What is the biggest match in football around the world? Many will say Real Madrid v Barcelona, others AC v Inter whilst some of a more continental persuasion will go for the Boca v River Plate game in Argentina. But what is clear that in most domestic leagues the biggest game tends to be the local derbies. In fact Spain (and to an extent, France) is the exception in that the biggest game is not a inter-city derby.
Germany has all of the passion (and spite) of Borussia Dortmund and Schalke as well as a new rivalry, played for the first time this season in Hertha v Union Berlin. Italy has the Rome, Milan, Turin and Genoa variations. Portugal has Sporting v Benfica derby played between the Lisbon sides and then of course there is the Old Firm in Scotland. Childhood friends grow up enemies based on the teams they support, families are split in two over their allegiances.
During the past few years I have been lucky enough to experience a few such games. Internazionale 0 AC 6 will always rank up there in my most treasured footballing memories, as will the rampant destruction of Parken, home to FC Copenhagen by Brondby IF fans in one of the fastest growing inter-city rivalries. But one game I had always wanted to see was the Stockholm derby between Djurgården IF and AIK.
Djurgårdens IF and AIK were both founded in 1891 separated by just a month apart and both are originally from the Northern part of Stockholm. Today they are almost in different towns with AIK based in Solna, to the north of the city centre and Djurgården in the district of Östermalm. They are also historically two of the biggest and most successful clubs in Sweden, with 11 League titles each. The Djurgården vs AIK rivalry is considered by far the biggest rivalry in Sweden and maybe even the whole of Scandinavia because of its rich history and the huge animosity between the two clubs and both sets of fans with the Järnkaminerna or Blue Saints of Djurgården on one side and the notorious Black Army of AIK on the other. With this being the first game of the season for both teams, it was guaranteed to be a cracker in terms of atmosphere. Continue reading