Book Review – Divided Cities: The World’s Most Passionate Single City Derbies by Kevin Pogorzelski

When the football fixtures are published each season, most supporters look for three keys things, firstly, their opening day fixture, secondly the last game of the campaign and of course their ‘derby’ fixtures. This idea of a ‘derby’ can mean different things to different clubs. This maybe because there is not another professional club in a particular city or town, or that even if there is, the teams have rarely crossed paths given they have historically played in different divisions.

Kevin Pogorzelski in Divided Cities focuses on eleven single city derbies, with all but two (the Old Firm and Merseyside version) from outside the United Kingdom. As a Liverpool fan, with a regular diet of Premier League football and virtually the same old teams season-in season-out, Pogorzelski yearned for something more and in the books Introduction outlines the premise behind it.

“I became convinced that there was something unmatched about rivalries within the same city, where the people and place live the conflicts daily, which stems from a variety of diverse differences.”

In the table below is a summary of the games he attended which all have a dedicated chapter:

Name Translation Teams Location Notes
Derby della Lanterna Derby of the Lantern Genoa & Sampdoria Genoa The Torre della Lanterna is  the ancient landmark and the main lighthouse for the city’s port.
Derby della Capitale Derby of the Capital Lazio & Roma Rome Rome is the Italian capital.
Derbi da Segunda Circular See Notes Benfica & Sporting Lisbon Lisbon The Segunda Circular is the road that separates the two stadiums.
The Old Firm Derby N/A Celtic & Rangers Glasgow Origin unclear. May derive from the two clubs’ initial match in which the commentators referred to the teams as “like two old, firm friends” or alternatively may stem from a satirical cartoon published in ‘The Scottish Referee’ sports newspaper prior to the 1904 Scottish Cup Final between the sides, depicting an elderly man with a sandwich board reading “Patronise The Old Firm: Rangers, Celtic Ltd” highlighting the mutual commercial benefits of their meetings.
The Budapest Derby N/A Ferencvaros & Ujpest Budapest Budapest is the capital of Hungary.
Clasico das Multidoes Classic of the Crowds Flamengo & Fluminense Rio de Janeiro Known also as Fla-Flu Derby.
Intercontinental Derby See Notes. Fenerbahce & Galatasaray Istanbul Fenerbahce and Galatasaray are two of the major Turkish teams from the Asian and the European parts of Istanbul respectively.
Superclasico Super Derby Boca Juniors & River Plate Buenos Aires From the Spanish usage of “clasico” to mean derby, with the prefix “super” used as the two clubs are the most popular and successful clubs in Argentine football.
The Eternal Derby N/A Crvena Zvezda & Partizan Belgrade Belgrade Thought to be from the phrase ‘Eternal Enemies’.
El Gran Derbi The Grand Derby Real Betis & Seville Seville Possibly due to the ‘biggest and grandest’ intensity on and off the pitch of the rivalry.
Merseyside Derby N/A Everton & Liverpool Liverpool Named after County that both clubs are within.

Each chapter provides a basic history and background to the rivalry, but is as the author states, “to add context to the stories” rather than be a detailed account or indeed record of the games down the years. Pogorzelski aims to provide readers with a true reflection (or as close as possible as an ‘outsider’ can be at these games) to the matchday experience of the local fan and this does provide for some very interesting encounters with Ultra groups across his travels and most especially his experience as a Liverpool fan at the Merseyside derby amongst the Everton faithful, where there was no language barriers as to the abuse and vitriol being handed out.

Unfortunately down the years and still to this day, the rivalries can spill into violence and whilst Pogorzelski in no way glorifies these events, is able to put across the hostility that often lies and bubbles just beneath the surface at the games, without generally being caught out amongst it. And it poses an interesting question as to whether a ‘sanitized’ environment for these encounters would have the same appeal? In England the debate rages as to the lack of atmosphere created by all-seater stadium and indeed whether the increase of the ‘football tourist’ or ‘neutral’ fan going to games abroad impacts the authenticity for the locals and the clubs identity, in the case of clubs such as St Pauli or 1. FC Union Berlin.

