A look back at the North London Derby…

The first North London Derby of the season ended in a disappointing 1-1 for Arsenal and Tottenham. Both teams were seeking the sweet taste of victory against their main rival. For fans of both teams, it’s one of the few matches of the season that is absolutely necessary to win. The North London Derby is one of the biggest rivalries in the English Premier League, with a history that spans over a century. But just how did this fierce rivalry begin? Both teams emerged in the late nineteenth century, with Tottenham located in North London and Arsenal located in Plumstead. The first matches between the two teams was friendly, however, that friendliness started to dissolve in 1913 when Arsenal moved their stadium from Plumstead to Highbury, just four miles from Tottenham’s stadium.


(The red marks Arsenal’s Highbury stadium; the white marks Tottenham’s White Hart stadium, a mere four miles apart.)

Because they were each other’s nearest neighbor’s a natural rivalry ensued. However, this rivalry would not escalate until 1919, after World War I. The First Division was to be expanded by two teams, with 19th placed Chelsea filling one of the spots, and the other expected to be awarded to 20th placed Tottenham. However, that was not the case. This is where the main rivalry stems from. Arsenal, although only finishing sixth in the Second Division, also put a bid for the spot. The final spot was to be put for a vote amongst the League. After an endorsement by League president John McKenna because of their longer membership in the League, Arsenal won the spot with eighteen votes to Tottenham’s eight. Arsenal’s acceptance into the First Division in 1919 has long been thought by Tottenham fans to have been a result of bribery by Arsenal chairman Sir Henry Norris, although this has never been proven. Tottenham joined the League the next year and the matches over the years between the two teams would be marked with bitterness and an intense amount of competitiveness. This fierce and storied rivalry is one of the greatest in English football and still continues to this day.



Author: sportswille

Reformed ad agency guy. Sac Kings, PGA Tour, Pebble Beach, Aspen yielded fascination with sports business. Now teach at my alma mater, University of Texas Austin: Integrated Marketing, Social Media, Business and Law and Sports Audiences. 40 year streak of single digit handicap under severe pressure.

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