Sorry Bournemouth But There Is Only One Local Rivalry For Saints
Wednesday, 29th Apr 2015 08:51
Bournemouth fans might not want to read this, but to Saints supporters there is only one true local rival.
Bournemouth and Portsmouth are both similar distances from Southampton, so why is one our deadly rivals, yet the other is seen more as a favourite nephew ?
If we look back in history the rivalry with Portsmouth goes back a long way, forget all the rubbish that Pompey fans like to make believe is true about Southampton Dock workers breaking picket lines in Pompey etc, that did not happen, Portsmouth is a military port, if anything it happened the other way when Southampton port was shut in the 1980's due to a strike, Portsmouth happily excepted the cross channel ships of Townsend Thoresen and P&O and both companies short sea traffic left Southampton never to return, that is the reality of the situation, Portsmouth now as a thriving albeit small commercial port and that was on the back of Southampton's strike issues in the 70's/80's.
So Southampton and Portsmouth have always been rivals because of their similarities as City's and the type of people who live in them, whereas Bournemouth was seen by both as a genteel seaside resort with little industry .
So the rivalry with Portsmouth goes far deeper than football, indeed a century ago before the luftwaffe wreaked havoc on both Southampton and Portsmouth the landscapes of both had more in common with the likes of Liverpool or Manchester than the victorian seaside glamour of Bournemouth
But the football rivalry runs far deeper between Saints and Pompey than the Cherries, Saints were playing Pompey from 1899 when Portsmouth joined us in the Southern League and it remained pretty much unabated going through into the football league in 1920.
At this time Bournemouth were still playing parks football in their then colours of red & white stripes and were still called Boscombe Athletic.
After the First World War they changed their name and got their act together and got promoted to the football league, however our paths were never to cross until the 1953/54 season when we were relegated to the old division 3 south,by this time we had been playing our old rivals Pompey for over half a century.
Those 7 seasons in division 3 in the 50's were to be our only league meetings to date apart from 4 years ago when we spent a season in League 1 with them, add to that 1 meeting in the FA cup (ironically that 1953/54 season) and 2 pairings in the Carling Cup (one of which again was ironically in the 2010/11 season) and our paths barely crossed except when we periodically travelled down to Dean Court to play friendlies, many of which were to eithe raise money when the periodically suffered money problems or to boost the gate of one of their players in his testimonial.
But a small element of the Cherries support didnt like Saints, perhaps it was the resentment that a fair proportion of Saints support does come from what should be Bournemouth strongholds like New Milton and Ringwood and indeed Bournemouth and Poole itself and perhaps it was just a sign of the times as football rivalries turned fr from the friendly affairs of the 1950's into the hatred of the 1980's'.
Perhaps a pivotal moment was in July 1998 when the then Southampton mayor Michael Andres was killed in a sea plane accident on Southampton water, the following day Saints travelled to Dean Court for a pre season friendly, Bournemouth were good enough to hold a minutes silence which was respected by most in the home sections, however a minority in the crowd chose to chant abuse.
Since then Bournemouth have tried to stoke up a rivalry that isn't there, I can understand why they would want to do so, their geographical position in regard to other teams is such that there is no true rival available, to the West some 80 miles away is Exeter who have Plymouth as their rival, to the North is Bristol, but City and Rovers are concerned with each other, Aldershot might have provided some rivalry but since they went bang in the early 90's the reformed Shots havent been playing the Cherries much. Yeovil I think offered an alternative for a season or two, but Im not sure if either side considered it a rivalry.
So that leaves Saints as the only option, but the fact is we are not interested, most Saints fans see Bournemouth as almost family rather than an enemy, in the 1970's when I started going to the Dell if Bournemouth were winning at half time the crowd would cheer when the score was read out, that continues on a lesser scale today.
The Daily Echo have run a poll in the last few days, that is showing that 91% of Saints supporters are pleased to see Bournemouth promoted to the Premier League, most Saints fans see them as plucky underdogs not sworn enemies, I apologise to Bournemouth fans who think I am being patronising, Im not this is just the truth of the matter.
Od course playing them this season will stir up a bit more rivalry, it would be strange if it didn't but I think more Saints supporters would like to see them survive in the Premier than be relegated, if it is announced that Bournemouth have won at say Old Trafford at St Mary's then Im sure there will be a cheer, could you imagine that if Pompey were to do the same, indeed there would be a bigger cheer to hear they had lost at Morecambe.
So Im sorry Bournemouth supporters but we will always only have one local rival and that is Portsmouth, that is the way it's been since before you played professional football and it is the way it will always be, Southampton & Pompey will always hate each other as city's that is the fact of the matter.
But never mind, this is now the 21st century, surely you do not want the violence that surrounds games such as Saints V Pompey or indeed any other big rivalry to mar what should be the happiest time in the Cherries history, sit back and enjoy the ride, don't let trying to stir up a hatred with us spoil that.
Photo: Action Images
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