The derby of hate

Ex-skipper: Darren Purse
Ex-skipper: Darren Purse
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FORMER Wednesday captain Darren Purse has told of his shock at the hatred that some Sheffield football fans feel towards their city opposition.

The experienced former West Brom and Birmingham defender says he has never know anything like the rivalry between Owls and Blades fans - as the next derby looms a week on Sunday.

Purse tells The Star’s derby special - out tomorrow - that sometimes the antagonism goes too far.

He explained: “In Birmingham, the northern side was mostly Villa and the southern side was Blues. The fans didn’t seem to mix that much.

“In Sheffield, the kids went to school together, and fans of the different clubs can live next door to each other. Someone might hate the bloke next door. There was hatred in some of the things people said. I’ve never heard anything like it.

“My kids were at school. Someone else’s would say ‘look Dad, that’s Darren Purse’, and his dad would say ‘don’t talk to him, he’s scum.’

“There’s no wonder there’s hatred when dads are teaching their sons to say that sort of thing.

“That’s a downside to the derbies but it just shows you how passionate the fans are.”

Purse’s message to players who are new to Sheffield derbies is: “Just believe how much it means to the fans.

“They’re the people who have to go work on Monday morning and might have to work alongside someone who supports the other team. It can be six months of hurt.

“The pride of the fans is the most important thing. There are three points at stake. Sometimes pride can be more important than three points.”

Pride will also be at stake when the Owls face Chesterfield tomorrow in the Hillsborough derby.