Romantic Derbies Are Dead And Gone
As Palace gear up for another televised Premier League game against Queens Park Rangers this weekend, you could be forgiven for not getting too excited about it writes Donogh Hurley.
After all, with the sense that Palace have in recent weeks given themselves every chance of securing a comfortable survival, QPR almost seems like a non-entity.
A non-entity it certainly is not though, and with the nightmarish run in that Crystal Palace have to look forward to at the end of the season, a win against an expensively assembled bunch of mediocre men from West London would all but mean Palace are safe bar a catastrophic decline in form.
But with the game being televised, comes a few different narratives from BT Sport in their bid to paint this game as something bigger than it actually is. What was last week described by BT Sport commentators as a ‘relegation dogfight‘, they are now painting it as a big London derby. No doubt a desperate attempt to give the meeting between the two sides far more gravitas than it probably merits.
Does the prospect of a London derby hold weight anymore though? And does the sheer size of London mean that the notion of a fiery, heated and high flying tear up between city rivals is not possible anymore?
Like most Palace fans, I think the prospect of a QPR side to get relegated is an appealing one. It would be a comedy of outrageous proportions given the blindness of their planning on their return to the Premier League. That hope of QPR getting relegated is not the result of some hyper inflated London rivalry though, it is more a question of ethics and morals when it comes to how a club like QPR approaches Premier League life.
So while a full blooded tackle in this game will be greeted by Michael Owen or Robbie Savage with a lazy ‘these are the types of tackles you get in derbies‘ quip, you will know that they are talking out of their proverbial.
Palace’s last outing in the League to Upton Park took on a similar feel. There was no palpable sense among Palace fans that this affair was something to be savoured beforehand. There was no sense that this was a fixture that everyone involved with the club rubbing their hands together in anticipation of. Last year’s tie against West Ham took on importance as it was arguably Palace’s biggest game of the run-in, and the victory definitively secured survival in the top flight.
Cut to this year, and as discussed at TEB and everywhere else a couple of weeks ago Palace struggled to fill their allocation for the same fixture. There was not a shred of romantic rivalry to be seen. For many, it was just another game, as is QPR, Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea. Sure, Millwall is an occasion, and Charlton to a far lesser extent, but spare us the notion that all London clubs have underlying rivalries. They don’t.
Elsewhere, Arsenal play West Ham in another of these London derbies that in reality lack any real ingredient to make it an occasion worthy of acclaim like a Tyne-Wear derby, Merseyside derby, Manchester derby. There are too many teams in London to care about. Were every game between London clubs littered with red cards, heartfelt dramatics and tense stands, you would be exhausted. Perhaps it is a good thing that sections of London do not care.
Let’s get the term ‘London derby’ banned, shall we? Let us move away from the notion that simply because a club in a city with millions and millions of inhabitants are playing each other, that there has to be territorial relevance and pride.
Brighton and Millwall? Yeah, they are ones to enjoy, ones to get excited about. Laced with history, proximity and memorable nights at the Amex. ‘Loftus Road – isn’t that where washed up former England defenders go to die?‘ Yeah, I think so but I cannot be sure. Because frankly, I could not care less.