Obscure Football Rivalries

Every football fan relishes the appearance of a local derby on the fixture list. It makes the game just that more exciting. But, locality is not the only reason that rivalry erupts in the beautiful game. Below are just seven examples of when feuds have spilled over between two seemingly unrelated clubs.

Sheffield United vs. West Ham United
Distance: 177.4 miles

Dodgy… Carlos Tevez’ goal consigned The Blades to relegation

The rivalry between the two Uniteds erupted back in 2007. The Blades had won an unexpected promotion to the top flight and were battling out with three other clubs for survival, including the Hammers. Sheffield United lost narrowly at home to Wigan Athletic, who leapfrogged them in to 17th. However, had West Ham lost, the Blades would have been saved.  However, West Ham won at newly-crowned champions, Manchester United by the virtue of a Carlos Tevez goal. This might sound like sour grapes from the Blades’ fans for holding a grudge over a relegation scrap, but the signing of Tevez and in fact Javier Mascherano were illegal, meaning had a point deduction been dished out, the Sheffield outfit may be two divisions higher than they are now. The Blades have yet to receive the opportunity to exact revenge on the East London club but it promises to be a fiery affair.

Norwich City vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers
Distance: 171.8 miles

Lonely… The Canaries see Wolves as the best alternative to Ipswich

The rivalry between the Canaries and Wolves came about over a bad tackle. Seriously, that’s it. In fairness to Norwich City, there aren’t many clubs in their neck of the woods to pick a fight with. Even their famous ‘Old Farm’ derby against Ipswich Town features a round trip of over 100 miles for away fans, so it’s no surprise when games against the Tractor Boys are in short supply that the Canaries have to look elsewhere for a bit of spice. The tackle that started it off was one by Kevin Muscat that led to Craig Bellamy breaking his leg, a free-for-all ensued and the animosity carried through to their succeeding play-off games. It’s safe to say, most Wolves fans are over this run-in but the Canaries are still chirping on.

Coventry City vs. Sunderland
Distance: 200.3 miles

Grudge… Sunderland savoured Cov’s relegation 35 years after theirs.

Okay, okay, I know it’s hard to believe but Coventry City were actually involved in a rivalry with a notable club many moons ago. This one occurred due to yet another relegation battle. Coventry, Bristol City and Sunderland had been battling to avoid relegation on the last day. Coventry and Bristol City had been playing each other when news broke that Sunderland had lost, subsequently they seemed to resign the game to a draw and allow the Black Cats to finish the 1976-77 season in the bottom three. However, the Mackems had their revenge as they flocked to the Sky Blues Talk forum at the end of 2011-12 season to mock Coventry’s descent to the third tier.

Huddersfield Town vs. Peterborough United
Distance: 124.0 miles

Drama… Posh and Huddersfield have been thorns in eachother’s sides for the past 3 seasons.

West Yorkshire met East Anglia in the 2010-11 League One play-off final at Old Trafford. Town fans had outnumbered the Posh army by 2:1 but a 7-minute goal fest stunned the favourites as United ran out 3-o victors. Huddersfield achieved promotion the season after setting up a showdown in the 2012-13 season. Huddersfield’s revenge was put on hold as Posh took four points from their league meetings but The Terriers had the last laugh as Posh fell to a 3-2 defeat at Selhurst Park on the final day. Huddersfield and Barnsley played out a 2-2 draw to keep them both in the division as Peterborough were relegated. Reports broke on Twitter that Huddersfield and Barnsley had emulated Coventry and Bristol City of 1977 and purposely kept the score level to ensure Posh’s relegation. There are still legs in this one.

Boston United vs. Dagenham & Redbridge
Distance: 124.7 miles

Robbed… Boston stole promotion but the Daggers had the last laugh.

In terms of footballing quality, this one is far from comparable with El Clasico but there is a genuine ill-feeling between to the two lower-league clubs. Boston and the Daggers led the Conference Premier back in 2001/02. United clinched the title in controversial fashion as they were accused of making illegal payments to players and as a result Dagenham finished second on goal difference, condemning them to the play-offs. Had the FA gone through with a points deduction that season, United would have swapped positions with the Daggers but they didn’t. They instead incurred a 4 point deduction the season after. Of course, had Dag & Red won the play-offs this would be a forgotten issue but that honour fell to Yeovil Town. Although, the Daggers never got to enact their redemption themselves, they can now sleep smugly knowing that they reside in the Football League while Boston United are consigned to Conference North relegation battles.

