Rickie Lambert recalls his south coast derby memories
“It was brilliant to play in but one thing I would say to the Saints players now is win. It doesn’t matter how you play to be honest, just win the game because you’ll be legends in this city if you do.”
When Rickie Lambert recalls the special, stirring feeling of playing in a south coast derby, a tinge of regret is just as prominent as the memories that bring a smile to his face in expressing its undoubted importance.
It is seven years since the last meeting, both of which were draws that included two last-gasp Portsmouth equalisers. They are moments that still rankle with the Saints legend, but the feeling of scoring at Fratton Park? One of the best.
“The two in the league, it was brilliant. A lot had happened at Southampton and a lot had happened at Portsmouth. It was kind of like times were changing.
“Going to the ground at Portsmouth was brilliant actually. There were a lot of tense vibes going on and you knew it was going to be a tight game. You knew they were going to be up for it as I think they were not in the best of positions in the league.
“We were flying high but we knew that league positions weren’t really going to count on that day, and they didn’t.
“They played quite well actually and gave us a really hard game. I managed to score with a header, which was one of my best moments in a Saints shirt.
“I thought it was going to be the winner, to be honest, as I thought we’d kept them quiet. They didn’t really have many chances and then out of the blue, they scored a header in the last minute. To talk about it, to this day, is devastating.
“I still blame Guly! I think we went out after the game and I pulled him in the corner to say how he should have headed the ball!”
rickie lambertthere wasn't any players in our team or their team that shied away from the challenge. every player was up for it.
on the south coast derby
It is testament to the breathless and brilliant nature of a fiercely passionate occasion that despite 117 goals in red and white, that one stands out.
This time around the teams are two leagues apart, but the intensity of these matches can often be a leveller.
For Lambert, his message to the current squad would be to stand tall and let their quality rise to the surface. After all, someone could etch their name into Saints folklore…
“There wasn’t any players in our team or their team, to be fair to them, that shied away from the challenge. Every player was up for it and there was some battles in those games.
“It’s very intense fierce and the nerves beforehand will be there, especially when they see what the crowd is going to be like in Portsmouth.
“I remember the atmosphere being unbelievable in all the games. That’s what I played football for those atmospheres.”