Football: Foot on both sides of Mersey divide

SIDELINES: THE EX-FILES

Irrevocably red by political conviction, Michael Foot was a true blue during his pre-war days on Mersey-side. In a poetic paean to Everton the future Labour leader even spoke of "God's lesser breed of men at Liverpool". So where does that leave the rare breed who crossed the divide between today's derby foes?

Stanley Park may be all that separates Goodison Park from Anfield, but barely two dozen players have had a foot in both camps. Unless you count Michael Owen, whose dad Terry played for "the other lot", or Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler, both boyhood Evertonians like Ian Rush. Home captain Dave Watson is the only man involved in this afternoon's duel with dual experience.

Howard Kendall transformed Alan Harper and Kevin Sheedy from Liverpool reserves into title-winners with Everton in his first reign. In his second he relieved Graeme Souness of Peter Beardsley and Gary Ablett. Johnny Morrissey and David Johnson had previously made the same switch, as did David Burrows (via West Ham), with only Steve McMahon (via Aston Villa) reversing the trend.

The last period of such localised transfer activity came more than a century ago, when Alex Latta and Fred Geary blazed a trail from Everton to Liverpool. Jack Balmer followed it in 1935, just as Foot was being moved to verse, and went on to became the first player to score a hat- trick in three consecutive matches. Poetry in motion, you could say.

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