Football Derbies Challenge

Hello everyone,

‘Football crazy, I am football mad’, perfect song for the challenge I am about to undertake with my 4 years old son. It has taken me a while to figure out what I wanted to do, but I am now set for it. But let me give you a bit of context.


About 10 years ago, I read a book written by Andy Mitten called ‘Mad for it‘.

This book is about some of the greatest football rivalries on the planet. A celebration of the classic football derby matches. From the Celtic–Rangers rivalry and Tyneside derby to the biggest global clashes from Barcelona to Buenos Aires, journalist Andy Mitten uses the fans’ own words and stories to illuminate the conflicts, tensions, histories and culture behind these fascinating games. From Belfast to Barcelona, Buenos Aires to Bogotá, these are football matches that are far more than a game. Often a microcosm of life in a city, there are countless rivalries between clubs which are steeped in a historical enmity based on class, religion, politics, envy or philosophy. Some of the games, like Rangers v Celtic, are renowned for their vocal sectarianism, others like Tenerife v Las Palmas for their eclectic fan base, while little or nothing is known about the derbies in Cairo and Calcutta which attracts twice as many fans as any Old Firm clash. Andy Mitten journeys across the UK and the far-flung regions of planet football, talking to a host of passionate fans – from the vividly ordinary, working-class supporters to the corporate box brigade who think nothing of hopping on a plane for their weekend jaunt to the exotic cities of Madrid, Barcelona or Milan – and gets to share their highs and lows. This in turn provides a fresh and revealing insight into the people who make these matches matter – the fans – using their own words and stories to illuminate the conflicts, tension and histories behind the games. He also interviews players, managers, politicians, local journalists and agents drawing out differing opinions and perspectives on the beautiful game

I have been waiting a long time to set myself and my son a challenge but we are now ready. In the next 18 months, I want to go with my son to the following 18 derbies (there is a major variable though, they must be in the same division!):


Because it is not just about watching the game but also being educated. Each trip will also include a guided stadium tour, which for some of my followers is part of what my son and I do in our spare time.


Part of us travelling around the world is to help drive awareness for a charity called ‘Football Beyond Borders‘. Taken from their website:

We are an education charity which uses football as an engagement tool to provide young people with the opportunity to achieve their goals and fulfil their potential. We do this through our football themed, literacy curriculum which puts a young person’s passion for football at the heart of their education.

FBB Schools

Our FBB Schools programme uses the power of football as an educational tool to support young people who are disengaged at school to improve their behaviour for learning, academic performance and school engagement.
We work with 300 students at schools across London and Wales and deliver our weekly programme on the pitch and in the classroom as a way to tackle low educational attainment, poor school attendance and challenging behaviour.
We do this through our football themed, literacy curriculum which takes a young person’s passion for football and uses it to produce significant improvements in attitude to learning and behaviour for learning.
In 2016/17, we delivered our FBB Schools programme to 250 participants across 18 programmes and measured our impact against control group data. FBB participants were involved in 31% fewer incidents of bad behaviour than the control group comparison and achieved a 48% improvement in teacher-assessed attitude to learning.


Our aim is to raise £20,000 in the next 18 months – ambitious? Well just like our challenge. You can DONATE by clicking on the link below:


Of course travelling across the world is not cheap. I am self funding myself for our first trip but cannot do so for all, unless I will the lottery. Transport, accommodation and game tickets don’t come cheap. Therefore, if there are some generous souls out there that can see the fun and charitable angle of our challenge feel free to help!

If you are a football fan or club of one of the teams listed above, feel free to invite us in your family section 🙂


Throughout the course of the challenge you will be able to keep up to date on my blog. There will be some fun facts I am sure 🙂

Thanks again for your support

Benoit Mercier