Welcome to FFT's countdown of football's biggest rivalries – and it all kicks off with chicken dances, secret police, consumer electronics and voodoo...
50. Sheffield United vs Sheffield Wednesday
The first derby in Sheffield took place in 1860, when Sheffield FC’s patient three-year wait for opposition was ended by Hallam. But the true Steel City Derby started in 1890, and has since been one of football’s closest encounters: United have won 45, Wednesday 42 with 40 draws.
The highest-profile clash was the 1993 FA Cup Semi-Final, won 2-1 by Wednesday after extra-time at Wembley; only four of the 114 league derbies have been outside the top two divisions – although Owls fans won’t exactly wish for a Blades promotion in order to resume hostilities. GP
49. Blooming vs Oriente Petrolero
A scuffle led to a player directing a flying kung-fu kick to the face"
You can expect fireworks at the Clasico Cruceno in Bolivia’s biggest city, Santa Cruz. They may not be as successful as national powerhouses Bolivar and The Strongest (who are surely compensating for something), but Blooming are five-time champions, named somewhat poetically after flowering youth; rather more prosaically, four-time champions Oriente Petrolero were formed by oil workers. And they don’t half wind each other up.
In 2008, Oriente Petrolero’s Marcelo Aguirre celebrated a goal with a chicken dance, which sparked three red cards and a mass brawl; police had to step in before play could be restarted. This never happened to Kevin Nolan. Anyway, Blooming hit back a year later as a scuffle led to Sergio Jauregui directing a flying kung-fu kick to the face of Oriente’s Leonardo Medina. Both players were sent off, and Jauregui was banned for nine months. Oriente are ahead on victories, but Blooming claimed the biggest triumph, 5-0 in 1994 – even if the match didn’t actually finish: an Oriente pitch invasion caused the last 20 minutes to go unplayed. CF
48. Portland Timbers vs Seattle Sounders
Although separated by 173 miles of Interstate 5, Portland and Seattle are virtually on each others’ doorsteps by North American standards: MLS Western Conference rivals Vancouver and Houston are 2,400 miles apart. Dating back to 1975, this Pacific Northwest spat has spanned four different leagues – from the now-defunct North American Soccer League, through the Western Soccer Alliance and United Soccer League, to become turbocharged since 2011, when the Timbers joined the Sounders in MLS.
It’s the league’s biggest grudge match (and usually its best-attended: the last four at Seattle’s stadium have all been in the top seven crowds in MLS history), and while violence is rare, the fans express their vociferous mutual dislike through songs and giant tifos. The rivalry has even extended up to local ‘dignitaries’, with Portland mayor Sam Adams and his entire staff forced to wear Sounders scarves for an entire day after losing a bet with his Seattle counterpart Mike McGinn over a game in 2011. LM
47. Lyon vs Saint-Etienne
It's the blue-collar working class against the white-collar admin workers"
With little regard for the Academie Française’s desires to Anglicise the language, this Rhône-Alpes rivalry is known as Le Derby. Barely 30 miles apart, the teams first clashed in 1951, and came to represent the perceived nature of each city: Saint-Etienne as the blue-collar working-class opposite to Lyon’s white-collar admin workers.
The workers held the upper hand to start with, les Verts of Saint-Etienne scooping 10 league titles between 1957 and 1981 and reaching the 1976 European Cup Final, while enjoying a 7-1 win at their neighbours in 1969. But they sank into the doldrums and from 2002 Lyon rather reset the balance by winning a startling seven successive Ligue 1 titles. The two sides are now regularly contesting for top-six places, giving this bitter old battle fresh relevance and impetus. GP
READ THIS More Than A Game: Lyon vs Saint-Etienne
46. Newell’s Old Boys vs Rosario Central
They could be veteran’s teams run by Mike Newell and Robert Rosario, but they’re not. Instead they’re veterans of the Argentine top division, based in the country’s third-biggest city Rosario, with famous fans: Lionel Messi represented Newell’s Old Boys before leaving for Barcelona at 14, while Che Guevara was a Rosario Central fan before joining the Cuban Revolution.
The rivalry intensified in the 1920s, when the city was hit by a leprosy epidemic; a local hospital asked the clubs to play a fund-raiser, but Rosario Central refused. Newell’s fans branded them ‘cads’ (well, it was the 1920s), so Rosario hit back by calling their rivals ‘the lepers’. The nickname stuck.
Former Espanyol, Atletico Madrid and Liverpool wideman Maxi Rodriguez is now back with his first club the Lepers, but things turned nasty in 2015 when rival Rosario fans peppered his grandmother’s house with bullets and daubed threatening messages on the walls. But relations have never been cordial. In 1974 Newell’s made a late comeback in the final match of the Metropolitano championship to beat Rosario to the title. A pitch invasion swiftly led to running battles and the match had to be suspended. DE
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