Thursday, 29 April 2010

Brighton v Crystal Palace Rivalry - Part 2

Wash your mouth out son

by Ian Clark

As my good friend Larry pointed out in Part 1 those of us fortunate enough to have been born in Sussex during the Albion's halcyon days grew up to hate our neighbours from Surrey (they're not a proper London club , the Nigels , are they?) with a passion. A writer from the London Evening Standard once memorably opined something to the effect that "Brighton and Crystal Palace fans despise each other with a passion rarely seen outside of the Balkans to the bemusement of the rest of the football world". The way fans of both clubs have come together to address the misfortunes to have befallen both clubs in recent years might challenge that but more of that later.

My earliest trips to the Goldstone in the spring of 1979 saw huge crowds , an ultimately successful promotion push and almost non-stop songs about Palace and their fans that quickly cemented in the mind of an impressionable 10 year old that they were the enemy. Some things you just don't question! Favourites , and I'm sure Palace have the same with the names of the two teams reversed , include a little ditty about the joy of wandering the cliffs of Dover only to happen upon a hapless Eagles fan and push him off the edge and another about how when an "itty little boy" my granddad bought me a nice new toy. Two little Palace fans hanging from a string. He taught me to kick their can work probably figure out the rest!

In an attempt to strike a balanced view (not easy given how much I hate them. I mean really hate them!) I'm going to recount three games Brighton v Palace games that live in the memory. One win , one draw , one defeat - now you can't say fairer than that! And no Palace fans the defeat isn't the unspeakably horrible 5-0 one but you couldn't really expect it to be if you're honest could you?

First up was my first taste of the rivalry back in April 1984 when as a member of the Junior Seagulls (as in the junior branch of the Supporters Club as opposed to any fledgling "firm") I stood in the South East corner at the Goldstone enraptured as goals from Terry Connor , Alan Young and , if memory serves correctly , Eric Young gave Albion a 3-1 win in the sunshine. Not sure who scored their consolation but who cares really eh? Slough's favourite son would later go on to sell his soul and serve Palace with distinction but I'm sure apart from that he's a decent bloke. Don't remember too many other details from that one but there's number one in the books!

Click to enlarge any image

Around a year later on a Tuesday night it was all aboard the Seagull Special and off to the mean streets of Norwood for my first ever visit to Selhurst Park. A 1-1 draw was chiefly memorable for a shocking assault on Albion stalwart Gerry Ryan by one Henry Hughton that cut short a wonderful playing career. If memory serves correctly both Danny Wilson and Frank Worthington reacted to the tackle by punching the Palace full-back and both went without so much as a yellow card.

My final trawl through the memory banks takes us to Easter 1989 when Kelvin "Madder than Mad Jack McMad" Morton took charge and awarded a then (not sure if it still is) record five penalties in the same game. Amusingly a Palace team featuring Wright and Bright missed three of their four (yes 4 - we only got the one) on the way to a jammy 2-1 win which was only preserved due to an acrobatic late save by Perry Suckling which denied the Albion the draw which was the least they deserved. Albion's Alan Curbishley gave an exhibition on how to take the perfect penalty to his hapless Palace counterparts. What sticks in the memory the most I think is the fact that Morton awarded them 2 pens in the space of about 3 seconds. Having missed the first , awarded for the little known offence of sneezing too audibly in the area , the ball was cleared and promptly returned into the box only for Kelvin to agree to a cheeky request from Wrighty of "can we have another go please ref". It was a display of blatantly biased refereeing which has only been topped by the ref in Escape to Victory where a team of Allied heroes (the Albion let's say) featuring John Wark , Mike Summerbee , Pele and Michael Caine fought bravely against the forces of evil (Palace).

Penalty ref! A bird's-eye view (well almost) of the game in which Kelvin Morton may of had a hand in a Palace victory.

