For two Fridays in a row now I’ve spent 90 mins in traffic rather than being at a game of football. I’m hoping that a Monday evening will be more forgiving. Particularly as this Monday sees the first ‘Mile End derby’ of the season as Tower Hamlets take on Sporting Bengal United. It’s one of the newer derbies in local football with Tower Hamlets only joining the Essex Senior League since 2009 (as Bethnal Green United) and Sporting joining them in 2011.
Here is a graph of where both sides have finished in the ESL while they’ve both been in the division:
As you can see from the graph it’s not just a ground that the two clubs share. They have finished one place apart in four of the seven seasons in the ESL together. Of the two, only Tower Hamlets have broken into the top five places, although Sporting have finished above their neighbors four times out of seven. Hamlets won both derby games last season by a single goal. 1-0 in December and 3-2 in September.
This season has seen a slight sea change in the two sides form. Sporting are currently riding high, sixth in the table, while Tower Hamlets are trying to avoid being sucked into a relegation battle. United have won five and drawn two of their last seven games. Their last defeat was in September, to league leaders Stansted. Hamlets had won three of their last seven league games but still languished in the bottom four.
Competition: Essex Senior League
Ground: Mile End Stadium
Attendance: 40 ish
Refreshments: £1 (tea)
Dogs spotted: None
My experience of the ‘Mile End Derby’ nearly ended before it had even begun. Once again the traffic in East London was horrific. Having been to Haringey to pick up my tickets for their big FA Cup game my sat nav successfully guided me through the backstreets. I arrived just in time for kick-off but nearly couldn’t get in as the teenager helping out at the entrance didn’t have change for a tenner. Luckily, he emptied his pockets and after a frenzied exchange of coins I was in.
The weather was freezing but a smattering of people were in the main stand. They were treated to an excellent game of football. Both teams were young, technically gifted. They looked to pass the ball around and find space through quick switches of play. Sporting looked like the more polished unit while Tower Hamlets had lots of talent in their side. It was a thoroughly enjoyable, if cold, contest. See my live blog below.