Southampton v Brighton: A 'derby' fans don't care about - Scott McCarthy

Action from Albion's Carabao Cup match with Southampton last month. Picture by PW Sporting Photography
Action from Albion's Carabao Cup match with Southampton last month. Picture by PW Sporting Photography

Brighton and Hove Albion make the journey to Southampton on Monday which means we can all look forward to one of the most ridiculous footballing terms that abounded in the Premier League last season – the South Coast Derby.

We live in a day and age when everything has to be hyped up. Sky Sports are by far and away the worst for this, as anybody who watched their dedicated News channel during the World Cup can attest to.

According to the Rupert Murdoch empire, Sky Sports was the best place for all your World Cup news and coverage. Unless you wanted to actually watch the games of course, in which case you wouldn’t see one minute of action across their platforms.

For reasons nobody seems to fully understand, Sky seem to love showing Brighton v Southampton. Both of last season's Premier League meetings were screened live, as was our visit to St Mary’s in 2009 for Gus Poyet’s first game in charge.

In order to sell it to the nation, they’ve also concocted the idea of the South Coast Derby. In the world of hype, there is some sort of deep simmering hatred between Brighton and Southampton with local bragging rights on offer, and that makes it a much-watch game for the people of Great Britain.

There are of course a few flaws with the idea. The first is that the two cities are 68 miles apart. If that makes it a local derby, then other Premier League games that could also be considered derbies this season include Manchester United v Wolverhampton Wanderers (the Jorge Mendes’ Clients Derby?), Leicester City v Watford (the M1 Derby?) and Liverpool v Huddersfield Town (the German Managers Derby?).

The second flaw is the claim that Brighton and Southampton have some sort of rivalry. For the Albion, the only rivals we care about are Crystal Palace and Saints fans only have eyes for Portsmouth. The closest things have ever got to a rivalry is when Poyet bizarrely tried to claim that Brighton fans should focus on Southampton instead of Palace.

The fire was stoked a little thanks to Nigel Adkins becoming some sort of David Brent character in the season we were battling each other for promotion from League One, saying the Albion would get promoted if we could keep up with his Saints side despite the fact we were nine points clear at the top.

He also produced a quite brilliant analogy about Southampton being Red Rum and coming through to win at the last in the final weeks of the season. The big spending favourites were more like Shergar in that they went missing for most of the campaign.

Both sides ended up winning promotion and Southampton under Adkins continued on that upward trajectory with back-to-back promotions into the Premier League and that was it as far as any “rivalry” was concerned, despite the best efforts of Adkins and Poyet.

The third and final flaw comes with the suggestion that there is anything other than apathy towards each other from the two sets of fans. Brighton don’t care about Southampton and it’s fair to say that the Saints don’t care about us either. Once Monday’s 90 minutes are done and dusted, I’ll be more concerned about who shot Stuart in EastEnders than what Southampton are up to (my money's on Whitney by the way).

Put simply, the term South Coast Derby is a nonsense term and it should be treated as such. Brighton v Southampton is just another game, one that hopefully Chris Hughton will set his stall out to win. Then, we can forget all about South Coast Derbies – until December 22nd at least, when Sky will tell us Brighton are facing Bournemouth in another one.

Just the 100 miles involved in that derby. Maybe Seagulls v Saints being a South Coast Derby isn’t so bad after all.