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30 Biggest Football Rivalries In Britain

10. West Ham vs Tottenham

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While many Irons and Spurs supporters would consider Millwall and Arsenal respectively to be their arch-enemies, this derby has also proven to be pretty fierce for a number of decades. Spurs belittle the Irons, West Ham fights to prove their relevance. But the rivalry has nevertheless proven to be a reliable source of entertaining plot points and intriguing narratives.

9. Portsmouth vs Southampton (South Coast Derby)

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Portsmouth and Southampton are the two most successful clubs on the southern coast of England and lie only 19 miles apart. The first match between the two clubs came in a friendly at Portsmouth’s Fratton Park ground on 6 September 1899. The match was won 2–0 by Portsmouth, with goals from Dan Cunliffe and Harold Clarke.

Exactly when the fierce rivalry between the supporters of the two clubs began is not entirely clear. Until as recently as the early 1970s, many fans would go and watch the other team when their side was playing away, indicating anything but hatred. Some ascribe the growing rivalry since then to the cities’ diverging economic fortunes.

8. Blackburn vs Burnley (East Lancashire Derby)

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Eight miles separate the East Lancashire town of Burnley from Blackburn. Blackburn won their first honour in 1884 with victory in the FA Cup. Burnley’s first honour came in 1914 by winning the FA Cup. Both of them are former English football Champions with Blackburn winning the League in 1911-12,1913-14 and 1994-95. Burnley won the top division twice in 1920-21 and 1959-1960. Blackburn have also won 6 FA Cups compared to Burnley single FA Cup victory in 1914.

7. Cardiff vs Swansea (South Wales Derby)

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The South Wales derby is played between Welsh clubs Cardiff City and Swansea City and is regarded as one of the most fierce rivalries in British football. Despite both clubs being in Wales, they play in the English football league system and have won English honours: Cardiff the FA Cup in 1927 and Swansea the Football League Cup in 2013.

In the 1990s this was one of the toughest fixtures to police, and Swansea fans still wear swimming caps and armbands after they chased Cardiff fans into the sea after a particularly gruesome fixture in Swansea in 1988.

6. Manchester City vs Manchester United (Manchester Derby)

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Manchester City and Manchester United are two of the biggest clubs in England. These clubs have millions of supporters worldwide. This huge fan base makes this game one of the most anticipated fixtures, not only in Manchester or England but in the whole world. The biggest victories have been to City who have won 6–1 on two occasions, both times in the away fixture at Old Trafford, on 23 January 1926 and 23 October 2011.

5. Millwall vs West Ham

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Millwall and West Ham United rivalry is also known as Dockers derby and is one of the longest-standing and biggest football rivalries in Britain The two teams, then known as Millwall Athletic and Thames Ironworks, both originated in the East End of London and were located under three miles apart. They first played each other in the 1899–1900 FA Cup. In 1910 Millwall moved south of the River Thames and the teams were no longer East London neighbours. Even so, the derbies retained their passion and both sets of supporters still consider the other club their main rival.

4. Newcastle vs Sunderland (Tyne-Wear derby)

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Tyne-Wear derby is an inter-city rivalry in North East England with the two cities of Sunderland and Newcastle just twelve miles apart. Newcastle and Sunderland are two of the best-supported clubs in the country in a region where everyone, whether they like football or not, is aware of what is happening at the two biggest clubs. The first meeting of the two sides took place in 1883, with the first competitive fixture being an 1888 FA Cup tie, which Sunderland won 2–1.

3. Arsenal vs Tottenham (North London Derby)

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North London Derby is one of the biggest football rivalries in Britain. Both Arsenal and Tottenham fans have recognised each other as one of their biggest rivals and the derby is one of the fiercest in English football.

A proper rivalry between the two teams did not begin until 1913, when Arsenal moved from the Manor Ground, Plumstead to Arsenal Stadium, Highbury, just four miles from Tottenham’s White Hart Lane; by doing so, they became Tottenham’s nearest neighbours and thus began a natural local rivalry.

2. Man Utd vs Liverpool

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Liverpool – Manchester United rivalry is second in our list of biggest football rivalries In Britain. It is considered to be one of the biggest rivalries in football and is considered the most famous fixture in English football. The rivalry runs much deeper than football, a natural consequence of having two major cities 35 miles apart – they vie with each other in terms of culture, commerce, science and just about everything else as well.

1. Celtic vs Rangers (Old Firm derby)

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The Old Firm is the collective name for the Scottish football clubs Celtic and Rangers, who are both based in Glasgow. The rivalry between the two clubs has become deeply embedded in Scottish culture and has contributed to the political, social and religious division in Scotland and also beyond.

The clubs have large fan bases around Glasgow but also supporters clubs in most towns throughout Scotland and Northern Ireland and in many cities around the world.

Checkout: 50 Biggest Football Clubs in the UK

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A sports addict! @subhamchaurasia

12 thoughts on “30 Biggest Football Rivalries In Britain

  • Anonymous

    There is no dld firm. Rangers died in 2012

  • James Beattie

    Rangers were liquidated in 2012

  • Steel River Bhoy

    Rangers? Sorry mate, they were liquidated back in 2012.

  • Would it not be more correct to say the Celtic v “the Rangers” rivalry is the *result* of the ethnic and religious divisions in Glasgow, rather than a contributor? In fact, the divisions are so strong that they need the rivalry, to the point that it managed to survive the death of one of the teams; if the rivalry led to the divisions, the divisions would have become less significant when Rangers died, instead those divisions led to the creation of a new Rangers side that everyone pretends is the same team.

  • Who writes this. Think you have missed Palace v Brighton one of the biggest in English football.

  • Gqrdon Robinson RSE

    #1 should of been Sunderland v Newcastle

  • Thanx for the detailed discussion about this topic and being a Manchester United fan myself, it was quite overwhelming for me give this a read. But let me tell you about a different kind of rivalry which is also one of the oldest of all time. Hope you have heard about it, It’s between East Bengal and Mohun Bagan. If you haven’t, I have written a piece myself. u can give it a try if you want.

    From Subhra

    Blog Link: https://www.bengoalie.in/asias-biggest-rivalry-east-bengal-vs-mohun-bagan/

  • Graham Bluenose

    Your unwashed readers just need to check the official records. It’s no 10IAR for celtic and 55 titles for the worlds most successful team whether you like it or not. Well done Rangers.

  • Burnley v Blackburn bigger than Blues Villa.bollox

  • Stephen scogings

    The Ipswich v Norwich derby should be a lot higher because of the long history. Many listed are not derbys , but mere recent rivalrys

  • How is Man United vs Arsenal not included but Man City vs Liverpool is?

  • John Doherty

    You haven’t got a clue .Steve Bruce has managed and played in a lot if them derby’s.. He’s words Blues v villa never experienced any thing like it in England, Compared the first meeting to Gallatasry. He said Newcastle v Sunderland tasty.He said celtic v rangers, Fair enough. Manchester derby all media hype.I remember when it was tasty, Years ago. Liverpool v Everton use to stand together at the height of football violence. Spurs v Arsenal sit next to each other With a rope like you see at the pitures separating them..Other derby s that are still real ,West ham v millwall, 2nd to the Birmingham derby for arrests and disorder. Also up there is pompey v saints

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