To a certain extent this book is a Groundhopper’s dream, taking in some of the finest cities and fixtures from Europe and South America. However, what it highlights is that these trips require incredible planning and organisation in terms of travel, more often than not deep pockets to afford the trip including tickets and some luck or indeed significant contacts in order to obtain the necessary supporter/fan memberships and tickets.

For many this book will be nearest they get to enjoying these encounters, but Divided Cities is nevertheless successful in portraying to readers the intensity of the matchday experience and what it means to those that attend these passionate derbies.

(Publisher: Pitch Publishing Ltd. March 2023. Paperback: 320 pages)


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Book Review – Brawls, Bribes and Broken Dreams: How Dundee Almost Won the European Cup by Graeme Strachan

Scottish teams have a tough time in European competition. It is not just the games in which they may struggle which are challenging but also the humour plumbed when Christmas comes and the best present a fan could have, would be a European tie in January.

It is doubled when you might not be a supporter of either Celtic or Rangers. Celtic may have the proud boast of being the very first British team to win the European Cup and Rangers five years later managed to add the second Scottish European triumph, but the 80s brought Aberdeen and Dundee United to that Eurovision of their achievements, though only the Dons would win a cup.

Ironically, Brawls, Bribes and Broken Dreams by Graeme Strachan, which could be the subtitle for any Scottish League campaign, tells the story not of Dundee United but their near neighbours. A team which shares the same city and the same road as United, Dundee, were once, the team most people believed would win the European Cup and be the very first Scottish team to so do. It is a compelling tale.

This is the story of 1962/63 when the champions of Scotland, Dundee, took on the might of Europe. It was, of course, a simper time, when it was only the champions of each country who competed. It made it much smaller as a competition too. It was also, according to Strachan when, “young boys played football in the streets and parks of Dundee.” Those of us of a certain age can all remember then. What is less well remembered is that before there was Bill, there was Bob and Bob managed a European run before his well-considered older sibling. Bob Shankly, was the manager at Dundee who gave us, according to Bob Crampsey, “the best pure footballing team produced in Scotland since the war.” This is their story.

Strachan recaps for us the story of the run in to the title in 1962 and it does well to remember a time when Rangers or Celtic had their dominance regularly challenged. It includes a cameo appearance by a young St. Johnstone striker by the name of Ferguson, Alex, and such cameos are regular features in Strachan’s tale. So too is the humility of Shankly – having won the title, he was next seen mowing his lawn!

Strachan then outlines an interesting pre-season in the USA. Long held as a soccer/footballing desert but here the champions of Scotland get trans-Atlantic travel under their belts early. Dundee was a team, not just bound by their own, soon to be whispered, mythology but included one name from the Famous Five at Hibernian, another great Scottish side long forgotten and much missed, Gordon Smith. Despite the pedigree Dundee had, not all were convinced that Dundee would manage much abroad, and the Weekly News scathingly opined at the beginning of the season and their campaign, “European Cup? Well, all the best anyway!”

It gives Strachan a fantastic backdrop as he starts with the first round, epic encounter with Cologne. Dundee managed such a margin of victory in the first leg, that the second leg became a formality, and there was suddenly a frenzy of interest in all things European and Dundonian. Strachan draws in what was happening in the world of the time but also the city of Dundee – it is an additionally welcome backdrop. From descriptions of the city being redrawn, the civic vandalism which has been condemned not only by those with the benefit of hindsight, but of natives like Brian Cox, the actor, we hear of the heart being ripped from a city. Whilst aerodromes and bridges were being built, JFK was declaring a man would be put on the moon and Arbroath miniature railway enthusiast, Mathew Kerr was running his mini link. It was a heady time and Strachan mixes both with respect. He never seeks to diminish one nor over complicate the other.

The sixties were an obvious time of change and Dundee’s exploits were part of that hope for the future. The more pressing future was the defence of their title in Scotland and that was not going to plan – all eyes could concentrate on Europe for glory.

Following their defeat of the German champions, they then got paired with the Portuguese champions, the swashbuckling Sporting Lisbon. Having dethroned Benfica domestically, Sporting Lisbon was a formidable opponent. But there was trouble at mill with some players unhappy at the level of involvement they were having in the team and Shankly was called upon to show deft management skills. They had to be pretty acute as this was a time when there were no substitutes and squad size beyond the 11 on the pitch included another 11 in reserve who were literally playing, in the reserves. Keeping all happy was a nightmare. It was also a time when internationals happened, there was no pause for anyone to work, rest then play again. You could lose good players and still have to fulfil your usual league fixtures.

