When Is A Rivalry Not A Rivalry
Monday, 29th Feb 2016 08:55
That is the question and for Saints it is on the rare occasions when they play AFC Bournemouth in a competitive match.
For Saints both team and supporters the trip down to Dean Court or as it is called now the Vitality Stadium has never been viewed with the same intensity that a fixture against Portsmouth invokes.
The fact is for Saints fans there is only one local rival, it plays in blue, it smells of fish and its 20 miles to the East of us.
Over the years when we have found ourselves playing Bournemouth it has never had the same undercurrent for Saints fans as a game against Pompey.
Some would say that could be because we rarely play Bournemouth in a competitive match, yes that is true, before we shared a division in League One we had met them only in a two legged League Cup tie in the mid 80's in a period spanning half a century.
But in the same period and indeed much longer we barely played Pompey either, yet the hatred stoked up a few notches as the year went on without the distraction of having to meet up on the pitch.
So on the West side of the New Forest at least there is little enthusiasm above and beyond any other fixture when Saints play Bournemouth.
But seemingly Cherries fans hate us with a passion, they are very keen to call us scummers etc and try to force a rivalry where none exists.
It's hard to see why they would want to do this, after all over the years whenever they have had a player wanting a testimonial or they have needed the money due to financial difficulties we have always been first to answer their call and play a friendly down there and bring down a decent following to put much needed money into the wallet of a trusted servant of their club or in their own coffers to keep the creditors at bay.
Yet still they want a hatred and rivalry !
One of the reasons they might despise us so much is that there are a lot of Saints supporters living in and around Bournemouth & Poole and that must be annoying to die hard Bournemouth supporters, I can understand why that would upset them, its bad enough seeing Arsenal or Chelsea shirts on Bournemouth locals, but to see plenty of Saints kits must be even worse.
Most Saints fans though wish Bournemouth well, there is still a cheer when its announced at St Mary's they are leading at half time or have won a game, however that cheer is getting lower in volume by each year as Cherries fans look to stir up a hatred where none exists.
Their problem is that they have no natural local rival, to the East, Exeter, Plymouth & Torquay have their own thing going on, to the West Saints and Pompey have theirs, other than that traditionally there has been no one within shouting distance who sees them as local or rivals.
Yeovil perhaps offered that for a few years but recently both club's have gone in different directions, so that is fast fading and perhaps will never return.
So Bournemouth fans should be careful for what they wish for, the relationship between the two clubs has always been good and it is only a minority of Bournemouth fans who are trying to spoil it, however that minority is growing as a Premier League mentality kicks in.
Perhaps Bournemouth's success won't last, perhaps they will slip back to the Championship and worse, perhaps they will be desperate for our money through the turnstiles again, but if they are not careful perhaps Saints will be less willing to help out in a crisis.
I'm sorry if this article sounds a bit arrogant and patronising, it isn't meant to sound that way, there is just no other way of saying it.
All Saints fans want to see Bournemouth soundly drubbed on Tuesday night, but no more than we want to see us beat most teams, many hope that we will meet them again next season, perhaps we will perhaps we won't !
Photo: Action Images
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