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A friendship split

The Hajduk Split- Dinamo Zagreb derby is unique. In a sport where most domestic rivalries originate from years long past, this feud is relatively young. True, games involving the two teams were usually big affairs, as the two largest teams in Croatia the game was often seen as a Championship play-off, but the violence and passion now associated with the derby is still relatively fresh. Indeed, before the 1990’s the game was about as violent as a Christmas edition of Blue Peter. However with the Croatian War of Independence just around the corner and with the formation of a new football league after the break up of Yugoslavia, the game got nasty…

If one embarks on a short walk around the city of Split they will undoubtedly soon encounter graffiti, memorabilia or flags waving in support of their local club, Hajduk. Many footballing cities feel a strong affinity with their local club but the affection felt for Hajduk in Split goes beyond that. They live for their football team, they are their football team. The hardcore fans of Hajduk Split, the Torcida, are notorious for the electric atmosphere they create at Hajduk games, using flares and holding scarves aloft whilst cheering their boys on. The Torcida have also caused political trouble, in 1991 the then Communist Government were shocked and disgusted at the potential strength of the Torcida and tried, in vain, to disband them. They failed however, and the Torcida have been present at every Hajduk game since.

Some Torcida art in Split.

Whilst Hajduk undoubtedly have the full backing of their city, they lack the financial muscle of their rivals Dinamo Zagreb. Zagreb are renowned by many as the “bigger” team and are officially the most successful team in Croatia. They are also the current Croatian champions. Founded by a Communist party in 1945, the club also have a hardcore support contingent, the slightly camp sounding “Bad Blue Boys”. The BBB have long been involved in violent altercations with the Torcida and a number of derbies between the two clubs have seen the gangs attack each other in, and outside, the stadium. Indeed in the year 2000 a cup game between the two sides was abandoned in the 86th minute after fighting between the supporter groups and police, in which knives were involved. Actually, if any members of the BBB happen to be reading this, you’re name isn’t so camp after all.

Bad_Blue_Boys.gif blue bad boys image by poolba
OK, so their logo might look like something out of the Beano, but you really wouldn’t want to mess with one of the BBB.

Yet it’s easy to forget that there hasn’t always been this much hate. The Torcida have been around since 1950, but they haven’t always been occupied with kicking the big behinds of the Bad Blue Boys. Their used to be a mutual respect between the two clubs. However after the aforementioned Croatian War of Independence animosity grew between the city of Zagreb, and the city of Split. Split residents were bitter after the war; many of their citizens were now unemployed and their buildings and houses grew into a state of disrepair. Meanwhile, the city of Zagreb prospered. Unemployment rates were low and those who lived in the city lived well. It’s no wonder that the people of Split grew angry, and they released their frustration in the Hajduk- Dinamo game. The derby quickly gained notoriety for the passion (and violence) of the clashing fans and now the derby is recognised as one of the fiercest in the world. Dinamo have won more of the derbies (72 victories, 10 more than Hajduk) but the competitiveness of the game grows ever stronger and every Croatian football fan looks forward to the game with relish.

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