Allo mate! Just when you hoped to forget about the Premier League, surprise, surprise, it’s back like a McRib with herpes. After my last post, I encouraged you to pick a team. I listed 6 ‘contenders’ to choose from and Fulham for you sociopaths.
You may be surprised to learn that the 6 contenders all occupy the top 6 spots and Fulham does not but you shouldn’t be. This may change in the near future but it won’t; the Premier League is as predictable as a man on Molly’s infatuation with a double rainbow.
As Manchester United play Manchester City this Sunday, today’s installation will focus on what Brits refer to as a derby. Firstly, it’s pronounced ‘darby’, and second, potato chips are called ‘crisps’ over there. Does America do derbies? Yes, do they mean much? Not really. Does anyone really get that fired up for Mets-Yankees or Giants-Jets? Would a Giants fan beat up a Jets fans dog and slight it for being a ‘Fenian bastard’? Actually, maybe.
British derbies take many forms; they can be based on location or direction (London derby (any London team), North London derby (Spurs-Arsenal), West London derby (Chelsea vs. Fulham vs. QPR). They can be based on a single river (Merseyside derby between Liverpool and Everton) or even two rivers (Tyne-Wear derby between Newcastle and Sunderland). Of course the best are based on politics and/or religion. Much like Stateside, this is when people who know very little about either come out in droves to deliver plates of rhetoric with sides of casual violence, well-fortified by Miller Lite or Scrumpy Jack.
The best part of a derby is the tribalism that ensues pre and post game. British hooliganism is dead for the most part but if you’re a fan of the occasional flare-up these are the fixtures to see in the flesh. A man is on trial this month for punching a police horse in last April’s Tyne-Wear derby. A dog in Glasgow dressed in Celtic’s kit was kicked and accused of being a ‘Fenian bastard’ by a couple of Rangers fans. Occasionally, these enthusiasts even attack things capable of hitting them back.
Unfortunately the greatest British derby, Glasgow’s Rangers and Celtic (the Old Firm) has gone the way of Dave’s hair. You could always count on brogue and burr-inflected sectarian violence when these two Glasgow teams met. Sixty-six people were crushed to death in 1971 inside Ibrox stadium, Glasgow police note 10-fold increases of violence and domestic abuse cases double. It made it even better that these two teams were the only ones to win Scottish Premier League title since 1985 although this is hardly a ringing endorsement for SPL soccer. However, Rangers FC went into administration in 2012 and as a result was demoted to a lower division so SPL is now a one-team league. Fortunately, Rangers will be back if they get promoted and Dave’s crowning glory can be restored much like Wayne Rooney’s over the past year.
It was not.)
Also, Rutgers to beat Hogs in closely contested non-derby on the banks of the Old Raritan this Saturday. (Editor's note: They did.) Paul James to run all over Hogs who made the mistake of eating Fat Koko’s at greasetrucks the night before. Don’t tell me you aren’t dreaming of a little Jersey gourmet fare as well right now:
Ooh rah ooh rah Rutgers rah!
Ooh rah ooh rah Rutgers rah!