Pompey derby days roll back the years

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Not since the Second World War has football in the south known anything like it.

But next season Pompey face six derbies.

The Blues, Brighton, Southampton and Reading have all enrolled for the Championship for the 2011-12 campaign.

That line-up was decided following Reading’s 4-2 play-off final defeat to Swansea on Monday.

Effectively, that means there will be 18 points up for grabs from local rivals next term.

Not in the Football League’s post-war history has there been such a heavy presence of southern clubs in the same division.

Back in the 2002-03 Championship campaign, notably there were three of them alongside each other.

Brighton and Reading were among Pompey’s rivals as Harry Redknapp’s men stormed to the title and clinched a place in the Premier League.

Now there will be four involved in the Championship campaign which kicks off on August 6.

Such is the rarity of that feat, the last time it happened was in the 1944-45 season.

Even then that was down to the forced reorganisation of the Football League during World War Two.

During that time, most football competitions – such as the FA Cup – were abandoned, with regional leagues set up instead.

One of those was the Totals Football League South, which saw Pompey competing in 1944-45 alongside Aldershot, Reading, Brighton and Southampton.

That division also contained the likes of Fulham, Brentford, Charlton, Spurs and Clapton Orient.

The Blues’ squad featured future division one champions Reg Flewin, Peter Harris and Bert Barlow.

In addition, regulars included triumphant members of the 1939 FA Cup side such as Jimmy Guthrie, Jock Anderson, Harry Walker, Lew Morgan, Bill Rochford and Cliff Parker. Despite their unquestionable strength, Pompey could only finish a modest 12th out of 15 that season.

However, five of their 11 victories came in derbies, including doubles over Southampton and Aldershot.

They were less successful against Brighton, though, who inflicted the double including an 8-0 defeat in the final match of the season.

Outside left Parker – who was among the scorers in the 1939 FA Cup final – finished as leading scorer with 12 goals in 34 games, while Harris tallied nine.

The following season saw just Southampton remain as their local rivals in League South.

The Football League was soon back in full swing again in 1946-47, ensuring never again would the south witness four of their teams in the same division.

That is until now.

It wouldn’t actually be until Pompey dropped out of division one in 1959-60 that derbies would return to Fratton Park.

That was when Brighton were league rivals during a campaign which saw the Blues finish a lowly 20th.

The following campaign Southampton had joined the duo, only for Pompey to be relegated to division three after finishing 21st.

Since then there have been nine occasions when three of the clubs have shared the same league.

But only once has that happened since 1989-90 – the aforementioned 2002-03 season.

That season was also the last time Pompey played Brighton in the league, on January 18, 2003, at the Withdean Stadium.

The subsequent 1-1 draw saw Svetoslav Todorov cancel out Bobby Zamora’s opener, and a certain Yakubu Ayegbeni make his debut as a substitute.

Of course, Blues fans don’t need reminding of their most recent league encounter with Saints on April 24, 2005.

That was the famous Lomana Lualua match when they sent their fierce rivals on the way to Premier League relegation with a memorable 4-1 Fratton Park hammering.

Now there will be more opportunity than ever to lord it over local rivals.

And also ample occasions to suffer despair at the hands of the neighbours.