Tuesday, April 22, 2014

......and he wasn`t wrong!!   This Easter weekend saw stark contrasts in the fortunes of Manchester United and Southampton.   The Saints went away to Villa Park - never an easy place to go to - and came away with a point following an end of season 0-0 draw against Aston Villa, who also seemed content with a point to ease themselves a little further away from relegation worries.  That result, along with Newcastle losing yet again, seems to have cemented eighth place in the Premier League for the Saints.

Manchester United suffered yet another defeat, this time a 2-0 reverse at Everton, but they remain in seventh place in the League, with an eight point advantage over Southampton that would seem to make it difficult for the Saints to catch them with only three games to go.

As a result of being in seventh place, the world has collapsed around United - deep gloom, share price affected on the New York Stock Exchange, outraged sick-as-a-parrot supporters and this morning the dismissal of their Manager David Moyes along with his faithful retainers, Steve Round and Jimmy Lumsden.   

Meanwhile, back down in the beautiful south, as a result of being one place below United in eighth place, us Saints fans are over the moon - it`s as if all our Christmases have come at once and we are enjoying the ride and hoping that our own Manager, Mauricio Pochettino, will stay for a long time.   Our expectations, you see, are realistic and so most of the time we are able to ignore the heartache.  As the old saying goes, for us Saints fans "It`s the hope that kills you," whereas the Bard`s message should strike a chord with devotees of the damned United. 

Monday, April 14, 2014


To Southampton on Saturday to see the Saints unfathomably lose 0-1 to a poor Cardiff City side.   Before the game began, over 30,000 fans, along with the players and match officials, stood for a minute`s silence in memory of the 96 football fans who died in the Hillsborough tragedy 25 years ago.

On my walk from Town Quay to St. Mary`s Stadium, I passed a rather nondescript building that has been empty for some years.  It`s called Canute Chambers and once housed the offices of the White Star Shipping Company, which owned the fateful Titanic.   On the railings outside the building is this rather modest plaque:-

Whilst it is absolutely right for the football family to remember the tragic events at Hillsborough a quarter of a century ago, the good folk of Southampton will never forget the loss of 549 of their citizens 102 years ago tomorrow.

Thursday, March 20, 2014


Well, my impulse purchase of a week`s escape from the madness of the south-east is now just a day or so away and so this is au revoir for now.   We`re off back to Rosevine on Cornwall`s Roseland Peninsula - the signpost above will give a clue as to our whereabouts. You can just see the same coast path sign in the picture below which shows Mrs. Snopper and Barney our Retriever (who still refuses to retrieve) staggering back up the hill to our holiday cottage just 100 yards up from Porthcurnick beach.

The weather forecast isn`t wonderful but it`s one of those places where it won`t matter, as it`s a simple but irresistible pleasure just to be spending some time in such inspiring surroundings.   So, no more rants from me on these pages for a little while and, who knows, it may be entirely possible that you never hear from me ever again?.............

Monday, March 17, 2014


My disenchantment with Manchester United really goes back to 2005 when in the last game of that season, Southampton needed to beat Manchester United at St. Mary`s in order to stave off relegation from the Premier League.   Well, we lost 2-1 and we went down.  I had no complaint about the result - we simply didn`t deserve anything more - but the thing which sealed my contempt for United and all they stand for was the spectacle, at the end of the game, of their captain, Roy Keane, walking round the touchline giving us the thumbs down and waving goodbye.

It summed up Keane, the attitude of their manager, `Sir` Alex Ferguson, the club and all United`s grace and charm and I have never forgotten it, neither will I forgive.  It was cheap, unworthy and totally unnecessary.   And so now, nearly ten years on I notice that the fortunes of both clubs have changed.  As things stand today, Southampton are eighth in the Premier League, just behind United who are seventh.   

But it`s the attitudes again that produce marked contrasts.  Saints fans are over the moon, perfectly happy with most things about their club at the moment - benign, enthusiastic and mercifully generous ownership, inspired management, talented players playing an attractive brand of football.   United fans on the other hand are sick as parrots, unsure of the owners, the management, the players and the future.  

This morning I went to Homebase and on the car radio, BBC Radio Five Live were holding a `discussion` amongst United fans about the present state of their club.   Almost without exception, the clarion calls came in adenoidal Surrey accents for the manager, David Moyes, to be sacked.  Seventh place, you see, is `unacceptable` given their divine right to win everything in sight.