Colchester United vs. Wycombe Wanderers
Distance: 98.3 miles

Odd… Few understand this sometimes farcical rivalry.

The closest pair of rivals of this list are Colchester and Wycombe. This is another rivalry that was intensified by a close run Conference Premier title race however, it originated at a feisty 1985 FA Cup tie marred by crowd trouble. Six years later, the duo were over 20 points clear of the rest of the challenging clubs but Colchester nicked the title on goal difference and thus, won automatic promotion. Wandererers’ fans seemed to take particular offence to a defeat to Col U that involved conceding a goal direct from a goal kick. Either way, any animosity would be avoided if Wycombe won the play-offs. Of course, they didn’t.

Chelsea vs. Leicester City
Distance: 102.1 miles

Bloody… Chelsea and Leicester have a violent vendetta.

The battle in blue is an old rivalry back from the 1970s and 1980s. In a season where Chelsea were leading the charge for promotion to the top flight, the Blues travelled to Filbert Street backed by 10,000 raucous supporters. However, the Foxes rained on their parade with a 1-o win, in a match that featured a whole host of missed penalties from Chelsea. This resulted in outbreaks of violence in the stands. Leicester went on to win the league whilst Chelsea remained in the second tier. In fact, the club’s firms; the Head Hunters and The Baby Squad would have several run-ins in the years that followed. On occasion the firms would travel down to each other’s stomping yards even when the clubs weren’t playing, to scrap. Today, while it sounds a particularly ferocious fixture, most fans of both clubs are unaware or unaffected by the rivalry. However, some keep the fire burning in the terraces. Leicester’s ‘Hark Now Hear’ chant features Chelsea while the Blues started the ‘Over land and sea! AND LEICESTER!’ trend. In fact, in a recent FA Cup tie at Stamford Bridge in 2012, City fans were turned away from certain pubs being told “You don’t want to go in there. You have no idea how much they hate you.”

2013–14 Football League Championship Fans’ Preview (Part 1)

With little time left before the clubs of the 2nd tier return to their hallowed turf. The fans of all 24 clubs have a chance to voice their dreams, opinions and concerns for the 10-month battle that lies ahead.


Home… No club has spent more time in the 2nd tier than the Tykes.

Home ground: Oakwell (Capacity: 23,009)
Nickname: The Tykes
Rivals: Sheffield Wednesday, Sheffield United, Leeds United, Doncaster Rovers
Last season: 21st
Odds: 125/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
Continue from the second half of last season so that we don’t have to endure another season in a relegation battle.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Fans get overexcited about the second half of last season, the team don’t perform as we’re all hoping and we are relegated.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
We conceded a lot of goals from set pieces, and we are yet to address that. 1 or 2 centre halves are needed.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Sheffield Wednesday, especially after losing twice to them last season.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
New signing from Bayern Munich, Dale Jennings. Could be a huge player for us this season after learning from the likes of Arjen Ribben, Franck Ribery and Thomas Muller. Could also be a big season for Jacob Mellis after his first full season last year, and goals are expected from O’Grady after his loan move was made permanent.

6. Who will win the league?
Sneaky suspicion Reading could do well. Most of team kept together, adding to it with Wayne Bridge and Royston Drenthe. All that along with a top manager in Nigel Adkins.

7. Who will go down?
Doncaster, Yeovil and Huddersfield.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
 Hopefully ourselves. If not, maybe Charlton.

9. Where will you finish?

Birmingham City

Money talks… Brum fans fear for their finances.

Home ground: St. Andrew’s (Capacity: 31,079)
Nickname: The Blues
Rivals: Aston Villa, Wolverhampton Wanderers, West Bromwich Albion
Last season: 12th
Odds: 28/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
 To get taken over.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
To go into administration.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
If Curtis goes, the back four.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Ipswich, Forest, and maybe Leicester.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Nathan Redmond, and Marlon King.

6. Who will win the league?
Bolton or QPR.

7. Who will go down?
Huddersfield, Sheffield Wed, Yeovil.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?

9. Where will you finish?

Blackburn Rovers

Home ground: Ewood Park (Capacity: 31,154)

Rebound… Rovers fans are hoping for improvement.

Nickname: Rovers
Rivals: Burnley, Bolton Wanderers
Last season: 17th
Odds: 20/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Having a repeat of last season, where there is no stability..and not getting near play-offs.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
Generally midfield.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Burnley, of course.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Jordan Rhodes?

