Monday, November 17, 2008

Who is the Fairest Derby of Them All?



The football derby (pronounced "darby" by those crazy Brits) is alternatively a source of great pride or great shame, depending on the tendencies of your club in said matches. However, regardless of which one of those particular emotions your team evokes, the derby is almost always a source of anger, confrontation, and shenanigans. After all, what is more fun than verbally abusing and physically beating the supporters of your rival club? With those thoughts in mind, an industrious South African sports reporter has delineated the Top 50 "World's Greatest Soccer Derbies" and the results are...interesting. There isn't enough time (or willpower) to dissect the entire list, but let's identify some of the more egregious decisions, shall we?


1. The first EPL derby mentioned is...Liverpool v. Manchester United? Umm, that's not an actual derby. The argument that "silverware is at stake" when these 2 clubs meet is also not entirely accurate, as Liverpool have not won the League in almost 2 decades and the last time they finished as high as 2nd was in 2001-2002 (sorry boys!)

2. The only other EPL derby listed is Arsenal-Tottenham (an actual derby! Yay!), which comes in at #42 on the list. This is behind such notable derbies as Rapid Wien v. Austria Wien, Raja Casablanca v. Wydad Casablanca, ALK Sotckholm v. Djurgardens, Kaizer Chiefs v. Orlando Pirates, Pirouzi v. Esteghlal, and Al Ahly v. Zamalek. Umm, who with the what, now?

3. The vaunted(?) Marseille v. Paris Saint-Germain derby comes in at #11. Again, not an actual derby, and the explanation makes almost no mention of PSG other than to note that they were formed in 1970 (which is not entirely accurate, since "Stade Saint-Germain" first played as a club in 1904).

4. Many of the derbies (real or otherwise) mentioned on the list are simply put there due to their average attendance. Apparently, Mohun Bagan v. East Bengal draws a crowd of 120,000 to Salt Lake Stadium in Calcutta, India, while Pirouzi v. Esteghlal play in Tehran, Iran in front of 90,000.

5. No mention of MLS' "Superclasico" of Chivas USA v. LA Galaxy? (alright, that one's forgiveable)

I found some of the derbies interesting, and it was nice to get a little background on clubs playing footy where 99% of us will never see a league match (in person or on TV), but the list overall seemed a little haphazard. Are we discussing interesting matchups or actual derbies in the accepted sense of the word? Are we trying to highlight one important match from every country (within reason), or are we haphazardly selecting whatever strikes our fancy?


Anyway, some suggestions for derbies (actual ones) that should have been highlighted:

1. Lyon v. Saint-Etienne - Separated by only 30 miles, this is a true derby and features the top 2 clubs, historically, in Ligue 1. Lyon has won 7 titles (all in a row), while Saint-Etienne has won 10 (mostly in the 1960s-1970s, and with a stint in Ligue 2 for brief periods in the 1980s and 1990s)

2. Liverpool v. Everton - The blue and red Scouse stare at each other across the park for the entire season, and twice a year (at least) they come together in nightmarish fashion. The only benefit of this match is that since both clubs are still in town, their players rarely have their homes robbed

3. Hearts v. Hibernian - The Edinburgh derby has all of the Old Firm derby panache with relatively little of the religious angst of Celtic v. Rangers.

4. Juventus v. Torino - This is class warfare, plain and simple. You could spend a month in certain parts of Torino and never know that a team besides Juventus played there. But stroll down the side-paths and less-travelled roads in the city and it is the smaller club that is preferred.


What do you all think of the original list? What about my suggestions? Any suggestions of your own?

12 comments:

Mike Georger said...

east anglian and black country are always fun. im sure bigus will have some input on the former.

that article says united are closing in on their 17th title and it was supposedly written last week, so im fairly certain whoever wrote it is a jackass

Matt said...

Hibs and Hearts also has double of the part time supporters just there for the derby as the OF. Swinecastle and Easter Road are seemingly deserted the rest of the season, besides OF games...

Just sayin'

Matt said...

It's also funny to note that this list's #1 derby is also "not a derby" in Barca-Real...

Spectator said...

Wow, you know you've done a shit job when three seconds on google came up with a better list off wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Local_derby

Keith said...

Maybe the Second-City Derby isn't on the list because City has been relegated too many times?
/snickering Villan


And agreed on Spurs-Gunners needing to be way, way, waaaaay higher on that list, and the Battle of the Two Scouses needing to be on the list.

ΓΌ75 said...

In lieu of Hearts-Hibs, I'm going to offer the closest derby in the world where the teams don't share a ground. That would be Dundee-Dundee
United.

This page shows just how close these two clubs are. Sadly, since Dundee blow right now, the teams have not met sine '05. Dundee ran a distant 2nd last season, but are not really in the mix to move up this year.

Bigus Dickus said...

Hi Georger. In fact thats a fact! Well done. Fiercest rivalries in English football are Baggies V Wolves and then Norwich V Ip..Ip..Them.

http://www.footballpools.com/football-fever/Rivalries_Report_2008.pdf

Thats the report that was released this year.

Andrew said...

@ Bigus: I can't wait to see the next installment in the Dirty Leeds -v- ManPoo rivalry. Because it will happen soon. Right?

Shouldn't Gunners-Spurs, Toffees-'Pool be higher? I'm not trying to undervalue the Port Vale-Stock rivalry, or Grimsby-Scunthorpe, but visibility counts for something, yeah?

Andrew said...

Also, I didn't think there were any men left to play in Grimsby following 1918. Or Accrington.

Mosher said...

My other half's from Dundee (though not a footie fan) and it amazes me how close the stadia are together. Like Liverpool, though, there's very little actual *animosity* between fans as there are so many families that are half one side / half the other.

My "derby" would be Newcastle v mackem filth - and I know it's also not truly a derby as we're in different cities. However, it's always been billed as such. They're getting round it in the media over here by calling it the "Tyne/Tees" derby. Mind, these are the same people trying to claim that Newcastle v 'Boro is a derby as well. What next? A Tyne/Thames "derby" with Newcastle v Arsenal?

Bigus Dickus said...

Andrew. Nah. They don't come close to Norwich V Ipshit. Reason? We have no other rivals. 40 miles to the dump that is Ipswich and no one of note nearer. Liverpoo, Leeds, Manchester etc etc all within a close proximity. Norwich V Ip.Ip..is on Setanta in 3 weeks. Enjoy!

Precious Roy said...

That's the third East Anglia reference i've come across since Friday. Beyond strange....