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Southampton Rule Over Portsmouth In Christmas Fixtures
Wednesday, 22nd Dec 2021 10:22

Christmas is not a good time to be a Pompey fan when it comes to playing Saints in this week in December over the years, here we take a look back at the games played and the woes that we have inflicted on our Skate mates.

Over the years there have been surprisingly few games played between Southampton & Portsmouth, mainly due to the fact that they were in divisions above us for a 25 year period either side of the second World War and we have been above them for pretty much all of the last 60 years or so.

That has meant that we have only met in competitive games (Not including the old Southern League that is a different story and more Saints domination) for a grand total of only 16 seasons in the same division and when you add 7 cup encounters that means that means we have met them only 39 times in the Football league/Premier League, FA Cup & League cup in a period spanning around 120 years.

That has meant that we have rarely had to play them around Xmas time and have left trips to Portsea Island at the festive period purely the preserve of brave Christian missionaries who over the centuries have battled gamely to convert the pagan hordes.

But there have been some encounters in the week surrounding Xmas day and here we look back at them .

The first of those encounters remains the only time that we have met them on Xmas or Boxing Day and that was back in 1974 our first season back in the old Division 2 after our relegation from the top flight.

We travelled down to the barren wastes with not much Xmas spirit shown on either side.

Don't let Pompey fans fool you about their passionate support and their hatred of all things "Scum" a mere 19,543 turned out for this one, almost exactly the same crowd that had turned up at the Dell earlier in the season.

Saints were not in good form and had started badly in Div 2 and lay in 16th place, Pompey around the same position, Saints were missing Mike Channon, but 9 of the 12 on duty for us at Fratton would form our Wembley dozen around 18 months later.

Lew Chatterley came in for Channon who had a hamstring strain, so Saints fans were not confident, but within 20 minutes we were 2-0 up, Peter Osgood headed home on 13 minutes and then David Peach fired home after local Pompey lad made good in Southampton had put him through.

Pompey gained a late consolation when Norman Piper scored with 3 minutes to go, but it was too little too late, Lawrie Mcmenemy expressed delight at the result, Pompey boss Ian St John ( Yes that one) said "The Scummers will always be in our shadow and this result was an injustice" OK I made the first half of the quote but he did feel his team were robbed.

We would not meet our friends from the wrong end of the M27 again at Xmas until December 2003, when they were alongside us again in the same division for only the second time since being relegated to the 3rd division in 1975/76 for several reasons a good season for Saints and one that older Pompey fans will want to forget, although not the ones living in Paulsgrove who through a street party for their boy Bobby Stokes at the end of that season.

This meeting on Sunday 21st December would be the first meeting between the two clubs in the top flight and the 31,697 remains the highest League attendance between the two clubs, Pompey only topping 30 k(31,509) on one occasion back in 1960/61 season when we played them for the first time since 1927.

The majority of the crowd went home happy, Saints cruised to a 3-0 win, a Schemmel own goal giving us a half time lead, then Marian Pahars shortly after the hour mark and James Beattie sealing it in the final minute, but by then the bell ringing had stopped in the away section.

The third and final festive fixture came 10 years ago when on 18th December 2011 we travelled down to Fratton Park in what was the first bubble fixture, all of the 2,200 Saints supporters who would cram in to the away end had to travel down on a fleet of buses, so tight was security that match tickets were only handed when the coach hit the motorway.

We were bussed up to the stadium door and then straight out again, say what you will about bubble games, but the truth was apart from posturing through bus windows in and out of the vicinity of the ground, there was no trouble, no fighting, no one injured with everyone going home safely.

We were home and back in the pub less than an hour after the game had finished, contrast that to the previous trip to Fratton when we were still in the ground an hour after the game and didn't board the train home till nearly two hours after the game had finished as Pompey fans celebrated a victory in their traditional style by wrecking their own City.

2011/12 season would be another like 75/76, it would end in triumph for Saints, in this case promotion back to the Premier League and in Pompey's case deja vu, relegation back to the 3rd tier of English football, where they have remained ever since, barring a few years in the 4th tier.

Although we should have easily won this one given our respective league positions, it was a tense nervous affair, the 19,879 being Pompey's biggest crowd of the season, but still short of a full capacity of around 20,500.

Saints took the lead in front of their own fans when Rickie Lambert rose above a Pompey defender and headed in a pinpoint Danny Fox cross in the 63rd minute to send the visiting hordes mad.

We then seemed to be heading for a comfortable victory, however we were quietened in the 84th minute when we gave away a needless corner and then allowed Joel Ward a free header from close range, debates still rage about whose fault this goal was, was it the man who gave away the cheap corner, the man who failed to pick up Joel Ward and give him the free header, or Guly who was caught between staying on the line or trying to get out and block the unmarked Ward.

Guly got the blame from many, personally I don't think he was the villain of the piece Pompey celebrated like they had won the cup celebrations seen only twice since, firstly when they took over the club with the banner "Its Ours" and secondly when they voted to sell the club to an ex member of the Disney Corporation with the banner "It's Theirs" .

So that was the third and final Xmas fixture, our fishy friends will claim different, but for the basis of this article I have only included the games that have been directly either side of Xmas Day, so I am afraid that does not include what many older Portsmouth supporters consider their greatest ever victory in the 57 year period spanning 1951-2008.

That was their 2-0 win at the Dell on 3rd January 1988, their first victory over us in 24 years and one so celebrated they even called their main fanzine of the time after it.

But as i say this article is only about those fixtures either side of Xmas day itself, so all that now remains after reminding our Skate friends of the misery they usually endure over the Xmas period if we are in the same division, is to wish them all a Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year in their personal lives, not of course in any matters concerning their football team.

Lets all remember that football should be fun, Saints fans should remember that like a dog at Christmas, Pompey is a rivalry that should not just be for Christmas it is for life, those Bournemouth fans just don't get it !

Photo: Action Images

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underweststand added 11:55 - Dec 23
Not necessarily about Christmas fixtures... but the mention of Portsmouth derby games in the early 1960's which only added fuel to the historical animosity with those literal "punch-ups" between Pompey defender Roy Lunnis (all 6'4" of him) and Saints' England winger Terry Paine (barely 5'8" in his socks), which often ended up with one or both of them being booked and /or sent-off. To his credit, Paine was no shrinking violet in those encounters and gave as good as he got on several occasions.

However, references to the Pompey games in this era reminded me of our battling veteran full back Stuart Williams scoring a great goal at the Dell (complete with bloodied bandage around his head) ..and the incredible contribution made by Norman Dean in our 1965-66 promotion season. Norman came to The Dell as a teenager and was the mainstay of the Reserves attack for several years before getting his League breakthrough that season when after a real goal spree, he returned from the away fixture In Portsmouth with 3 goals to his credit, and remains (to this day) the only Saints player ever to score a hat-trick in a competitive match at Fratton Park.

I was recently reminded of the Saints' dedication to some of their old players when I read that Norman (now well into his 70's) had a part-time job with the Saints security staff.
Nice touch that one.

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