Best UK Local Football Derbies
The focus here is on the teams who usually meet at least twice annually. Yeah, we know how great it would be to hear the welcoming voices of Millwall having banter at West Ham, or Pompey having a drink with Southampton’s chaps. But, it doesn’t happen. Leagues apart, literally, so have a dose of the more regular stuff.
It’s not that long ago that Manchester United would openly chat about their love of the derby. Not usually with Manchester City, but with rivals Liverpool. How times have now changed, but older United fans will often refer to the derby being the clash with Liverpool.
Some now believe and have aired publicly that the United vs City fixture is the biggest rivalry on the pitch. The leg breaking tackles/homicidal attacks of Roy Keane have now gone. Some may say it’s become insipid, what with the global attention this game now brings, and long for a more local affair, settled on the nearby precinct, when required.
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There are bucket loads of potential derbies in London, the most popular ones have to be Chelsea vs Arsenal and Arsenal vs Tottenham.
With the focus being on local derbies, we’ve got to go with Arsenal vs Tottenham and the north London derby. They have lots in common: middle class, six-figure salaries and great memories.
Spurs have suffered at the hands of Arsenal for decades, managing the occasional win but generally always at the butt of most of Arsenal’s jokes. How times have now changed.
The best thing about this derby is its unpredictability. Back in the 2007/08 season, Tottenham stuffed the Arsenal 5–1 in the League Cup semi-final second leg. In the following 21 league games, Spurs failed to register a single victory. During the seasons between 2003 and 2013, there were a total of 101 goals in just 25 games. This period witnessed some of the greatest games between these two in decades: a 4-4 draw and a 5-4 away win for Arsenal, which was labelled a hockey score by none other than Jose Mourinho.
The last 10 games have not seen more than two goals being scored by any team. Saying that, there’s only been one goalless draw this century, between these two sides.
The main match on Merseyside has to be, unquestionably, that of Everton V Liverpool, obviously. Though dubbed by many as the Friendly derby, stats suggest otherwise. When compared to all other English derbies there are twice as many red cards in this fixture. But when it comes to goals scored, the Merseyside derby is way down the list.
Unlike other tense local rivalries, where hatred seems to be the order of the day, the Merseyside derby has a certain feel of grudging mutual respect, which is odd.
Newcastle vs Sunderland is not happening this season and, judging by recent performances, it could be a few more seasons before these two are together again.
Since the Premier League’s inception, games between these two have always been packed with excitement and have the lowest percentage of games won by more than one goal. It’s a close one to call between these two too, with each side beating the other an equal number of 53 times.
There’s deep rivalry here. Most derbies may have been deep rooted in some kind local industry, and there are links to shipbuilding and shipbreaking here. But this one can be traced back to even more historical times, when Newcastle backed the monarch and Sunderland supported Parliament in the English Civil War.
The most epic game in this region has to be Aston Villa vs Birmingham City.
They first met in 1879 Birmingham came out 1-0 victors but it was a disputed game as Villa described the pitch as “only fit for potholing”, whatever that means!
Anyway, when they met again in a competitive fixture, Villa won 1-0. That was in 1887 and since then there have been plenty of competitive games. Villa gave Blues a good whacking in 2008, when they famously put five past their neighbours.
There’s no love lost between these two sides. When manager Alex McLeish left Birmingham for Villa, he got death threats. Charming!
It has to be Celtic vs Rangers: soaked in ancient history and religion, and miraculously still important to some.
Known as the Old Firm derby, this fixture recently saw a prolonged break since Rangers took an enforced trip to the lower divisions for five years. The glamour is now back and recent games have added a bit more spice to Scottish football.
Cardiff vs Swansea is competitive to say the least. Never has side done the league double over the other. And they’ve had ample opportunity to.
When they do meet, you can usually guarantee feisty. There are always goals aplenty, last minute winners and a well penned referee’s notebook.
Which is the biggest rivalry? We know of the local stuff but obviously want to focus more on the games that draw in the neutral from across the land.
What do you reckon to the above? It’d be great to hear your comments and suggestions on our Facebook page.