Steve Perryman has praised the ‘synergy’ between Exeter City and Plymouth Argyle ahead of Saturday’s derby, but insists it will not stop them trying to prove themselves as Devon’s top dog.
The two rivals clash at Home Park on Saturday in just their second league match of the 2014/15 campaign.
Tempers have occasionally threatened to boil over on the pitch during certain encounters between the two sides, but director of football Perryman insisted off-field relations were rather more cordial.
However, he did admit that the incentive of each side proving themselves as the best team in the county was important to both sets of fans.
“It is an important match for both clubs, who both have a certain stature to maintain in the local area,” Perryman explained.
“Of course you want to beat your local rivals, show yourself in a good light and let them really know that you are still around.
“We actually get on very well as clubs and there is a nice synergy between the two of us, although the supporters won’t know about that.
“People talk about bragging rights – although I don’t like that term – but it is important to supporters to be seen as the best team in Devon.”
Quite who holds that mantle at the moment is perhaps open for debate, with City winning both derby encounters last season but with the Pilgrims finishing five points and six places above Paul Tisdale’s men.
In the first encounter between the two sides last season in October, goals from Arron Davies, Alan Gow and Scot Bennett saw the Grecians win 3-1 at St James’s Park.
It was their first league win over their biggest rivals since April 2011, when James Dunne scored in a 1-0 success.
In late March, City recovered from a goal down to come out on top 2-1, regrouping after Reuben Reid’s penalty on the stroke of half-time with goals from Liam Sercombe and Eliot Richards to claim all three points.
That win pulled them seven points clear of the drop zone and inflicted some serious damage to the Pilgrims’ hopes of making the play-offs.
“Interestingly, we won both games against them last season but finished below them, so where that sits in so-called bragging rights I am not sure,” Perryman continued.
“When we beat them in the first game, we were riding high and it was not such an unexpected result.
“In the second one, they were riding high and striving to the play-offs and we were striving to avoid relegation.
“At the end of the season, you do get strange results and people may have been a bit surprised by that one last season due to what it meant for the home team and them going a goal up, but it did not stop us from recovering and winning it.”
As a player, Perryman was no stranger to high-pressure derbies himself.
The former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder – who made a record 854 first team appearances for the North London club – was part of the Spurs side which lost 1-0 to arch rivals Arsenal in 1971.
That result saw the Gunners clinch the league title before going on to win the FA Cup and secure the club’s first double, and it is one Perryman has not forgotten.
He said: “I have played in a derby with Arsenal when, if they won that game, they would secure the first part of the double – and they did.
“They went on to win at Wembley a few days later to complete the double, so you can imagine the significance of that one.
“I was involved in one in Japan at a local level which was absolutely huge and used to get about 60,000 fans, so that was special too.
“But the end-of-season derby last year was as important as any though due to the potential of the play-offs for Plymouth and the possible relegation for us.
“It would really have put a nail in our coffin if we had lost that, so that was even more significant than normal.”