Biggest Football Derbies in England
Fans in England live and breathe football. The most loyal of supporters cheer their teams on and off the pitch at every moment. Sometimes, the situation becomes so heated that it evolves into a rivalry. Whether it is a beef between two home teams, two dominant clubs in the league, or simply two teams that were one club, the rivalries can grow and develop under very obscene circumstances.
England, in particular, is very unique when it comes to derby matches. Don’t for a second think that the games between the biggest clubs are labelled as derby matches. Some much smaller teams fancy going up against their biggest rivals and defeating them on the pitch. Sometimes, it helps to change a faltering season after they defeat their long-time opponents.
Today, it is time to talk about the biggest football derbies in England. Who knows, sometimes you may decide to check out one of them and have the time of your life watching this kind of match live.
Manchester United vs Liverpool (North-West Derby)
The rivalry between Manchester United and Liverpool stems back for years. Actually, they don’t have any historical or geographical roots to tie them together. These two are the most successful clubs in England’s history, so they naturally became the biggest opponents and fiercest rivals.
There is also the fact that the cities competed against each other during the Industrial Revolution, prompting the hatred between them to simmer up even more. At the moment, Manchester United has more wins, with a score of 82-71-58.
However, Liverpool got the most high-profile win. It actually happened very recently as Liverpool hosted and defeated United by 7-0 at Anfield in March 2023.
Arsenal vs Tottenham Hotspur (North London Derby)
The match between the two London-based rivals is one of the biggest derbies in English football. It started in 1894 and has been contested between the two sides on more than 200 occasions. The current score gives Arsenal the lead at 81-61-51. The Gunners have been a bit better in recent years.
But with the rise of the Spurs this season, the rivalry might get a whole new perspective and a chapter that we’ve all been waiting for. What makes this rivalry so intense is that the two sides are separated by mere miles. Winning the North London derby gives the victorious side more bragging rights, as sometimes it does not matter if you’ve won the league or not as long as you won the derby.
Manchester City vs Manchester United (Manchester Derby)
The Manchester Derby was not as important some time ago as it is today. With the rise to power of Manchester City, the clash between these home-town rivals has gained a whole new perspective.
The Manchester Derby was the fiercest during the ’60s and ’70s, particularly due to the working-class supporters of the Citizens. The rivalry reignited when City started to rival United at the top of the table. These bitter rivals soon started competing for the Premier League crown, which culminated in 2009 when Man City won their first title with Carlos Tevez scoring the title-winning goal and moving, dethroning United from the top of the table.
Everton vs Liverpool (Merseyside Derby)
This is one of the biggest derbies in England today, as the teams hail from the same city. Even though Liverpool is the more successful club today, Everton was the one that was first created. In fact, Everton accidentally created Liverpool as they moved away from the ground that would later become Anfiled, the stadium that the Reds call home.
However, compared to other derbies in England, this one is also called the Friendly Derby. This is because a lot of people, even those from the same household, cheer for different clubs. This means that you don’t get the usual hype on the stands as you do with other teams. You still feel it on the pitch as both clubs try to one-up each other and search for points. Also, at this point, the Toffees have managed only a single victory over their home town rivals in the last 29 games.
Newcastle United vs Sunderland (Tyne-Wear Derby)
Unfortunately, fans have not been treated to the Tyne-Wear Derby in recent years. Both Newcastle and Sunderland were playing in different divisions. The two teams played in the Premier League last in 2016. After which, Sunderland got relegated and are currently playing in the Championship.
The rivalry dates back to the Civil War, which saw the people of Newcastle supporting the Hanoverian side while the people of Sunderland were on the side of Scottish Stuarts. Being neighbours didn’t help at all, and it all culminated in hatred and rivalry, still felt to this day. The same energy is translated to the field and results in a lot of backlash both on and off the field.
Before the final game that they played in 2016, Newcastle was on a nine-game winless streak against the Black Cats. The Magpies may have lost most of their games versus Sunderland. But at least they managed to stay up in the Premier League.
Millwall vs West Ham United (Dockers Derby)
The Dockers Derby marks a black spot on the biggest football rivalries UK. Matches between Millwall and West Ham became notorious for the situation that happened off the pitch and not so much for the actual result of the game. The situation became so bad that they eventually made this into a movie. The Green Street Hooligans (starring Elijah Wood) depicts an actual story that happened between these two rival factions.
Both clubs stem from East End London. The name comes from both clubs’ history and ties to the shipbuilding industry on the River Thames. Fortunately, Millwall has not played in the Premier English Division for a long time. Making this derby a rare site to be seen. However, when they did play, like in the 2009 part of the League Cup, violence broke out, leaving many supporters on both sides injured.
Birmingham City vs Aston Villa (Birmingham Derby)
Here we have another home-town rivalry as part of the biggest football derbies in England. Being from the same city, the two clubs have had various battles in various divisions and competitions. However, the last one happened in 2011, after which Birmingham went to the lower league. Nevertheless, the two teams faced a few times against each other in Cup competitions.
One of the most infamous situations was during a match where a field invader got past security and punched Jack Grealish. The English international got out unscathed and later scored a goal for Villa, silencing the Blues’ supporters. Aston Villa has not lost against Birmingham City since 2010 and are eight games undefeated.
Swansea City and Cardiff City (South Wales Derby)
Swansea vs Cardiff makes it on the list of biggest football rivalries UK because both Welsh clubs play in the English league. The two are the top and most quality football clubs in Wales. But have rarely featured in the Premier League at the same time. Since 2019, both are in the Championship, with Swansea winning six out of their last nine encounters.
During the South Wales derby, Swansea supporters come out on the stands wearing swimming regalia, caps and all. The mockery actually refers to an incident that happened in 1988. Swansea fans chased their Cardiff counterparts all the way to the sea. Prompting them to jump into the water so they could escape. Even some players use the same type of mockery during these matches.
Portsmouth vs Southampton (South Coast Derby)
Another one of the biggest derbies in England that we haven’t seen for a long time. The South Coast Derby got its name due to both clubs being situated on the south coast of the country. Only 19 miles separate the two cities. Therefore, the rivalry between these towns started much earlier than football came.
Southampton was a commercial port. While Portsmouth had the reputation of being a military outpost. Naturally, Southampton developed into a much richer area, which eventually created a separation in class and standards between the cities. The animosity between the two soon spilt on the pitch as well.
However, Portsmouth has dropped down all the way to League One. Making their League Cup matchup in 2019 the most recent South Coast derby that we’ve seen in recent years. By the way, Southampton won by 4:0.