Transfers across Stanley Park don't happen too often and for good reason.

While the dynamic of our two-team city is different from others across country, the age-old rivalry meant for years changing colours on Merseyside was often seen as more trouble than it's worth.

Football transfers have changed in the modern era however with clubs keener and more able to freshen things up regularly due to the vast sums of money in the game.

And some seem almost destined to bring moments on the pitch which would be rejected by Hollywood scriptwriters as being too far-fetched.

The transfer of Nick Barmby from Everton to Liverpool certainly falls into that category.

The last player to move in that direction had been Dave Hickson in 1959 and, while there had been a number of individuals such as David Johnson, Steve McMahon, Kevin Sheedy, Alan Harper and Gary Ablett who had ended up playing for 'the other lot', none had been seen as being at the peak of their powers at the time of their transfers (although with hindsight some Liverpudlians would dispute that about Peter Beardsley following his switch to Everton in the summer of 1991).

But in the summer of 2000 Nick Barmby was Everton's best player.

After arriving for a club record fee of £5.75 million from Middlesbrough in October 1996, Barmby had established himself as a key figure at Goodison straddling the difficult last few months of the Joe Royle era, Howard Kendall's harrowing third spell in charge when relegation was only averted on the final day of the 1997/98 campaign and then the stabilisation of the club under Walter Smith.

Although Everton finished twelfth in 1999/2000 after a tame finish, they had flirted with a push for Europe at times during the campaign, the 4-0 win at West Ham on the final Saturday in February which saw Barmby grab a hat-trick putting them up to seventh, only eight points behind neighbours Liverpool and Arsenal who were jostling for the all-important third spot which back then was the cut-off for Champions League qualification.

Nick Barmby celebrates Everton's last victory at Anfield to date in September 1999

Hopes were high that with judicious recruitment from that summer's European Championships in Belgium and the Netherlands, Smith's side would kick on but in fact Euro 2000 proved to have quite the opposite effect.

Just ten days after the 3-2 defeat to Romania which saw England exit the tournament following the group stages, Barmby - who had figured as a substitute in two of the three games Kevin Keegan's side had played in the Low Countries - uttered what Everton chairman Bill Kenwright later labelled 'the worst six words in the English language': "I want to play for Liverpool".

He had reportedly been in talks with Everton over a new deal ahead of the summer tournament which would have made him the club's highest-paid player and the Blues hierarchy were shocked at the change of tack, chief executive Mike Dunford claiming: "We have met all of Nicky's requests in the new contract. But you can say that his getting back into the England squad has complicated matters."

Bill Kenwright made a last-ditch bid to persuade him to stay at Goodison but Walter Smith confirmed the player had his heart set on a move to Anfield.

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"Following discussions between myself, Bill Kenwright, the player and his agent, Nick Barmby has indicated his desire to leave Everton", Smith said.

"Obviously with a year of his contract to go this leaves the club in an awkward position.

"We have made every attempt to retain the player's services, but after a number of meetings the player eventually indicated that he would like to leave the club.

"Obviously the decision was a disappointment to everybody at Everton but is one that most clubs have to live with at the present moment and this is something we will just have to live with ourselves. It leaves a situation which is an impossible one for both parties. I don't think it is possible for a player having turned down a contract to be fully committed in his last year. It is obvious then that it would be beneficial for the player to move to another club."

"The player has indicated to me that the club he would like to move to is Liverpool, a club who have already made enquiries about the availability of the player. Now that discussions between Everton and Nick have fallen through we must wait for an approach from Liverpool to see where we go from here."

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Liverpool reportedly valued Barmby initially at £4m and with Everton understandably determined to recoup at least the £5.75m they had paid Middlesbrough, the prospect of an impasse and the Blues potentially making the player see out the remaining year of his contract in the reserves loomed.

But eventually Liverpool agreed to pay £6m, leaving Reds fans jubilant and Blues apoplectic, despite Everton releasing a statement saying both clubs "wish to emphasise that negotiations have continued over the past week in a spirit of goodwill and integrity and they both wish each other success in the forthcoming season".

Former Everton Shareholders' Association spokesman Tony Tighe said: "The fans will never forgive him for this.

"His career was in the doldrums for three years after he came here but we stood by him and kick-started his career. Now he has kicked us in the teeth by saying he wants to move across the park.

"That will hurt the supporters deeply and he'll never be welcome at Everton again.

"I had ordered a Barmby number eight shirt in our new kit for my young son to be collected on July 1st but I will now cancel it."

Barmby was unveiled at Anfield on 19 July 2000 alongside manager Gerard Houllier who expressed surprise at the level of controversy over the transfer, telling the press: "You speak as though he has changed his religion or political label!"

gerard houllier and phil thompson with new signings back row markus babbel left and gary mcallister and l-r bernard diomede pegguy arphexad and nick barmby

Barmby himself said: "To say I'm a money grabber is rubbish. I had only one year left on my contract at Everton and I could have sat it out and then moved for nothing under the Bosman ruling.

