What is a Derby in Football? Detailed Guide

What is a Derby in Football?

The long and rich football history has witnessed a lot of rivalries between the football clubs. Some of the rivalries have been continuing for even more than a century. In this entire history of rivalries, many players have come and gone. 

The clubs proudly passed on their rivalries from generation to generation. And from that rivalry, the concept of a derby match got into notice. So What is a Derby in Football?

Derby is a specific match in football that is played between the local rivals. The local rival may belong to the same city or the same part of the country. 

Derby matches are the most competitive matches in football history. These matches are more significant as the pride of the two clubs depends on the match.

What is a Derby in Football? And Their Types

Many people define derby as the fixing between two clubs. However, there are debates on whether matches like United Vs. Liverpool can be called debris or not as they are staunch rivals of each other. 

So, in football, derby means a specific match between local rivalry clubs. 

However, there are three segments of derbies that include;

1. The Merseyside Derby

Everton and Liverpool play in the Merseyside derby. It is called after the River Mersey that flows through the city of Liverpool. In 1894, the Merseyside Derby was played for the first time. 

In the total of 211 matches, Liverpool won 88 times, while Everton won 66 matches. 

2. The Tyne and Wear Derby

This specific derby match is not between two teams from the same city. Rather, this match gets played between two teams from nearby cities. 

For example, the derby match between Newcastle Utd and Sunderland is an example of the Tyne and Wear Derby. 

In 1888, this match was played for the first time. These two teams have played 143 times, where Newcastle Utd won 53 times, and Sunderland won 45 times

3. The West Midlands Derby

West Midlands Derby includes two clubs; West Bromwich Albion and Aston Villa. These two clubs are just 4 miles apart. This derby match was played for the first time in 1889. 

For 141 times, these two clubs have played where West Bromwich Albion has won 45 times, and Aston Villa won 65 times.

Related: What is Pick Six in Football

Why is it Called a Derby?

A local derby refers to a sporting contest between local rivals. In 1780, the phrase originated from The Derby, a horse race in England. Later in 1840, the term derby was used to denote any kind of sports contest.  

The phrase derby belongs to the town of Ashbourne in Derbyshire, England. From the 12th century, two opposite sides of Ashbourne have been playing the game. It is known as the Royal Shrovetide Football Match or highball. 

This us-and-them mentality has been continued till in the present football culture. However, the game was initially free for all, but players from two opposing parishes can now play the derby match. 

Whoever manages to kick the ball to the opposition’s goal, wins the match. In England, it used to be organized on feast days. 

So, these are the two histories behind the term derby in football.

Also Read: What is 7 on 7 in football

What Are The Biggest Derbies in Football?

Derby in football

Football is a sport of competition. As in this post, we are discussing Derby; specifically, there are a lot of rivals in football history. So, now let’s see the biggest derbies in football.

Inter Milan Vs. AC Milan

Milan derby is all about the clash of cultures. Supporters of Internazionale were the members of the city’s bourgeoisie, while AC was the club for blue-collar workers. 

Gradually football enthusiasts all across the world supported each of these teams. 

But the rivalry between these two clubs is continuing till today. The Milan Derby takes place in the same stadium every time. 

Liverpool Vs. Everton

All football enthusiasts are familiar with the rivalry between Liverpool and Everton. Their rivalry is familiar as the friendly derby as sometimes the Liverpool and Everton supporters belong to the same family. 

In the 1980s, the two teams dominated the top-fight in England. The rivalry went worse in 1984 for the League Cup final. 

Celtic Vs. Rangers

The rivalry between these two teams is the basis of religion. However, the rivalry didn’t start in this way. In fact, the only aim of Celtic was to raise money for the disadvantaged people in the city.

But in the 1920s and 1930s, religious differences took place in society. 

At that time, Celtic embraced the Catholic origins where the Rangers became more Presbyterian. However, it’s not only the religious issue behind this rivalry. This rivalry is also linked to the Republican feelings of Northern Ireland. 