One final related anecdote from the perfect Tuesday night in Wolverhampton where the Albion put on a display worthy of the Brazil 1970 World Cup team to hammer Wolves 4-2 including a goal from Robert Codner that in an eerie twist I described in perfect detail to Mr Last several hours before kick off. As we waited on the South Bank at Molineux for the home fans to disperse news came through from Anfield of a 9 (nine) nil win for Liverpool against Palace. The memory of grown men dancing with tears of happiness in their eyes has never left me.
As well as Eric the Ninja another man to have served both clubs is Steve Coppell. It says a lot about the man that he is revered by both sets of fans. Despite having been manager of Palace no less than 207 times and being derided in songs throughout that time by Albion fans about his lack of a birth certificate ("he's a Palace bastard") and his regular trips to the STD clinic - these are tribal football songs and no-one is seriously alleging either is actually true in case any libel lawyer is planning a raid on Danny's bank account I should make clear at this point - the Albion fans instantly took him to their hearts during his all too brief spell managing our club. It's also true that upon Russell Slade's departure earlier this season Coppell was the overwhelming choice of the fans to return. This of course was pre Gus so we'll never know how that would have worked out but by all accounts Coppell conducted himself honourably throughout the time he was courted - if indeed he was.

This coming Friday Palace fans will once again make a trip to Sussex to take part in an annual kick around with their Brighton counterparts to raise money for the Robert Eaton Memorial Fund. Anyone wanting to know more about this laudable cause can read up on it at REMF Homepage. Suffice it to say that everyone involved in the venture is an absolutely corking chap and the media would do well to devote to it a 10th of the time they take to talk up every scuffle anywhere near a football stadium as evidence that everything from hanging , the birch , National Service and the Watney Cup should be brought back immediately to avoid the country descending into anarchy.

The game comes less than 48 hours before Palace's own date with destiny in the shape of a relegation decider with Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough. Only a home win will save the Owls while a draw will keep Palace up - almost like their very own Hereford 1997. Do I want Palace to go down? Probably. Is the 10 point deduction seemingly forced upon them by an impatient Hedge Fund fair? Probably not. One thing however is beyond dispute. No real fan on either side would wish extinction on the other team due to a debt a fraction of that which it's apparently ok for Man United to carry.

In order for the next generation to enjoy their own derby moments to come Palace have to overcome their current difficulties. If that only comes after a good few seasons struggling at the arse end of League Two while the Albion prosper in their new gleaming state of the art stadium so be it. Hey I'm a proud son of West Sussex so it's upto Crispin or Nigel somewhere in Tattenham Corner to get in touch with Dan for the right of reply!

The game that started it all off? See comments section below for details and please feel free to comment yourself.

Brighton v Palace Rivarly PART 1

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Brighton v Crystal Palace Rivalry - Part 1

On the wings of a sparrow...

by Larry from Lancing

It's a most unusual relationship. Perhaps an analogy will help. Think of the celebrity couple Sophie Dahl and Jamie McCallum. One is glamorous, sleek, edgy, fashionable and popular; the other is dumpy, bit strange looking and of appeal to a rather weird group of people. Despite this they sort of go together and there you also have Brighton & Hove Albion and Crystal Palace. I don't think we need to spell out here who is Sophie and who is Jamie.

There's no real reason for this hate, love relationship. Hate is of course uppermost, though in recent times an unlikely alliance has been formed between fans who have both battled to save their clubs from lunatics.

There's no real geographical reason for the rivalry, we're not in the same county let alone the same city, there's no deep routed historical reason, no trading rivalries between the areas, no religious differences, pure and simple it's football. A genuine footballing rivalry based on the fact that we used to play each other a lot and had managers happy to stoke up the fires of rivalry. We even changed our nicknames to annoy each other, the Glaziers becoming Eagles and the Dolphins flipping to Seagulls.

