Classic Reds v Blues: Portsmouth v Southampton

Monday 26 May 2014
Southampton's Jos Hooiveld tussles with Greg Halford of Portsmouth in 2012

Portsmouth in their blue shirts and Southampton in red and white stripes have been the most successful clubs on the south coast. They are only 17 miles apart but as they are often in different divisions, they seldom play each other. 

Now they find themselves three divisions apart.

Blue Pompey have been League champions twice and have won The FA Cup twice. Red Saints, who lifted The Cup once under Lawrie McMenemy, have won more south coast derbies than Pompey.

They have met 70 times in first-class matches – in the Southern League, Football League, Premier League, FA Cup and Football League Cup. Southampton have 34 wins to Portsmouth’s 21 and there have been 15 draws.

The first match of all was a friendly at Fratton Park in 1899, Portsmouth winning 2-0. This quickly became a popular scoreline – at least for the supporters in blue – as Pompey won 2-0 twice in three days in April of the following year when the two rivals first played in the Southern League.

Chris Marsden Amdy Faye

Chris Marsden hurdles a challenge from Amdy Faye in 2003


Both clubs were admitted to the Football League’s new Division Three for the 1920-21 season. Saints finished as runners-up, five points behind Crystal Palace, and Pompey were 12th.

These reds and blues have played each other five times in The FA Cup. The first was a First Round tie in 1906, Southampton winning 5-1 at The Dell and finally going out to Liverpool in the quarter finals. Saints won 1-0 at Fratton Park in 1984, 3-0 at The Dell in 1996 and 2-1 at St Mary’s Stadium in 2005 before Pompey achieved their first success at St Mary’s four years ago.

It was a Fifth Round tie and a crowd of 31,375 saw the visitors score three in the last 15 minutes to win 4-1.

That first Cup match, more than a century ago, was expected to attract a huge crowd. As a consequence the local registrars in both towns postponed voting in the 1906 general election until the following week.

By David Barber FA Historian