Saints legend recalls his Pompey memories
When it comes to Lawrie McMenemy’s time as Southampton manager, there is one moment that stands out above all others – the shock win over Manchester United in the 1976 FA Cup final.
But ask any Saints fan who had the fortune of living through the McMenemy era to name their next favourite highlight and there’s every chance that it will involve the 1984 trip to Fratton Park for a fourth-round tie in the very same competition.
With the scores locked at 0-0, and the clock ticking deep into added time, it looked as though a replay at The Dell would be required.
But that all changed in one glorious moment.
Frank Worthington reacted quickest to a looping, loose ball midway inside the Portsmouth half, sending it into the path of David Armstrong in space down the inside-right. Armstrong, in turn, produced a majestically-clipped, first-time cross that was positioned just in between the Pompey backline and their keeper, Alan Knight, dropping into the perfect spot for a charging Steve Moran, who side-footed home in front of a delirious away end.
“The passion on that day was enormous,” recalled McMenemy of the 1-0 win. “We were hanging on at the end looking for a replay and the goal came in the last minute.
“If you’re coming from outside the area, up north and even the Midlands, you think that derby matches are Newcastle vs Sunderland, Manchester United vs Manchester City and Liverpool vs Everton, as well as the London clubs.
“You never think on the south coast there’s any tension or friction like there is in those games, but in my first game back in the ‘70s I couldn’t believe the crowds.”
In McMenemy’s 12 years as Southampton boss, his team only faced Portsmouth on five occasions – but all five ended in victory.
lawrie mcmenemythe first one was a surprise, because i didn't realise the passion. after that, i made sure everybody was aware this game is special.
former southampton manager
An FA Cup and a 100 per cent record against Pompey? It’s no wonder McMenemy’s legendary status at Saints is enshrined forever.
But if there is one disappointment in all that for him, it’s that there were not more south coast derbies.
“Forgetting all the friction and all that, I honestly to this day would like to see both clubs in the same division – the Premier League, obviously,” McMenemy said.
“I think it’s good for the area to have two big games every year, and in my 12 years of management we were only in the same division twice.
“Four of the five games I managed were league games, but no matter where you were in the league, you had to get a result because it meant so much to the supporters.”
McMenemy still remembers his first taste of the derby, and, given it is seven years since the teams last met, the experience will be a new one for players and coaches on both sides.
But McMenemy knows that, if they don’t already realise, they will very quickly become fully aware of how important a game it is.
“The first one was a surprise because I didn’t realise the passion involved, but we got through,” he said. “Every time after that I made sure that everybody was aware this game is special.
“This game means so much to the supporters and I’m sure Ralph is aware and he will realise.”
And as for one piece of advice from McMenemy ahead of Tuesday’s match…
“Don’t think it will be an easy game, because it never is.”