Wednesday, April 29, 2009

BARNEY`S FIRST TRIUMPH...
Just got back from a packed Wrotham Village Hall where Barney and his puppy mates took their bronze award test in the Kennel Club`s Good Citizen Dog Scheme.
We really hadn`t expected him to pass as he was six months old only yesterday and has shown a stubborn aversion to some of the things included in the test, notably laying down for a whole minute without moving and wandering in and out of other dogs without resorting to unprovoked attacks. Mrs. Snopper has worked hard on overcoming Barney`s `shortcomings` and has herself been revising the oral test for owners that goes with the award, so it was a fitting reward to see him do his stuff and pass each part of the test.
At the end, Barney was presented with his first rosette and next week he`ll get the certificate to go with it. I just hope he doesn`t have to make an acceptance speech or we could be there all night.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009



COUNCIL TAX SHOCK
Yet another interesting `official communication` has arrived today on my doormat. The initial impact of it`s receipt can perhaps be judged by the picture (right.) You see, it was a letter from the local Valuation Officer going on about the Council Tax Band my house is in. It seems that the original valuation goes back as long as April 1991 - 18 years ago - and was translated into me paying Council Tax based on my house being valued within Band F. Over the years the tax has risen to the point whereby this year I`m paying well over £2,000 for this year`s `local services.`
So at first glance the Valuation Officer`s letter seemed to herald yet more glum news. However, on closer reading it states that the Valuation Officer has `had to review the banding of the property and finds that the council tax band is incorrect and needs to be decreased.` The change will come into effect in a year`s time and the local council is being informed so that they can prepare the revised bill and send it to me.
I`m told that I have six months to `challenge` the Valuation Officer`s decision. Fat chance. Why would I want to do that? Presumably I could claim that it should be decreased even more, but I`m a great believer in quitting while I`m ahead. In reality, I imagine the amount saved will be gobbled up by the annual increase in council tax anyway, so I don`t think my life will change dramatically. It was a nice surprise though.

Sunday, April 26, 2009



LICENCE TO STICK AROUND...
An interesting `official communication` landed on my doormat the other day. It was from The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, which is "an executive agency of the Department of Transport." It contained a Driving Licence renewal application and told me that my current licence ends at midnight on 18th July 2009.
That`s because I will be 70 on 19th July. I`ve had a driving licence since 1957, when I passed the driving test at the second attempt. The first test was held on a Tuesday morning in Maidstone, which was - and still is - market day in the town. In those days, before by-passes and motorways, the town`s traffic on a Tuesday morning was always clogged up and so it proved when I had my mid-morning test. After creeping out of the test centre and successfully joining the rest of the Tonbridge Road traffic, there we sat for a good 20 minutes before creeping off for a few more yards and stopping again. I failed because it had not been possible to do enough driving in the half-hour alotted and so I was given a free re-test a few days later (not Tuesday.)
Since then, by some miracle of fortune, I have had an unblemished driving career - no points on the licence, no convictions for anything, no finger-wagging police involvement....and I would like it to continue that way. So, I`ll struggle my way through the renewal application, which might well take the three months notice I`ve been given, as it involves all kinds of things like `proof of identity.` Now, I know who I am but I need to find some documentation to prove it to the DVLA. I haven`t got a passport, I`ve mislaid my birth certificate, I don`t receive any `benefits,` so I might have a problem. (Incidentally, why would they need a birth certificate when they know I`ve been born? They know I`ve been born `cos they`ve written to me.)
I`ve also got to provide a photograph to very precise specifications - no smiling, no hair across the eyes, no hat on, glasses off - so my George Clooney lookalike photo will not do. But I suspect already that the biggest test will be when I come to fill in the bit that asks for `country you were born in.` I`m going to put `England` and I`ll wait to see if that gets recognised by officialdom. There are boxes to tick if I want to donate any organs and searching questions about my eyesight and any health problems. I wonder if I should declare being a Saints fan.
From where the DVLA is sitting, I guess they think the end is near and the final curtain has to be faced. But I have no intention of leaving just yet; there are still so many roads to travel, so much of this green and pleasant land to explore and so much more driving to do, even if it will take me three months to fill in the application.

Friday, April 24, 2009



".....and now, the end is near and so we face the final curtain......"


