This week’s Badge of the Week comes in the form of Glentoran FC who were featured in Issue 3 of our latest magazine.
The ‘Big Two’. That’s how it’s known to those who care. Others may know it as ‘Belfast’s Big Two’, or even those not completely out of the loop will recognise it as the ‘Belfast Derby’. The fiercely contested fixture was extraordinarily labelled as the ‘Bel-Classico’ when it was broadcast live on Sky Sports not so long ago.
This battle between Northern Ireland’s two most successful and most well-supported clubs always attracts attention in a country dominated by football. Linfield vs. Glentoran. The Blues vs. the Glens. Unlike other rivalries throughout the country that have been riddled by a religious or political influence, this derby was established as purely geographical.
Although both originate from the capital of the country, Linfield is based in the South of the city with Glentoran in the East. Nothing but the River Lagan splits the two, yet they take their pride from different counties. Linfield are well established in County Antrim while Glentoran are the equal in County Down, generating an even more unique derby.
Linfield have established their dominant stance on the fixture ever since day one. Although taking place essentially before records began, Linfield won the inaugural game 3-1 way back in 1887, and they haven’t looked back. This ‘friendly’ fixture was the first known between the two, but things didn’t stay friendly for long – subsequent matches have been increasingly competitive.
With regards to trophies won, the Boys in Blue are well ahead. With a stunning total of 441 matches played, there have been 213 Linfield victories, 124 for Glentoran, and 104 dramatic draws, with some much more significant than others. However, let’s back off the Green of Glentoran and appreciate the dominance of both clubs in the country; between them they have acquired more domestic titles, more Irish Cups, more League Cups and, finally, more County Antrim Shields than any other clubs across Northern Ireland. More doom and gloom for the Glens, as their noisy neighbours lead the way in all four of these competitions, but they do boast a comfortable second place. Needless to say that the final of the Irish Cup, which the most sought after domestic trophy outside the league, is commonly between these two giants. Moreover, an incredible two-thirds of all league titles have been one by one of the two.
Glentoran may perhaps blame their slight inferiority on the fact that their rivals play their home games at the National Football Stadium, formerly known as Windsor Park, and currently also home to the Northern Ireland National Football Team. A minor percentage of ticket sales from national home games are awarded to Linfield, and so the argument is generated that they can afford much more than their league club counterparts.
Read the rest of Peter Lynch’s piece on the Belfast derby in our magazine here.