Writer: Red Army Comrade
Date:Tuesday July 20 2010
ith such drastic changes on the south coast between us and our rivals from down the M27 over the last few years, both sets of fans can`t help but wonder who`s had the worse of things, and why our respective sides of the motorway are the superiors.
It`s a question that has fuelled an entire rivalry between 2 clubs intent on doing one better than the other, but despite our years of relegations and heartache, I`d rather be a scummer than a skate any day of the week.
So why is the red half of Hampshire the truly dominant side of the South Coast?
Premiership years - we spent 27 years in the highest pinnacle of English football, the top flight. Sure we didn`t do a Chelsea and win the title nor did we have a Champions league campaign, but nor did Portsmouth. What we did do is finish in very respectable positions in the Premier League and pull off some decent results against the likes of Manchester United along the way.
What`s so special about being a mid table Premiership side? Perhaps the fact that we achieved those positions on shoe string budgets and a threadbare squad, relying on less costly imports rather than spending millions on an overpaid Argentine.
Something that is non existent in today`s Premiership.
The Blue few on the other hand? Similar to us they didn`t exactly set the Premiership alight, Tax dodger 'Arry built a squad of past timers on a shoe string budget, and then 2 years of relative success. But we all know where that success got them.
They eventually managed 7 years in the top flight, a small fraction of our tenure.
What else did we achieve in those 27 years of top flight football? Oh yes the FA cup final against Arsenal who beat us narrowly 1-0, That could be a redundant reason to say the red half of Hampshire is the most dominant seeming as Portsmouth went one further and won the cup.
But perhaps what we can say is that when we did it, we did it without spending 70 million on England Internationals and heavily paid imports from all over Europe.
we on the other hand did it with a team of cheap and cheerful transfers and youth team prospects, the likes of Chris Baird playing in the final alongside Wayne Bridge instead of a multi million pound signing from France. And something tells me if we spent 70 million on players we wouldn`t have done too badly in the league either.
We can also have pride in the fact that we faced sides of considerable quality throughout our cup run, with a mix of tough championship sides as well as Tottenham by 4 goals as early as the third round.
Portsmouth on the other hand? Ipswich, Preston, and Plymouth followed by Manchester United and West Brom, before a final match against Cardiff.
Those are some tough championship teams and Manchester United aren`t exactly an easy side to beat on any day, but when you spend 70 million and have the likes of Defoe and Crouch playing, beating Man Utd just isn`t as special.
Maybe I`m just being a bit of a spoilsport and trying to discredit them, but when we beat Manchester United we did it with the likes of Pahars and Oakley for crying out loud, we did it without spending over the odds and they would be wise to remember that.
Even the final of their FA cup win is questionable, we faced an Arsenal side on the top of their game back in 03, and the likes of Henry and Cole were all included in a side that was the big force in English football.
Who did the blue few face then? Chelsea? Liverpool? Nope, instead they faced the 'mighty` Cardiff City who at best are a strong championship outfit. And despite the facts that they were up against a championship side and fielded a side blistering with International players they still only managed a 1-0 score line.
Why else could it be better to be a skate? Maybe the fact that they got to this years FA cup final? It was certainly an achievement for them as a cash strapped squad to the extreme managed to beat Tottenham and Birmingham (as well as us) to reach the final.
But with that in mind what else happened this year for them? The fact that the Tax man has been on their back amid a huge tax bill, the fact that the club has lost player after player and may not have any of those finalists come next year, and were relegated from the Premiership.
When you look at their season as a whole you realise that such a cup run was merely a silver lining on a very dark cloud.
They did indeed achieve those successes during their somewhat short time in the Premier League, but we almost equalled those successes with less than half the resources and nothing but gritů and at least on a moral perspective I know that we did things the right way.
History - Portsmouth fans may like to point out that they are the longest holders of the FA cup in 1941 and as statistics go they are absolutely right, but was that down to them defending the cup for that time? As we all know that is definitely not the case.
The only reason they gained that 'record` was due to the outbreak of world war 2, and the fact that football wasn`t exactly a priority. This is perhaps the only time in history that a football club can thank Hitler for their on pitch success.
But what about the history of the South Coast Derby? Well this is something else they would like to avoid looking at as the stats show that we have indeed had the upper hand.
Southampton wins - 34
Portsmouth wins - 21
Draws - 13
I guess they could argue that the last 2 results of 4-1 are some sort of testament to blue superiority, but for me? They are still 13 wins off equalling our record, and looking at the direction they are going in that doesn`t seem likely.
4-1 FA cup win - Cause for gloating? Think again
I guess you could gloat if you think that beating your opposition on their home soil for the first time since 1988 is something to celebrate, and your first ever win at your fiercest rivals new stadium comes when the said team is in the third division, and missing several key players.
Even those facts didn`t stop Papa Waigo almost scoring twice in the first half if it was not for the agility of David James. And 4-1 being very much an unfair score considering the circumstances, something that even Portsmouth fans have admitted.
You also have to ask which side came out of it better, we went on to lift the Johnstones Paint trophy whilst Portsmouth sunk further into Premiership obscurity.
We have a future - Perhaps the most significant reason why being a 'scummer` is so much better than a skate is the future of both clubs. We are a side with fantastic owners who have put money into our team, we are set to make a promotion push to the Championship and beyond as well as selling over 13,000 season tickets already.
The Blue few on the other hand? A measly 5,000 season tickets as reported in their local news website and financial troubles that are slowly becoming worse and worse.
Whilst we strengthen our squad Portsmouth are imploding theirs, with countless players either joining other clubs or being released, and all the while we go into next season with a cheerful perspective and a unified squad, the blue few and their fans sit anxiously as the HMRC dig their claws further into the club.
We may have had a rotten few years then but we have still come out on top, millions may have been spent by our old enemy but the 'scummers` still top the roost in Hampshire, and the 'skates` are set to drop further in the rapid changes that have ravaged through football.
And to end this article with a question, who would win if we were to play their depleted youth team/first team now? And who is set to rise and fall in this war of 2 cities?
Never have I been more proud to be considered a 'scummer`.
Pompey fans - why do you think otherwise? and why do you solemnly believe that the blue half is the better half if at all? and looking at both clubs and the direction that we look to be going in, what's your realistic vision in the future of both clubs?
Do you think you will be relegated or do you believe that you will be battling with us in the Championship? even Premiership in years to come? these are the questions we want to know.
Date:Tuesday July 20 2010
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