6. Who will win the league?

7. Who will go down?
Yeovil, Barnsley and Bournemouth.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Er, Sheff Wednesday?

9. Where will you finish?
7th, proper optimism there.


Wobbly… The Seasiders are fearing the drop once more.

Home ground: Bloomfield Road (Capacity: 17,338)
Nickname: The Seasiders
Rivals: Preston North End, Burnley, Bolton Wanderers
Last season: 15th
Odds: 40/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
To avoid relegation, this summer has been very worrying.
Greatest hope is a top half finish, somehow.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Relegation, obviously.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
We need to strenghten our midfield and attacking options. Ince, Phillips
and probably Gary Taylor-Fletcher going leaves us with pretty much nothing.
Plus we only have Basham and Fergy still in midfield.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Bolton. Our last two games against them were brilliant too.
Preston in the cup would be a nice win. Also Burnley and Blackburn.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
I’ll be boring and say Matty Phillips, his development has slowed a bit though.
Bob Harris or Basham might stand out too.

6. Who will win the league?
Not a clue. Bolton have impressed me a bit in the transfer window.
Watford won’t come anywhere near, new rules have cornered them.
QPR won’t be as good as people are expecting, unless Redknapp
clashes a few heads together.

7. Who will go down?
Yeovil, maybe Birmingham, maybe Wednesday, maybe Huddersfield,
Forest, us, Barnsley… Not Doncaster though.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Doncaster, and maybe Yeovil might surprise a few. Doncaster are a good team.

9. Where will you finish?
We’ll finish between 12th and 24th… I’m gonna sit on the fence, sorry.

Bolton Wanderers

Confident… Bolton fans are optimistic for the season ahead

Home ground: Reebok Stadium (Capacity: 28,100)
Nickname: The Trotters
Rivals: Bury, Blackburn Rovers, Wigan Athletic, Manchester United
Last season: 7th
Odds: 11/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
To go up.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
That we lose Holden.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
A new striker.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Wigan or QPR.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…

6. Who will win the league?

7. Who will go down?
Yeovil, Huddersfield, Reading.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?

9. Where will you finish?


Dark horses… Fans are weary of new boys, Bompey.

Home ground: Dean Court (Capacity: 10,700)
Nickname: The Cherries
Rivals: Southampton, Reading
Last season: 2nd (League One)
Odds: 20/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
Realistically the first goal is to stay up, anything better than
that would be fantastic.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Personally Max Demin leaving and us being in financial

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
Probably midfield, as we have skill but lack strength
and experience.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
I’d say Matt Ritchie and Brett Pitman.

6. Who will win the league?
I think potentially Forest.

7. Who will go down?
Yeovil, Millwall and Burnley.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?

9. Where will you finish?
Mid-table I reckon if we start off well.

Brighton & Hove Albion


Lone seagull… Albion fans will miss their rivalry with Palace.

Home ground: AMEX Stadium (Capacity: 30,750)
Nickname: The Seagulls
Rivals: Crystal Palace, Portsmouth, Southampton
Last season: 4th
Odds: 14/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
Promotion. If we get a decent manager (Oscar Garcia) it’s
very possible.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Not sorting the manager situation out soon enough costing us.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
Well at the moment we don’t have a left back so we’ll need one of those!
A centre back or two would also be nice.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Now palace are up, we don’t have any rivalries. I don’t like Leeds
or Burnley, so them.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Leo Ulloa, Will Buckley, Andrea Orlandi, Liam Bridcutt if he stays, Kuszczak and
Spanish dave (David lopez) if he signs his new contract.

6. Who will win the league?
I think Reading. They’re really going for it with their signings.

7. Who will go down?
Yeovil, Blackpool and probably Barnsley. I can even see it happening
to QPR, like it did with Wolves.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Charlton and Ipswich. Charlton are in pretty much the same position as we
were last season, it turned out well for us. Mick McCarthy has turned Ipswich around.

9. Where will you finish?
 It’s hard to predict without knowing who the manager is and whether key
players re-sign or leave. If we have Oscar, I’ll say 3rd.


Grudge… The Clarets are desperate to beat Blackburn.

Home ground: Turf Moor (Capacity: 22,546)
Nickname: The Clarets
Rivals: Blackburn Rovers, Preston North End, Blackpool
Last season: 11th
Odds: 66/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
Beating Blackburn Rovers for the first time in 35 years or reaching a play-off place.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
Being dragged into a relegation dogfight.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
All over the place, only have 3 strikers as of yet, Charlie Austin wanted by
several Premier League clubs, Danny Ings wanted by old boss Eddie Howe at Bournemouth
and Martin Paterson, contract is near end and there’s been rumours
he’s not signing a new one.

