Today the North London Derby between Arsenal FC and Tottenham Hotspur is known as one of the biggest rivalries in European Football. Emirates Stadium and White Hart Lane, the homes of Arsenal and Tottenham, respectfully, are roughly a 4.5 mile drive apart (seen below). However, this was not always the case.
The driving distance between Emirates Stadium and White Hart Lane (Google Maps).
The driving distance between Woolwich and Emirates Stadium (Google Maps).
Arsenal FC were founded in 1886 by workers of the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich, which is located in South London. However, their attendance suffered as Woolwich was less populated than other areas of London, and as a result, the club had poor finances. Due to the aforementioned, Henry Norris, chairman of Arsenal, decided that Arsenal needed to relocate. In 1913, the club decided to relocate to Highbury in North London, just over four miles away from Tottenham’s home ground . This angered Tottenham fans, however, the real rivalry did not start for six more years.
In the 1915 season, Arsenal finished sixth in the second division of English Football (although this was later changed to fifth in 1980 when FA records showed an error in calculating goal differential) . During World War I, the Football League shut down, and league football did not return to England until 1919, when the first division was expanded by two spots, which were to be voted on by members of the FA. In 1915, Chelsea finished 17th in the top flight, while Tottenham finished 18th. Both of these teams were to get relegated down to the second division, however, due to the expansion of the first division, Chelsea was saved. The final spot for the first division came down to Tottenham, Arsenal, Barnsley, Wolverhampton, Nottingham Forest, Birmingham, and Hull. Arsenal won the vote with 18 votes, while Tottenham received 8 votes and was therefore relegated to the second division . Tottenham fans were outraged that Arsenal got in the top flight at their expense, and many are still angered to this day and believe that bribery was the reason Arsenal were promoted .
Today, the rivalry is still huge among fans and players themselves. Every time when Tottenham cannot mathematically finish above Arsenal, Arsenal fans celebrate St. Tottingham’s Day. Players also take the rivalry very seriously, and love to make jabs at the opposing team and their fanbase. After Theo Walcott was injured in a 2014 FA Cup match against Tottenham, Tottenham fans began to throw coins at him while he was being stretchered off. As a result, he cheekily threw up the score, 2-0, to remind fans who was winning.
Theo Walcott reminds Tottenham fans of the scoreline (Courtesy of WorldSoccerTalk.com)
Similarly, during Arsenal’s FA Cup Championship Parade, Jack Wilshere took the microphone and started a chant making fun of Spurs.
Featured Image courtesy of http://robertheaney.com/
 Soar, Phil & Tyler, Martin (2005). The Official Illustrated History of Arsenal. Hamlyn. Pages 32- 40.