DAVID PYE: Whites can put fans in derby Wander-land
1:00pm Tuesday 5th March 2013 in Sport
NOTHING stirs the emotions of a football fan quite like a derby match, and I am sure the Reebok will be rocking tonight when Blackburn Rovers make the short trip across Lancashire.
Of course, every game is important to us fans, but there is always something special when you get one over on your local rivals.
You just have to look at the celebrations at White Hart Lane in the stands and on the pitch after Tottenham beat North London neighbours Arsenal on Sunday.
Players and supporters celebrated like they had won a cup final not just a football match.
But then, a derby isn’t like any other football match. In big cities where there are two teams, it is about bragging rights to take into the local pub or the workplace on a Monday morning; it is about having that one-upmanship for a few months at least.
Just think how Manchester City fans must have felt after their 6-1 victory at Old Trafford last season, or how United followers floated on cloud nine after a last-gasp winner at the Etihad before Christmas – those feelings are hard to recreate away from football.
I was once asked by a friend who cares little for sport what the attraction of travelling across the country to watch 22 men kick a lump of pig-skin around a piece of grass was.
But it is not something easily explained.
The best analogy I could muster is that it is like a religion.
Whatever colour or creed, the football fan is loyal to their faith. We turn up at our churches every other weekend and join the rest of the like-minded congregation to sing our club’s hymns and praise the icons fighting for our cause, praying for success.
And that feeling when the ball hits the back of the net is impossible to describe; how can you?
Where else would you sit next to a complete stranger, not speak for 90 minutes and then embrace them in wild joy when a last-minute winner goes in?
And how many of us have friends we only see at the game and spend quality time with, rarely knowing what their life away from football entails?
Football is special and derby matches are often the biggest highlights, just like when Wanderers went to Ewood Park in November and came away with a 2-1 win.
Another Whites victory tonight would be just as sweet.