Midfield – we lack a player with creativity, we have some good wingers in
Ross Wallace and Junior Stanislas but no one in the middle that can pass a ball.
Defence – Conceded one of the most goals last season, need a real leader to help our young lads at the back.
Goalkeeper – Lost our number one Lee Grant to Derby County, our number two Brian Jensen,
whose decided not to stay at the club after 10years and our 3rd choice Stewart, who we never
really saw much of. Was on loan at Alfreton Town, also released. However we’ve signed Tom
Heaton from Bristol City and Cisek from Oldham.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Blackburn Rovers, haven’t beaten them in near 35 years, surely this season is our time?

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Cameron Howieson, teenager, yet to be given a real chance with the first team.
Looked very impressive for the Reserves and the Development squad. Also Danny Ings,
I can see him taking over Charlie Austin’s footsteps and bagging 15-20 goals this season.

6. Who will win the league?
Wigan Athletic if they keep hold of some of their players, got some real gems in
that team and they love to pass it around.

7. Who will go down?
My three that I predict to go down are; Yeovil Town to finish at the bottom,
Doncaster Rovers next up and then Barnsley.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
Bournemouth; Eddie Howe has again done wonders at this club for the second time in
his managerial career. I can’t see them getting a play-off place but they’ll be mid table,
considering they were in League Two fighting to stay up not long ago.

9. Where will you finish?
With a manager who loves playing hoof ball football and rumours of us signing Kevin Davies.
No higher than 17th.

Charlton Athletic


Tempered… Kyle Andrews isn’t sure what to make of Charlton’s ‘dark horse’ label.

Home ground: The Valley (Capacity: 27,111)
Nickname: The Addicks
Rivals: Crystal Palace, Millwall, West Ham United
Last season: 9th
Odds: 40/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
Chris Powell or one of the board members get lucky
and win the Euromillions, the money is invested into
the playing budget and we’re able to compete financially
with some of the bigger teams in the league allowing us to
add strength in depth to the squad and a 20 goal a season
striker. On an equal financial playing field and with a
talented squad, Powell works his magic and leads his
side to the title.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
We’re forced to sell our best players and don’t replace them,
Powell gets frustrated with the lack of financial support and leaves,
we return to League One.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
With only one senior striker at the club at the time of writing, it has to be
up front. It looks as if Jonathan Obika will join, but he isn’t going to be a
20 goal a season striker.  A pacey striker with excellent finishing to
compliment the hard work of Yann Kermorgant would be a dream.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
After the embarrassment of losing at home 2-0 to Millwall last season,
six points against our South East London rivals would be welcomed.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
It’s only a matter of time before Chris Solly is playing in the Premier League,
whether that’s in a Charlton shirt or not. The academy product consistently
performs to a high standard and rarely, if at all, puts a foot wrong. Youngster
Callum Harriott showed promise towards the end of the season, whilst Yann
Kermorgant will continue to terrorise defences.

6. Who will win the league?
As things stand, I can’t look beyond Reading. The signing of Royston Drenthe
has signalled their intentions and Nigel Adkins, an excellent manager in his
own right, has a fantastic squad at his disposal. I also expect Nottingham
Forest, Leicester City and, if they get their house in order, QPR to be up there.

7. Who will go down?
The Championship will be a step to far for Yeovil, who will struggle alongside
a host of mediocre Championship clubs. I predict Huddersfield and Barnsley
to drop down to League One after just surviving last season. 

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
As much as I’d like to say Charlton, I just can’t see it, so I’ll opt for Bournemouth.
Any team with Eddie Howe in charge will be an impressive one.

9. Where will you finish?
Heart says 6th, head says low mid table. Powell’s work in the transfer window will be crucial.


Derby County

Optimism… The Rams are ready to charge for the top 6.

Home ground: Pride Park (Capacity: 33,597)
Nickname: The Rams
Rivals: Nottingham Forest, Leicester City, Leeds United
Last season: 10th
Odds: 33/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
As any football fan will say at the start of the season, I’m hoping for a
promotion push! All signs from around the club are positive and that we’re
set for a big season! So hopefully this will be out year.

