THE END OF THE ROAD?
This particular journey began for me on 29th April, 1946, when my Dad first took me to The Dell to see Southampton beat Derby County 4-2. I wasn`t far short of my seventh birthday.
The journey came to an end yesterday - 20th September 2008 - when I went to St. Mary`s Stadium to see Southampton draw 0-0 with Barnsley. A couple of months ago I had my 69th birthday.
Throughout all those years, I have followed the fortunes of the Saints. I haven`t always been able to be there in person but since I retired I have been a regular season ticket holder as well as a shareholder in the company which owns the club. I was brought up as part of the Saints community, with its ingrained family values, its sense of belonging and a kind of covenant between the club and its faithful followers. The club has had its ups and downs - FA Cup win in 1976, finishing second only to Liverpool in the old First Division, FA Cup Final in 2003.....but also the heartache of relegation after 27 years in the top flight and all the consequences of that fateful event.
But yesterday I had had enough. Enough of the poor standard of football; enough of being taken for granted by the avaricious, self-serving chancers on the board who have little or no regard for the long, proud history and traditions of the club; enough of paying far too much in terms of money, time and physical and emotional effort for so little reward; and enough of the patronising, glib, lame duck excuses issued by the club`s spin machine to explain how we have come from a secure Premiership position to the brink of oblivion in so short a space of time.
So I`ve decided that`s that. Enough is enough. I`m not doing it any more. And last night, having sat through 95 minutes of stultifying boredom and driven 250 miles, I was glad to be home. My overriding emotion was not one of anger or frustration or even sadness at what has become of my club, but rather I sensed a feeling of relief that I may at last have reached the end of that particular journey. Au revoir, SFC. The song is ended but the memories linger on.