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27.10.2002
Rivalry

Wimbledon - Crystal Palace 2-2
Crystal Palace - Brighton 5-0

ďDo the lads understand, that this is the most important game of the season? We have waited for thirteen years to kick the ***t out of these ***m. Please beat them. Tell the lads how important this is?Ē -comes a Palace fan hysterically talking to me with a rage in his eyes before a game at Selhurst. Obiviously this didnt happen before Wimbledon game. You can hardly call it a derby when the home team have more players than supporters at the stadium. Even though being geographically closest to Palace Wimbledon don't really create any cold shivers on your backbone.

On the other hand Brighton does. First I didnít know all this. I didnít have a clue before I talked with many of our supporters. And the more you talk to people, the more obvious is the deep hatred between these two clubs.

Personally I donít know any of Brighton players. I have never met them or do not hate them. Before the season I thought it was just another opponent, another league game and another three points. But it is not. It is much more than that.

It is a derby, a rivalry between two clubs. You can actually feel the adrenalin clouds coming to surround Selhurst Park. And because our supporters feel so strongly about it, it becomes highly important for me too. The people who justify my job, the supporters, have made into my most important business to beat this team.

In Scandinavia I played also couple of derbies. Well, you can hardly call them that since it was so different: most of the opponents were my old team mates and I actually knew some of they supporters as well. There were no hate but there were an extra tension, you got to be better than your mate. The game was always extremely hot and extra hard, but afterwards there were no hard feelings in the air. It is like the fact that you have to have a better car than your neighbour.

Here in Britain it is different. And I donít mean the fact my neighbour drives a BMW and I use the District line, but in football you have chosen your enemy who you deeply detest. For me as a foreigner it is sometimes hard to understand the rivalry between these two clubs that I didnít at the first place see any link with. And that is because it all comes from the history, which I havenít seen. Me and probably some younger supporters donít exactly know where everything has started from, but it is all ours now. The history and the hate come as heritage. These are our enemies, these we got to beat.

So lets smoke the road with our car and let them bite the dust! It is not just three points you are playing for. You are playing for to beat them. You want to do the hard tackle. You want to get your supporters excited and happy. It is originally somebody elseís hatred, but as soon as you run into the derby game, you have inherited it. It is now also your battle and you play like it was your history. There is nothing personal against any of their player, after all you have to respect your fellow professionals, everyone understands that. It is just that the whole event is different.

In a derby game, it is not just to trying to win the game. The opponent should go home beaten. But by all means not physically! When the first punch is thrown, then it is not about football anymore. It is violence. That is something that doesnít belong in sport events. People looking for a fight are not supporters - they are criminals. It is not about passion anymore; it is not about dying for your club. It is colouring a beautiful game with blood. These people are not doing any favours for their clubs.

Football is a game of big passions: passion to play, passion to support and follow your team. Explore and share the dramatic ups and downs of your club, live and experience a fascinating world often so different from your normally quite boring 8 to 5 civil work. And the ultimate of this experience is having a rival, an enemy, who doubles the atmosphere and feelings.

It is somebody you can yell at and bit abuse, safely release the aggressions and stress in culturally justified way. Share it with other people wearing your colours. There is a social order for these kinds of events. Britain has the fine history and the tradition of passionate football culture, and it is serving the whole society well, but only until it goes to violence. Then it is a problem. Before that it is important experience for a supporter and a player.

So you win three points. You win your opponent. You win your supporters hearts. And you win an extra good mood to your camp. Derby isnít just a game of football. These things can change the whole season. It is uncountable in points. It is one of the ultimate feelings and mental challenges of the game. It is much better than having the better car than your neighbour.


This week I recommend:

1. Winning a derby game
- Important three points plus makes your living much better and easier -
2. District line
- Faster than neighbours BMW -
3. Buying an umbrella
- Living in England is good enough a reason -



I do not recommend

1. Framed -movie
- Had to rent it two times and never could stay awake until the end-
2. NHS car parks
- Their policy is to make too small car parks so that ill people could walk for miles -
3. Sweet Pop corns
- You must be mental not to choose the salted ones -


- Ability may get you to the top, but it takes charecter to keep you there -

John Aki Wooden


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