Today saw the sad passing of former Liverpool and Everton full back Gary Ablett. He died from a form of cancer known as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma which affects the blood cells in the body. He is one of a few players who has played for both Merseyside clubs and had mutual respect and adulation from both sets of supporters. Ablett won the FA Cup with both clubs, in 1989 with Liverpool, before moving to Everton in 1992 and winning the cup with them in 1995.
His passing got me thinking about other players in the modern era that have not only crossed Stanley Park, but also had the ultimate respect from both sets of fans, and the only one I could come up with was Peter Beardsley. Current Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish signed Beardsley in 1987 but was then sold to Everton in 1991, coincidentally he was sold by the same manager who sold Ablett across the park, Graeme Souness. Similar to Ablett, Beardsley won numerous honours including the league title of and FA Cup with Liverpool, but the move was seen as a clear out by Souness, and the following years throughout the 90’s would become a dent in the reds illustrious history.
Other players crossing the divide haven’t had as much admiration. Nick Barmby would be the first of those that spring to mind, he signed for Liverpool in 2000 and scored his first goal against his old club right in front of the away supporters in the Anfield Road stand. Abel Xavier was another controversial transfer across the park. Signed by Houllier in 2002, the Portuguese defender never made any great shakes at Anfield but was always despised by the Goodison faithful for making the traitorous move.
There aren’t many players who would be welcomed with open arms at both the red and blue sides of Merseyside, Peter Beardsley would be one of them, Gary Ablett would have been another. One thing is for sure, Gary’s legend will be remembered for all of the right reasons at both Anfield and Goodison Park. Rest in Peace Gary.
In : Football