ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER WORLD
Saturday, May 26, 2007
ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER WORLD
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
So that`s it. Saints` defeat at Derby last night saw a dramatic climax to a long, long season of ups and downs in the Championship. Having fought their way into the play-offs, Saints went to Pride Park last evening trailing 2-1 from the home leg of the semi-final which was played out last Saturday and which, thanks to the family wedding, I was forced to miss.
Against all the odds, including key players missing through injuries sustained on Saturday and one or two unexpected selections by manager George Burley, nevertheless Saints won the game 3-2, bringing the aggregate of the two legs of the semi-final to 4-4. So it was decided on penalties - and we missed two of ours, whilst Derby didn`t. Seems oddly bizarre that a season of 46 league games, cup matches and play-off semi-finals can come down to the lottery of a penalty shoot-out, but that`s the way of the football world.
Having got over the initial disappointment, my overriding emotion this morning is one of immense pride in my club, the players for their performance last night and the fans - 5,000 of them at Derby - for the passionate support given to the team. It feels good to be part of that family and I seek no recriminations for last night`s narrow failure but look forward to next season with renewed optimism. One thing`s for sure - I will carry on enjoying my days at St. Mary`s among good friends and being part of a family friendly club with traditional values.
There`s an old saying, "Show me a good loser and I`ll show you a loser." Well, we lost last night and we were good losers.....but we enhanced our self-respect and maintained our pride in our club and our companionship. Maybe we didn`t lose so much after all?
Monday, May 14, 2007
Saturday, May 12, 2007
SING LITTLE BIRDIE
Yes, folks, tonight is the night we`ve all been waiting for, as the Eurovision Song Contest hits tv screens across the continent and beyond. I`m experiencing a day of mixed emotions, but one which is proving fortuitous in my personal attempts to avoid having to sit through what must surely be the most expensively pointless exercise since the invention of television.
Now, these are not sour grapes that the UK entries in recent years have come absolutely nowhere - indeed, there is a degree of credibility gained from achieving a score of nul points, which we managed a while back - but an acknowledgement of the fact that those countries silly enough to take the whole thing seriously enough to win it are then stuck with having to stage the following year`s contest. If we ever win it again (God forbid) the picture above would be the ideal venue.
And yet, I still remember when it was something of a novelty and a source of some pride to do well. Who can forget Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnson warbling `Sing Little Birdie` so tunefully in 1959 that the refrain stays with me even now?
We have a family wedding to attend this afternoon, followed by a reception this evening, which will mean that I will miss the Eurovision Song Contest......and never has a wedding reception been more welcome.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
NEXT PLEASE !!
So, Herr Blair has finally done the decent thing and announced his resignation. About time too. I remember when Gordon Strachan announced that he would be leaving the manager`s job at Southampton at the end of the season around January time. Everyone knew then that his influence on team affairs would diminish for the rest of that season and so it proved. It has been the same with Blair - for months we have all known he would be going - for months there has been a growing limbo at the heart of Government and, frankly, it`s no way to run a railroad.
I hesitate to descend into the grimy world of politics but a couple of things struck me about Blair`s announcement. The first was the media frenzy that it created - now of course the fact of his going should be reported and the resignation speech should be given the coverage it deserves, but there has been - and will continue to be - almost endless discussion in all the media about the legacy he might leave behind. As if nothing else is happening in the world - missing girl in Portugal; continued violence in Iraq; interest rates climbing to 5.5%; cost of ID cards soaring to £5billion (buried on a good day for burying bad news) ......and all put aside so that all the media can concentrate on Blair`s announcement.
I have been amazed at the amount of pseudo-analysis of Blair`s ten years in office, which is all about opinion, of course - and one man`s take is as good or as bad as any other`s - and it may be a good idea not to turn on the tv or listen to the radio or even buy a newspaper for the next seven weeks to avoid having to find out what others` opinions may be when, after all, the only opinion that really matters is your own. I have a friend on the Isle of Wight who went for days without knowing anything about what was going on in the wider world....and he was much the better for it.
As to Tone, Cherie and the rest of the the assorted acolytes, the quicker they are all consigned to history (preferably without a glowing legacy) the better.....the only trouble is that Gordon (Clunking Fist) Brown - yet another Scot to rule my country - will enter stage left and become the new focus of the opinion-formers and the whole thing will start all over again.
Monday, May 07, 2007
Yesterday was one of those unforgettable days that only come around once in a while. Of course, there was a very important football match for Southampton, who needed to win against Southend United by a bigger margin than Stoke City might win against Queens Park Rangers, in order to finally secure a place in the end of season play-offs and have a chance of promotion back to the Premiership. And win they did - by 4-1, whilst Stoke could only manage a 1-1 draw at Loftus Road.
That takes care of the bald statistics and the result, which was marred only by a serious injury to Saints` veteran centre back and captain, Claus Lundekvam. But quite apart from that, the day was memorable for at least three other things, which will stay in the memory.
First, the tribute paid by the whole of the 32,080 people packed into St. Mary`s Stadium to their departed hero, player and manager, Alan Ball. There have been tributes to him over the recent past, most notably the service of remembrance in Winchester Cathedral, but yesterday Alan was remembered by people who knew him as one of their own....and it was breathtaking in its sincerity and its appreciation.
Next, the atmoshpere inside the stadium was the best I can remember for some years - a sell-out crowd bedecked in club colours, loudly spurring the team on to the much-needed victory and quite spontaneously standing as one before the final whistle to applaud the team and the memory of Alan Ball.
But most of all, I will probably remember yesterday for the part played in all of this by the visiting supporters of Southend United.
Now, a couple of weeks ago, I was justifiably critical of Leeds United`s visit to St. Mary`s (see An Appropriate Decline below) and I will not taint these musings by referring any more to that experience which was memorable for all the wrong reasons, except perhaps to mention that Leeds have now thankfully been consigned to the third tier of English football and good riddance.
Yesterday, thanks to the Southend supporters, my faith in the football family has been well and truly restored. They were simply magnificent; passionate in their support of their team, yes of course, but also respectful of the tributes to Alan Ball, gracious in defeat, impeccably behaved, friendly, decent people and fully deserving of the respect shown to them by the home supporters.
Such a shame that Southend`s own relegation, along with Leeds and Luton, will mean that we will not have the genuine pleasure of their company next season, for they are true football fans who can show a lot of other clubs just how enjoyable occasions like yesterday can be. Such is the rapport between the two sets of fans that Southend are welcome back to St. Mary`s at any time.......and it`s been a long, long time since I`ve said that about any other club.