Derby Days

A few weeks ago, I congratulated the Nationwide Conference for scheduling a round of local derby matches for Boxing Day. Never mind that I couldn’t go: it provided a big boost to crowds at a level of football where match day revenue means more or less everything. Bearing this in mind, why on earth did they choose to put the return fixtures on this evening? The coldest day of the winter, two days before pay day, when I’m on the late shift at work. I couldn’t even listen to it on the radio. But never mind. A first derby win against our rivals from just up the A1 in fourteen years is plenty of compensation. I use the word “rivals” advisedly, because St Albans and Stevenage have never really had the opportunity to form a proper rivalry. St Albans’ traditional local rivals were Enfield and Hendon. Raw local rivalries brought about from years of pitched battles in the Isthmian League. The nature of non-league being more transitory than the Football League, they didn’t meet for a long time. Enfield went into the Conference in 1982, and didn’t return until 1990. By the early 1990s, Hendon were at the start of a slow and painful decline, playing in front of pitiful crowds at a decaying stadium in North London. Enfield had built a strong rivalry with Barnet whilst playing in...

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