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The Big Red Derby – An Asian perspective

October 26, 2009
The Big Red Derby

Liverpool fans celebrate!

On this side of the world, the games between Liverpool and Manchester United carry more significance than the games against their local sides Everton and Man City. Traditionally, fans follow a particular club, because of their geographical proximity to the club, family affiliations and/or religion. But on this side of the world, fans become fans of a club because they stumbled upon a team who they wanted to be associated with. Be it because they were winners, had a pleasing brand of playing style, or contained a contingent of players they so happen to like.

For me, it was a combo of those factors, when one fine season a long time ago that Spurs were the North London side with a pleasing brand of football, and Arsenal were too busy defending their 1-0 leads.

Personal matters aside, many fans in Asia follow one of the big four, and it is usually Manchester United and Liverpool who tops the list. Yes you will find Arsenal and Chelsea fans here, but their numbers combined would never beat the number of fans the other 2 teams have on their own in Asia.

Games against Everton or Man City never reached the excitement levels that would be generated by Red Derby, and if it wasn’t for the continuous Carlitos Tevez transfer and his constant whining, the game against Man City this year would also be less of a concern to any United fan here.

Similarly, speak of the local sides here and the general feel is that there isn’t much hatred and/or animosity as you would get in England. However, once you speak of the other Red team, I guarantee you a whole tirade of unacceptable words spew out from the mouths of the supporters from the other team.

If there was any local derby that carried somewhat similar meaning in Asia as it did in England, it is probably the North London rivalry, as both teams have had a history of success, which was achieved using similar styles of play, Spurs in the early 80s, and the Gunners in the Wenger era.

And that therein lies the real reason for the Red rivalry in Asia.

Liverpool fans here become who they are, when they watch the various Cup successes of Liverpool over the years, and United fans likewise with the number of league titles they’ve won. It is true to say that 20 years ago, many of the current fanbase, would probably not have a favourite team, unless they belonged to the older generation, live or studied in either Liverpool or Manchester, or played football with British expats, like my father, who is a fan of the Bill Shankly era.

Everton and City, in the eyes of Asia, have not done anything to convince the football fan here to support them, and while it is harsh on Everton, who have had success previously, it should not be a surprise considering that it is sustained recent success that brings fans over.

So while fans of the Reds in Asia celebrate their victory over their “local” rival, you can be sure that fans of the Red Devils will be eagerly waiting for the return fixture at Old Trafford, and while fans in England would rub their hands in glee, neither set of Red supporters would give as much as a shrug, on their next encounter against the Toffees or Citizens.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 26, 2009 3:23 pm

    Respect to die hards who do this all without a pint in hand as well. That wouldn’t be easy :-)

  2. October 26, 2009 5:26 pm

    Erm..i think i get your jist..

    Using United as an example, the traditional footballing continents of Europe, Africa and South America have been aware (and supported) the club since the days of the Busby Babes tragedy..this brought a huge amount of sympathy to the club and we became everyones English team in the 50s/60s…it wasnt really influenced by studying in Manchester or the like.

    With the global appeal of the Premiership from the 90s the rest of the planet, inc Asia, got involved. If you like a sport then you want someone to support. In England that is normally dictated by either your family, your school friends, or in more recent years Sky Sports extensive coverage (im old enough to remember your one game a week on The Big Match on ITV)

    I understand non-Brits being attracted to the United brand of football. I support the Boston Celtics for the NBA (since the Larry Bird days) but have only been to one live game…so i get that way of thinking. i do not have the same hatred for the Lakers that someone from the East Coast would have, but i understand that hatred and buy into it..its all part of the theatrics of sport.

    Rivalry is what makes sport fun! Its our competitive natures..and winning against a rival is seen as some sort of reward for our loyalty..on the flip side the pain we feel in defeat (as we have felt in the past 24hrs) is also a reward for our loyalty..yes i said reward. Its all about identifying yourself with that club, thro thick and thin. That is a common global trait for all supporters.

    Personally the Liverpool games are the biggest league games of the season, very closely followed by City, Chelsea and Arsenal. However it is rarely these matches that give you the biggest ‘buzz’ in a season. Last year it was the Spurs and Villa matches for us..and the Champions League run in. This so far it has actually been City with Owens goal, but im sure that a win against a Bolton or Wigan may end up being more significant towards the seasons end..its those games that really matter

  3. October 26, 2009 6:34 pm

    these games are MASSIVE i tell you.. especially in countries like malaysia, indonesia, thailand & singapore.. every pub, cafe, restaurant, stall etc.. PACKED to the brim.. the only other event where football fans here gather in such an extravagent manner for a match being played thousands of miles away is the world cup.. there is sort of a trend though.. where the liverpool supporters tend to be from the older generation that grew up in the 80’s when the scousers had most of their success.. where as the united fans are from the younger generation who grew up from the early 90’s onwards.. asians kinda like successful teams.. hehe which explains the sudden growing fanbase for chelsea AFTER 04/05.. oh, and the liverpool – united rivalry is probably just as passionate back in asia.. compared to england etc

  4. Aris permalink
    October 27, 2009 10:35 am

    i have seen these guys before..

  5. Aris permalink
    October 27, 2009 10:39 am

    Arsenal derby game against Tottenham is also a hit here in Brunei..

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