RAWK Advent calendar #25: Gary McAllister vs. Everton, 16th April 2001

Posted by Mummy Spartacus (Mrs) on December 23, 2014, 10:33:18 PM

RAWK Advent calendar #25: Gary McAllister vs. Everton, 16th April 2001

Favourite goals are not the same things as the best goals - the result, opposition, stage of the season and even the venue obviously play a big part. So my very favourite goals are stunning strikes that secure a victory in a crucial game at the homes of our diehard opposition.  So it’s probably no surprise that out of the many goals I had to pick from, I’ve gone for a derby goal. 

I don’t like Everton, I don’t like a lot of their fans (when it comes to Everton, family members included), I never want us to play them in cup competitions and don’t understand the ‘nutters’ who hope for Everton during cup draws, it’s madness, twice a season  is more than enough for me. What I do like, however, is the unbridled euphoria that comes on the back of the victory, that feeling is as good as it gets, not just in football but in life, it’s what keeps us coming back for more despite the many lows we might feel along the way.  Its better again if the victory is on their turf and leaves them feeling hard done by, an angry Evertonian post-derby is the icing on the cake for me, I LOVE it and it makes the victory even sweeter!

My favourite goal really doesn’t have all that much competition – the day I witness a goal I love more than this one will be a very happy one indeed.

A trip across the park was just what the reds didn’t need in the middle of a crucial end of season run-in. Easter brought the traditional (at the time) two games in three days, with one of our nearest rivals for a Top 3 spot (which was what it took to get into the Champions League then) arriving in L4 on Good Friday followed by the Blues on Easter Monday, and then just another six League games of the season left after that. And three days after Goodison was to be the second leg of the UEFA Cup Semi-final against Barcelona at Anfield.

The Leeds game was not the ideal preparation for the derby, as we went two down to first-half goals from Rio Ferdinand and Lee Bowyer. Stevie G had his usual eventful match, giving the ball away in the run-up to Leeds’ second, pulling a goal back after the break, and then being dismissed following two yellow cards. That result left us six points behind the Yorkshire side, although we did have two games in hand.

The trip to Goodison was game number 54 of our campaign. To put that into context, that’s eleven more than we played in the whole of last season. Emile Heskey replaced Michael Owen in the starting line-up, while the Bitters were delighted by the return of Big Dunc, who had not lost any of the eight previous Liverpool (not Merseyside!) derbies he had featured in.

This article could wax lyrically about all the key incidents in the game, as it was one of those that had everything – penalties not given, scored and missed; yellow and red cards awarded and not; goals galore and near misses. In order to remind myself of some of the details I stumbled across a series of match reports written by Evertonians for ToffeeWeb. Ha ha ha! That was a treat. The best summary of the game on there was “for Evertonians – there is no justice”.

Suffice to say after a ding-dong battle, the game was 2-2 heading into stoppage time. Young French left-back Grégory Vignal had come on to replace Robbie Fowler late on, and having had a strong penalty shout turned down, went on a long run before being brought down by Niclas Alexandersson quite some way out of goal.

Or as someone on ToffeeWeb said, “With nothing left on the clock, we were attacking again when the ball got played out left and was handled by a Pink midfield player.  A couple more passes and it got handled yet again.  No free either time.  Then it got near midway in our half, out left, and they got a free kick for a maybe tackle.  Well, what’d you expect?” What’s with the pink stuff I don’t know.

Not that great a chance for a goal really, when you think about it. Gary Mac takes charge – this is the Gary Mac who had only scored once for the reds by this point of the season (against Coventry City at Anfield), although Evertonians had some reason to fear the baldy maestro as he’d previously netted against them for both Coventry and Leeds.

Still, the ball was 44 yards out by the time he’d placed it – I’m sure he pinched a yard or two, but I can’t locate a clip of that. The peroxide Sami Hyypiä is busy trying to drag defenders around as he was no doubt expecting a ball up in the air for him to get on the end of, while Vignal makes a nuisance of himself, keeping Michael Ball occupied.

I doubt anyone in the entire ground expected Gary Mac to do what he did – certainly it never crossed keeper Paul Gerrard’s mind. But what a piece of genius. He just guided the ball into the gaping hole that was the bottom corner. Cue pandemonium in the stands, and on the pitch. Sander Westerveld races out of his goal to join in the celebrations as the players head over towards the bench with Sammy Lee going absolutely mad, while Gérard Houllier cackles as though he can’t quite believe his eyes.

So on a day that is Gary Mac’s fiftieth birthday, here’s to my favourite ever Liverpool goal. Merry Christmas one and all!

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