Forget Southampton, now Portsmouth’s where it’s at

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Fortunes have certainly been very different for the football teams in Portsmouth and Southampton – but they have for our cities too. Look how Portsmouth has overtaken Southampton as Hampshire’s premier destination.

Some bright spark unfurled a banner on the bridge over junction seven of the M27 as Pompey fans headed to the recent derby match in the ‘bubble’.

‘Welcome to civilisation’ it read. It was in response to the ‘welcome to hell’ banner which greeted Saints fans when they came to Fratton Park back in December.

Clever stuff indeed, but the joke really is on whoever placed that banner on the bridge. Twenty-five years ago, maybe I would have agreed with them. But not today.

As a child on the Isle of Wight, trips to the mainland were so exciting. But Portsmouth was a very dark, drab place to visit in the 1980s. The Tricorn, Charlotte Street and Commercial Road seemed quite forbidding places.

Southampton seemed more open, green and friendly. Above Bar and the Bargate were very much more pleasant places to be.

But this has all changed. Southampton has become overcrowded, with retail outlets squashed into one small area. There’s far too much hustle and bustle, long traffic queues and lots of impatience.

Friends who would stick up for the place are now looking to get out and live in the suburbs.

Going out, you may not think Guildhall Walk in Portsmouth on a Saturday night is your cup of tea, but I think I’d prefer the ‘Mucky Duck’ to a night out on Southampton’s London Road and Bedford Place.

In contrast to Southampton, Portsmouth is a cosmopolitan city that continues to thrive.

A day at Gunwharf Quays, strolling around the shops, eating in the restaurants there and taking a trip up the Spinnaker Tower, is very enjoyable.

With the Tricorn consigned to history, Commercial Road has taken on a new lease of life. Meanwhile there’s chic Southsea and the seafront.

So although our football team may be entertaining the likes of MK Dons next season, the city is flying high.