Irrespective of region, culture or history, it’s one of football’s constants. The meeting of two teams sharing a common catchment area can act as the ultimate source of pride or shame. Those 90 minutes alone have the power to overshadow an otherwise positive season, or redeem one otherwise nondescript.
Earlier this year, fans not just of Juventus, but of Italian football in general took a moment to remember the sad passing of the inimitable Gianni Agnelli. January represented the tenth anniversary of that fateful day, and Juventini everywhere recalled their greatest memories of perhaps the most charismatic President a club could ever dream of having.
When the British Army launched its great Somme offensive in the summer of 1916, few people could have envisaged the devastation battle would bring. The opening day alone saw British casualties of almost 60,000 and by the time the slaughter had ground to a bloody halt in the November mud, Britain and her dominions had lost a staggering 400,000 men.
Besides ‘Nessum Dorma’ and Gazza’s tears, the 1990 World Cup is probably best remembered as the tournament so dull and so cynical that it drove FIFA to introduce the back-pass rule. But like any modern World Cup, the finals of the 1990 edition were merely the tip of the iceberg, with its 52 matches and 24 participants dwarfed by the schedule of fixtures contested by 114 countries across the globe over 19 months during the qualifying competitions.
In the Premiership, Belgian footballers are all the rage at the top clubs, with players like Eden Hazard showing they can mix it with the cream of European football. But in Belgium itself, a team who didn’t exist in its present form until the Premiership was 10 years old, and a different Hazard altogether are making the headlines.
It is not often that a Northern Irish league game is one of the hottest tickets in town. On Saturday 13th April however, Cliftonville’s clash with Linfield at their ground Solitude was a sell-out, with supporters scrambling to grab home tickets for the encounter as soon as they entered the ticket office.
This weekend 130 years ago, the people’s game was unofficially born on a cricket field in south London. At the Kennington Oval, a crowd of 8,000 witnessed the FA Cup final between Old Etonians and Blackburn Olympic, in one of the most unique matchups you are likely to find in the history of English football.