Top Ten: Football Derbies

Nick HowsonCorrespondent IDecember 3, 2008

In recent week's we've had a number of footballing derbies that have seen red-cards, goals and as always plenty of controversy. However it begs the question, which one is the best? Do the media really hype up some derbies just because it involves a big team?

Well definitely yes. Derbys are about tradition and the supporters of both sides, not about whether big teams are involved, although in most of these cases they can collide. I've had a go at making a list, feel free to include your own version:


10. Sunderland v. Newcastle United

Better known as the Tyne-Wear derby between these two fierce North East clubs. The rivalry dates back to the Industrial Revolution where both cities clashed over many industrial fields including mining.

In recent years the two had been separated by constant relegation on Sunderland's part. The most famous meeting in the Premiership was in 1999 when Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips goals helped Sunderland towards a 2-1 win at St James' Park. Newcastle were at the time managed by Ruud Gullit who dropped Alan Shearer for the game, which turned out to be his final game in charge, as he resigned soon afterwards.


9. Millwall v. West Ham United

This rivalry is made even more special due to the infrequent meeting between to the two sides. The two are based in East London and the rivalry between the two runs deep into the fans and beyond.

The rivalry originates from two rival shipyards across the Thames, but since Millwall have moved slightly north. Even without constant interaction on the pitch this derby is as fresh as ever, and it's sure to reignite the next time they meet.


8. Roma v. Lazio

Known as the most competitive derby in Italy (although there is something to be said for the Milan version) between two great sides both from the country's capital city.

The two sides come from different political backgrounds with Roma swaying towards the left while Roma lead to the right, and this difference of opinion runs deep in the fans. The derby in 2004 will live long in the memory for all the wrong reasons, as rioting broke out shortly after half time.

Francesco Totti then received death threats during the game which resulted in the game being called off. Since the derby has calmed down as both teams head towards the top of Serie A.


7. Cardiff City v. Swansea City

The only two Welsh teams currently in the football league have only recently rekindled their rivalry after nine years apart but already both sides have left off from where they finished in 1999.

Both are said to have "pure hatred" for each other and in the intimating years between matches have goaded each other up until now as the two continue their rivalry. The infamous t-shirt worn by former Swansea player Lee Trundle did nothing to diffuse the rivalry, as he sported an image of a Swansea fan urinating onto a Cardiff shirt.

We've seen already the violence between both sets of fans in their opening two matches of the season with the first being in the Carling Cup. And with the final game to be played at Ninian Park, it's only just begun between these two Welsh sides.


6. Hibernian v. Hearts

For years the Edinburgh derby has been overshadowed by the Old Firm version. Again religious influence takes a huge part in the rivalry, as Hibernian originate from the Roman Catholic side and Hearts the Protestant side.

In meetings between the two sides Hearts hold a huge upper hand as they have 127 wins with Hibs lagging behind with just 82. Plans in 1990 to merge the two teams to take on the Old Firm were met with anguish from the Hibs side after it was suggested by the then Hearts Chairman Wallace Mercer.

Both sets of fans for once agreed on something and they both kept there identity. However even after the death of Mercer Hibs fans hold resentment for the suggestion and to this day protest at Hearts game about the proposal, even interrupting a minute of silence in Mercer's name to show there resentment.


5. AC Milan v. Inter Milan

Apart from Juventus these two are the most successful sides in Italian and European football, and especially Milan who have won the Champions League twice in this decade alone.

The two clubs split in the early 1900's and since have formed different backgrounds due to the nature of the clubs owners former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Milan and businessman Massimo Moratti of Inter.

The most famous meeting of the two teams is one of the darkest days in European Football and one that Inter and especially Milan Goalkeeper Dida will want to forget in a hurry. Goalkeeper Dida was struck by a number of objects including a flare as Inter fans showered the pitch in protest to there teams exit from the European Cup, in which they trailed Milan 3-0 on aggregate.

After an interlude of over 30 minutes referee Marcus Merk abandoned the game giving Milan a 3-0 win in the match. This example alone shows how the tradition of these two clubs runs deep into Italian blood.


4. Fenerbahce v. Galatasaray

The biggest two teams in Turkish history share 34 titles between them, but this derby runs deeper than just title commitments. The two are split by class with the working class siding with Galatasaray and the aristocracy going with Fenerbahce.

However its more down to the location of the two cities that forms the basis of the rivalry. Galatasaray is located on the European side of Turkey while Fenerbahce is on the Asian side, the obvious difference in supporters creates plenty of hostility between the two.

The meeting between the two are usually quiet one sided with one team dominating and winning by a comfortable margin. In the head to heads the more successful is Fenerbahce but in terms of Turkish domestic success Galatasaray are the main team.

Their UEFA Cup win in 2000 still acts as a boasting point, even with their inferior infrastructure.


3. Glasgow Celtic v. Glasgow Rangers

The biggest rivalry in Britain and in terms of Scottish rivalry there is only one. The two most dominating teams of any league in the world meet four times a season, the majority winner is almost guaranteed to take home the title that season.

The closeness between these two in previous title races means that a win over the other can be domestic success is almost certain. The two teams stand for religion, politics and social class and create one of the most intense rivalries ever known.

Rangers are Protestant club while Celtic are considered a Catholic club and both even attempt to keep the traditions today. The rivalry is so close that only five players have ever moved between these two teams.

The Old Firm holds the record for the most aggregate arrests during any derby and is best known for the on pitch fight during a meeting in 1980 at Hampden Park in which 9,000 people were involved.

The cauldron of atmosphere that Ibrox or Celtic Park creates is half of the experience and these two have there fair share of controversy over its 120 year history.


2. Barcelona v. Real Madrid

It's the Scottish version of the Old Firm and it's just if not more intense. These are two of most influencial clubs in the world and have boasted some of the greatest players ever to play. Di Stefano, Van Bastan, Zidane, Ronaldo, just to name a few to have graced this derby of derbies.

Madrid are seen as the dominat force though with a huge infrustructure and on the pitch a huge 31 Spainish title wins and nine European Cup wins, the most recent being in 2002. They are seen as the greatest club team in the world, a status that Barcelona detest.

They've lived in Real's shadow for some years now, and even their back-to-back title wins did nothing to change the form book as Real came back to win the title last season.

If you're looking for a classic meeting between the two, look no further than 2007 where Linoel Messi scored a hat-trick including a last minute equalizer to salvage a 3-3 draw.

One of the great matches ever seen, and there are sure to be more to come.


1. Boca Juniors v. Riva Plate

Listed at the top of the 50 sporting things to do before you die is see this match and when you talk about derbies this is the king.

Over 70% of Argentina's population support one of these two sides. So already you can see the importance this fixture has on the country. The passion of the fans is unrivalled across the world, and where in Milan there doesn't seem to be much self control, in Argentina it's spectacular as well as maintained—well, some of the time.

Violence is known to have broken out in nearly every single encounter either against each other, or joining forces against the police. The rivalry is just as close as well. Boca have the slight edge with 116 wins to River's 104 but they have been inseparable throughout history.

And listen to this Premiership fans to get into the biggest game in Argentina is just £2. Eat your heart out Manchester United these guys know how it's done. It's football at it's most raw and fluent.

It's how it should be played.


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