Palace v Brighton from March '89. The view from the away end. Note the netting between fans and the bizarre pencil inflatable. This is the infamous match in which referee Kelvin Morton went quite literally bonkers awarding penalties willy and indeed nilly. More of that in Part 2.

Growing up in 1970's Sussex the hated rivals were always Palace, even though Portsmouth was just 30 minutes from where I lived. I remember a football annual from 1980 having a feature on the self proclaimed "team of the decade" and the headline read "Terry's Toppers," a reference to their then manager El Tel. This was too much for this 10 year old and within minutes the Christmas present had been vandalised and Terry's Toppers had become "Terry's Tossers," a stark improvement I'm sure you'll agree.

The games have become less frequent over the years and to be honest lack the chaos and anarchy of the 70's, though when they do come around they have that special feeling that only this type of rivalry can give you. Now I'm no fan of war and I'm more likely to join the Salvation Army than the British Army, but setting off for a trip to Selhurst Park is probably as close as it comes to the feeling of going off to war. Troops assemble at all points, from Littlehampton to Worthing and right along the coast, inland from Brighton to Burgess Hill and Haywards Heath, the army grows as we prepare to march on Selhurst. All this for a football match and based on a rivalry that anyone outside of Croydon or Sussex never really understands.

There have been some cracking games between us, my first being a 0-0 draw at the Goldstone in 1979. The Boxing Day and Easter clashes were the games you most looked forward to, walking into the North Stand at 12.30 for a 3pm kick off to get your spot on the terrace and launching into the first rendition of "Hark now hear the Brighton sing..." is a moment that stays with you forever. A little corner of Hove Park should have one of those blue plaques commemorating those who chased each other around there before, often during, and always after Goldstone games. These were more than football matches, it was pure theatre on a grand scale with Alan Mullery more than happy to ham it up.

So for these, and many other reasons, on Saturday I would swap a 5-0 defeat for my beloved stripes for a win by a Yorkshire side in blue and white stripes. It's written in the stars that our final game at Withdean sees the Albion clinch promotion to the Championship with a 5-0 win over Palace which condemns them to life in the 4th division.

If I had the wings of a sparrow,

If I had the arse of a cow,

I'd fly over Selhurst tomorrow,

And sh*t on the bas*ards below.

Part 2 to follow shortly including more derby memories and the REMF match between the two sets of fans this Friday.

Brighton v Palace Rivalry PART 2

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Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Kansis City Wizards Kei Kamara miss of the century vs LA Galaxy

I don't normally post these on here (because he's only just learned how to - Ed) but you simply must feast your mince pies on this "miss of the century". KK has a stinker of the highest order which you can only really appreciate with the slow motion replay on 38 seconds. Quite why he runs around like a fanny trying to con the referee afterwards is a mystery. Enjoy:

Thanks to Nick Waterhouse for sending this into EFW HQ.

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Friday, 23 April 2010

Hampton & Richmond Borough

Escape to Victory

Hampton and Richmond 1-2 Lewes (24:04:10)

- click on photos to enlarge image -

Now I know how Liverpool and Fulham felt last week. Talk about an "arduous" journey to Hampton for this, the last game of the regular Conference South season. Cynical Dave, Big Deaks and I had to walk (walk!) to Brighton Station. Board a train to Clapham Junction before changing trains (changing trains!) to get to Hampton. We then had to walk (yet again) to the Beveree, home to Hampton and Richmond Borough FC. I'm exhausted just thinking about it again.

It was 1hr 34minutes that we certainly won't be getting back. If you've ever experienced an equally epic journey to a football match then feel free to chip in on the comments section underneath this article. No pain, no gain though as they say. We simply had to be there for this one. If Lewes were to win this they'd avoid relegation, anything less and we'd have to rely on Worcester not winning against Eastleigh. There were lots of other permutations which I won't bore you with - yet.

