One of the most recognized terms in soccer today is derby. Originating from a famous horse race in England, The Derby, founded by the 12th Earl of Derby in 1780, the term is commonly applied to sporting contests between two local rival clubs. As a soccer fan, you’ve likely heard of or follow some of the famous European matches carrying this title.
The North London Derby – Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur
The Merseyside Derby – Liverpool vs. Everton
The Manchester Derby – Manchester United vs. Manchester City
The Milan Derby – AC Milan vs. Inter Milan
The Madrid Derby – Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid
Most think “El Clásico” pitting Real Madrid vs. FC Barcelona is a derby, but it’s just a fantastic, magisterial (thank you Ray Hudson) match between the two La Liga giants.
Locally, the annual Crosstown Shootout basketball game between University of Cincinnati and Xavier University shares this concept. This game has been contested every year since 1946 between the schools located a mere three miles apart. Even I pay attention to this annual slugfest, though I have no tie to either school.
The entrance of FC Cincinnati, and its passionate fan base, into the United Soccer League in 2016 created an instant rivalry with Louisville City FC. This intense match between the two teams quickly became a fan and league favorite and is referred to as the Dirty River Derby. With the unbalanced schedule, we get to experience three rounds of this raucous and entertaining derby this season. Fortunately, Nippert will host two of these matches; smoke and streamers allowed!
Does This Match Deserve the Title of Derby?
Now, our geographical neighbors located 112 miles to the west along I-74, Indy Eleven, have moved from the North American Soccer League (NASL) to the USL. As we prepare for the first-ever regular season match between FCC and Indy Eleven on Saturday, my question for the Orange and Blue faithful is this, does this match deserve the title of derby?
Before I answer this question, I think it is important to know something about me. I grew up outside of Baltimore and went to Colts games as a youth with my Dad. I’ll never forget that snowy morning in 1984 when everyone realized that the Colts owner, Bob Irsay, pulled the rug out from an entire fan base and secretly moved the team overnight to Indianapolis. As a result, right or wrong, I frankly have never cared for Indy or its sports teams. The Colts don’t belong to Indianapolis, just watch the wonderful movie Diner sometime. Just in case I need any more reason to see this as a grudge match, Cincinnati’s local gem, the Precinct, is better than St. Elmo’s (though I do enjoy their ginormous shrimp cocktail).
On the flip side, does mere regional proximity of two cities allow this match to attain this classification? There is no significant history, soccer-wise, between these two clubs outside of an early round U.S. Open Cup match (versus their NPSL team) and preseason exercises. Additionally, does a derby involve teams that may only play one USL season together? Note my confident stance regarding FC Cincinnati’s MLS future.
The I-74 Derby?
Returning to my initial query regarding Saturday’s match, does this geographical rival earn the title of derby, specifically the I-74 Derby? For now, I am leaning towards calling this match a derby. Recall, it took just one U.S. Open Cup match and the promise of an inter-state rivalry with the Crew to birth the Hell is Real Derby.
Hell is Real Matchday / Photo Credit Ryan Meyer
What say you Orange and Blue fans, is this match worthy of being called a derby? If so, what creative name do you propose?
Stay tuned to Orange and Blue Press for additional coverage of FC Cincinnati, and the Indy Eleven match on Saturday.