10. Swansea and Cardiff (South Wales Derby)
One of the Football Leagues fiercest derbies comes from two teams not situated in England. The South Wales derby first took place in 1912 and has since been marred with violence and hooliganism. In the most recent match, a cracking game in which Swansea won 3-2; Cardiff fans were believed to have caused thousands of pounds of damage in Swansea’s Liberty Stadium after vandalising seats and toilets.
9. Birmingham and Aston Villa (Birmingham Derby)
A rivalry that has been reignited in recent years with Birmingham returning to top flight football, the hatred between these two teams is high. The most famous Premiership incident between the two sides has to be when Peter Enckelman, the current Aston Villa keeper clipped the bottom of the ball after a throw in back pass, resulting in an own goal. The passion in this fixture was then personified as a Birmingham fan ran onto the field to celebrate in front of a desolate Enckelman. An Aston Villa fan I know once confessed to attending this fixture in the opposing fans end and they set his coat alight; suffice to say the two sets of fans don’t hold the highest opinion of each other.
8. Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday (Steel City Derby)
Another derby that is widely believed to be one of the best contested in the country. It is one of the older derbies dating back to 1890 and there have been 124 competitive games in all competitions, with Sheffield United current ahead by just 4 – showing just how tight these encounters are. The most recent was another close game, almost with a remarkable comeback as United led 3-0 at half time only for it to finish 3-2.
7. Portsmouth and Southampton (South Coast Derby)
A rivalry that has been present for years yet has been spiced up in the last decade by relegations, promotions, and a certain Harry Redknapp. The word ‘scum’ is often used by sets of supporters to describe the others and upon attending Fratton Park recently myself I heard chants of ‘stand up if you hate the scum’ despite the fact they were currently playing Wigan. Notorious Portsmouth fan John ‘Portsmouth Football Club’ Westwood is supposedly banned from St. Marys Stadium after urinating on a seat – that’s one way to show a dislike for something.
6. Millwall and West Ham (East London Derby)
One of the more viscous derbies in the Football League, matches between these teams have been few and far between in the last decade, with West Ham spending much of their recent years in the top flight and Millwall drifting between the lower leagues. This may go a long way to explaining the tension when the two teams recently drew each other in the Carling Cup. A tie that West Ham won in extra time but one that was unfortunately overshadowed by crowd trouble and a stabbing.
5. Rangers and Celtic (Old Firm Derby)
I know I said Premier League and Football League but I felt it would be rude to ignore this. Season after season these matches are by far the most important dates in the Scottish football calendar. The two Glasgow teams battle it out at Ibrox and Celtic Park with the result having an instrumental effect on the SPL title. It is a rivalry that has existed in Scotland for over a hundred years and with the two sides being denied entry to the Premier League is one that is set to continue in Scotland for years to come.
4. Sunderland and Newcastle (Tyne and Wear Derby)
The two cities of Newcastle and Sunderland are just ten miles apart, giving the Tyne and Wear derby a sense of a cross town rivalry, with town pride at stake. There have been several memorable matches between the two clubs, including a 2-1 win for Sunderland on a rainy evening at St. James’ Park in 1999, which led to Newcastle manager Ruud Gullit’s resignation. The rivalry between the two teams actually saw an away fans ban during the 1996-97 season in which for both Premier League games away fans were not allowed to attend, and we all know how Newcastle fans would have taken this news given their die hard nature.
3. Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur (North London Derby)
One of the most famous derbies in the world has been contested since 1887, with the first league encounter in 1909. The hatred between these clubs reaches boiling point when they meet. The great thing about derbies is that they bring out the best in teams. You only have to look at the last few seasons to see that, with last year’s dramatic 4-4 draw at the Emirates Stadium, a simply brilliant game of football both for a neutral and those involved. Fans of both teams will mark these dates on the calendar as one of the most important of the season.
2. Liverpool and Everton (Merseyside Derby)
To be honest it is exceptionally hard to pick between some of these rivalries, however considering the Merseyside derby is the longest running in top flight football, it seemed hard to overlook it for the top two. Another derby where tensions run high, the Merseyside derby has always been a place for players to shine. Last year’s F.A Cup ties were agonisingly close before teenager Dan Gosling popped up to make a name for himself and earn huge popularity with Evertonians. An interesting fact about these matches involve the number of players who have faced the team they supported as a youngster. Take Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen for example, who were both boyhood Everton fans.
1. Manchester United and Man City (Manchester Derby)
Again, there is no real reason I can think of that would necessarily set this above the Merseyside or North London derby, so this one is personal opinion for me. During my lifetime what I’ve loved about the Manchester derby is the fact that Manchester City have always raised their game. Throughout the Premiership era, United have been the most successful team in the country by a mile, yet City have managed to emerge from the derby victorious on numerous occasions, completing the double 2007-08 (admittedly their team were being rapidly helped by an increase in transfer funds). The most recent one says it all about this derby; pressure, passion and excitement.
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