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Where Does The Term Derby Come From?


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The term "derby" is derived from the annual match played in Derby

(pronounced "Darby") between the parishes of St. Peter's and All Saints

on Shrove Tuesday. Unfortunately, however, it was last contested on

Shrove Tuesday in 1846.


True derbies are indeed played intra city, town or village (hamlet, etc) and

_not_ inter city, town, etc. Hundreds of years ago, it was often at holiday

times when the citizens went out onto the streets to celebrate. But troubles

began when neighbouring parishes or regions of the city would meet. Brawls

became common place. Eventually, as folks became more civil towards each

other (as Christianity and other religions began to flourish), the "brawls"

became more organised. Ball games would ensue. Some kind of football was

the most popular event. Everyone would play. The game would begin

somewhere between the two parishes or regions and the sides would attempt

to get the ball into a goal in their opponents parish. The goal could have

been a door, or a wall... or a whole building. There were few rules. The

ball could be kicked, or picked up and thrown. There were _no_ fouls or



This practice appears to have died out with the advent of organised sport

in the late 18th, early 19th Centuries.


Except in one village in England at least. At least it is the most famous

case. As Ashley points out, it is the annual Shrove Tuesday (or is it Ash

Wednesday?) football match in the Derbyshire village of Ashbourne.


The whole town plays. Windows are boarded up. The goals are miles apart

and miles wide! There are no rules other than to score, you must get the

ball into the "goal". I don't believe many goals are ever scored, owing

to the vast number of players, the terrain and the distances.


It is still played to this day.

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this is what i managed to get from wikipedia:


The phrase may have originated from an all-in football game (Royal Shrovetide Football) contested annually between the two halves of the English town of Ashbourne, Derbyshire. This match has been and still is played on Shrove Tuesday. Another theory is that it originated from The Derby, a horse race in England, founded by the 12th Earl of Derby in 1780. Yet another theory is that the 'derby match' saying arose from when Liverpool played Everton. Their two grounds were separated by Stanley Park, owned by the Earl of Derby.


Another widely reported, and somewhat more plausable theory (although not accepted by the Oxford English Dictionary)is that the phrase came about from the city of Derby itself. The traditional Shrovetide football match was also common place in the city. It was renound as a chaotic and exuberant game which involved the whole town and often resulted in fatalities! The goals were at Nuns Mill in the north and the Gallows Balk in the south of the town, and much of the action took place in the Derwent river or Markeaton brook. Nominally the players came from All Saints' and St Peter's parishes, but in practice the game was a free for all with as many as 1,000 players. A Frenchman who observed the match in 1829 wrote in horror, 'if Englishmen call this play, it would be impossible to say what they call fighting'.

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