Our Friends Down The Road

The Portsmouth-Southampton rivalry is rightly viewed as one of the most intense rivalries in English football and it means a lot to anyone connected to either club, this is my own account of what this rivalry means to me.

To outsiders and journalists, our rivalry is seen as extremely hateful but I believe "hate" is a very strong word.

I know many Saints fans, most of them I consider to be friends of mine and none that I certainly feel any sort of hatred for. After all, the Scummers are simply humans much like their "Skate" counterparts and support their team as much as we do.

We can debate who has the bigger and better fanbase until we all die but in truth it's a redunant, tiresome arguement that always ends up in a verbal/virtual pissing contest with no outright winner.

After all, there can be no doubt that both clubs have a moderate hardcore set of fans with the stragglers that come out of the woodwork when the respective teams are doing well.

You only have to look at Southampton's recent attendances and the fact that Pompey fans would sell out Fratton Park for a Premier League fixture back in 2008 at the peak of our powers, even if it meant paying £38 for the privilege.

Going back to the point of "hatred" and there seems to be more in this rivalry than most others. I came out of Southampton back in February 2010 slightly surprised I hadn't been injured by the barrage of coins being thrown the direction of 4,000 Pompey fans celebrating a second humiliation of their rivals.

Perhaps it is because the rivalry is so unique as to why there is such strong feeling between the two sets of supporters. After all, we are exclusive rivals that generally don't have a dislike of any other team.

The same can't be said for most of the big London clubs and the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United who share their hatred of each other with neighbours Everton and Man City respectively.

There are also some inter-city rivalries in this country that might be more amicable than ours simply because there will be families in these cities with split loyalties. For example; I know two families where one half supports Sheffield United and the other supports Wednesday.

I am yet to find a family that has contains fans of both Pompey and Southampton. I have no idea if such family exists but if they do I bet they are few and far between.

Going back to the original point as to why there might be so much "hate" between the two sides and some of the older generation will quote that the rivalry began due to dock strikes, Royal Navy vs Merchant Navy and everything that followed it.

The younger generation (such as myself) won't truly understand ye olde reasons for the rivalry and I can bet that many of us young 'uns simply dislike the other side because it is "tradition" or simply because our parents "hated" them and implored us to do the same.

However you look at it, my personal view is that the rivalry is a unique one between two similar sides in stature and that's personally why I think it is special.

I generally enjoy the banter I have with our western counterparts. They will always take the piss out of our "fit and proper" owners and we will always rip it out of them for the career of Ali Dia and the infamous Ted Bates statue.

That is what the rivalry should be about and I do hope that the violence seen in recent fixtures is curbed and we can all keep our passionate feelings vocal and in the football ground.

That isn't to say that I don't completely dislike Southampton and some of  their fans. There are a couple of things about their club and a portion of their fanbase that grates me.

You see, Southampton FC reminds me of that girl at a teenage house party back in the day. You know the one, the bint who would cover herself in make up and wear revealing outfits to compensate for their complete lack of personality.

Miss Southampton would try and mix in with the popular guests at the party but simply isn't interesting or significant enough to hang with the "it crowd".

Shunned, she tries to make herself feel superior by resorting to taunting the other guests by claiming that her Daddy bought her a brand new Aston Martin with his riches and that makes her better than everyone.

Leaving the comparison there, we then have the section of their fans who love to get on their high moral horse at every opportunity. Those who relish in the fact that we're struggling financially despite the fact it wasn't so long ago that they were in dire straits and got extremely fortunate in finding a buyer.

Would Markus Liebherr have come and rescued them if it wasn't for their shiny new stadium and facilities that the previous owners couldn't actually afford to pay for, hence their time in administration? I think not.

I have to laugh at the Scummers that point the finger and say to us "you were happy to enjoy the success when you were winning the FA Cup so you deserve everything you get now" - as if we had some gift of foresight that enabled us all to see into the future and know that it would all go tits up.

These are the same people that would like to see Portsmouth Football Club go bust next year, something that isn't out of the realms of possibility.

It is for this reason that I am desperate to see Pompey beat their arch rivals on Sunday. A result for us would go some way to silencing those in red and white who have done nothing but goad us in the last year or so despite supporting a club who have had nothing to crow about since 2003 when the reached (and lost) an FA Cup Final.

They may well have beaten us a couple of times since then and even taken our manager from us, but it's safe to say that we have laughed loudest. Thankfully, I am too young to have seen Saints win at our gaff so my mind isn't tainted by memories of Steve Moran.

Instead, I will always remember Yakubu's tap in, LuaLua's gobsmacking double and Quincy Owusu-Abeyie's opener at St. Mary's. I think I may well crack out my "Pride of the South" DVD before Sunday!

So, whilst I certainly don't hate Southampton fans or even dislike the vast majority them, nothing would give me greater pleasure than strolling into work on Monday morning with the smuggest grin on my face and gloat before the proverbial inevitably hits the fan next year and they probably return the favour in April.