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Ready, steady, fight! London’s top ten rivalries

Posted at 2:15 pm, April 6, 2013 in Arts & Entertainment, Fun London

Goat Race © Tyson Benson

1. Oxford v Cambridge
Britain’s oldest universities have been at loggerheads for 800 years, since disgruntled Oxford scholars headed off to set up their own uni. This weekend, their boffins will line the banks of the Thames to cheer on their chosen representatives in the 159th Boat Race. Less well known is the Oxford and Cambridge Goat Race, which takes place at Spitalfields City Farm on the same day.

2. King’s v UCL
King’s College and University College London have been trading blows for two centuries and police have been forced to intervene more than once. Tragically, it’s their mascots who have suffered most. King’s College’s cuddly friend Reggie the Lion has been kidnapped, shipped to Inverness and castrated with a tin opener. However, his protectors got their own back by nicking the actual head of actual philosopher Jeremy Bentham from UCL’s lobby. That’ll learn ’em!

3.Harrods v Selfridges
Harrods was pushing 75 when American upstart Harry Gordon Selfridge set up shop at the unfashionable West End of Oxford Street in 1909, coining the phrase ‘business as usual’ in the process. In 1927, a cocksure Mr Selfridge placed a bet with Harrods’ MD Sir William Burbidge over annual profits and lost, handing over a miniature silver Harrods that’s still on display in the store today. Still, Sir William is yet to get his very own ITV1 costume drama. However third-rate.

4. Christians v atheists
With Christian websites advertising on double-deckers, the disbelievers, led by Richard Dawkins, struck back. The resultant ads – ‘There’s Probably No God. Now Stop Worrying and Enjoy Your Life’ – kicked up a storm. Did the Christians turn the other cheek? No, they riposted with ‘There Definitely Is a God’. In another case of ‘anything you can do, we can do better’, the atheists have now set up their own church in Islington. They claim to have more science, fewer morals and better punchlines

5. Bendy buses v Routemasters

Another battle of the buses doubles as a mayoral contest. Ken Livingstone introduced bendy buses in 2002. Within two years, three had burst into flames and loads more had crashed or got stuck. Boris scrapped them and commissioned a swish newRoutemaster designed by Olympic Flame guru Thomas Heatherwick. By 2016, there’ll be 600 of the new buses zipping up and down London’s streets, and the bendy will be but a memory.

6. Dizzee Rascal v Wiley v everyone else

The grime scene’s a hotbed of mudslinging. Self-proclaimed King of Grime Dizzee Rascal fell out with his former Roll Deep Crew mentor, and Godfather of Grime, Wiley, after a wild summer in Ayia Napa. Mind you, Wiley’s got his fair share of adversaries: Lethal Bizzle (the Third Cousin of Grime), Jammer (grime’s first kiss) and Dot Rotten (sat next to grime on the 247 to Barkingside). Diss tracks at the ready, boys.

7. Lethal Bizzle v David Cameron

Grime’s so beef-addicted that it even took on the Prime Minister. In actual fact, D-Cam started it. Long before he moved in to Number 10, the Tory leader attacked Tim Westwood’s Radio 1 show for playing artists who ‘glorified violence’. Positively leaping to the Big Dog’s defence was none other than Mr Bizzle. His simple message to the people: ‘David Cameron is a donut.’ Britain: don’t say you weren’t warned.

8. Spurs v Arsenal

In 1913 Arsenal moved from Plumstead to Highbury, just four miles from Tottenham’s White Hart Lane ground. After the First World War, Arsenal took a top-division place that Tottenham felt should have been theirs and, allegedly, the Gunners deliberately lost two matches in 1928 to relegate Spurs. Emmanuel Adebayor is the latest player to have changed sides, which rarely goes down well in this rivalry. Just ask Sol Campbell. Or ‘Judas’, as Spurs fans prefer to call him.

9. Bob the Builder v Thomas the Tank Engine

Back in 2007, a fierce street fight broke out between rival gangs in Wood Green. Four teenagers were stabbed as a hundred school-age students went for each other. Their respective gang logos were Thomas the Tank Engine and Bob the Builder. Can we fix it? Yes, probably, but we’re crossing the road and avoiding eye contact, thanks

10. Pat Butcher v Peggy Mitchell 

Frank Butcher’s got a lot to answer for. His affair with the queen of the Queen Vic, Peggy Mitchell, back in 1998 sparked a festering feud with the earring-laden Pat Butcher. ‘Youbitch,’ poor Pat would cry. ‘You caaah,’ Peggy would yell back. Then, as sure as eggs is eggs, the slapping would start. It didn’t stop for the next ten years, and Albert Square saw more haymakers than Madison Square Garden. All together now: ‘Get outta my pub!’ Matt Trueman

See other London top tens.

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