And your enemies closer

Watching one of those English panel shows that have become the bread and butter of the ABC and the mortgage payer for countless British comedians, the panel included someone who grew up in the town of Port Sunlight. Port Sunlight itself is an interesting thing as a Merseyside model village that was built by the Lever Brothers in the late nineteenth century to house the workers of their soap factory.

However, discovering Port Sunlight’s location got me to thinking that I didn’t really know that much about the layout of Liverpool. Perusing the map naturally led to sport – I also did not know where Everton was located in relation to Liverpool.

Part of me romantically thought that you would get from one to the other by catching a ferry across the Mersey. So, colour me surprised to discover that the trip from Goodison Park (Everton’s home ground) to Anfield (Liverpool’s) does not involve a ferry so much as a short stroll. The distance between the two is a mere 1.4km by road.

These rivals are much more local than I realised. From an AFL context it would be like the Crows playing at Adelaide Oval while Port played at the Le Cornu site in North Adelaide. Or as a friend suggested, the Adelaide Zoo… the Port Adelaide Pandas actually has a bit of a ring to it. They could, naturally, wear black and white and once they are allowed to re-engage with China, surely they would gain more support from the locals with that moniker.

Artist’s impression of the Port Pandas’ guernsey

It’s also worthwhile noting that the Jubilee Oval which was used for state league matches between 1898 and 1921, while Adelaide Oval was also in use, is pretty much where such an oval would be located. The site is now occupied by the buildings of a number of the hard science departments of Adelaide University – they may need some time to find other lodgings.

Action from the Jubilee Oval featuring the sublime Tom Leahy (Sport, 18 June 1915)

I suppose in the end, it was just staggering to me that, when it costs so much to maintain a stadium, two modern Premier League clubs would operate in such proximity to each other rather than sharing a single stadium, as we have become accustomed in AFL land. As it turns out the concept of a stadium share has been discussed for many years but instead Everton plans to copy the AFL by building a docklands stadium. At least it will put a little bit more distance between them and Anfield.


So many stadia… and ‘road’s

In English football this is not an isolated peculiarity. Looking at the 91 clubs (post-Bury expulsion) that occupy the top four tiers of English football I could only identify two that share a stadium. Since demolition of Highfield Road in 2005, Coventry City has been an itinerant club and was using Birmingham City’s St Andrew’s stadium for its home matches before this whole Coronavirus kerfuffle somewhat put a dampener on things. Otherwise, English (and Welsh) football currently has 90 home grounds.

That said, no other local rivalry has quite the physical proximity of Liverpool and Everton. The nearest grounds in London are the 2.9km between Fulham’s Craven Cottage and Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge (hardly a searing rivalry), while it’s 13km to get from Stamford Bridge to Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium.

Birmingham is home to English football’s next most proximate rivalry, with 5.6km separating Villa Park and St Andrew’s. This is closely followed by the 5.9km between Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane and Wednesday’s Hillsborough. The Manchesters, United and City, face a short 7.2km drive, while it’s a mere 8.2km (and a division) that separates Bristol City’s Ashton Gate from Rovers’ Memorial Stadium.

Conversely, the biggest distance to be found in a ‘local’ rivalry is out east in the dislike to be had along the 72km (and two divisions) separating Norwich City’s Carrow Road and Ipswich Town’s Portman Road. Then it’s in the south west way down in League Two in the 68km journey between Exeter City’s St James’ Park and Plymouth Argyle’s creatively named Home Park. This just beats out the 64km between Championship teams Cardiff City and Swansea City and a similar trip between Cambridge United’s Abbey Stadium and Peterborough United’s London Road.

But spare a thought for poor old League Two’s Carlisle United, which at Brunton Park is, as far as I can make out, 94km from the nearest EFL club (Newcastle United), let alone the 141km to their ‘rivals’ in the Championship’s Preston North End.


