Harman Patil (Editor)

South Coast derby

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Locale  Hampshire
Teams  Portsmouth Southampton
First meeting  Portsmouth 2 Southampton 0 (6 Sept 1899)
Latest meeting  Southampton 2 Portsmouth 2 (7 April 2012)
Meetings total  "First class": 70 All matches: 139
Most wins  "First class": Southampton (34) All matches: Portsmouth (62)

The South Coast Derby or the Hampshire Derby are terms used to describe football matches played between Portsmouth Football Club and Southampton Football Club.


Portsmouth play their home games at Fratton Park, while Southampton play theirs at St. Mary's Stadium. The two clubs are the most successful on the southern coast of England, and lie only 19 miles apart. However, because the two clubs have often been in different leagues, they seldom play each other as compared to the North London derby and North West derby which have been contested over a hundred times.

Portsmouth are statistically the more successful of the two clubs with two old Division 1 (now the Premier League) titles, being champions of England in 1948–49 and 1949–50, as well as two FA Cups in 1939 and 2008 compared to Southampton's solitary FA Cup success in 1976; despite this, Southampton have won more competitive matches between the two teams, and have been more regularly in a higher league than Portsmouth, including their 27 consecutive years in the top flight of English football.

Southampton currently play in the Premier League. Portsmouth currently play in League Two.

Changing fortunes

Southampton were originally formed in 1885 as St. Mary's Young Men's Association F.C., before adopting the name Southampton St. Mary's when the club joined the Southern League in 1894. After they won the Southern League title in 1896–97, the club became a limited company and changed their name to Southampton F.C. Portsmouth was founded in April 1898 and joined the Southern League in 1899.

The first match between the two clubs came in a friendly at Portsmouth's Fratton Park ground on 6 September 1899. The match was won "on their merits" 2–0 by Portsmouth, with goals from Dan Cunliffe (formerly with Liverpool) and Harold Clarke (formerly with Everton).

Southampton and Portsmouth first played each other in the Southern League in April 1900, with Portsmouth winning 2–0 twice in three days. The teams met regularly in the Southern League, and in the early years of the 20th century were rivals for the league title, with Southampton taking the title in 1901, 1903 and 1904 (having also been champions in three consecutive seasons from 1896–97 to 1898–99, before Portsmouth were formed) and Portsmouth taking the title in 1902 (and again in 1920).

The first of four South Coast derbies in the FA Cup took place on 13 January 1906. Because of the large crowd expected for the first FA Cup meeting between the two rivals, the local registrars in both towns postponed voting in the 1906 general election until the following week. The match at The Dell was attended by a capacity crowd of 14,000 and the Portsmouth fans, together with their players, did their best to unsettle the inexperienced 'keeper, Bill Stead, who was making only his second first team appearance. Stead, however, showed few signs of nerves and produced a "phlegmatic performance", restricting Portsmouth to a single goal from Dan Cunliffe, while the Saints scored five and eventually progressed to the last eight, where they lost 3–0 to Liverpool.

For the 1920–21 season, both teams were admitted to the Football League (together with the majority of the Southern League First Division sides). The first Football League game between the two clubs was on 11 September 1920, with Southampton winning 2–0. After two seasons in the Third Division, Saints were promoted as champions in 1922. Pompey joined them in the Second Division in 1924 and were promoted to the First Division in 1927. Up to this time the teams had met ten times in the Football League, with Saints winning four, Pompey three and three draws.

From 1927 until 1960 Portsmouth enjoyed a much-superior league position to their neighbours, winning the FA Cup in 1939 and back-to-back League Titles in 1948–49 and 1949–50, until 1960, when Southampton gained promotion back to the Second Division, Portsmouth having been relegated from the First Division the previous season. From the 1960s onwards, Southampton found themselves in the ascendancy, being in a superior division nearly every season while defeating their rivals whenever the two sides met in cup clashes.

With Southampton being in a higher division for most of the period from the 1960s through to the early 2000s, the two clubs rarely met. Events such as the death of Portsmouth goalkeeper Aaron Flahavan, a Southampton-born footballer whose brother Darryl had played for Southampton, occasionally brought the fans together. However, events of recent years have altered this markedly.

Southampton dominated the South Coast derby games in the post-war era, with 14 wins against Portsmouth's 6. Portsmouth's promotion to the Premiership in 2003 evened matters and reignited the clubs' rivalry - the first time the two teams had met in regular league competition since the 1987–88 First Division season. Southampton held the upper-hand, winning two of the three matches played between the two sides in the 2003–04 season to Portsmouth's one.

The rivalry was galvanised with the appointment of Harry Redknapp as Southampton manager in December 2004, just days after he had resigned as manager of Portsmouth, and less than a month after the Saints had beaten Portsmouth at St Mary's Stadium. The following month, the Saints were drawn against and defeated their rivals in a fiery FA Cup match, with former Portsmouth striker Peter Crouch (who would go on to rejoin Portsmouth in 2008) scoring the decisive penalty in the last minute of the match.

