Derby day

by Mystical Mike

Friday, March 13th, 2009

What does it mean to you?

Sometimes what seems a silly question at first becomes a thought which in turn becomes a blog which in turn people read and hopefully enjoy. That’s what happened here (apart from the “enjoy” part which can’t be guaranteed of course) after a question from my girlfriend ahead of this weekend’s derby clash between Peterborough United and my team, Northampton Town.

The question was simple enough…what makes this game any different? It was followed by questions like “why are you more annoyed if you lose this one than you are losing the others?” and “why would he do that?” The last question came as she got distracted by the latest girly tv show, Lipstick Jungle, so I didn’t have time to answer then. So I’ll answer now I’ve reflected and had time to really take in what a derby means.

For every Merseyside, Manchester and Old Firm derby, there’s hundreds of lesser known derbies going on up and down the country, each meaning just as much to a bloke with a dog watching Bognor Regis Town play in a than it does to Everton fans watching their side beat Liverpool (if they saw the goal and weren’t watching ITV that is).

For me, derby days are like cup ties, occasions when anything and everything can happen. Form, as they say, goes out the window and there’s a sense of unmatched anticipation right up until kick off when the nerves kick in.

It all begins at home, the day and night before, thinking about what’s about to happen. Planning your journey to a tee (to perhaps include a tea if you like that sort of thing-I do, for the record), making sure you are fully prepared for a day that stands out on the fixture list almost like it’s not even relevant in the make up of the league season.

Travelling to the game is when the nerves really kick in…the old matches between your sides flash through your head as you recall last gasp goals that have saved your season or heavy defeats that have left you with nothing more to cheer about for months to come. Never is a passing thought often given to past meetings with any other side before you meet again…the derby is different…you can remember every result for the last few seasons and still live off that last victory.

In the ground and now the blood really is pumping…it’s a full house and whether you’ve won your last three games or been thumped 5-0 by Barnet last weekend, the singing is at a level that makes you feel like you’re involved in the cup final rather than a league game.

On the pitch you learn a lot about your players…those who know what it means to the club and the fans get stuck in, fight for everything that drops and put their bodies on the line for the cause. Those who don’t will soon hear about it from his supporters that want this more than they could imagine.

The aftermath can take a while to come down from. Win and you’re on a high for weeks, lose and frustration, anger and despair set in until the season ends and you start waiting for the fixture list to come out to see when you can exact revenge. A draw is the safest thing for your mental health but you’d never be as bold as to say you’d be delighted with a draw at the start of the game, it just means that much to win and get one over on that lot down the road.

That’s what makes a derby for me…it’s a day that makes everything else go away for just ninety minutes. You can forget about league positions, a relegation fight or promotion tensions for just a day and let loose on one of the highlights of any fixture list.

Northampton go to Peterborough sitting just three points above the drop zone in League One whilst Posh are in second place. I sincerely hope that form will indeed fly right out of the window at London Road. If Boro win, you may not hear from me again for another few weeks. If the result goes for us, mine will more than likely be the first blog on here this Monday!

That, my fellow football friends, is a derby

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  • Darren

    Derby day, I’ve been to many Arsenal v Spurs games, standing on my own in the away end, having to pretend I was happy when we lost, yes it was that long ago!

  • Danny Brothers

    Nerves are kicking in ahead of the big one now…we’re as high as 11/2 at some bookies to win the game! Going to put a sneaky couple of quid on it just in case…

  • Darren

    who has the upper hand in recent derbys?

  • Danny Brothers

    Bit of a mixed bag really…generally we’ve won at least once each season but this is the first time in three seasons we’ve been in the same league…I couldn’t bear it if Posh and MKPlastics were both in the Championship next season!

  • Darren

    1-0. not the best result. What was the game like? The Posh look like they might be going up, how does that make you feel?

  • Danny Brothers

    Posh down to ten men after ten mins…we hammered them but lost to one of their only chances…gutted, totally gutted this morning but the players at least showed they wanted it…terrific support and atmopshere but still deep in trouble.

    Had to walk through all the Boro fans on the way back to the station and that was the worst part as they sung for promotion etc etc

    Full report on my blog…

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