Soccer AM/MW - the home of lively and humorous discussion from the Football and Non Leagues

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

We salute... local derbies

Our series saluting the features of football we think deserve attention continues as Nobes salutes derby matches in the Football League.

You can be sure that in a couple of months time when next season's fixtures list are published - yes, that soon - which games fans will immediately look to find - when their local derbies are.

There's something quite tribal about the idea of two towns, or two teams in one city, going up against one another.

The fight for local pride and bragging rights, to be able to boast that the 11 players representing your local team are the best, is an essential element of every club's season.

So after the Steel City derby at the weekend, here's my take on some of the finest derby games in the Football League.

Sheffield Wednesday vs. Sheffield United

Well, where else to begin? The Steel City derby - Wednesday and United battling it out for bragging rights in Sheffield.

The first Steel City derby took place in 1893, and relations haven't exactly improved since then.

This is a match between two sides who can genuinely claim to be amongst the biggest 20 teams in the land. It is just a shame that rarely have both sides been in the Premier League together.

Such is the rivalry, former United boss Neil Warnock once claimed that if he was ever given the Hillsborough job he would sell Wednesday's best players and relegate them.

It's fair to say the Blades have held the upper hand over recent years, although the Owls did score their first double over their bitter rivals in over 90 years last season.

Nottingham Forest vs. Derby County

Two of the traditional names in English football both managed to success by one of the finest managers of all time. That's enough about Billy Davies though.

These two East Midlands cities are separated by just 15 miles of the A52 - named Brian Clough Way after the true managerial great.

Of course, Clough led Derby to the old First Division title before doing the same at Forest - as well as winning two European Cups at the City Ground. Now the winners of any derby game are presented with the Brian Clough Trophy.

The old rivalry has particularly intensified this year with Forest manager Davies formerly of Derby, and the Rams being managed by former Forest player and son of Brian, Nigel Clough.

That's led to ugly scenes at the end of both games in this year's Championship. However, it proves that the East Midlands is a footballing hotbed that's beginning to heat up once more.

Bristol City vs. Bristol Rovers

There's something extra special about a derby between two teams from the same city. Alleigances split a city, families, and why is it always between teams who play in red and blue respectively?

In the case of the Bristol derby, City and Rovers do battle in England's sixth biggest city - and there's no love lost between the pair.

Indeed, Tony Pulis - a Rovers man as a player - tried his hand at managing City but could never win around supporters because of his Gas links.

On his return to Ashton Gate as Stoke manager, he suffered abuse from Robins supporters, to which he retaliated by stating it was "good to bring a team back wearing blue" - Rovers's colours.

Recent years have seen City in a higher division than Rovers, and the pair haven't met in the league since 2001. However, the Gas were winners of the most recent meeting in the 2007 JPT southern area final.

Norwich City vs. Ipswich Town


This isn't just a rivalry between two clubs, this is a rivalry between two clubs who represent their respective entire county.

In the backwaters of East Anglia, you're either a Norwich fan or an Ipswich supporter. This is Norfolk vs. Suffolk.

Some observers have dubbed it the 'Old Farm' derby because of the rurality of the two place's locality. Joke names aside though, this one matters, and was once rated the second fiercest rivalry in England.

Perhaps that's because the two clubs have tended to match one another in the division they are in, with few long stretches between meetings.

Cardiff City vs. Swansea City

You think there'd be some kind of semblance of Welsh unity in the English Football League when it comes to these two sides. Think again.

Two of the most passionate, vociferous, and partisan sets of fans around - these folk from the Valleys only use their dolcet tones to sing abuse to one another.

The days of intimidation and violence on the terraces of the Vetch and Ninian Park are now consigned to the history books with both sides having moved to brand spanking new stadiums.

Both are now challenging towards the top of the Championship too - rekindling a hated rivalry that suffered a hiatus with Swansea struggling in the lower divisions during the majority of the last decade.

Preston North End vs. Blackpool

These two West Lancashire rivals have been meeting one another for well over 100 years - and familiarity has certainly bred contempt.

The rivalry is so intense that former Preston manager Gary Peters flatly refused to refer to Blackpool by their name while he was manager at Deepdale.

Seven years without playing one another only served to fuel the expectation of their next meeting - which happened in 2007 after Blackpool won promotion to the Championship.

This is not a game for the faint-hearted, with violent exchanges between the supporters frequent in the past. Most recently, too, a game between the teams in 2008 saw both racist and homophobic chanting by supporters.

BBC pundit Mark Lawrenson, a PNE fan himself, once called it the most bitter rivalry in football, and who are we to argue with Lawro?

Watford vs. Luton Town

When they were thinking of names for this local match-up, the 'M1 Derby' was the best they could come up with. The rubbishness of the name shouldn't detract from the hostility between these two Home County clubs.

The pair have actually gone through long periods where they didn't meet. Indeed, between 1937 and 1963, and then from 1972 to 1979, the Hornets and Hatters didn't face one another.

However, in-between, one game in 1969 saw ugly post match scenes in nearby St Albans as fans from Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire clashed. The blue-touch paper was lit, and during the '80s it exploded.

The pair fought over the Second Division title in 1982 - both eventually winning promotion to the First Division - where the rivalry really took off.

Perhaps it's the fact that, as well as being nearby, they were two clubs from small towns who punched well above their weight in the '80s.

However, this is one that gets the fans of friendly family clubs into a bit of a frenzy. The beauty of the local derby.

Colchester United vs. Southend United

This derby is actually only 60 years old, not taking place until 1950 - when Colchester were promoted into the Football League.

Up until then, Southend had been the top dogs in Essex, but have seen their position challenged over the years since Colchester's second promotion back to the Football League in 1992.

That relegation to the Conference helped contribute to a period of 15 years between 1989 and 2004 when the sides didn't play one another. So, to say they were itching to lock horns once more, was a bit of an understatement.

They did so in the Football League Trophy regional final - with Southend emerging victorious. Then they fought it out over the 2006 League One title - the Shrimpers winning yet again.

Both have since been relegated from the Championship though - now clashing in League One. Despising one another more with every game they play.

Chesterfield vs. Mansfield Town

This game is known as the 'Miners Derby' because of the two town's respective history in the mining industry.

As the smaller clubs representing Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, the hostility between the two sets of fans can often be overlooked when you've Derby and Forest in the neighbourhood.

However, what began as a friendly local rivalry has developed into one of the most fierce derbies in the lower leagues though.

Things intensified between the pair after the Miners' strike during the mid '80s when Nottinghamshire miners crossed picket lines to return to work.

Whereas fans of both sides were once able to stand on the same terrace together, that doesn't apply any more. Not least because of Mansfield's relegation to the Conference in 2008.

Hartlepool United vs. Darlington

These two north east rivals just don't get on. Separated by 25 miles, they may live in the shadow of Middlesbrough, but at least they have a proper derby game that means something to both sets of fans, unlike Boro.

There's even an Old Firm sectarianism feel to the rivalry, with Darlington's links with the Quaker movement.

Pools are notorious for not winning any silverware - meaning wins against Darlo are all the more sweeter. However, it's fair to say that United have spent more seasons in higher divisions than the Quakers.

The pair did meet in the League Two play-off semi final in 2000, with Darlington beating their bitter rivals over two legs. However, after their relegation to the Conference this term, they face the prospect of being two leagues below Pools.

Local derbies... Soccer AM/MW salutes you!

No comments:

Post a Comment