Sunday, May 10, 2009

Derby Day

Another football post today I'm afraid but it's that time of year where everything is up for grabs.

It was derby day in Manchester with United meeting City at Old Trafford. All in all it was an easy win for United, City rarely threatened and now we need 4 points from the last 3 games to win the title.

I'm not going to discuss the game in detail but I think it is occasions like this that American sports fans miss out on. Most major cities have just one team for each sport (with the odd exception).

Houston have the Rockets for Basketball, Texans for American football and the Astros for Baseball and the Dynamo in the MLS. They may have their rival teams and there's always an extra buzz when they play Dallas in anything but it lacks that local rivalry. The one where you know that going into the office on Monday is going to be miserable if your team loses.

Having two competing teams in the same city means that a lot of friends, neighbours, and family support the other team giving any games where they play each other greater significance.

As I've mentioned before, my Grandad was a City fan and we talked about football all the time, but derby day and the weeks leading up to it, and the days after it were different. The rivalry was cranked up to 11 twice a year.

Derby day has lost a little bit of it's passion in recent years, on the pitch especially as more and more players come from overseas but off the pitch it is still huge. The local newspapers have special features about the game.

In today's game, United are closing in on the Championship but City a still hopeful of clinching a European spot for next season but knowing City fans over the years their main aim would be to dent United's hopes rather than anything their own team may achieve.

At least there has been a rivalry in recent seasons. After City beat United heavily in September 1989, United went on a 13 year unbeaten run against their local rivals and I think the games lost a bit of their spark, especially when City were struggling to get out of the third division while United were clinching the historic treble in 1999.

City beat United twice last season, a rare feat but it means that neither team can take these things for granted and they are more of a spectacle.

The win means United need 4 points from their final 3 games with the chance to have it all sewn up before Liverpool play again.

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