This Saturday at 1pm there really is only one place to be if you are a fan of either of Hampshire’s two biggest teams. St Mary’s will be a cauldron of passion and hatred which has been brewing for years. Civilians beware.
It is almost seven years to the day since Portsmouth smashed Southampton 4-1 at Fratton Park to effectively relegate them from the Premiership to the second tier for the first time in 27 years. . Even hearing “Is this the way to Amarillo” brings out a plethora of emotions in every Saints fan.
While Southampton struggled in the Championship, eventually succumbing to administration and relegation to the third tier, Portsmouth continued to do well, cheating their way to the FA Cup in 2008 and therefore entertaining such football luminaries as AC Milan in the Europa League the following season. In fact, administration turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the Saints, as they were bought out by the late Markus Liebherr whose 5 year plan to regain Premiership status is now looking much more realistic than at the time.
Lambert scores against Portsmouth at St Mary’s
What a turnaround then. This season Southampton sit atop of the Championship, striding ever closer to a return to the Premiership, while Portsmouth sit 5 points away from safety and are bottom only to Doncaster. Having lost to Burnley 5-1 at home in their previous fixture Pompey fans are still bullish about their chances in this game, as they will take delight in spouting:
Not scared of them at all. They’re f**king scummers. Who gives a toss if we lose, we’re expected to get stuffed. If we win, it’ll be famous, if they do, it means very little – we’re 7/1 to win. We can get relegated and they can get promoted, and we can still sit here safe in the knowledge that they’ll never win more trophies than us, they’ll never have fans to match us. F**king spineless deckchairs. We’re Pompey, the most successful club south of London – who the f**k are you?
Saints fans are also looking forward to righting recent wrongs and sending Pompey deeper into the abyss, while furthering their ambitions of winning the Championship title. It’s not just about football though.
It’s about so much more than football and the hatred runs a lot deeper than football. Growing up here you know that, you get it at school, in the streets and at work. Of course it’s 3 points, but it’s also the dirty f**king cheating skate bastards and St Mary’s needs to be a cauldron of hate for them again. Let’s not let them forget we’re sending them down, hopefully f**king their club up for a generation and most importantly getting revenge!
I want us to absolutely ruin them, and then I want them to (painfully) die. This game is so much more than “just another game”. I urge every Saints fan to make the atmosphere as hostile as possible. Wherever you are in the ground, if a skate comes near you – get stuck into him. A lot of their lot will be young lads. Let’s make it a frightening experience for the f**king lot of them.
What makes this derby even more anticipated is that there is a high chance it will be the last ever contested in its current form if Pompey are wound up at the end of the season as many expect. Having racked up debts of over £130m due to unsustainable wages and, despite being the self proclaimed “Best fans in the world™“, small crowds, Portsmouth entered administration for the first time in 2010, the first and so far only Premiership club to have done so. 95% of the debt was wiped thanks to a CVA and they avoided being liquidated. Despite this they still managed to find the cash to bring in players such as Ricardo Rocha, Jamie O’Hara and Quincy Owusu-Abeyie on large wages while leaving charities they owed money to unpaid.
Pompey survived comfortably in the Championship in their first season. Hope returned to Fratton Park in the summer of 2011 when they were bought out by CSI, owned by Vladimir Antonov. This optimism was to last only 5 months, when CSI went into administration, and Antonov resigned as chairman after a Europe-wide arrest warrant was issued for alleged asset-stripping. This resulted in Portsmouth disgracfully going into administration for the second time in only two years, and a 10 point deduction for Pompey.
With £2m owed to HMRC in unpaid taxes, relegation to League One looking likely and £17m owed to former chairman Balram Chainrai, it is unsurprising that there really aren’t many reasons for potential investors to consider buying into Portsmouth. Even the admistrator assigned to help sell Pompey recently said:
Why waste people’s time with false statements about how great a bargain this club is?
So with liquidation looming this game is enormous for both sets of fans. The city will be buzzing, the stadium will be rocking and with so much on the line for both teams it is little wonder many are saying this is the biggest derby in a generation. COYR!!!