However, Portsmouth struck back in the next league encounter between the rivals, with Southampton beaten 4–1 at Fratton Park by their relegation rivals in Redknapp's only return to the ground with the club. Southampton were subsequently relegated from the Premiership a few games later on the final day of the 2004–05 season, ending their 27-year run in the top flight of English Football. Harry Redknapp caused more controversy when he left Southampton and returned to Portsmouth and enjoyed success.

Portsmouth won the FA Cup again in 2008 under Redknapp whilst, in 2009, Southampton were again relegated, this time to League One. The two sides met in a fierce FA Cup match at St Mary's in 2010 which Portsmouth came out 4–1 victors again and went on to reach the FA Cup final that season but did not perform too well in the league. Portsmouth were in turn relegated to the Championship for the 2010–11 season after having been deducted nine points as a penalty for entering administration.

The matches played during the 2011–12 season both ended as draws, but the club's fortunes differed considerably with Southampton gaining promotion to the Premier League and Portsmouth once again going into administration and being relegated to League One. While Southampton have finished 14th, 8th, 7th and 6th since their Premier League return, Portsmouth were relegated again and now play in League Two, the fourth tier of English football.

Harry Redknapp

The acrimonious departure of Harry Redknapp from Portsmouth to Southampton brought the bitter rivalry between the two clubs to a new level. When Redknapp returned to Portsmouth in November 2005 following Southampton's relegation, it only served to further sour relations between the two clubs, which arguably remain at an all-time low. The two clubs' chairmen at the time, Rupert Lowe (Southampton) and Milan Mandarić (Portsmouth), publicly criticised one another on a number of occasions, with Lowe calling for an inquest into irregular betting patterns in the run-up to Redknapp's re-appointment. Mandarić had even sent a boxed duck as a Christmas "gift" to Lowe (as Lowe had been on a hunting trip when the "ordeal" began), but the gesture only furthered the animosity between the two.

Inter-fan rivalry

Exactly when the fierce rivalry between the supporters of the two clubs began is not entirely clear. Until as recently as the early 1970s, many fans would go and watch the other team when their side was playing away, indicating anything but hatred. Some ascribe the growing rivalry since then to the cities' diverging economic fortunes. In 2015, 10,000 people signed a petition against using a red and white livery (Southampton colours) on the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth. The city council subsequently came to an agreement with sponsors Emirates to use blue and gold (Portsmouth colours) instead.


Portsmouth supporters, and occasionally those of other clubs, refer to Southampton supporters as "scum" or "scummers". According to some Portsmouth fans, the term "scum" developed out of an acronym standing for Southampton City (or Corporation) Union Men, with the term allegedly originating from when Southampton dockyard workers supposedly crossed the picket lines in the 1930s when Portsmouth dockyard workers were on strike. However this story is unlikely, as the two cities rely on entirely different types of ports — Southampton being a merchant port and Portsmouth, a naval one. There is also no known record of any strike occurring during the mentioned time period. Rather, this seems to be a modern attempt to incorrectly describe the origins of the rivalry.

Southampton supporters have taken to referring to their local rivals as "Skates". This is a derisive alternative to "matelot" to describe naval sailors, Portsmouth being the home of the Royal Navy. This term is in fact originally a dismissive one for all sailors from the non-naval citizens of Portsmouth. Southampton fans have adopted "Skate" since it was made popular as an abusive term towards Portsmouth fans after a Southampton fanzine asked readers to help search for the term most likely to cause offence to them.

All official competitions

Including the above matches, plus Southern District Combination, Western League, Southern Alliance League and other official cup matches.

Portsmouth – 62

Southampton – 56

Drawn – 21

Total – 139

Players who have played for both clubs

Updated to 31 May 2015

Managed both clubs

  • Alan Ball
  • Harry Redknapp
  • Played for one, managed/coached the other

  • Alan Ball
  • Kevin Bond
  • Arthur Chadwick
  • Jimmy Easson
  • Stuart Gray
  • Joe Jordan
  • Steve Wigley
  • Harry Wood
  • Women's football

    Both Portsmouth and Southampton have had women's counterparts in the past. Although Southampton Saints L.F.C. has the better history, with their record 9 FA Women's Cups won and their once-star player Sue Lopez having made it all the way to the English Football Hall of Fame, most of their achievements came before the creation of the actual Women's Premiership. Portsmouth L.F.C. is a relative newcomer to the women's game by contrast.

    Both teams played in the Southern Championship in the 2006–07 season. Portsmouth was a strong contender for promotion (they finished 3rd), while Southampton was relegated to the Regional Combinations. Interestingly, the former Portsmouth manager, Vanessa Raynbird, played in and later managed Southampton as well.


    South Coast derby Wikipedia

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