For the price of a seat at Stamford Bridge, EFW sponsored the matchball. In return we were granted free entry, beer, food and the chance to hobnob around in the boardroom for the day. Oh, did I mention our friends from Hampton had laid on a beach party for the day? They had. It was hard not to let out a little wee of excitement. This match had everything going for it. What could possibly go wrong?

EFW has a bit of history with Hampton which you can read about HERE and THERE. So we were amongst friends as we pulled up to the ground, following a swift bevington or three in the Worlds End pub down the road. Friends from both teams that is. All season the EFW team has made up the vast majority of the away support but today over 150 travelling Rooks had swooped down on TW12.

I even had my lucky pre-match meal.

A warm welcome to today's match ball sponsors. Oh, it's us.

The teams enter the pitch to an Argentina '78 type ticker tape reception.

Biggest away support for Lewes for two years. The other two and half thousand were at the bar.

Kevin 'James Alexander Gordon' Brook keeps the masses updated with events at St George's Lane.

Not much occurred on the pitch during an understandably cagey first half. Off it fans used various social networking methods to find out how Worcester were getting on. 0-1 to Eastleigh (relax), then 1-1 (tense up again), then 2-1 Worcester (panic).

Cue half time and a chance to relax in the boardroom over a cup of tea served up by Alan Devonshire's wife. Vice President Elwyn Edmunds entertained the troops with a string of gags and swipe at Sir Stanley Matthews - no left foot apparently. News from Worcester meant that as things stood, the Rooks were going down. Time for an emergency custard cream.

I'm not saying my words in the shells of the home board of Directors had anything to do with events on the pitch but before you could say "Dan'll Fix It" Lewes had scored twice within five minutes of the restart. 19 goal Joe Keehan and on loan sensation Rob Gradwell both scored causing pandemonium amongst the visiting support. Lawyers should note I'm joking of course. I had coffee not tea.

Anyone for rugby? Man with bald head (at top of photo) has a quick ciggie before throwing the ball back into the line-out.

Look! I told you, it's him. It's actual Alan Devonshire.

Back of the (patched up) net.

What on earth is that on the pitch?

So 1-2 to Lewes and that is how it finished they pulled one back just play with our nerves one last time*. *Actually, for a full explanation on their goal, have a look at the comments section below. Just as well because Worcester also won (4-1). It was hard to get all misty eyed as fans and players celebrated like it was 1999. The win meant Lewes had gained 13 points from the last six matches. A run that included two away wins having previously not won on the road all chuffing season. It was genuinely a great escape. That will be two great escapes in 2009/10 having survived a winding up order earlier in the campaign. And relax.

Back in the boardroom, living legend Alan Simpson told stories about Brian Clough and Jimmy Greaves over a few glasses of red wine and Big Deaks and Cynical Dave let the match officials have their cake and eat it without giving them an ear bashing for once. Then we joined the masses in the clubhouse for a battleships worth of beer. Mr Fuller got an exclusive chat with his hero Alan Devonshire and all was well with the world.

And so the curtain came down on The Rooks Conference South season. One in which I've brought you reports on the road from *deep breath* Braintree, St Albans, Bromley, Leatherhead, Wealdstone, Weston-Super-Mare, Eastleigh, Maidenhead, Staines, Kidderminster, Weymouth, Basingstoke, Bishop's Stortford and now Hampton and Richmond. I hope that some of the magic of following Lewes has come across, even if you've no interest in the team. Enormous thanks to Big Deaks, Cynical Dave and Stuart Fuller for providing the funnies, everybody we've met on the way and to the LFC management duo of Steve Ibbitson and Jason Hopkinson who deserve the last word for doing it all for free and with a smile. Cheers!

Before we go. Lets do it shall we. Lets relive the moment that Lewes FC defied all the odds and stayed up. Pull up a chair Lewes fans as I take you through it...

Ibbo (bottom right) looks on as Hampton defender Dean Wells makes himself look a silly goose with a woeful backpass. Lewes striker Gradders Graddwell picks the loose ball up, rounds keeper Matt Lovett and....