But where Strachan is at his best is describing the effect of dedication to your team from within their support. – the likes of Peter Cabrelli, son of an Italian exile and proud Dundonian fish and chip owner who played for both United and Dundee – as well as Dundee Juventus – but had Dens Park firmly in his heart and on a mural behind the frying pans. These stories make an appearance as part of the narrative and not as an academic exercise meaning we are still careering towards the next game but now have the emotions of the Dundee support in our minds.

Alan Gilzean (Credit: Collect)

Once the Sorting Lisbon tie was out the way, including Alan Gilzean getting his second hat-trick in the competition, things began to get serious. They were in the last eight alongside AC Milan, Dukla Prague, defending champions Benfica, Feyenoord, Stade de Reims, Galatasaray and Anderlecht. Strachan may be describing times before the dominance of Real Madrid, but we are in heady times.

Dundee was not alone in Europe as recognised by Strachan as Jock Stein’s Dunfermline Athletic and Glasgow Rangers were also deeply involved in their campaigns. But as Lawrence of Arabia was in the cinemas and the Bay of Pigs receded as a threat to global security and Dundee schoolkids got to grips with European geography, Dundee was ready to face a Quarter Final of the European Cup against Anderlecht.

It was also one of the coldest winters in living memory. People were able to walk across the frozen Tay – Alec O’Brien and Ian Smith became the very first people to walk across a frozen River Tay since 1898 – and players could have been forgiven for thinking they too could have walked on water. The build up to the two legs are described in detail including some United supporters, and players, who in a show of solidarity turned up to wish their rivals well in the next phase of their adventure. The city of Jute, Jam and Journalism was in thrall.

Anderlecht were despatched.

And then they were in a Semi-Final. Strachan’s ability to draw the detail of the games is good and as well as the crosses, the free kicks and the goals we get how at each and every stage, players were praised – especially Ian Ure – described by the BBC’s Kenneth Wolstenholme as “the greatest centre-half in the world today.” Belief was turning into expectation.

The Semi-Final was against AC Milan. A successful result would lead to Wembley where the Final was going to be held. There was a frenzy of support and confidence and people believed that the future Liverpool’s legendary manager’s older brother, Bob Shankly was the man who would get their men to a historic Final. Strachan manages to bring such enthusiasm to the page as you know, there has never been a focus on these European marauders rather than the Lisbon Lions, so you know how it ends, but you are compelled to stay long enough in the story to see if it is quite how you imagined it.

We get the build up to the games against Milan with a wide variety of views and witnesses quoted who believed that THIS Semi-Final was going to provide the eventual winners – Dundee was 50% of that contest! In a prescient tale of mudslinging football, the derby game beforehand as played in a Scottish quagmire, on a pitch that ended up more on the player’s jerseys than remained on their ground. As a platform for the greatest game of their careers in the best competition for clubs, this was not premium preparation. There were also injuries after a long season which included to Bobby Cox, Hugh Robertson and future Scotland manager, Craig Brown.

The first leg was where the tie was won – in Milan. The towering enthusiasm and the unbelievable run was not to continue much further. Dundee could have given much more had they not had a 12th man on the pitch determined to penalise them constantly whilst giving the Italians opportunity to behave as they wished. Milan had 15 free kicks granted in the first 15 minutes! The statistics continue as Tommy Gallacher in The Courier reported, “some of the referee’s decisions were ridiculous.” Condemnation came from all sides – former referees, the players themselves and supporters who had a list of grievances after the game but in the end, the first leg left a mountain for the Dundee team to climb if they wanted to make their, and by now, our dreams come true.

