There’s nothing that sparks up a fiercer clash in football than the meeting of two local teams for a derby, and fans wishing to sample the best of UK football could do much worse than travelling to catch one of these games.
Some of the greatest and most passionately fought matches in the history of football have been local derbies, with fans even invading the pitch at times to try to get matches abandoned when their team was losing. This list features the fiercest and highest profile local clashes in UK football, striking utter humiliation into the hearts of defeated fans and inspiring total jubilation from the victors. See if your team made the list…
West Brom vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers
The Black Country derby has been played more than 150 times, with the two teams’ first clash occurring in 1886 in an FA Cup tie. Although Aston Villa have historically been a major rival of West Brom, a survey of West Brom and Wolves fans in 2004 found that each team’s fans considered the other their main rival.
Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur
The North London derby really kicked off after Arsenal moved into their Highbury stadium in 1913, placing the team just four miles from Tottenham’s White Hart Lane ground and marking the beginning of an intense rivalry. As North London clubs, the two teams’ first encounter was in a friendly match in 1914 at White Hart Lane which Arsenal won 5-1 despite being in the Second Division at the time, and Spurs being a First Division side. Of all the teams’ encounters over the years in the League, FA Cup, League Cup and Charity Shield, Arsenal come out on top with 71 wins to Spurs’ 53, and 264 goals to Spurs’ 231.
Manchester City vs. Manchester United
The Manchester derby has been a hotly contested affair ever since the two teams first met on November 12, 1881. On that occasion, Manchester United – then known as Newton Heath – triumphed 3-0 over West Gorton, shortly after to become known as Manchester City. The two teams battled out the early years as the top two teams out of many Manchester clubs, eventually rising to the top league of the time to meet each other in a First Division match in 1906, which City took 3-0. The latest, and 161st meeting of the two teams saw City take a shock 6-1 victory – equaling the derby’s biggest ever win in 1926, when City beat United 6-1 at Old Trafford.
West Ham vs. Millwall
These two teams both have what could be politely described as a “passionate fanbase”, and the rivalry between the two has been bitterly contested since their inception. Both teams were founded in East London by groups of dockers, Millwall in 1885 by workers on the Isle of Dogs and West Ham United ten years later by dockers at the Thames Ironworks, making them rivals both on and off the pitch. Since their first meeting in 1897, Millwall have won the most games, with 38 of the 98 meetings, compared to West Ham’s 33.
Newcastle United vs. Sunderland
The Tyne-Wear derby between Newcastle United and Sunderland has been an entertaining fixture since the two teams’ first meeting in 1883. The biggest scoreline came in a 1908 meeting, when Sunderland thrashed Newcastle 9-1 at St James’ Park. Newcastle hold the most wins, however, with 53 to Sunderland’s 45.
Aston Villa vs. Birmingham City
Known as the Second City derby, the rivalry between Birmingham clubs Aston Villa and Birmingham City has seen some major clashes over the years. The two clubs’ first meeting in 1879, when Birmingham City were known as Small Heath Alliance, prompted Villa players to describe City’s then ground as “only suitable for pot-holing”. However, relations between fans have been relatively civil, even in 1963, when City beat Villa 3-1 on aggregate to take the League Cup that year, despite losing to Villa 4-0 in the League. The cup was City’s first major title.
Chelsea vs. Fulham
With so many teams clustered into West London, the West London derby can include any two of Chelsea, Fulham, QPR and Brentford, but Chelsea vs. Fulham has become the most commonplace encounter. According to a census of football fans in 2003, Fulham and QPR fans see Chelsea as being their main rivals, whereas Chelsea fans snubbed their neighbours to vote for Arsenal, Spurs or Manchester United as their main adversaries.
Rangers vs. Celtic
The ‘Old Firm’ Glaswegian clubs Celtic and Rangers have played each other a staggering 396 times since their first encounter, and Celtic’s first ever match, in 1888. The tally of wins over the years is close, with Rangers just beating Celtic to 158 wins over Celtic’s 143. The dominance of the two clubs, rarely challenged in the Scottish League and cups, only fuels the intense rivalry between them. Competition is made even more fierce by the mixing of Catholic/Protestant and Loyalist/Republican religious and political alliances.
Liverpool vs. Everton
The Merseyside derby is the longest-running derby in the history of top-level football in England, having been contested at that level since the 1962-63 season. Traditionally a family-friendly fixture in the footballing calendar due to the large number of families in Liverpool with supporters of both sides, the derby has become more fiercely contested since the 1980s to become an explosive Premier League event.
Nottingham Forest vs. Derby County
Although the Nottingham Forest/Notts County rivalry carries with it a rich history, the East Midlands derby of Nottingham Forest and Derby County has seen more battles fought in recent years. Since highly successful manager Brian Clough moved from Derby County to Nottingham Forest in the late 1970s, the battle has intensified, and the winning team now receives the Brian Clough Trophy in honour of the celebrated figure at both clubs.
Of course, if football’s not your thing and you’d rather travel further afield than the UK for some sun and fun, there are plenty of cheap holiday deals around this summer for you to leave the UK and its crazy football fans far behind you!