Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughSouthampton: Just a small club in Hampshire - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Southampton: Just a small club in Hampshire - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Southampton: Just a small club in Hampshire

It wasn’t until I moved to Southampton that I realized just how big a club the Saints actually is, whilst they spent a lot of time playing top flight football and have had big names likes Kevin Keegan, Alan Shearer and Matt le Tissier play for them, I still didn’t regard them as a big club.

It would be easy to say that they only seem big now they are looking to get back into the Premier League, but when I moved here 18 months ago, they were in League One and had got off to a stuttering start and were even below neighbours Bournemouth.

Despite dropping to the third level of English football and their finanical problems I was amazed to see how many people wore the club’s colours and not just on matchday – throughout the week you can see lots of people walking around the city in red and white.

Not only that, but you don’t even see that many Manchester United, Liverpool or Cheslea shirts which is refreshing.

On the move …

In recent years they have become a breeding ground for talented youngsters, which has stunted the club’s progession due to financial restraints as they got into the habit of seeing their best players get sold.

Many will forget that Gareth Bale, one of the Premier League’s most highly rated stars learned his trade on the South Coast, and thatTheo Walcott was bought as a 16-year-old by Arsene Wenger for the cup price.

Wenger once again went shopping in Hampshire in the summer when he bought Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but with the club in a better shape he Frenchman had to pay full price for the talented winger.

South Coast Derby

On Sunday the 18th December, Saints travelled to Portsmouth for the first league meeting since 24th April 2005. The two clubs met a few years ago in the FA Cup when Pompey had a comfortable 4-1 win at St Mary’s – to make matters worse for Saints their bitter rivals went on to reach the final.

Pompey are now having financial woes of their own, since all their big money signings, Milan Mandaric leaving the club and their FA Cup win, they now look like a club on their way down.

Like any ‘derby’, both sets of fans hate it eachother, after fears of a throwback to the days of football hooliganism the “south coast bubble” kicked in – every fan had to travel on an official coach as the tickets were only distributed on the way to the game.

One Southampton supporter commented before the game, that the travelling fans were planning to avoid buying any drinks or food in the stadium as they didn’t want to give their enemy any funds.

The atmoshpere at the game was intense, and that was without any alcohol thanks to the 13.00 kick off. Saints took the lead midway through the second-half thanks to talisman Richie Lambert’s header – his 17th goal of the season.

With the clock ticking down lifelong Pompey fan Joel Ward managed to get above the Saints defence and connect with George Thorne’s knock-back in the 84th minute to make it 1-1.

Southampton fans will be disappointed not to have won, especially as they had 58% of possession and nine attempts on goal compared to the home team’s four.

Fortunately there was no reported problems, it will be interesting to see if the same happens when the the two teams meet in the return leg on April 7th.

Scott Balaam @scottbalaam

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