Paul Goodale revealed his delight at the return of derby days to Portsmouth, writes Tom Bonnett.
Portsmouth Fury and Portsmouth RN Smugglers are ready to go head-to-head in a competitive fixture for the first time in seven years.
The Solent Area Basketball Association rivals will meet in a division one east match-up at Portsmouth Grammar School tonight (8.15pm).
The Fury were relegated from the top flight in 2011 – but produced an unbeaten campaign last term to earn the division two title.
With it they booked a spot in the first division – alongside Mick Byrne’s Smugglers, who have won the league on four occasions since 2009-10.
The last time the two sides met was in the Solent Cup, with the Fury claiming an 84-65 victory.
It remains a famous game in Fury history – as the already-relegated side overturned a 20-point deficit to knock out the division one champions in the quarter-finals.
Goodale has been part of the Fury set up for more than 20 years and played under Byrne at a national level.
He admitted the derbies often boiled over but revealed a 2015 clash against American sailors from the USS Theodore Roosevelt – for which the Fury and Smugglers joined forces – saw a cooling of relations between the sides.
He said: ‘These fixtures used to be highly physical and very aggressive – with a lot of punch-ups and fights.
These fixtures used to be highly physical and very aggressive – with a lot of punch-ups and fightsPaul Goodale
‘We used to play for bragging rights in the city. That’s what being rivals is all about.
‘We have become come closer over the years. We all play each other quite frequently and all know each other well, so the fighting has stopped.
‘The game against the American navy was a special day. We put any previous differences aside and won by five points.’
Byrne was a National League coach for 36 years and served as a coach of the England team for eight.
He stepped in to coach the Fury in November and guided them to their biggest win of the season – an 88-63 thrashing of the Hamble Hornets.
Byrne will be back in the Smugglers camp tonight, though, with Goodale expecting him to bring all his old tricks out for the contest.
He added: ‘Mick always has an organised team. He will know to focus on Antonio (Santoro) – as he is the provider of most of our scoring.
‘I’m sure he’ll try some mind games as soon as he enters the room. He is definitely going to try to get in our heads.
‘He reads the game better than anyone, having coached at such a high level for more than 50 years.’
Goodale faces a race against time to be fit for the clash after suffering an elbow to the face in Sunday’s clash with Winchester City Royals.
Fury centre George Milis is also set to miss the Portsmouth derby with the unbeaten Smugglers.
Don’t miss The News on Friday for a picture gallery from the clash. The photographs will also be published on our Facebook page Portsmouth Sport – The News.