By Author: Mr. Niloy Kar
“𝑰𝒕 𝒘𝒂𝒔 𝒂 𝒃𝒂𝒕𝒕𝒍𝒆 𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒓𝒚 𝒕𝒊𝒎𝒆 𝒘𝒆 𝒑𝒍𝒂𝒚𝒆𝒅 𝑳𝒆𝒆𝒅𝒔. 𝑰𝒕 𝒘𝒂𝒔 𝒏𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒓 𝒂 𝒇𝒐𝒐𝒕𝒃𝒂𝒍𝒍 𝒎𝒂𝒕𝒄𝒉, 𝒃𝒖𝒕 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒚 𝒉𝒂𝒅 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒅𝒊𝒓𝒕𝒊𝒆𝒔𝒕 𝒑𝒍𝒂𝒚𝒆𝒓 𝒐𝒇 𝒂𝒍𝒍 𝒕𝒊𝒎𝒆 𝒊𝒏 𝑱𝒐𝒉𝒏𝒏𝒚 𝑮𝒊𝒍𝒆𝒔 — 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒄𝒂𝒏 𝒑𝒓𝒊𝒏𝒕 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒃𝒆𝒄𝒂𝒖𝒔𝒆 𝑰 𝒉𝒂𝒗𝒆 𝒔𝒂𝒊𝒅 𝒊𝒕 𝒕𝒐 𝒉𝒊𝒔 𝒇𝒂𝒄𝒆 𝒂 𝒎𝒊𝒍𝒍𝒊𝒐𝒏 𝒕𝒊𝒎𝒆𝒔.
It was 1377, the death of King Edward III, and the succession of Richard II gave birth to a real-life ‘Game of Thrones’ between Houses of York and Lancaster. The internal strife and power struggle behind the scenes, and later a full-fledged civil war in 1455, saw many people lose their lives as even women and children weren’t safe. The ‘War of Roses’, between Yorks(White rose) and Lancasters(Red rose), went on for 32 long years and had initially seen a Yorkist victory. However, Henry Tudor came back from exile, defeated Richard III and married Elizabeth of York, to unite the claims and end the battle, once and for all. However, the bloodshed and lost lives won’t be forgotten by the people of Yorkshire and Lancashire as their disdain for each other would remain strong for years to come.
It was 1760, the Industrial Revolution would soon begin and spread like wildfire across all English counties, including Yorkshire and Lancashire. The rivalry between them was renewed and intense competition for economic supremacy had begun, between the cities of Leeds and Manchester, that still goes on now, in the 21st century. As the battle for the throne, was replaced by a struggle to put bread on the dinner table, things got more personal and the hatred grew.
It was 1964, rivalries had shifted to the football pitch. The rivalry, between Matt Busby’s Manchester United, in red against Don Revie’s Leeds United, in white was in full swing as brothers Bobby and Jack Charlton faced each other, like they had done a countless times. Busby’s free-flowing football with the Holy Trinity of Best, Charlton and Law clashed against Revie’s tough and physical football with hard men like Bremmer, Hunter and Giles(a former Manchester United player), as players were seen punching and fighting each other in the mud, famously described later by the Yorkshire Post as “a pack of dogs, snapping and snarling at each other over a bone”. At the end of the season, the teams stood undivided at 61 points, but the Reds had the last laugh, winning the title owing to a superior goal ratio.
It is 2020 now. Manchester United have had with Sir Alex Ferguson, what Leeds United could have had with Brian Clough. Both sides have fallen from their prime. Manchester United brushed aside fears of becoming ‘another Leeds’ and even though they are currently struggling for a Champions League spot, with a young squad led by the ‘baby faced assassin’, the future looks bright for them. Leeds United on the other hand have dealt with failure and frustration for 16 long years have finally made their return, ironically playing beautiful football, led by none other than ‘the madman’. Maybe the stakes won’t be so high this time, but it doesn’t matter, because a rivalry dating back centuries, perhaps the greatest rivalry in Britain would resurrect yet again as the Reds take on the Whites next season.