This is what I inevitably end up feeling like as an Everton fan on the day of a Merseyside Derby. A blur of black eyes, beige wall paper, and shattered hope. Perhaps only the melancholy of Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks” can rival it as an image of human despair.
The above photograph was taken at the final whistle of Derby Day, November 6, 1983. On the back, my Dad has marked the date and carefully noted “Rog with black eye watches Liverpool 3 Everton 0,” but I need no reminder. The memory remains as fresh as it was harrowing. The day before I had gained a concussion during a school rugby match. Playing fullback, I had dived in desperately like a proto-Spencer Lanning, to make a last-ditch tackle on an opposing big man, tripping him up by putting my eye-socket in front of his kneecap. I was knocked out cold, and my right-eye instantly swelled shut.
Though I had tickets for the match, I was in no fit shape to use them. Instead, I sat at home in a pair of Wrangler sweatpants and my luxury Scandinavian slippers, donning the Everton hat and scarf it had taken my mother 18 grueling months to knit.
I had been unable to sleep overnight. My head was an aching fog from concussion, but in truth, it was the threat Liverpool’s attacking tandem of Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush posed to Everton’s defence that kept me awake. Come game time, only being able to see out of one eye turned out to be a blessing.
Everton were thrashed, my heroes snuffed out with barely any resistance. Clad in his tight red shorts, Ian Rush pounced within 16 minutes to punish the kind of defensive sloppiness that has defined Everton’s play this season. Dalglish cut through the right flank to conjure an open goal for Michael Robinson to finish, and Stevie Nicol finished the rout by heading home at the last, with the Everton defenders looking on, as broken and defeated as we fans.
By the final whistle, Liverpool were top of the table, and Everton had plummeted to 17th place. When my father decided to take this photograph, it felt like both sides of my face had been smashed in.
That game was almost 31 years ago. But Liverpool have lost just one of the last 15 league Derbies so the feelings it conjured are all too familiar. Numbing ones of defeat, doom, impotence, and perhaps, worst of all, shattered hope. I last experienced them at Anfield back in January, typing my match report through the tears, after I had witnessed the rampant Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge, and Philippe Coutinho eviscerate a naive Everton 4-0, springing their counter-attacks with such punishing glee. Every time the Blues attacked, Liverpool seemed the more likely team to score.
Both teams enter Saturday’s game as wounded creatures. Tim Howard kept 15 clean sheets last year, yet this season, the Everton defence carries the stench of 2012-13 Wigan, leaking 17 goals in just seven matches. A relatively stocked squad, which only six weeks ago appeared to inspire such optimism, lacks spirit, spine, and tactical cohesion.
Liverpool have also appeared all too mortal. Shorn of the defected Suarez and injured Sturridge, Brendan Rodgers has lost three of his first five league games. Yet a clash against Everton is too often the cure for what ails them. I type while braced for the irresistible Steven Gerrard Derby Day strike which has come to feel like one of nature’s most inevitable laws and the very worst case: a Mario Balotelli hat trick — especially if those goals prove to be the only ones the Italian scores this season.
A couple of years ago, I wrote about a conversation I had broached with a Liverpool supporting friend, Simon Critchley who is a philosophy professor at The New School. Critchley admitted he feels a similar sense of Derby Day doom, even as a Red. “The game,” he explained, “matters too much.” His final words that day have stayed with me because I believe any fan, even Arsenal or Tottenham supporters, can relate to them. “The worst part about football in general and the Derby in particular is not the disappointment, it’s the endlessly renewed hope,” he explained. “It’s the hope that kills you.”
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Father’s Day is just days away and as the thinking goes, the Dads of the family are often the hardest to shop for. But with the weather getting warmer, there’s countless opportunities to get outside, whether for sports or relaxation, and that means countless opportunities to find the perfect gift to make Father’s Day brighter for the Dads who love sports in any and all forms.
To help you in the gift selection process (even if you’ve left it up to the last minute!), the team at NBC Sports has sourced great options from across the internet for sporting Dads of all kinds. Whether the person you’re shopping for is up before dawn to get in a workout, more inclined to take in sports from the couch, or the consummate host planning summer’s best tailgate, there’s a great choice on this list across a variety of price ranges. Below are our ideas separated into categories:
This experience is a must for any dad looking to elevate their game. Per the PGA Tour Super Store site, fittings combine “game-changing technology and manufacturer-specific equipment with the personal attention of our certified fitters to deliver a fully immersive fitting session.” Golfers will leave the one-on-one session with specs for perfectly fitted custom clubs that will be built and shipped to you.
Help Dad perfect his golf skills right at home with this practice golf net. Just like the pop-up chipping net, this gift option is lightweight and portable and will allow Dad to hit golf balls right in the backyard.
