Britain’s Fiercest Derbies

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They do rivalries a little bit differently in football, with local derbies ranking as some of most insane, intense atmospheres in all of sport.

Started back in the days when clubs represented only their local area instead of the global brands most teams are now, everyone circles derby day on the calendar when the fixtures are released.

There’s just something very special about derby football, win and you have bragging rights over your rival until the next meeting, lose and you’ve got your tail between your legs.

The local derbies in the Premier League have sparked plenty of heated discussions in the Ladbrokes office, especially when the resident Arsenal and Tottenham fans sat across from each other.

On Sunday night, Australia’s own Ange Postecoglou will get his first taste of arguably the best rivalry in sport as he managed Celtic against their hated rivals Rangers.

Standing in the other technical area will be none other than Steven Gerrard, this is truly the big stage for Postecoglou this season.

Not to mention the full stands at Ibrox that will be hurling vitriol like he has never seen (if he can understand them).

Naturally there’s plenty of feeling no matter where you play, but what deserves to be the considered the best derby in all of football?

Check out our list here and decide for yourself.

Merseyside Derby – Everton vs Liverpool

Anfield and Goodison Park are barely a kilometre apart with only Stanley Park between the city of Liverpool’s two premiere football clubs, who first met in October 1894.

Originally the fans were divided along political allegiances but now it’s a case of fans wanting to follow the big boys of Liverpool or wanting to support the city’s underdogs.

The rivalry is somewhat subdued due to many local families having supporters of both clubs in their midst, leading to this being nicknamed The Friendly Derby.

Of course there’s still plenty of hostility when they face off, especially lately as Everton tries to play spoiler for their big brother, while also trying to vault themselves into the elite status.

Liverpool has had the better of Everton in this rivalry but their proudest moment came in the 1989 FA Cup Final when they claimed the Cup 3-2 in extra time thanks to a brace from Ian Rush.

Unquestionably the Toffee’s best moment came in 1991 when they eliminated Liverpool from the FA Cup, sparking the resignation of Kenny Dalgleish.

After the original tie ended 0-0, Everton came from behind four times to earn a 4-4 draw and another replay, which prompted Dalgleish’s departure before the Toffees advanced in the second replay with a 1-0 win.

Second City Derby – Aston Villa vs Birmingham City

Long referred to as England’s “second city”, Birmingham City and Aston Villa have been battling for supremacy in Birmingham since September 27, 1879.

Villa Park and St Andrews are all of 3.9km apart and the fans are so heavily invested in the rivalry, any player who dares to cross the divide is known to receive all kinds of threats.

In 2019, a Birmingham City fan broke onto the pitch at St Andrews and punched Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish in the back of the head before being caught by police, although the Villa captain had the last laugh scoring the winner in the ill tempered derby.

With both sides bouncing in and out of the Premier League lately, top division matches have been few and far between, but Villa fans still love to remember the 5-1 thrashing they handed out in 2008.

Birmingham won the lone Cup tie between the two with silverware on the line, taking out the 1963 League Cup Final with a 3-1 victory in the first leg and then a 0-0 draw in the second leg at Villa Park.

Manchester Derby – Manchester City vs Manchester United

A local derby that has been going since 1881, but only really took off in the last 10 or so years when Manchester City’s new owners brought them to the big boys’ table.

Prior to that you could have forgiven United fans for thinking their best rivalry was with Liverpool or Arsenal but now Manchester is very much a two team City, even if United is technically based outside of the city of Manchester.

As City began their ascension towards the summit of English football, Sir Alex Ferguson of United referred to them as the ‘noisy neighbours’ and they roared home in the 2011/2012 season on the way to their first Premier League title.

In the first derby of that season, City recorded a resounding 6-1 win confirming their status as legitimate title challengers.

United has had their share of moments in the new era as well though, including a memorable 4-3 win in September 2009 thanks to a late winner from Michael Owen.

While United has been in the midst of a rough patch lately, they have caused problems for City, including doing the league double over them in 2019/2020 harming their title chances… albeit helping another rival in Liverpool.

And the Manchester Derby also gave us this moment of brilliance from Wayne Rooney.