Benfica Vs. Sporting Lisbon

The rivalry between these two teams was initiated in 1907. This year, eight Benfica players switched over to play for Sporting Lisbon before the first derby match between the two sides. 

Team Benfica was formed by a group of students, while Sporting Lisbon was bankrolled by a viscount immediately after it was formed. However, there is no extremely fierce rivalry between these two teams. 

Arsenal Vs. Tottenham Hotspur

The rivalry between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur is based on geography. Tottenham Spur was based in North London from 1882, while Arsenal is based in South London. 

However, later Arsenal moved to North London in 1913. In 1887, these two clubs met. There was no such rivalry initially. 

But later in 1913, the rivalry started when Arsenal moved to Highbury from Plumstead. From that time, these two teams couldn’t play in a friendly manner anymore. 

Well, these are the top five derbies in the world of football. Besides these, the other significant derbies are; Lazio Vs. Roma, CSKA Moscow Vs. Spartak Moscow, Fenerbahce Vs. Galatasaray, Atletico Madrid Vs. Real Madrid, etc.

Best Derbies of All Time in Football:

Below is the list of biggest derbies in football history:


League titles

Domestic cup titles

Total trophies

Rangers Vs Celtic




AC Milan Vs Inter Milan




Olympiakos Vs Panathinaikos




Roma Vs Lazio




Barcelona Vs Real Madrid




Boca Juniors Vs River Plate




Red Star Belgrade Vs FK Partizan




AL Ahly Vs Zamalek




Ajax Vs Feyenoord




Manchester United Vs Liverpool




Fenerbahce Vs Galatasaray




Arsenal Vs Tottenham Hotspur




Aston Villa Vs Birmingham City




Newcastle United Vs Sunderland




Palmeiras Vs Corinthians




Borussia Dortmund Vs Schalke




Fluminense Vs Flamengo




Wolves Vs WBA




West Ham Vs Millwall




Derby Match in Football?

In football, a derby refers to a rivalry between two football teams or clubs. The term derby can be used to refer to a particular match between two clubs. 

Some people describe any game between two rival teams as a derby. 

But it’s a partial fact. The actual derby match involves two opposing teams that share the same city. 

The derby match captures the passion and raw emotion of football. Undoubtedly, this match is much more than the standard games of football. There are some reasons that play a significant role behind the rivalry of teams.

Location- It is one of the most obvious reasons behind the rivalry of teams. The derby matches based on location rivalry give an opportunity to the supporters to contest local bragging rights. Everton Vs. Liverpool is a great example of location-based rivalry.

Religion- Religious derbies are also quite common in the world of football. The derby between Celtic and Rangers is an example of a religious derby. Controversy- A controversial event may be a significant reason behind the rivalry between two teams. 

However, the rivalry doesn’t generate from just one single event. It arises from several controversial events that fuel the flames between existing rivalries. Liverpool Vs. Everton is an example of the controversial derby in football.

What is a Derby Match in the Premier League?

premier league derby

In the premier league, derby matches are the most competitive. Derby is the match between local rivals that means the teams from the same city or the same part of a country. Derby matches have a special place in both players’ and fans’ hearts. 

For both players and fans, nothing is more exciting than a classic premier league derby match. The shouting of fans, consistent controversies, and intense rivalries make the derby matches more memorable. 

However, derby matches are quite hard to predict as they are played quickly with lots of tackles and fouls. 


In the football field specifically, derby contests are rich in histories that may have central to deeper political roots. 

However, derby matches are the most anticipated fixtures of the season. Both players and fans always have great enthusiasm for the derby matches. 

For players, fans, and coaches derby matches are something that they love to win and hate to lose. Here, in this post, we have shared enough information about What is a derby in football

So, if you are a true football enthusiast, enjoy our article and leave your precious comment below.

Scroll to Top