It was a notable return leg for Dens Park, as Milan’s players with film star looks, according to The Bard of Dundee, Michael Marra – an 11 year old schoolkid at the time – as they watched Milan Catenaccio into the Final. The 10 Dundee men who finished the second leg were far more sporting than many of their European opponents. As they trudged off it left an indelible mark on the city. It had been a season that Tottenham won the European Cup Winners Cup, Giovanni Trapattoni graced the Dens Park pitch and in Dundee, for a while, there was the hope. Such hope had been killed by a referee, perhaps, who was later banned for accepting gifts from Milan prior to the Semi-Final. It was a time of change as tactically aware coaches, like Jock Stein and Willie Waddell, then of the Pars and Killie were beginning to change the game and Dundee finished a weak defence of the league in the glow of their European brilliance. Strachan draws out the effect on a city, the supporters and the future of Scottish football. It is a compelling read and one well worth making a visit to remind yourself at some point that, times were different, and it was the hope that sustained you more than killed you.

Donald C Stewart

(Publisher: Pitch Publishing Ltd. May 2022. Hardcover: 352 pages)


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Book Review: Tarts, Trams and Tuk Tuks – A Lisbon Football Weekend by Steven Penny

Groundhopping: a hobby that involves attending matches at as many different stadiums or grounds as possible. Participants are known as Groundhoppers.

In my early days of watching football back in the 1970s, I wasn’t aware that Groundhopping was a ‘thing’ so I’m grateful to the site forum for the following which is partially reproduced below and helps to provide some background to its origins.

“So how did this slightly eccentric hobby develop and grow? Back in the 1950s and earlier there is no evidence that Groundhopping existed. Football fans tended to be loyal to one club or one city. In Edinburgh, for example, many people would watch both Hearts and Hibs at home at a time when both produced sparkling football and enjoyed success. Travelling support for away games tended to be small in number.

From the 1960s onwards, as car ownership became more widespread, more fans were likely to travel to away games. The developing motorway system meant that travel, either by car or supporters bus, was quicker and easier. Without realising it many football fans began to pick up ‘ticks’.

By the 1970s a few real enthusiasts were emerging who were the proto-hoppers, travelling far and wide both within and beyond the UK to visit new grounds. In 1964 a letter appeared in the ‘Football League Review’ magazine, from a Bristol City fan, suggesting that a special tie be produced for those who had seen football on all 92 Football League grounds.

This idea coalesced into the formation of the 92 Club in 1978. At that time the membership of the Football League was fairly stable. Clubs only dropped out through the re-election process so, having “done the 92” it was straightforward to keep it up to date.”

This has continued to develop down the years with websites, apps and publications all dedicated to Groundhopping, with certain leagues now creating special weekends of games so that Groundhoppers can attend, such as that for the North West Counties Football League in March 2022

Companies too have got in on the act, with offering football breaks alongside their highly successful magazine. Tarts, Trams and Tuk Tuks by Steven Penny centres on one of Football Weekends trips that took place in February 2022 in and around the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, with Penny and his son, attending five games in their four-night break.

This consisted of two Primeira Liga (Portugal’s Premier League) fixtures, Belenenses v Paco Ferreira and Benfica v Vitoria Guimaraes, two Liga 3 (Portugal’s third level – i.e. League One in England) games, Alverca v Torreense and Amora v Caldas as well as a Liga Revelacao U23 (an U23 league competition) Play-off fixture between Estoril and Leixoes.

Penny takes readers through the break in diary form on a day-to-day basis, with the events of each day detailed, whether this be attending games or taking in some sightseeing. Despite its small number of pages, this is a useful read for those yet to embark on a trip watching the game abroad at whatever level and who maybe considering a football weekend away. In addition to Penny’s descriptions and brief (and interesting history) about the clubs he visited, it well served by various photographs from the trip and additionally there is a useful Appendix which provides information for those looking to visit the Lisbon area. A more than useful guide which offers a personal viewpoint in addition to information available on-line.

(Publisher: Penny for your Sports Publications. July 2022. Paperback: 58 pages)


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On 10 November 2009 the German national goalkeeper, Robert Enke, stepped in front of a passing train. He was thirty-two years old and a devoted husband and father.

Enke had played for a string of Europe’s top clubs, including Barcelona and Jose Mourinho’s Benfica and was destined to become his country’s first choice in goal for years to come. But beneath the veneer of success, Enke battled with crippling depression.

Award-winning writer Ronald Reng pieces together the puzzle of his friend’s life, shedding valuable light on the crushing pressures endured by professional sportsmen and on life at the top Clubs. At its heart, Enke’s tragedy is a universal story of a man struggling against his demons.