This weekend’s clash has plenty on the line as United tries to reel in City and their massive advantage at the top of the Premier League table.

East Midlands Derby – Derby vs Nottingham Forrest

It might not be the most glamourous derby, but any rivalry that involves fans throwing two sheep heads into a pub full of rival supporters warrants a mention here.

In January 2009, a group of Forest fans threw a pair of sheep heads into a pub full of Derby supporters before the Championship match between the two clubs.

2009 was an interesting year as both sides recorded perhaps their most iconic win in the history of this fixture with Derby coming back from 2-0 down to win an FA Cup tie 3-2 and Forrest ending a six year losing streak against Derby, winning a Premier League match in August.

This is another rivalry that was centred around geographic proximity originally but it really took off in the 1970’s when Forest hired legendary Derby manager Brian Clough, who is still regarded as the best ever manager at each team.

Hostilities among the fan bases continue however they were able to put their differences aside and now compete for the Brian Clough trophy every time they meet.

North London Derby – Arsenal vs Tottenham

A newer rivalry than most of this list, the hostilities began when the Woolwich Arsenal Football Club moved to North London in 1913, encroaching of the territory of Tottenham Hotspur.

Hostilities were further flamed when the Football League opted to promote Arsenal to the expanded first division in 1919 ahead of Tottenham, who had been relegated in the season prior to World War One.

It’s fair to say that since Arsene Wenger took over at Arsenal in 1995, the Gunners have had the better of the rivalry, including winning the league in 2004 at White Hart Lane, where the players ignored a directive to celebrate on the pitch.

Spurs have had their moments as well, including a memorable comeback win in 2010 but since the author is a Gunners fan (and the editor knows better than to start on this), we’ll just show you this clip instead.

Dockers Derby – Millwall vs West Ham

Two of the more… rough sets of fans in all of England, they were originally separated based on which company you worked for back in the day.

We could go into great detail about the list of incidents and great moments but this clip sums it up best, football fans clash… AT A BOXING MATCH!

Here’s some football content too

Sheffield Derby – Sheffield United vs Sheffield Wednesday

Don’t ever refer to either of these clubs simply as “Sheffield” as many fans will take it as a bigger slight than heckling someone’s sainted mother.

The first meeting between these clubs took place on November 16, 1862 although some theorise it was simply an excuse to let the fans brawl for 90 minutes in the stands.

While neither side is in the midst of what many would consider to be glory days, they still have their derby as the highlight of the season.

Tyne-Wear Derby – Newcastle United vs Sunderland

The dislike between Newcastle and Sunderland predates professional football, with the towns on opposite sides of the English Civil War in the 1600’s.

On the pitch, these clubs first met in 1883 and the first competitive fixture took place in the 1887 FA Cup, which Sunderland won 2-0.

When it comes to the rivalry though, there are few more bizarre moments than in 1920 when Newcastle fans stormed the pitch with their side trailing 2-0 in the hopes of getting the match abandoned.

South Wales Derby – Cardiff vs Swansea

Two Welsh sides competing in an English competition, it’s only natural that they hate each other, after all if you’re from Wales you hate everyone else in Wales who isn’t from your area.

In 1988 a group of Cardifff fans literally had to get into the sea as they were chased there by Swansea fans after a match that has since become known as The Battle of Ninian Park.

Swansea has the honour of winning the first Premier League meeting between the two sides in 2014 but Cardiff has overall honours, winning more head to head matches.

Old Firm Derby – Celtic vs Rangers

We’ve saved the best until last, heading to Scotland for the Britain’s defining football rivalry: the Catholics against the Protestants.

It goes well beyond sport but Old Firm Derbies are always a sight to behold, even with Rangers recent struggles getting back to the top division.

These two sides have spent pretty much their entire existence trading titles between one another and trying to prevent the other from adding to their trophy cabinet

Such is the intensity of an Old Firm Derby, even the most mild mannered players have lost their heads.

Legend has it that Aussie Kevin Muscat was never selected for an Old Firm Derby during his time at Rangers as his manager never trusted him to keep his cool in the raucous, hostile atmosphere.

Here’s just a sample of some of the best moments of the Old Firm Derby.