2.What’s your biggest fear?
My biggest fear is that the long term plan goes pear shape
and we settle for mid table mediocrity again,
or worse get relegated. I personally think if we struggle this year,
the fans will turn against Nigel and the board.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
Our Defence. Richard Keogh has been a rock at centre back and Jake Buxton has
also been good cover. Shaun Barker will hopefully return this season but it’ll take
him a while to regain his fitness. So a new Centre back would be a good addition.
But our main concern is finding a left back. Gareth Roberts has left and a deal for
Craig Forsyth from Watford has apparently fell through. A new left back is a must!

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
The obvious one is Forest! We’re unbeaten in the last 4 against them so hopefully
the run continues. There’s no better feeling than beating them, especially at the City
Ground. Another game we always look forward to is the games against Leeds!
Always a great atmosphere when we play them and we’ve enjoyed a lot of success
in this fixture. 9 wins in row I think the record is.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Johnny Russell: signed from Dundee Utd this summer and he’s coming with
quite a good reputation. 20 goals in 38 games in any league is a great record!
Hopefully he’ll be the striker that we’ve desperately needed over recent years.
The second player is Will Hughes. Already got a huge reputation and has fully
deserved it. Brilliant talent, plays with such maturity for someone so young.
Another youth player coming through from the academy is Mason Bennett made his
first team debut aged 15 and impressed so far, hopefully gets a few more starts
this season.

6. Who will win the league?
If the off field dramas at QPR don’t take over, I can see them winning the league
or being a strong force.

7. Who will go down?
I’d like to see Yeovil stay up but I think they’re going to struggle. Doncaster, Millwall and Barnsley I
think will also be down the bottom come the end of the season.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
I think Bournemouth will be the surprise package of the season. Eddie Howe seems to
work wonders down there.

9. Where will you finish?
I’ve got a feeling about this season so hopefully we’ll get in the play-offs . I’m
going with an optimistic 5th.

Doncaster Rovers

Return… Donny are back and here to stay.

Home ground: Keepmoat Stadium (Capacity: 15,231)
Nickname: Donny
Rivals: Leeds United, Barnsley
Last season: 1st (League One)
Odds: 150/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
Greatest hope will be to push past 12th, but lets face it, its probably
unlikely, but this club always dreams!

2.What’s your biggest fear?

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
We have 9 players at the moment… So everywhere! However we do
not have a goalkeeper, so that has to be it.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Brighton. Fans of DRFC and in particular our chairman have hated this
club since Lewis Dunks horror challenge on Billy sharp practically relegated
us last time in the Championship.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Rob Jones, no need to look you cant miss him. 6ft 7 ageing yet quality,
it takes something special to get past him.

6. Who will win the league?
Reading, comfortably.

7. Who will go down?
Millwall, Yeovil, Burnley.

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
We may just surprise a few…. However I think Derby will finally pull away
from mid-table and get a play-off spot.

9. Where will you finish?

Huddersfield Town


Recovery… The Terriers are confident of changing their fortunes.

Home ground: John Smith’s Stadium (Capacity: 24,500)
Nickname: The Terriers
Rivals: Leeds United, Bradford City
Last season: 19th
Odds: 100/1

1. What’s your greatest hope for the new season?
I think with the right signings, a play-off spot isn’t out of
the question, and following the last 2 days, it’s looking more

2.What’s your biggest fear?
A sort of Peterborough-esque second season where
we just fall apart and get relegated, and knowing Town as I do,
it’s definitely not impossible.

3. In which areas does your team most need to strengthen?
Definitely strikers, though the acquisitions of Stead and Paterson have been very
welcome, every Town fan wants James Vaughan to return.

4. Who do you most want to beat this season?
Like with every season that we’re in the same division, Leeds is the big one, although
after our drubbings last season, Leicester too.

5. Players in your squad to look out for…
Jack Hunt is always being touted for his great crossing ability, but if he regains his form,
Oliver Norwood too, especially his free kicks.

6. Who will win the league?
Hard to say. I will say probably either Forest, Leicester or Reading, and if they
get a decent replacement for Poyet, Brighton.

7. Who will go down?
Yeovil and Doncaster definitely, the third one will be interesting, but I’m going to
say either Millwall or Barnsley. (Would prefer Leeds though)

8. Who will be this season’s ‘dark horses’?
I see Bournemouth doing well under Eddie Howe, maybe play-offs, and also
Derby County if they can string a good run or two together.

9. Where will you finish?
I would like to say lower top half, but every Town fan would say “As long as it’s
not bottom 3”. Play-off spot would be added bonus.