- Credit: Archant
The local derby that means so much
Every game matters, take each game as it comes, the points are all that count.
We have all heard the football cliches, most of us have trotted them out at some point, but there are certain fixtures that mean just a bit more.
On a national scale, the players and management at Everton would prefer a win over Liverpool to three points at Southampton. Ipswich would rather beat Norwich than Crewe, Exeter want to beat Plymouth a lot more than, say a Morecambe or Carlisle.
It is just the same in the local scene and for Sidmouth Town, the Pilgrim to their Grecian is Honiton Town and Axminster. For some reason, these games bring out so much more in the local player and pride in Sidmouth, Ottery, Beer, Seaton and the rest is as strong as anywhere else.
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“The two that stand out are Honiton, our local game on a Boxing Day, closely followed by Axminster,” said Sidmouth manager Danny Burwood.
“They are special games for players, managers and supporters.
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“We played Axminster earlier in the season and managed to win 3-1, and whenever we’re at home, there is a really good fanbase.
“As we’re doing quite well this season, more and more people are watching.
“Players seem to up their tempo around 30% for a derby game and I often say to the lads, ‘if you can apply that attitude every single week, we’d be flying’.
“We’ve got a young group of lads at Sidmouth that turn up to games called the Sidmouth Ultras.
“They are behind the dug-outs or down the away end, and they create a fantastic atmosphere for the players and coaching staff.
“To play in and manage those games is a fantastic part of football and something people have been missing.
“It is a game everybody looks forward to playing, you know there will be a big crowd and it feels like more of a professional game.
“It is bragging rights for the area, which is the same in every corner of the country.
“Friends from different clubs will be playing against each other or former managers moving from club to club. “It brings an added flavour to the fixture.
“It’s for the club as a whole and many have said to me before a local derby, ‘I don’t care if you lose the next five, just win this one’.
Ottery St Mary have traditionally seen Feniton as a big local rival and certainly the closest club in terms of location, but the elevation to step seven level has seen Okehampton Argyle become the big team to beat for the Otters this season. It is a close contest between local bragging rights and positions in the table.
“Feniton are the closest to our ground and probably the game both sides have most wanted to win recent times,” said Ottery chairman Mikey Ringer.
“It is a goodwilled rivalry with Feniton but we’re obviously in a different division at the moment.
“In terms of our current position in the Devon Football League, this is only our second season at this level.
“The one that we all look out for at the moment is Okehampton. They came up last season and, down the years, there was a rivalry between Okehampton and Cronies, a side that a lot our team came from.
“It is also a rivalry that comes down to league positions. “Okehampton are the only side to take points off Ottery St Mary this year, so a return fixture we are all looking forward to.”
When it comes to games between Beer Albion and Seaton, the rivalry goes back a century, with both proudly established clubs in the local game.
“Seaton is next door to Beer and they are great games for both clubs,” said Richard Honnor from Beer Albion.
“There is always a lot of pride at stake, keenly-contested games and typical local derbies.
“They are games that attract big crowds for that level of football, up to 300 people in attendance at times.
“It is usually a tight affair and not always a great spectacle, but a proper football game.
“It is a proper rivalry but also mutual respect between the clubs. “We would hate for Seaton to struggle and always want them to be in the same division as Beer Albion because that is healthy for local football.”
On the field, local rivalry is everything but, when the whistle blows, it is just old friends meeting up for a game of football.