There comes a time when it`s useful to step back and have a careful assessment of the important things in life. One such time came for me late last Saturday night, after I had driven home from Southampton following an afternoon of marked contrasts concerning my `patronage` of my lifelong football club. First, there was the unveling of the superb statue of Ted Bates.....then the football started. It was, frankly, dreadful - both Saints and Coventry scared of losing - no skill - no quality - long, hopeful balls up to ineffective strikers; it was like watching the kind of football I used to play....and no-one in their right mind would ever, ever have paid to see me play.
Today`s defeat at Cardiff leaves Saints one place above the drop zone, facing a daunting last five games with a vastly inferior goal difference and collecting more and more injuries (Jason Euell being today`s casualty.)
But it`s really other things that have come to the fore in my strategic assessment. Considerations such as the distasteful re-introduction of Bradley Wright-Phillips back into the team, despite his (allegedly, even though there is CCTV evidence) appalling behaviour in a Southsea nightclub a while ago (see `EPISODE TWO - COMPOUNDING THE FELONY` which I posted on 9th March.) And then there are the boardroom antics which see a disparate bunch of egocentric attention seekers vying with each other for the privilege (as they see it) of controlling the financial and operational policies of the club and the plc. It`s all very debilitating - for the staff, the fans and, I suspect, the manager and the players, with the inevitable knock-on effect on the field of play.
And so I look at the invitation I have received to renew my season ticket. Now, I have always felt that the season ticket demonstrates a degree of commitment not just to the club but also to myself - to the extent that, having laid out the investment I will therefore be determined to see the season through; something like an insurance policy. But that is to become hidebound by the investment and, given the fact that the football has become the excuse - as opposed to the reason - for me to have my days out with good friends in old haunts, I`ve decided the time has come to continue my support of the club on my terms rather than theirs.
So, no season ticket for me for next season. Instead, I will `cherry pick` the games I go to see when I want to, rather than feeling obliged to go just because I have a season ticket, even though I may not always feel like it. And, given the probability of relegation to League One (really Division 3) I may even get to Yeovil, Swindon and Cheltenham after all. My support for the club as a spectator and a shareholder will, of course, remain....but with a more flexible, selective and enjoyable approach than I have endured in recent times and I suspect that, as a result, the pilgrimages I do make will be that much richer.