Euro 2020 Special

History of the Fabled North London Derby

The North London Derby is a local football rivalry between Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal both hailing from the Northern part of the English capital, London. It is regarded as the fiercest rivalries in English football. The fans from both clubs consider each other to be their main rivals, hence the animosity between the two sets of supporters is sky-high.

But this wasn’t always the case, back in the 1900s. Arsenal were formerly known as Woolwich Arsenal and were based in the Southern parts of London. In 1913, they relocated to their new football stadium, Highbury which was right next to Tottenham’s stadium, White Hart Lane. This move didn’t go down well with the Spurs supporters and hence the feud of the North London Derby started.

It wasn’t until after World War II got over that things between these two clubs escalated. During the war, Spurs and the Gunners shared Tottenham’s stadium whilst Highbury was being used by the military. Post-1945, when the war was over, the conquest for North London was back on and it was more hostile than ever.

Spurs invented St. Hotspur Day on April 14 1991, as the day they overcame Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-final. Under Arsene Wenger, Arsenal were far superior to their neighbours and would virtually finish above them every year. As a result, Arsenal took the holiday and created their own spin-off St. Totteringham’s Day, backfiring the celebrations on Tottenham and long outlasting St. Hotspur Day. It has no official date because it changes every year, as it’s the day that Tottenham can no longer mathematically finish above Arsenal in the league table in a given season.

The Gunners may still boast the better Premier League record with 20 wins in 56 matches but the pendulum has swung Spurs’ way in recent seasons especially on home soil. Tottenham are now unbeaten in six consecutive home matches against their neighbours, their longest run since 1968.

With hostilities high between the two clubs, historically very few players have managed to don the colours of both the clubs. But once this happened for defender Sol Campbell, all hell broke loose. He was Spurs’ inspirational captain but went on to join Arsenal in 2001. He became the most hated man amongst the Tottenham supporters and the fact that he was an integral member of the invincible Arsenal team in 2003 made it worse for the Spurs faithful.

This Sunday will mark the 57th North London Derby in the Premier League era and it comes at the perfect time for the fans. This weekend will also mark the return of spectators in a few stadiums with certain protocols to be followed. So 2,000 Tottenham fans would enjoy the action live from the stadium for this one. Spurs begin this game top of the Premier League table with Jose Mourinho having never lost a league home game against Arsenal in his career.

The Spurs have never had a bigger gap to the Gunners coming into the North London Derby. The way Mikel Arteta and Jose Mourinho will set their team up will be fascinating to watch.

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