through rose-tinted glasses. Ask your parents. It actually happened. Listening to the cacophony of vile chanting that has blighted the fixture in recent years it is hard to believe that both sets of supporters sang 'Merseyside' in unison down Wembley Way throughout the eighties. Times have changed since the success of the city's two football clubs flew in the face of Thatcher's devastating social and economic policies that brought Liverpool to its knees. There's an irony somewhere though at how the Iron Lady would appreciate the divide and conquer mentality that has threatened to turn the Merseyside derby into a cesspit of bile and hatred. Whether it be personal slights on Steven Gerrard or Phil Neville's families, each side has always had an answer for the other. For the sickening Hillsborough references see the offensive Joleon Lescott chants. Touche! It's difficult to pinpoint exactly when it all started simply because there isn't one particular reason why it did.
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