This bag is lightweight with multiple pockets and perfect for the Dad trying to fit in a workout. It’s available in multiple colors, has waterproof storage for swim gear or sweaty apparel post-gym and doubles as the perfect bag for a quick weekend trip.
Whether it’s for early morning workouts or coaching the 8am Little League game on Saturday morning, a Yeti mug is a great accessory to keep coffee piping hot. Tumblers come in various shapes and sizes to indulge all varieties of pre-game caffeine habits.
The weather is getting warmer, making it the perfect time to give your Dad these comfortable and colorful shoes for the road. The shoes have a quick drying mesh material that will provide the ultimate in efficiency and comfort.
Invented in 1965 and combining elements of badminton, tennis and ping-pong, pickleball is the latest rec sport sensation sweeping the nation. According to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, it’s one of America’s fastest growing sports, picking up corporate sponsorships and avid enthusiasts nationwide. If Dad is a paddle sport enthusiast looking to indulge their competitive streak, this paddle set is the perfect way to get started.
Garmin is one of the most trusted names in GPS watches and enables you to monitor and track your fitness endeavors while streamlining your training. Whether it’s for the Dad training for their 10th marathon or just getting started in running and biking, a Garmin Forerunner is a great option to level-up your exercise.
This 28-piece set of BBQ accessories is the perfect gift for a Dad that loves to cook for everyone. This versatile set has everything you need: a spatula, fork, 2 barbecue mats, tongs, basting brush, grill brush, extra brush head, meat thermometer, 2 steak knives and forks, 2 shakers, 8 corn holders, 4 skewers and an aluminum case.
The Meater is the perfect kitchen gadget for a Dad who loves to cook meat-forward meals for a big group. It’s a smart thermometer that allows you to monitor the temperature of the meat you’re cooking up to 33 feet away from the grill, oven or rotisserie. Just download the free app and you’re all set!
This cooler has a capacity of 52 quarts and is the perfect option to keep the drinks cold and the tailgate guests happy. Available in multiple colors, it’s a heavy-duty option for all pregame festivity needs.
This cell phone armband case is perfect for any Dad who likes to go on walks or runs outside. His phone will stay secure and safe, and the case comes with an adjustable strap, key pocket and headphone cord holder.
Give your Dad the gift of Amazon Prime! Not only will he get access to Prime Video which will allow him to live stream his favorite sports, but he can enjoy the convenience of a fast and free delivery for online orders.
Make it feel as if your Dad is actually watching the game from the stadium of his favorite sports team. This TV Soundbar speaker will give your Dad a natural HiFi sound experience — perfect for NFL Sundays and also for family movie nights.
Have Dad keep track of his health and fitness, and get notifications from all of his favorite sports teams with the flick of a wrist. The Apple Watch is the perfect gift for the Dads who are constantly on the go.
The Theragun is the perfect gift for the fitness loving father figure in your life. It’s compact with long lasting battery life and best of all, you can connect it to your smartphone and customize its features.
Daniel James Brown’s “The Boys in the Boat” is the true story of the American rowing team that competed at the 1936 Olympics and came away with a stunning gold. Made up of largely working-class athletes from the University of Washington, the U.S. team were some of the ultimate underdogs, making for an incredible story of human achievement.
Jackie Robinson is one of the most legendary and trailblazing figures in baseball, but his autobiography talks about so much more than his career on the field. From his time in the army to his family life to his involvement in American politics, “I Never Had It Made” gives the reader an in-depth look into one of the most famous athletes in baseball and in American history.
Get the baseball ban fan in your life a mug so unique that everyone will ask him about it! This mug was handcrafted from a wooden baseball bat barrel and you can choose a design for any MLB team. Choose Dad’s favorite team and he’ll be sure to love it!
With all the blockbuster NFL trades so far in 2022, your Dad’s favorite player might be starting the season for a different team. The safest bet? A custom jersey with his name – QB1 might have left, but his loyalty to the team isn’t going anywhere, for better or worse!
The Freestyle Skiing competition takes place at Genting Snow Park located just under 100 miles northwest of Beijing in the Zhangjiakou zone and at the Big Air Shougang in the Beijing Zone. The Big Air Shougang is the world’s first-ever permanent venue for big air and will serve as the home for future sports competitions, athlete training purposes, and cultural and civic events after the Beijing Winter Games.
How to stream the 2022 Winter Olympics on Peacock:
Peacock will be the streaming home of the Beijing Winter Games offering live stream coverage of every single event–that’s over 2,800 hours of Olympic action. In addition, to live stream coverage of every event, viewers will also be able to enjoy the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, NBC’s nightly primetime show, full replays of all competition available immediately upon conclusion, exclusive daily studio programming, medal ceremonies, extensive highlight clips, and more. Click here to sign up.