William Hill Sports Book of the Year winner 2011

Read our review here: Book Review: A Life Too Short – The Tragedy of Robert (

(Publisher: Yellow Jersey. Reprint edition – May 2012. Paperback: 400 pages)

Book Review: The Greatest Comeback – From Genocide To Football Glory by David Bolchover

In 2012, renown sportswriter and journalist, Anthony Clavane released a book titled, Does Your Rabbi Know You’re Here, which focused on the exploration of, “the role of Jews in English football’s transformation from a working-class pursuit played in the crumbling arenas to a global entertainment industry”. He did so by looking at the stories of eleven key figures (although many others are detailed in the book), through three stages to illustrate the integration of Jews into English society.

Adding to this list of writing uncovering the influence of Jews in the global game is David Bolchover’s, The Greatest Comeback – From Genocide To Football Glory, which looks at the life of Bela Guttmann, a name more likely to be recognised and revered in Portugal than anywhere else in Europe. The reason for this, being that this player and influential coach born in Budapest, went on to win two successive European Cups in 1960/61 and 1961/62 with Lisbon based, Benfica.

As with Clavane’s book, Bolchover is not just focusing on the game of football and there are wider issues explored. In the case of Guttmann’s story, each of the eleven chapters is proceeded by some historical context which details the persecution of Jews at various times and places around the world. Whilst harrowing to read, the graphic details help the reader understand that Jews have been targeted down the years, and not just in the Holocaust. As is understandable from a Jewish author, Bolchover explores the hatred and prejudice that Jews experienced through Guttmann’s life, and the timeline of his football playing and coaching career.

Guttmann’s professional career saw him playing from 1919 to 1933 chiefly as a midfielder, winning the Hungarian title in 1919/20 with MTK Hungaria FC, the Austrian Championship in 1920/21 with SC Hakoah Wien and the National Challenge Cup in the USA with New York Hakoah in 1929. In addition, he earned six caps for Hungary between 1921 and 1924. The Hakoah Wien side was considered to be a force to be reckoned with and in touring the USA during 1926 drew large crowds on an extensive tour. Once he finished playing, Guttmann turned to coaching, taking charge of SC Hakoah Wien, Enschede, Hakoah Wien and Ujpest, in spells of two years or less, which were to be symptomatic of his length of stays at Clubs after the Second World War. At Ujpest he managed the side to the Hungarian League title in 1938/39 and won the Mitropa Cup in 1939.

Previous to Bolchover’s book, the truth around Guttmann’s whereabouts during the Second World War were unclear. However, the author discovers that Guttmann spent time hidden in an attic of his brother-in-law’s in Ujpest and then was in a Labour Camp. Resuming coaching with Vasas SC in Hungary in 1945, Guttmann went on to work with another nineteen clubs, finishing at Porto in 1973 and a brief spell in 1964 as Austrian National Coach. During that 28 spell he plied his trade in in a nomadic journey through Hungary, Romania, Italy, Argentina, Cyprus, Brazil, Portugal, Uruguay, Switzerland, Greece and Austria; winning trophies with Ujpest, Sao Paulo, Porto and Benfica.

However, this story about a coach influential in the development of the 4-2-4 playing system, doesn’t hold back in reflecting the darker side of Guttmann’s character, for which Bolchover is to be commended. Details of his involvement in a hit-and-run death in Milan in 1955 are laid out for the reader as is the gambling problem that Guttmann had, which the author contends may have been part of the reason why the coach went on working until he was 74. Guttmann was also very much a man who demanded that things by his players and Directors were done his way, and in the cases where this didn’t occur he walked away or was removed from his roles at Honved, AC Milan and Benfica.

Amongst a book that it is a recommended read (and rightly nominated in the 2017 William Hill Sports Book of the Year Short-list), is a telling story about how little Guttmann was recognised in England and indeed the parochialism in the English game. In 1962 after leaving Benfica and having won a second successive European Cup, he had “two firm offers for his services…both from teams whose name began with a ‘P’. There was Penarol, the best club team in the world, reigning champions of Uruguay and South America and holders of the Intercontinental Cup…and there was Port Vale, having just finished twelfth in the Third Division of the English League.”

An incredible career, an incredible character and no ordinary read about a coach who was an influence on the way the game is played today and a survivor of the worst genocide in history.

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