Norris: I’ve seen derbies before but nothing like this

David Norris battles it out with Norwich's Ryan Bertrand (right) during his days at Ipswich
David Norris battles it out with Norwich's Ryan Bertrand (right) during his days at Ipswich
Kenny Jackett. Picture: Joe Pepler

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David Norris has witnessed a few derbies in his career.

But the Pompey skipper knows he hasn’t seen anything with the intensity he is going to experience on Sunday.

It will be Norris’ first taste of the south coast derby as he steps into the Fratton Park bearpit this weekend.

It’s taken little time for the 30-year-old to pick up a sense of the depth of feeling which exists between the two clubs’ supporters.

A long and passionate rivalry which goes beyond football and deep into the cities’ psyches, has lot to do with the friction between the fans.

Norris has experienced the East Anglian derby in his time at Ipswich but has quickly detected there is a different feeling to the showdown between Pompey and Southampton.

He promised supporters he and the players know exactly what the game means to them – and they have no intention of letting them down.

Norris said: ‘We’re really looking forward to it. I think the players are starting to realise how big it is.

‘For about the last five or six weeks the fans have been speaking about it more and more.

‘When I’m out and about around town it’s all about this game coming up.

‘The players realise what an important game it is.

‘I’m sure we are going to do all we can not to let the fans down – and get a win.

‘I’m not sure if any of the other derbies I played in quite compare to this one.

‘The Ipswich v Norwich derby is a big rivalry but it doesn’t quite feel the same as this.

‘The feeling I’m getting is there’s a bit more to this game than that.

‘It’s hard to find the right word but it does feel hateful. It’s pretty passionate.

‘When you do stop and speak to fans it’s what they want to talk about. It’s what they are looking forward to.

‘If we can get a result it will lift the mood massively what with what is going on around the club.’

A look at the Championship table tells Pompey they are going into a tough test on Sunday.

It’s Southampton whose star is on the rise as they sit at the head of the division, while the Blues again look to sorting affairs off the pitch.

Norris is aware that must hurt the Fratton faithful with Pompey the more powerful outfit in recent years.

So giving supporters the bragging rights on Sunday assumes greater significance for the midfielder.

Norris said: ‘There were a few cheers on the coach when Blackpool scored against Southampton on Saturday.

‘But this game is for the fans.

‘I think it’s frustrating for the fans that they are doing well.

‘That gives us the added incentive to keep them happy.

‘If we aren’t doing so well and they are below us it’s bad enough but with them doing well it adds a little bit of insult to injury.

‘We know how big it is and we’ll be doing our best to get a result.’

This Sunday will see Southampton return to the scene of the demolition derby for the first time since that wonderful afternoon in 2005.

Fratton Park rocked to the tune of Is This The Way To Amarillo? as Harry Redknapp’s men were smashed 4-1.

It was a defeat they never recovered from as they were relegated on the final day of the campaign.

Norris knows their fervour and passion will have a similar role to play on Sunday.

‘I’m looking forward to the atmosphere,’ he said.

‘The fans will be a big help. The support is going to be massive.

‘It is going to be a big help because when things aren’t going to your way it lifts you with the boost they give.

‘Hopefully it will make it more difficult for them as well.’