Liverpool '86 1, Everton '86 0
May 2 2006
Dominic King, Liverpool Echo
THE younger members of the audience will have wondered what all the fuss was about as they watched a bunch of middle-aged men shuffle around the hallowed turf.
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Yet while the pace of the game was much more Sunday League than Premier League, Anfield wallowed in nostalgia yesterday as some of the greatest footballers to have plied their trade on Merseyside restaged the 1986 FA Cup Final.
Hairlines may have receded and waistlines expanded, yet that did not stop Liverpool and Everton legends treating a crowd of 32,947 to an exhibition and, most importantly, helping raise a huge amount of money for The Marina Dalglish Appeal.
For spectators of a certain vintage, however, this was a glorious stroll down memory lane, a chance to watch those fearsome competitors, Steve McMahon and Peter Reid, snap away at each other and Ian Rush pit his wits against the wily old Dave Watson. Others will have marvelled at the opportunity to see artists such as Trevor Steven, John Barnes, Adrian Heath and Jan Molby show their mastery of a football, not to mention 'King' Kenny Dalglish's final appearance in a Liverpool shirt.
In the end, the outcome was the same as it was at Wembley two decades ago.
The Red half of the city came out on top thanks to John Durnin's late intervention but, for once, the final score of this squabble was immaterial.
A victory over the neighbours is always sweet and there was a familiar glint in Dalglish's eye as he reflected on the game afterwards. But of greater satisfaction was the staggering turnout from supporters, and he was quick to express his gratitude.
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"It was a great day, a great occasion for a great cause and great to pay tribute to an Everton legend and the wife of a Liverpool legend," said Dalglish, referring to the minute's applause before kickoff for the late Brian Labone and Denise McAllister.
"Nothing was too much of a problem for anyone who you asked for help. Look at Gary Lineker. It speaks volumes for him that he came up just to kick the match off. Steve McMahon only arrived back in England in the morning and was desperate to play.
"Hopefully, it is going to be a facility that the people of Liverpool will be proud of. Marina came up with the idea and I know she's got a few more in mind, but I just hope that they don't include me having to run around on a football pitch any more!"
Sat alongside him, Howard Kendall - back in charge of Everton's affairs for one day only - suggested his old players would share those sentiments, judged by the moaning and wailing from the visiting dressing room.
"It was superb," said Kendall. "There was good banter before the game in the dressing room, at half-time and at the end. There will be a few walking wounded, though. The doctors will be busy with all the strains, twists and pulls!
"But you can never stop quality players pbutting a ball and Liverpool started to get on top when we were tiring. We did not have as many substitutions because of injuries to a couple of players and that made the difference."
Given the greater playing resources they had available, it was not a surprise to see Liverpool win but, as is so often the case with derby matches, things did not quite go according to plan. Those expecting to see an avalanche of goals were wide of the mark.
Just as it was when these two tribes went to war in the 1980s as the country's finest teams, the early stages were tight with mid-field and defences dominating. Father Time has caught up with many but these men remain fiercely competitive.
Injuries and unavailability meant Kendall made six changes to the side that started at Wembley, while Liverpool's sole absentee from that day was Craig Johnston. McMahon - an unused substitute when the Reds sealed The Double - took over..
Liverpool looked the side most likely to score during a first 45 minutes where the tempo only briefly raised above a crawl. Watson's blushes were spared when he headed a Molby cross against his post, while Rush and Ronnie Whelan also went close.
It was a similar story after the break when, happily, there was more of an edge about the match.
"A lot of the lads have played football for 20 years and you just don't like losing," said Watson, a man who took defeat as a personal affront, afterwards.
This, however, was one he had to take on the chin. Dalglish's introduction lifted the crowd. He was involved in everything good the Reds created. Bobby Mimms did well to deny him a fairytale goal on 62 minutes.
When Alan Kennedy crashed a left-foot volley wide, few would have complained had honours ended, even but Durnin - thanks to a generous decision from a linesman - nicked it for Liverpool in the final minute, turning in a Ray Houghton cross.
"I think there was a slight suspicion of offside," smirked Durnin, mindful of Reid and Watson sitting either side of him - their responses could not be printed!
"We would have been happy had it finished 0-0 but the real winners were the crowd. No disrespect, but you wouldn't get that anywhere else in the country. It was a fantastic event to be involved in."
Sentiments with which nobody would disagree.
LIVERPOOL (4-4-2): Grobbelaar (Bolder 62); Nicol, Hansen (Barnes 33, Kennedy 73), Lawrenson (Gillespie 53), Beglin (Ablett 25); McDonald, Molby (Durnin 82), Whelan (Wark 53), McMahon (Houghton 60); Dalglish (Durnin 1, Dalglish 46), Rush.
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EVERTON (4-4-2): Mimms; Harper, Watson, Ratcliffe (Atkins 63), Pointon; Steven (Irvine 39), Reid (Horne 46), Bracewell, Snodin (Bailey 80); Sharp (Wilkinson 46), Heath.
GOAL: Durnin (89)