This Sunday sees two of the Premier League’s fiercest and most competitive derbies: The Manchester Derby and The Merseyside Derby. Both games are live on TV and being shown down your nearest Rileys, With Liverpool Vs. Everton on at 2.15pm and Manchester United against Manchester City on at 4.30pm.
Both are classic fixtures, even on the world stage. With hundreds of meetings between them, these two North West crunch ties are staples of the game. But we know all about them, don’t we? Just like El Clasico and all the other big local clashes. What about some of the lesser known – but equally fierce – football derbies, though? There are plenty of juicy ones well worthy of our attention…
Here are five of the most interesting but less well-known football rivalries from across the world:
The Eternal Derby (Red Star Belgrade Vs. Partizan Belgrade)
We all know how seriously the Eastern Europeans take their football. And in countries that have been scarred by war atrocities, football is often the last refuge for generations of angry men in apparently peaceful times. Often strong rivalries are born out of war or aggressive militarism. One such example come from the Serbian capital of Belgrade.
Red Star Belgrade remain the only Balkan football club to have won the European Cup. That’s quite the brag round that way. But Partizan Belgrade don’t let that worry them too much; they were only a game away from winning it themselves back in 1966. Both clubs have pedigree, but it isn’t European games they long for each year. It’s derby games.
‘The Eternal Derby’ hatred mostly stems from history and politics. Red Star come from an anti-fascist youth party background, while Partizan were basically the Yugoslav People’s Army club. The tie later became all about the rivalry between the Interior Ministry and the Defence Ministry, who followed Red Star and Partizan respectively. It doesn’t help that the grounds are literally spitting distance from each other (provided you can spit a good couple of hundred metres).
The M23 Derby (Brighton Vs. Crystal Palace)
Now here’s a weird one. A good deal of football derbies are based on geography. Local neighbours disliking each other for no better reason than they’re just kind of near one another. But ‘The M23 Derby’ (not quite as sexy a name as ‘The Eternal Derby’, eh?) bucks that trend. In fact, there’s a good forty-odd miles between Brighton & Hove Albion and their fierce South London foes.
The loathing is real, though. While Palace dislike Millwall and have very little time for their ‘trainspotting’ neighbours Charlton, it’s The Seagulls they hate most. Why? Well, partly due to their nickname. Brighton and Hove Albion were always known as The Dolphins until they adopted the new moniker to take the mickey out of Palace’s rather grand adoption of The Eagles, after ditching their original nickname, The Glazers.
And then there’s the beef between then-Brighton boss Alan Mullery and Palace man Terry Venables. Mullers and the future England manager weren’t exactly best friends and used to egg each other on a fair amount when in each other’s vicinity. A few nasty meetings between the two and the hatred was set. It didn’t help that Mullery once hoyed a handful of coins at Palace fans…
The Cascadia Derby (Portland Timbers Vs. Seattle Sounders)
MLS has its rivalries, but none have a genuine hatred about them. But Portland Vs. Seattle? It’s no joke. The clubs might only be fortysomething years old, but the dislike between the two cities goes waaaaaay back. In fact, you can date it to the turn of the 19th Century. The two places had no problem with each other until the Alaskan Gold Rush. With gold came money and industry for Seattle. Soon it became the biggest city in the area, leaving Portland in its wake. The two world wars of the 20th Century only helped Seattle grow more, with shipbuilding further industrialising it.
Portland, now firmly the North West of America’s second city needed to do something to compete with it’s Washington state rival. So the Oregon city decided to become the antithesis of its noisy, rich neighbour. As a city it embraces individuality, diversity and culture and rejects huge corporations and taxes wealth, with income tax some nine times higher than Seattle’s. This draws serious right Vs. left and capitalism Vs. social democracy lines. Further encouraging rows and a schism between the two cities.
Plus now they have football.
The Second Vienna ‘Derby’ (Wiener Sportklub Vs. First Vienna)
Alright, time for a little change of pace. We know we promised you four ‘intense’ derbies, but you’re only actually getting three. Only this last local football rivalry is pretty relaxed. In fact, it’s so relaxed and devoid of hatred that it’s actually known as ‘The Derby of Love’.
Talk about ‘The Vienna Derby’ in Austria and locals will assume you’re referring to Rapid Vienna Vs. Austria Vienna. And that is a big one. But the more interesting Viennese derby? Wiener Sportklub Vs. First Vienna. It used to be a huge tie. Both clubs were massive. But both have since suffered decline. Big decline. And at the same time.
So they tried to help each other out a little. Fans’ hatred lessened as they realised they had so much in common. Now? They embrace each other and love their derbies. It took them both getting years of hidings to realise that there was more to inter-club relations than flares, messageboard insults and tunnel-based kickings. And good on ’em, we say.
So there it is. Five odd football derbies you now know all about. For a couple of more familiar rivalries, be sure to join us at Rileys on Sunday for two huge red/blue face-offs that promise to deliver 180 action-packed minutes.