Why Are Bournemouth Fans So Desperate To Be Rivals With Us !
Friday, 30th Oct 2015 11:34
Bournemouth fans seem to consider Saints far bigger rivals than vice versa, but why is this? Can this fixture truly be considered a rivalry?
Any Saints fan who used to pop along to Dean Court, or whatever else it was called in the past two decades or so, would have been surprised at the amount of vitriolic abuse aimed at Southampton Football Club. On my last visit a few years back, many of the Bournemouth fans around me spent half the game discussing Saints and it was ‘scummers this’ and ‘scummers that’ throughout the game.
It seems to me that Bournemouth supporters are trying to create a rivalry that has never, and perhaps will never exist, at least not to those who follow Southampton Football Club.
Although the two clubs are fairly close in a geographical nature, there has never been much of a rivalry on the field over the years. Indeed Saints have rarely met the Cherries in competitive games. The first meeting did not come until the 1953/54 season some 68 years into SFC’s existence.
After that first meeting the two teams stayed in the same division until the 1959/60 season, but after those seven seasons, the clubs would not meet competitively for another 27 years. It was a further 23 years go before we again met in 2010/11.
So, in the 130 years since Saints were founded in 1885, we have met them 16 times in the league plus one FA and three League Cup games. Two of those were in that two legged tie in 1987 and the other two cup games were both in seasons when we were in the same division.
So the fact remains that we have just not played Bournemouth enough to develop a rivalry.
So why do Southampton fans not consider Bournemouth as a true local derby rival to be treated with hatred? There are perhaps several reasons.
First, the fact that we already have a local rival in Portsmouth and, of course, this runs to a lot more than football. It could also be said that we haven’t played Bournemouth much more than Portsmouth. That is correct in terms of the football league, but we also played them in the old Southern League going back to the 1899/00 season. This rivalry goes back well over a century, We already have Pompey to hate and there is only a certain amount of hatred a man can have and we like to make sure that they get all of it!
Second, there is the fact that Saints supporters have a soft spot for Bournemouth. As far back as I can remember, when the Cherries result was read out over the tannoy at the Dell, if they won it would gain a loud cheer. This has carried on until this day, although it is not quite as fervent as it once was. Indeed, most Saints fans I know were glad that Bournemouth got promoted to the Premier League. There is just not the rivalry between the two towns that exists to the one in the East. Over the years, Bournemouth’s attendances have been boosted by Saints fans who have popped along to watch them, although this has lessened in the past decade but probably that is more a cost thing than anything else.
Third, as far back as I can remember Saints have come to the rescue on a number of occasions when the Cherries have been in financial trouble. We have gone along and played friendlies for no fee to allow them to get a bumper gate and put money in their coffers that has helped them survive. Saints supporters played their part in this by turning up in numbers, indeed many a Bounemouth stalwart has had his testimonial fund boosted by a game against Saints when a quarter of the crowd were Saints fans.
In fact Saints supporters have, in the main, still had a soft spot for the Cherries despite an element of the Bournemouth support determined to do everything to stir up some sort of rivalry. Perhaps the best example of this was back in 1998 when Bournemouth hosted Saints in a pre-season friendly the day after Southampton’s mayor had been killed in a plane crash. The Cherries were respectful enough to hold a minute’s silence and, although this was observed by most home fans, a rather vocal element disrupted it with vitriolic abuse.
So why are Bournemouth fans so desperate to create a rivalry where none exists ?
Well firstly before I start, it is only a section of the Cherries support who want to stir things up, but it is a sizeable element. I would say that now with their success, and support almost doubled from what they had a decade ago, it is not a minority.
So the first reason that they are desperate to create a rivalry with us is that they have no other rivals themselves. Geographically there is no one else other than us that they can turn to. To the east is Exeter some 90 miles or so away, but Exeter have Plymouth and to a lesser extend Torquay. To the west, until recently, the nearest team would have been Bristol City, but again this is a long way west and the Bristol clubs have their own rivalry between each other.
A Bournemouth supporter on the Ugly Inside website admitted this was the case and mentioned that in the 70’s and 80’s, Bournemouth looked to Aldershot and Reading for some sort of derby game. But here again, both are around 80 miles from Bournemouth and both had their on local rivals.
So perhaps the Cherries are the only team in English football who do not have a local rival of their very own to hate on a day-to-day basis. A few years ago, salvation looked to be on the cards for them when Yeovil entered the Football League. However that has proved short lived, although it should be noted that in this short time the two clubs have been in the same division seven times - only one less than SFC & AFCB up until this season and they have met in more cup games.
But it is perhaps a little more than just searching for a local rival that drives Bournemouth fans on to hate us. Traditionally Saints have drawn a lot of support from the west of the City, in fact even in Bournemouth itself there is a large following for Saints rather than the Cherries. Bournemouth’s success of late will, perhaps, change this a little, but the truth is that decades of lower league life for Bournemouth led to many in the area looking to Saints for a decent level of football and this must irk Bournemouth fans. Between Saints and Pompey you would do well to find too many supporters of the other club in each City, yet we have many who follow Saints who live in Bournemouth and the surrounding areas.
But the fact is that the rivalry is one way and always will be. All the Bournemouth fans are doing when they try to rile us, is harm their own club in the future. Every little vitriolic display from them alienates a Saints supporter who might otherwise put money in their coffers. In future if they again suffer financial trouble, even Saints fans who live in Bournemouth tell me that whereas once they might have gone along and watched the Cherries from time to time, now they don’t because of the level of abuse towards Saints.
So Sunday’s game only means three points to Saints supporters. Nothing more nothing less Indeed many Saints supporters want Bournemouth to stay up because they remain a second team of sorts.
Perhaps Bournemouth fans will not like this. Perhaps they will feel it is patronising, but I am merely commenting on what the situation is down here. We have our rivals in Portsmouth, that will never change.
Photo: Action Images
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