But wait…

The users of Twitter being the wonderful people that they are, when not being Russian bots and/or anonymous trolls, were also quick to point out some ludicrously close local rivalries elsewhere. For example, while Notts County has dropped out of the EFL as Nottingham Forest seek to re-enter the Premier League, just 900m (and the River Trent) separate Forest’s City Ground from County’s Meadow Lane (thanks to @McAlmanac). Thankfully there is a bridge over the Trent, right next to Trent Bridge, that facilitates transport between the two grounds.

The City Ground seen across the Trent from Meadow Lane (courtesy Nick Donovan’s morning walk)

And, well, you just need to look at the vast gulf separating Scottish sides Dundee and Dundee United to understand their antipathy (with thanks to @senzu_bean). It’s not entirely clear to which stadium Van Morrison was referring when singing of the bright side of the road. The 7.6km from Rangers’ Ibrox Stadium to Celtic Park seem like a marathon by comparison.



Not to be outdone, we need look no further than country Victoria for the likes of Wangaratta and Wangaratta Rovers (thanks to @peteguley).


Or the arrangements at Mildura where Mildura and Imperials play at the trotting track and South Mildura play next door, all on the Mildura Recreation Reserve (thanks to @RobMc151). A wet winter must make life interesting.

Not that the big smokes are immune to such odd proximity. Looking at the old VFL home grounds very little separates Punt Road and the MCG, nor Junction and Lake Ovals. Not to mention Princes Park to Arden Street or Brunswick Street.

In fact, excluding Geelong, the average trip between the traditional homes of the former VFL clubs is a tad over 7.5km. It’s almost like such proximity in a context where demographic expansion did not match growth in club expenditure created an issue that the clubs were unable to resolve themselves, leading the league to expand the competition to include interstate clubs and their money rather than resolving the initial problem… sorry, got distracted.

Over here in COVID resistant SA, things are not quite so condensed. Post use of Jubilee Oval and the Adelaide Showgrounds, the shortest trip was the three kilometres down South Road from Thebarton Oval to Richmond Oval. Since West Torrens and Woodville merged and Thebarton ceased its SANFL use the shortest trip is now the 3.5km from Oval Ave to Alberton.

And with Port Adelaide potentially ducking out this year it then becomes the 5.5km separating the Parade and Peter Motley Oval. With South Adelaide and Central District so comparatively far flung (a pleasant 57km through metropolitan Adelaide), the average trip in the SANFL is more like 19km as clubs like South Adelaide and West Adelaide gradually moved out of the CBD and expansion clubs were set up in new population centres… sometimes.


And surely there is more

Co-tenancy aside, are there any other ludicrously close local rivalries in world sport to challenge any listed above?


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About Dave Brown

Upholding the honour of the colony. "Play up Norwoods!"


  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Great stuff Dave. Somewhat related, the SCG and the now-demolished “Football Stadium” were close neighbours and will continue to be after the latter’s redevelopment.

    Brisbane’s Eagle Farm and Doomben Racecourses are separated only by Nudgee Road.

  2. Mark Duffett says

    I always liked to think that vestiges of the Jubilee Oval remained as the maths lawns when I was at Adelaide Uni, but I think over half of that space has gone under concrete and pavers now.

  3. Daryl Schramm says

    I found the Wangaratta one interesting. The obviously don’t do ‘shares in the UK. I suspect it would be the same in Europe. Don’t the two New York NFL franchises share the one stadium in New Jersey now? Also, not an expert but the Perth, East Perth, West Perth Subiaco grounds would not have been too far apart a few decades ago. Cheers

  4. Adam Muyt says

    Down here in Hobart Town we have the Tasmanian Cricket Association ground, home of the Hobart Tigers, perched in the bushy confines Queens Domain just two torps above North Hobart Oval, home of the North Hobart Demons.

  5. Luke Reynolds says

    Dave, fantastic piece and research, incredible the non sharing of grounds in the UK, though 19 home games a season (not including FA Cup & Champions league) offers much more revenue than 11 home games. I do think we have lost something with clubs not having their own grounds these days though.

  6. Rulebook says

    Dave incredible research and likewise always have found it interesting no sharing of grounds fascinating response on,QPR supporter pages not one person could see the merit in sharing grounds it was virtually considered a insult

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