....pops it into the patched up net to give the Rooks a 2-0 lead. The crowd go mad.....

.....the players have a well deserved cuddle.....

....and we've done it! We are staying up! Good old life!

My hero! Mr Fuller looks on as Danny salutes his hero Ibbo with a pint.

For more photos from the day CLICK ME

The Ball is Round report

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Bayern Munich tifo

Da da da da da da the Chaaaampions....

I thought you might like to see a few impressive photos from the Bayern Munich v Lyon Champions League Semi-Final, 1st Leg. Our pal Stephane Lievens was there supporting Lyon and he said it was a great trip and a shi...shocking game. Where have we heard that before? Anyway, I'll shut up now and let you enjoy them.

- Click on photos to enlarge image -


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Wednesday, 21 April 2010

S.S.C. Napoli

"Napoli is my life"

Napoli are the Marmite of Italy. You either love them or you hate them. Having seen them twice myself, I've got a foot in the camp of the former. Their fans can be both mesmerising and frightening at the same time. If you go and see Napoli, you won't forget about it in a hurry I can assure you.

This is the first of a two-part look at the club. Firstly, we'll take a look at the fans and try and get an insight into their world. Later in the week, I'll try and give you a rough guide should you ever want to go and see a game in the Stadio San Paolo.

As always here at EFW, we'll start with the fans. I interviewed lifelong fan Fabiano from Naples this week. He told me his love for Napoli, both the city and the team is something that cannot be described with just words. To Fabiano, Napoli are not just a team, they are his life and that rings true for many Napoli fans.

Do you think Napoli have the best fans in Italy?
I do think we are Italy's best fans, because no one is as passionate as us: there are people who would rather skip their lunch than miss the match. Roma have passionate fans too, but they're not in the same league as us. When Napoli play away, the guest stand is always packed with every seat taken. Tickets run out very quickly. Furthermore, we never stop singing till the end of the match, even if we're losing 0-10!!! In conclusion, Napoli are a religion, not a team, to us.

Is there a sinister element to the Napoli support? There is a sinister element to our support, because since the 'Ultras' want everybody to sing, sometimes you can get in trouble if you don't sing, but not in deep trouble: they might just shout at you. But this happens just in the Curvas, where the Ultras stand. Talking about other fans, we are brothers just with 4 teams: Genoa, Ancona, Palermo and Catania, apart from those who come from the province of Naples. All the other teams are enemies, and our toughest feuds are with Roma, Lazio, Verona, Atalanta, Juventus, AC Milan, Inter Milan. Some other firms hate us, like for example Cagliari, Bari, Salernitana and Avellino, but these feuds are not as tough as the ones I mentioned before. The one with Roma is the toughest rivalry in Italy, because it's just a football matter, not a social one like the rivalries with northern teams, so all the hatred is concentrated in football. Furthermore, Napoli and Roma are the 2 toughest firms, so when we meet up problems always occur.

Nowadays it is impossible for us to go to Roma or for them to come here, because since a police officer was killed in Catania 3 years ago, many new rules have been made and many things have changed: when there's a high risk match, away fans are forbidden to go, and tickets are ordered to be sold only within the province of the city where the match is supposed to be played. Italian football association (FIGC, Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio) are trying to solve this problem with the 'Tessera del Tifoso', a card that will allow away fans to go to the ground even when forbidden. But you must not have had criminal records concerning football in the last 5 years to get it, so Ultras totally disagree with buying one.How many ultra groups do you have and do they all get on with each other? We have 2 Curvas: Curva A and Curva B. In Curva A there are many groups, each one with his leader, and they seem to get with each other since they allsing at the same time. The most famous groups are: Mastiffs, Teste Matte, Vecchi Lions and Brigata Carolina. Curva A is the one with the toughest fans. Curva B have just 2 groups: Ultras Napoli and Fedayn, and they don't get with each other: when Fedayn sing, Ultras Napoli remain silent, and viceversa. Curva B used once to be the best firm in Italy (Curva A and B, our 2 firms, get their name from the end's they occupy), but it has recently slowly come down, since there's not a real leader now. They once used to sing all match long, but nowadays the ones who sing the most are Curva A's groups.

