Why derbies really matter to us – and always will

Derbies can do your head in – whether you’re a fan, coach or a player. In Montevideo in October 1949, with a dominant Penarol leading local rivals Nacional 2-0 at half-time, the losing side flatly refused to come out for the second half.  

Such cowardice remains unprecedented in the history of the longest-running derby outside the British Isles (the teams first met in 1900). Victorious Penarol fans gleefully dubbed it the ‘Clasico de la Fuga’ (the derby when they ran away). Alcides Ghiggia, the Penarol midfielder who would score the World Cup-winning goal in 1950, always felt the result was divinely blessed: “It rained constantly that day but no sooner did the referee award us the game than the sun came out.”

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