What Are the Fiercest Derbies in English Football?

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English football fans are known for their passion and unconditional support for their clubs. This is the case all the way down the football pyramid and is what makes football in England so unique.

In many ways, English football fans can be described as tribal when it comes to the way they follow their teams. This is certainly the case in local derbies as the atmosphere in these matches is often a little hostile between the two rivals.

Here is a look at what the fiercest derbies are in English football.

Manchester United-Liverpool

The two most successful clubs in England are Manchester United and Liverpool so it's no surprise that there's a longstanding rivalry here. Throw in the geographical proximity of the clubs, games are always heated on and off the pitch.

United and Liverpool remain strong rivals today as they're both title contenders in the Premier League. 2019/20 champions Liverpool are 7/2 in the bet on football odds for the title, while United are 5/1. It is United who currently have the bragging rights for the most titles, as they have won the league championship on 20 occasions, one more than their rivals. Liverpool have been more successful in Europe though, with six European cups to United’s three.

Millwall-West Ham

Arguably the fiercest rivalry in England is that between London clubs Millwall and West Ham. This fixture has been marred by hooliganism and crowd trouble in the past and it is the game the police fear the most.

The London derby stems all the way back to the 19th century. The two clubs were formed in the east side of the capital where the supporters were predominantly part of rival dockyards. Although Millwall are now based in South London, the two sets of fans don’t like each other.

The two clubs last faced each other in 2012 in the Championship at Upton Park, West Ham’s previous ground before moving to the Olympic Stadium. The Hammers came out on top 2-1 and were promoted back to the Premier League at the end of the campaign.


Known as the South Coast Derby, there is a real heated rivalry between Hampshire cities Portsmouth and Southampton. There are just 19 miles separating the two clubs and like many rivalries which exist today, theirs dates back over a century ago.

The tension between the clubs intensified in 2004 when Pompey manager Harry Redknapp resigned from his post and later joined Southampton. This did not go down well with Portsmouth fans. They felt betrayed by their former boss and made their feelings clear when Redknapp returned to Fratton Park with his Southampton team a year later. Portsmouth came out on top 4-1, so they felt they had the last laugh.

Their last meeting came in 2019 in the League Cup. Southampton prevailed 4-0 at Fratton Park. There are now two leagues between the two clubs as the Saints are in the Premier League, while Portsmouth are competing in League One.

If you enjoy watching fierce derbies in football, look out for the next encounters involving the above three sets of rivals.