Is it safe to watch a match at the Stadio San Paolo? Watching a match at San Paolo is safe, but it depends what stand you go to: I would not advice you to get a ticket for the curva, but Distinti, Tribuna Nisida and Tribuna Posillipo are quiet. Distinti are a bit more noisy, but Tribuna Posillipo is very quiet because it's attended by rich people, old people, fathers with their kids and journalists. But it's the most expensive stand of the ground, so I advice you to go to the Tribuna Nisida, which is quiet as well.

What is the stadium like and are there plans afoot to renovate it? The stadium is like a giant egg, and there are plans to renovate it: athletics track, roof and 3rd ring (the upper part, which is shut because it could fall) will be torn down, and seats will be built closer to the pitch.

Click to enlarge the Stadio San Paolo.

Are away fans always allowed into the stadium for every match? Away fans are not always allowed to come to Napoli, but if we play against a team we are brothers with or which is not much of a feud to us, then they let them come.

Who are your rivals? Our rivals are mainly in Northern Italy, because there's a high social disagreement between north and south, and this is reflected in football too. We are rivals also with Roma and Lazio as I told you before, but it's just a football matter, it's a social one. Furthermore, there are some teams in the south we are rivals with because of things that happened many years ago, because they are brothers with a team we're rival with or because they come from the same region as us: Cagliari (we had a riot with them in 1997), Bari (they're brothers with Salernitana, our enemy) and Salernitana (they're in the same region as us, Campania, but it's not much of a rivalry to us, because we have history unlike them, although they feel this feud a lot).Are Napoli fans always allowed to travel to away games or are there still bans in place? Napoli fans are almost never allowed into the ground when they're guests, but sometimes we manage to beat the system by buying tickets for other stands (guest stand is shut) or turning up the very day of the match and forcing police to let us in to avoid deeper trouble.

Were you on that infamous train that went to Roma on the opening day of the season in 2008? No, unfortunately I was not on that train, but a friend of mine was there and told me it was all fixed up, because they didn't do anything bad apart from lighting some torches and firecrackers, so banning us from away matches for all the season was a too severe punishment, and totally stupid as was the decision of shutting our curvas for 3 matches (we won them all, nuts to them!!). In the previous days, Trenitalia, the Italian train company, had refused to give us a special train to go there, so we had to travel on an Inter City after waiting for several hours at the station. They said we ripped out seats, broke windows and toilets, but it's not true, because 2 Austrian journalists were on that train and said that nothing had happened. They just showed 4 broken wagons, the others kept on travelling across Italy. When we got to Rome, we got on buses, and they said we destroyed them, but not that each bus contained 150 people. They said we tore down the ground's gates, but when we got there they were already open, and no one was there 2 check us up. Because of decisions like that, Napoli fans do not like Italy at all: I mean, why would we support a country that hates us??

Does the shadow of Maradonna still loom large over the city? Yes, Maradona is still God to us, because he took us to win 2 leagues and the UEFA Cup, something we had never experienced before. We adore him especially because he used to play for the people, not for money.
Have you been to see Napoli? Got a story to tell?

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Sunday, 18 April 2010

Lewes FC

Champions of Europe

I had a rare day off from reporting yesterday. I stood on the terrace, pint in hand and enjoyed watching Lewes thump Dorchester by 5 (five) goals to nil. Luckily, Mr Fuller of the Ball is Round fame wasn't quite so lazy. You can read his account of the rout HERE. The EFW team are all off to Hampton and Richmond next Saturday. EFW are sponsoring the ball and The Mighty Rooks may well be celebrating survival on and off the park. It's a well worn out catchphrase on these pages but - as ever - what's not to like?