"I understand why Everton fans are upset with me because I understand the rivalry. I understand the situation I am in.

"All I want to say is that my attitude to Everton, their manager and their fans will never change. People are making out that they are vicious and will want to have a go at me.

"But nothing could be further from the truth. They are good people, fine fans and I will always hold them in the highest regard.

"I just hope people will understand that I'm just like any football fan who dreams about playing for the club he supported as a boy, and that's how I feel about Liverpool.

"There has been a couple of times in the past when I almost came to Liverpool, but when the chance came along this time it was too good to turn down."

Finally the talking was over and the time came for Barmby to show what the fuss was all about and, after a slowish start to his Liverpool career, the Hull-born player hit upon a rich vein of form which provided a foundation for a memorable season at Anfield.

He started all but one of the Reds' first ten Premier League games of the season, his only goal in the first couple of months of the season being the winner in Liverpool's first of a long but ultimately successful UEFA Cup campaign away at Rapid Bucharest, but all eyes inevitably were trained on Sunday 29th October, the 11th league match of the campaign, when Everton were to make the short trek across Stanley Park for the Merseyside derby.

It was Barmby who kicked the match off on a rainy autumn afternoon and, as the fates of football dictated he must, it was Barmby who opened the scoring after just 12 minutes, ghosting in at the far post onto Christian Ziege's deflected cross shot to nod a firm header into the Anfield Road end in front of the travelling Evertonians as the rest of the ground exploded in delight.

It set up a 3-1 Liverpool win that afternoon and the start of a scoring run for Barmby over the next eight weeks which would see him bag against Slovan Liberec and Olympiakos (in both away and home legs) in the UEFA Cup as well as an extra time strike against Fulham in the League Cup quarter-final and a satisfying second (and final) Premier League goal of the season for the former Tottenham man in a 4-0 humbling of Arsenal at Anfield just two days before Christmas.

Seven goals before the turn of the year was a respectable return for the attacking midfielder in a newly-built Reds side still finding its feet and showing inconsistency particularly away from home and yet Barmby's goal against the Gunners was to be prove to be his penultimate in a Liverpool shirt.

Just over a month later, his 87th minute strike having come off the bench at Elland Road cracked open a tight FA Cup fourth round tie as Liverpool rode their luck to gradually assert their authority over a Leeds side who had pipped them for Champions League qualification the season before but would fall short in the race for third spot to the Reds this time around.

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But he started only six more games that season despite the hectic fixture programme which saw Liverpool play a total of 63 matches in all competitions as they completed a unique treble of cup triumphs.

The arrival of Jari Litmanen on a free transfer in the January along with the emerging importance of Gary McAllister after his arrival the previous summer may have ended up counting against Barmby as did perhaps his versatility, with his ability to play in a number of midfield and attacking positions meaning he never truly nailed down his own distinct place in the side.

When the big games were coming left and right as the season reached its dramatic crescendo, Barmby all too often found himself as a substitute, only featuring in one of that season's three cup finals - the Worthington Cup against Birmingham when he replaced Vladimir Smicer on 87 minutes - and not even making the substitutes bench for the FA Cup final against Arsenal in Cardiff.

The Westfalenstadion in Dortmund saw Liverpool's epic 5-4 golden goal win over Alaves in the 2001 UEFA Cup final
The Westfalenstadion in Dortmund saw Liverpool's epic 5-4 golden goal win over Alaves in the 2001 UEFA Cup final

He did start the final match of the season, the crucial Premier League match against Charlton Athletic at the Valley which Liverpool needed to win to secure third spot and Champions League qualification for the first time, although perhaps tellingly was substituted early in the second half for Danny Murphy just a minute before Robbie Fowler poached the opener in what eventually became a comfortable 4-0 triumph.

His stock was still high enough by the start of the following season for him to start for England in the astonishing 5-1 World Cup qualifying away win to Germany when all five goals were scored by Liverpool players, Barmby assisting the equaliser for Michael Owen with a deft and perceptive header.

But only two league starts by October showed the writing was on the wall and Liverpool accepted a Sunderland bid to take the former Middlesbrough man back to the north east only for Barmby to turn it down and vow to fight for his place at Anfield.

He never started another Liverpool game after the Champions League win in Kiev the same month as Sunderland's failed bid and after making only 12 appearances in all competitions - just six of them in the starting line-up - he moved back to his native Yorkshire with Leeds United for £2.75m in the summer of 2002.

On the face of it, eight goals in 58 appearances over the course of two seasons may not seem the greatest return given the controversy and rancour Barmby's transfer across Stanley Park caused.

But the scoring spree he went on as autumn turned to winter in the first year of the new millennium helped set the tone for this burgeoning yet still fragile new Liverpool era, with the header that soared high into the Everton net that rainy October day safely ensconced in the Liverpool hall of fame (and Everton dungeon of infamy) for as long as the Reds and Blues do battle.