On the last day of this season, Southampton play Manchester United at St. Mary`s and it`s not inconceivable that each team might have to win that game to ensure a place in next season`s Europa League competition.   How sweet it would be if Saints were to win 2-1. If they do, I will refrain from walking around the pitch waving goodbye to the United fans and giving them the thumbs down.  I`ll just enjoy the fact that things have finally come full circle.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Cheltenham Festival is well under way and although I know absolutely nothing about the sport of Kings I have always wondered about the phrase `going nap.`  I`ve never really understood what it meant, although I`ve always assumed it was something to do with doing something five times in a row.  Anyway I found out that it is a pick or recommendation as a good bet to win a contest and originates from the French card game Napoleon.   In that game you have to win all five tricks with the lowest trump played first.

So there we have it.  All very clear, I`m sure.  But I have to confess that I know even less about obscure French card games than I do about the Cheltenham Festival, although I do like the occasional glimpses of Cleeve Hill on the TV.   And I`m not sure how the phrase `to go nap` found its way into horse racing, so I guess it must refer to a jockey, say, having five winning rides in a row or some nag being a good bet to win.   It makes me wonder why it isn`t used more widely, as I can well imagine a number of activities to which the phrase could very appropriately apply.

Anyway, the real point of this ramble is simply to enable me to qualify for `going nap,` as this is the fifth daily post in a row on these pages this week.  How sad is that?  All very exhausting, so if you`ll forgive me I`m off for a nap - give me a shout in five hours or so.

Thursday, March 13, 2014


There was an interesting exchange in the Commons yesterday during Deputy Prime Minister`s Questions, at the end of which Labour`s Deputy, Harriet Harman, accused the Coalition of being "two parties bound together in mutual fear of the electorate."   Nice turn of phrase but it seemed unfortunately timed on a day when Ed Milliband has virtually ruled out a referendum of Britain`s continued membership of the the European Union.

It`s just too boring to recount yet again the number of times we have been promised a referendum by the three main political parties, all of whom seem keen to deny the electorate the chance  despite not having had a say for getting on for half a century.   The cynic in me would suggest that, as ever, the politicians are denying the chance for their own ends rather than the clear wishes of those they purport to represent.

So, no referendum under Labour;  certainly not if the Lib Dems have any say in it;  the Conservatives might hold a referendum in 2017 if they are returned to power in next year`s General Election and if they have succeeded in renegotiating some undisclosed terms of the UK`s relationship with the EU which isn`t going to happen anyway following Angela Merkel`s announcement on her recent visit to London.   The only outfit who are really promising a referendum are UKIP who are unlikely to have much representation, if any, in the corridors of power anyway.

I suggest we just give up, accept that we should carry on paying £millions to the EU each and every day, let them decide most of the laws by which we are governed and not question the appalling waste of taxpayers` money or the unaccountability of their hopeless financial controls; but instead have a referendum about whether we should continue our association with the Eurovision Song Contest.   That`ll teach `em to meddle in the stuff that really matters!   Boom Bang a Bang Bang!!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Expensive business, elections.   I heard the other day that the proposed referendum in Brighton about putting the Council Tax up by more than 2% was going to cost over £100,000, so goodness knows what the cost might be for running all the elections across the country - Parish Councils, District Councils, County Councils, General Elections, EU Parliament Elections and so on - but it must run into £millions.

But we may have thought it was a price worth paying to secure a squeaky clean democratic process;  so it`s more than disappointing to discover, thanks to Judge Mawrey`s research, that the present system of postal voting on demand may, in all probability, lead to unscrupulous vote rigging in certain parts of the country.   Then there is the absurdity of having the choice whether to vote or not.  Now that may be a long held matter of personal choice but recent very low turn-outs such as the election of Police Commissioners do call into question the validity of the outcome.

Now North Korea have sorted it out.  In their recent elections to the North Korean Parliament it`s reported that Kim Jong-Un was elected by 100% of the voters with 100% of eligible voters casting their votes.   The fact that he was the only candidate on the ballot paper can`t really disguise his enormous popular appeal, especially as there was at least an element of choice in the proceedings. The ballot papers gave the choice of voting for Kim Jong-Un or voting against, although the requirement to cast a `no` vote in a quite separate polling booth overseen by armed guards may perhaps have influenced some voters in their choice.

Perhaps, on balance, our very expensive and rather flawed system has its advantages after all.