There are some fantastic photos from Stuart Fuller and James Boyes both HERE and THERE. Just to run that by you again then, that's Lewes 5-0 Dorchester.

Friday, 16 April 2010

EPL Talk

I was interviewed by Richard Farley from EPL Talk in USA, USA, USA. EPL Talk is one of the biggest "soccer" sites in the States with over 300,000 visitors a month. Have a giggle as I struggle to string a sentence together HERE. For more interviews, self praise etc. there is a press coverage section of this site which my Mum can look at HERE.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

The Spakenburg Derby

The Derby of Derbies

Twice a season in a small village just north of Utrecht in the Netherlands something very special happens. Pigs, farmers, fisherman, a giant viking and an army of football supporters come together for the Spakenburg derby. In the red corner we have the good folk at IJsselmeervogels and in the blue corner we're blessed with SV Spakenburg. It's the biggest amateur derby in Holland. It sounds totally bonkers and I am loving it.

IJsselmeervogels were formed in 1932 by a group of fishermen in response to the farmers of Spakenburg who'd formed SV Spakenburg a year earlier. The two clubs have been trying to outdo each other ever since. When one club builds one stand, the other will try and build a slighter bigger and better one. A couple of seasons ago, just for a gag, some IJsselmeervogels fans stole the centre circle at Spakenburg and in the most recent derby they painted a pig blue (as a little dig at the farmers), smuggled it into the ground and let him loose on the pitch before the match.

In the past this fixture was beset by a number of problems. Crowd disorder during the 90's and a bomb thrown at a linesman in 1987 meant that the two clubs were placed in separate divisions between 1995-2002. Things are a lot less sinister nowadays and the traditional pitch invasion that follows each derby is happily a peaceful one.

Both clubs have had their moments. In 1975 the Reds became the first and last club to reach the Dutch Cup semi finals and were thus crowned "Dutch sports club of the Year" and in 1985 the Blues won a league and cup double and became - in the words of club secretary Marjo Hartog - "The best team in the land".

The Blues unveil their new mascot

The Reds respond by letting a pig loose on the pitch.

So the Blues then fly a plane overhead with the words ""Hup SVS. Schijt aan de buren", which means "Come on Spakenburg. Shit on the neighbours". It later fires out toilet brushes onto the pitch.

So the Reds fill the ground of their rivals with red smoke. The two grounds are virtually in the same street by the way.

And the Blues get out large blue sticks and so on and so forth. Who won? Who cares just get us a ticket.

EFW spoke to Jim Donkers (of course Jim Donkers) at SV Spakenburg to get a bit more of an insight into this magical fixture. We're sometimes called The Smurfen, like those little blue cartoon people. In the past the reds have been represented by the fishermen whereas we've been seen more as the bourgeoisie. The pig was just a joke from the reds in the last derby - a game where we unveiled a giant blue and white viking as our new mascot. This rivalry is the reason the two clubs reached and always stay at the top, remarkable for a small village with only 20,000 residents.

Sometimes the rivalry goes too far but some families are both red and blue and they're all Spakenburgers - which means they don't accept negativism and will level action against anyone who does harm to one of the two clubs.
Normally both clubs attract crowds of between 1500-2000 but for this - the mother of all derbys - around 8-9000 fans attend. EFW is always welcome to visit the derby. There is a beer ban before the match when we drink Cola-Sonnema, which is a herbal drink but after the match there is always a party win, lose or draw. The party is always best on the blue side.

For more photos from the derby head here and there. For some YouTube footage click here. Thanks to Joris at Doing the 116, Pat from Pat's Travel Blog and SV Spakenburg for the photos.

I think we've seen and heard enough to make the Spakenburg Derby the No.1 fixture on the EFW agenda for 2010/11. We'll be at both matches but who to support? The Reds or the Blues?

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