Thursday, April 07, 2011


Daft Derbies

On the day SAFFC defeated Home United in the rather ridiculously named 'Uniform Derby' I thought what cyber space really needed was my rants and thoughts on some of the dafter derbies I've come across down the years!

The premise for the Uniform Derby is that SAFFC represent the military in Singapore, while Home United, who started life as Police, represent the whole gamut of civil defence forces which I guess includes cops, firemen and traffic wardens for all I know.

Someone sometime came up with the Uniform Derby and the name has stuck though whether there is any really deep rivalry between the two is questionable beyond the fact they are two of the country's most successful teams.

There are other 'Uniform' derbies in the region. Malaysia has ATM and PDRM in Malaysia (Military and Police) in the second tier while Thailand boasts the imaginatively named Army United and Police United in the Premier League. I'm not aware of any special rivalry between those clubs in their respective leagues and the whole notion of professional football clubs representing parts of government service these days seems daft anyway.

Can you imagine kids growing up saying hey great, we're playing the coppers today? Unless you're involved in either service the game has little appeal as a 'Uniform' Derby.

On the other hand, football in Europe is filled with clubs whose name or crest relates to their origins back in the mist of time. Arsenal of course were founded in a government munitions factory in Woolwich, hence the name Woolwich Arsenal and later Arsenal. Or The Arsenal. Back then though football was new and exciting and many people were employed either directly or indirectly through the factory.

Today football is just one of many leisure activities and football is well established. People growing up following the latest 'successful or rich club are going to find it difficult to decide to follow a local team who are associated with a police force most of us try to avoid or an army untested in anything beyond dry runs.

The boom in Thailand that happened in 2009 may have spluttered over the last 15 months or so but one thing that has happened has the Premier League has become less Bangkok centric. Just a few years ago the whole league was based in the capital and involved such riveting match ups as KTB v TTM, BEC v PEA and, of course, Army v Police. The notion of a derby was absurd because the whole league was a bloody derby.

Now though the TPL sees teams from places as diverse as Chiang Rai, Khon Kaen, Si Sa Ket, Buriram, Pathum Thani and Nonthaburi. Bangkok teams are fast becoming a minority while the eastern province of Chonburi is becoming a football hotspot with Chonburi and Pattaya United owned by two brothers, the Khunpluen Derby(?) whose old man essentially runs the province and has for decades. Sri Racha is also in Chonburi while Siam Navy, who last season played in the neighbouring province of Rayong, now also play in the province.

Si Sa Ket and Buriram are neighbouring provinces in the north east of Thailand, but I have yet to see or hear anyone really come out and call it the Issan Derby. Perhaps they have in the Thai media...

One game in Bangkok does have the potential to be a great derby. Thai Port against Chula United. The working class docks and slums of Tha Reua against the minted and wealthy of Chula and its royal heritage. Quality stuff that I touched upon a couple of years ago, here.

Malaysia is different again. The classic rivalry there is Selangor v Singapore, a rivalry dating back to when the British still ruled ahead of being chased out by the Japanese. A few years ago Perlis met Perak in the Malaysia Cup Final, this was promoted at the time as the Northern Derby I recall.

Do people get excited about Terengganu against T Team? Felda United against KL? I somehow doubt it but as ever would be delighted to be proved wrong.

The title for daftest derbies though must go to the old National Soccer League in Australia back in the mid 1980s. Before Yugoslavia tore itself apart in the early 90s I was rapidly becoming an expert on internecine warfare in the Balkans courtesy of the NSL. Straight off my flight from Bali I picked up a local football paper, Australian Soccer Weekly, and was greeted with an advertisement for Melbourne Croatia v Sydney Croatia. In Melbourne! Melbourne is or was about 14 hours by coach from Sydney, some bloody derby but hey, that didn't stop both clubs proclaiming it the Croatian Derby! No wonder the game struggled to attract fans!

On the same day Footscray JUST were playing Preston Makedonia and I was soon learning Tito had not erased local passions in Yugoslavia. They had just been exported to the other side of the world.

No mention of Indonesia in this article. Their league has enough derbies and rivalries for the whole region!

Great piece.

Unfortunately, Chula United are now known as BB-CU (Big Bang Chila United) and have moved to the Army Stadium in Din Daeng.

As for daft derbies, Police Utd v Samut Songkhram was referred to as the 'Cement Derby' last year in the Thai press (seriously, I'm not winding you up) because Police are sponsored by Insee and Songkhram by Siam Cement Group!
Typo: Big Bang Chula United
There is a similar thing with Thai Port and BEC Tero (FB Battery vs 3K Battery) - 'The Battery Derby'.
SriRacha v Chonburi on Saturday is very much a local derby. In fact, there are fair few fans who follow both clubs.
And as for "Daft Derbies", there are a fair few Chang Derbies during the course of the TPL season. They are my favourite kind. :)
not much of a rivalry tho if you support both teams. it's like orient or brentford. no one really hates them, they're too anonymus
Thai Port v Navy - The Seamen Derby.
big bang chula 555
the seamen derby could get a bit sticky!

there is a semen padang in indonesia and another team called gresik united. both towns are associated with cement manufacture...
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