Why Bournemouth Will Never Be Saints Rivals !
Wednesday, 17th Oct 2018 10:16
Bournemouth fans like to call us Scummers and pretend that it is a local derby, but the truth is to Saints supporters there is one local rivalry and one local rivalry only and that will never change !
When I started to watch Saints as a kid in the early 70's even at 10 I knew that Saints hated Pompey and vice versa, back then it could be said that the rivalry was a lot more one sided, Portsmouth had endured a rather bleak period in their recent history after wining the league barely 20 years earlier and their fans suddenly found themselves staring up at Saints, something they hadn't had to do since the 1920's.
Liking football I popped down to Fratton Park to see a game and was amazed at the level of hatred and songs aimed at Saints, certainly at the Dell at that time there was little mention of Pompey in the repetoire of the Milton Road choir, if there was it was fleeting and not of the verging on obsessional behavior of the Fratton End I witnessed.
Things perhaps changed and became truly nasty in the 1973/74 season when after relegation from the top flight Saints joined the Blue Few back in the Second Division ( Now called the Championship for those under 45)
For two seasons we shared that division and Saints won all four games, in the 4th of those we relegated them to the 3rd Division only a few days after winning the FA Cup semi final in 1976, it was certainly not a good few weeks for Pompey fans back then.
But both the wins off the field and the level of trouble off it stoked up the rivalry and although we didn't play them for another 8 years in a competitive match it simmered.
Around the mid 70's the term Scummer came into the vocabulary, invented by Pompey fans who possibly copied it from another team, certainly their version of it's origin that it stems back to a dock strike in the Victorian era has been discredited with the history books showing that the strike was actually in Southampton and that it was "Blackleg" Portsmouth Dockers who broke the strike and had to be protected by Soldiers, more can be read using the link below
The 70's/80's saw an escalation in hooliganism in football matches, but the hatred between the two Cities was something more than that, it was not just about football it was about everything from tiddlywinks upwards to life itself, unlike say Liverpool or Manchester where both sets of fans lived and worked together, or London derbies where most teams attracted fans from all over the place, this was two neighbouring cities and the lines of demarcation where clearly defined.
For many years Saints fans merely replicated Pompey fans and also referred to them as Scummers, but in the late 1980's The Ugly Inside fanzine recognising the need for something original to refer to our rivals held a competition for a new name and the winner suggested the word "Skates"
In the winning entry he explained that "Skate" was a word used by residents of naval cities for Sailors and that if we referred to them as that they would really hate it, he was right their then fanzines printed articles brimming with indignity, didn't we know that they weren't Skates it was the Royal Navy ?
Of course we knew that but the competition winner even as he sat in the Caribbean enjoying his prize had hit them where it really hurt and that made it even better.
They soon settled down to their new name and now the word skate in Southampton refers to only one thing and it's not anything to do with Strictly Come Dancing On Ice or whatever it's called.
So where do Bournemouth come into this ?
The straight answer is that they don't !
During the period mentioned Bournemouth weren't really on Saints radar, although ironically this season means that in the last half century we will have been in the same league as the Cherries for six seasons, exactly the same number that we have shared a division with Pompey in that period, all have been in the last decade.
But despite Bournemouth's sudden rise to a par with us in the Premier League and indeed to finish above us last season and probably this, you won't find many at this end of the New Forest that actually have too much bad to say about Bournemouth or their fans.
Up until a couple of years ago news of a Bournemouth win over the tannoy at St Mary's would evoke a cheer, not anywhere near as loud as the one that greeted a Pompey loss, but a cheer all the same.
Southampton people just don't look on Bournemouth with the same hatred they view Portsmouth, indeed the opposite it was always seen as a nice place to visit, be it the beach or nightclubs in the town back in the good old days.
On the other hand Bournemouth don't have their own rivals, they are stuck in a little bit of a void, we of course are to the East and we don't care, to the West they have to travel around 90 miles to Exeter to find a football team, but down in Devon they don't care about Bournemouth, Exeter hate Plymouth and vice versa.
To the North Bristol was too far away and had their own derby within the City and didn't need to look elsewhere.
Fifteen years ago Yeovil came to prominence, like Bournemouth they were stuck in limbo, no real local rivals to hate, for a few years it was the nearest the Cherries fans came to local rivalry, but the truth was at 50 miles away there was nothing for either set of fans to get worked up about and although for a decade they would be in the same division for eight seasons, no one got too stoked up about it and both teams went in opposite directions.
But in the last few years Bournemouth have found a new set of fans who are looking for a rival because they see it on Sky TV, up until ar recent as 5 years ago Bournemouth's core support was around the 5,000 mark, that has now doubled with success and indeed could be more if the ground was bigger although it seems the current owners are not very forthcoming about spending money on either a new ground which with the limited area to expand the current site is essential if Bournemouth are to continue to thrive.
This new set of fans are of the Sky generation, they see the big derby games on TV and they want some of it and they can't understand why we are not interested.
Sadly the truth is although some of their behaviour over the years by a minority with a chip on their shoulders about Saints has soured the relationship between the two clubs, they will just never be seen as our rivals, we could never play Portsmouth again, but it will be the game that we will all look forward to happening, we will delight in anything detrimental happening to the City, if Southsea Castle fell down we would have street parties, if The Mary Rose got woodworm we would sing songs about it, if there are roadworks on the M275 we chuckle and they feel exactly the same way about us, we will never get on and it is a rivalry born not just out of football, but existence itself, David Bowie could sing about Life On Mars but not about Life In Portsmouth.
Sorry Bournemouth but we just don't feel the same way about you, no matter how hard you try to manufacture a rivalry, it just isn't there, on Saturday afternoon we will hate you for a short time, but no more than we would hate Newcastle when we play them and I would say a lot less than when we play Liverpool, United of Spurs.
We don't have a term of insult for you, why do you copy Portsmouth in calling us Scummers, its a private thing between us and them, Arsenal don't call us Scummers they use that term for Spurs, Liverpool don't call us Scummers and nor does any other team so why do you !
Hopefully this game will go off without trouble after all it's a game of football nothing else and that's the way we feel about it !
Photo: Action Images
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