I hate Liverpool vs Everton.
Like a Sky Sports wet dream, I come from one of those much feted 'divided families', if I was much younger and a knobhead, you may see me this Saturday, wearing red face paint and sharing a pasty with an Evertonian family member in the Park End. Smiling gleefully, unaware that as soon as a ball is kicked I will become persona non grata, and will be treated to a rousing rendition of 'Kenny Dalglish is a homosexual' by the Goodison faithful. Thankfully I have learnt my lesson, and I won't be there... in fact by kick off, it is far more likely I will be sat in the corner of a warm pub, shivering over a pint of Stella Artois.
In my younger, more naive years I have viewed The Merseyside Derby in a variety of forms, Anfield, Goodison Park, countless living rooms and some of the nation's least reputable pubs have all been the venue for my emotional breakdowns, not once have I really enjoyed it.. and here's why:
1 - It Lasts For About 2 Weeks
There was a time, not so long ago, before Sky Sports News and Twitter infiltrated my life, when I looked forward to talking about football. All it took was a glance at a newspaper on a train, or a crackly radio signal in a taxi and I'd happily chat to anybody about the beautiful game.
Things have changed however, and slow motion trailers showing Andy Carroll's pony tail flapping in the wind and Phil Neville's slack jaw swinging wildly into a tackle are showing up weeks in advance of the fixture. Twitter, Facebook, dentist's waiting rooms and the back pages of every newspaper are stuffed with opinions of how 'the redmen' will line up against 'the toffees.' It's mostly uninformed garbage and none of it carries the necessary chagrin and misery to satisfy a real football fan.
This however is not the worst part, that is yet to come...
The fallout of a derby match, in the modern, interactive football age, is unique and infuriating in equal measure.
Remember that lad who you went to school with? He never showed any interest in football at all, well... he's got something to say about the referee. So has that girl who thinks 'STEVE G IS GORGEOUS X', and that lad in work who you don't like at the best of times? Well, he watched it on a stream direct from Baghdad and it was 'definitely a penalty.'
Shut up all of you, I want to sulk in peace.
2 - I'm A Bit Of A Soft Shite
I enjoy matches with a bit of venom, I really do.
Not many things in life give me greater pleasure than watching a set of away fans come to Anfield full of enthusiasm and vigour, and then watching them leave two hours later, miserable, dejected and angry. For three hours every weekend I enjoy hating several thousand people from another part of the country, not disliking, not politely disagreeing with, but hating them and everything they stand for.
When it comes to the Merseyside Derby though, I just can't bring myself to hate my mum...
I'm a sentimental divvy who would much prefer it if we could all just get along. I certainly don't like Everton and I'll happily argue with my bluenose mates till they're red in the face about them being a smaller club, Fellaini being a yard dog and the various merits of Victor Anichebe, but once a football match is making family dinners as tense as the bar scene from Inglorious Basterds, it's time to have a rethink.
3- Terrible Players Score Terrible Goals
Olivier Dacourt, Danny Cadamateri, Harry Kewell, Nicky Tanner... honestly. This is meant to be a showpiece occasion and it's littered with own goals, scrappy tap ins and Kevin Campbell shanking it into the net.
With Liverpool hitting their stride in terms of collecting red cards and Everton's acquisition of abject nutcase Royston Drenthe, the fixture at the weekend should be even more fiesty than usual, which will certainly keep the Scouse El Clasico clumsier than its Spanish counterpart. Don't expect free-flowing football and cheeky back heels, strap yourself in for 90 minutes of horror tackles and scuffed efforts from 40 yards.
Pundits will of course trot out the 'form book goes out the window' line prior to kick off, and whilst they may have a point, the derby will not be half as exciting as they would like you to believe. I am too young to remember the glory days of Rush and Beardsley, so my derby memories are littered with Djibril Cisse squandering half chances and John Arne Riise getting his chest out, it just doesn't match up.
When it comes down to this Saturday, and Tony Hibbert rams one home from 30 yards, I won't be surprised at all.
4 - 12:45 Kick Offs & Super Sunday
When Sky Sports invented football in 1992, they decided that three o'clock on a Saturday afternoon was simply not the time for football. It was too simple, too traditionalist and it didn't give them chance to pack up their gadgets in time for the last train. So when Rupert Murdoch sat around his boardroom table with Richard Keys, Andy Gray and Satan they unanimously decided that important matches (the ones that it's a bit harder to get tickets for.. or Aston Villa v QPR, it all depends) should be played at obscure and awkward times. They would drag the nation out of bed early and make them walk to the ground, hungover, with scarcely enough time to buy a pint or have a customary pre-match piss in Stanley Park.
On Saturday morning when you're dry-heaving over the toilet as a result of fifteen Stella's and no breakfast, you can thanks Messrs. Keys, Gray, Murdoch and Satan for their interjection...
Alright, so all of that is not strictly true. But can we just have the derby at three o'clock, please?
5 - I Haven't Got A Ticket
I may have convinced you so far that I have no desire to watch this weekend's Merseyside Derby. It's all Lies.
It may be torture, it may be a horrendous standard of football, but please don't make me watch it in the pub with all the weirdos in their replica shirts and scarves...
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