Ten points deducted for wanton boardroom incompetence has finally relegated Southampton FC to the third tier of English football where they last played 49 years ago. There was talk of appealing against the Football League`s decision but I feel that to do so would be wrong.
How would we feel if we were by some miracle to escape relegation by winning the appeal, only to consign some other club to the fate that awaits us, resulting in yet more damage to our already tarnished reputation. I know it may be an old fashioned view of the world, but I can see little satisfaction to be gained in dishonour, so I would prefer we accepted the punishment, took it on the chin and moved on at the end of the day. To be fair.
And so I`m off tomorrow to what might conceivably be the last ever game played by the Saints at St. Mary`s. Thus, a circle will be complete, for I well recall going to the very first game ever played there - a friendly against Spanish side Espanyol. Given the parlous state of the club - I`m told, for example, that £250,000 is needed in the next couple of weeks just to pay the staff and fulfil our final fixture away at Nottingham Forest and if we fail to do that then liquidation (such an evocative word) will surely follow - this could well be the final curtain. The fat lady has sung her mournful tune, the creditors are at the gate and who knows what the next few days will bring?
The only hope seems to be that from an original list of 35 `interested parties,` there are only two who can be considered serious contenders and they are currently in ` due diligence,` going through the books and deciding whether to pursue their interest. In these dreadful economic times, how anyone in their right mind can even think of buying a failed football club with mountainous debts who, if they live to play another day, will begin next season minus ten points in the third tier of English football, is quite beyond me. But I guess there might, just might, be someone out there with more money than sense. It sure ain`t me.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009



IT`S A DOG`S LIFE....

Yes, I know, there have been more flattering photos of Barney, but this time he has good reason to be flaked out after yet another hard shift at his puppy training class. You see, he has been practicing hard for his bronze award exam which will be next Wednesday.
For some time he has been going through his paces - recalls, walking nicely on the lead, waiting to be allowed through doorways, laying down for a minute without getting up and all the other things retrievers are supposed to be able to do at this stage - even if one of them is not to lay on your back displaying your bits to the world. The good news is that he seems to really enjoy his classes and meeting up with his retriever puppy friends and, to be fair, he is coming along nicely.
Trouble is, it all depends on how he will feel next Wednesday, especially when faced with a stranger in the form of a `top judge` examiner from the Golden Retriever Society. But, as we say in the lyrical vocabulary of football, que sera, sera and if you give it a hundred percent then all you can do is hope it`s meant to be. The really good news is that at this stage puppies can pass the bronze exam but they can`t fail it - in a nice gesture to canine sensitivities, if they don`t do too well, then they are simply judged `not ready.` A feeling I know only too well.


DON`T PANIC, MR MAINWARING.
Oh, OK then - panic.

As if the endless saga of MPs expenses wasn`t enough, we have now been treated to a tv performance by Prime Minister Gordon Brown that rivals that of Captain Mainwaring in Dad`s Army. It seems likely that Liam Byrne, the quasi-Orwellian Cabinet Office Minister and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster - but in reality the Corporal Jones to Brown`s Mainwaring, put Brown up to appearing on YouTube to announce that he was going to take some decisive action.

The action involves bringing in hasty, ill-considered `proposals` to curb the excesses of MPs expenses in advance of two things. The first in the coming of July, a date dreaded by MPs as that is when full details of the receipts they have filed for their expenses become public knowledge (always assuming that in this bastion of democratic virtue the idea of `editing` them before publication would never occur to anyone.) The second is the considered work to be undertaken by the Committee on Standards in Public Life, who under the chairmanship of Sir Christopher Kelley are expected to take whatever time it takes to come up with sensible, workable, pragmatic, confidence-building, acceptable proposals to overhaul the current wholly discredited system.

Now, in the face of such threats, Brown has put forward measures that he expects Parliament to vote on next week, thus diverting any attention away from more pressing matters, quite possibly including today`s gloomy Budget - or it may even be an attempt to `bury` the expenses row in the furore that will doubtless follow the Budget once its full implications are known. Either way, it`s blatant politicking by Brown, which is bad enough. But what has made it so much worse is the way he announced it - the scripted smiles, the earnest twitches, the inane grins, the quasi-Orwellian Byrne-inspired dictatorship - all of which add up to the impossibility of taking anything Brown ever says seriously and adding to the disrepute, contempt even, that our present Government has secured for themselves.

Time to panic, Mr. Mainwaring.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


SHEEP MAY SAFELY GRAZE
The kerfuffle about the state of the pitch at the new £750million Wemberley Stadium takes me back to my own playing days and the pitches I used to encounter as a box-to-box midfield dynamo with a good engine and an eye for a pass. But first, I was amused by `Sir` Alex Ferguson`s pitiful contention that, having seen the Wemberley pitch just before last Saturday`s FA Cup semi-final, he decided to field a team bereft of no less than eight first choices. Nothing to do with the pitch, of course. Everything to do with Ferguson`s scant regard for the competition. But I must not wind myself up to another rant.
Instead, I will look back half a century to the days when I trotted out each Saturday in the green and white squared shirts of Maidstone Dolphins or the fetching mustard of Platt FC. It was, of course, in the changing room at Platt that Mrs. Snopper and I first met. She was not, contrary to popular myth, playing as our ball winning midfield destroyer, neither was she there to give the team the benefit of her extensive physio experience. No, she and her mate used to make the half-time tea and dole out the half oranges which would sustain us for the second half. To be fair, her brother and cousin were in the team too so there was a family connection giving at least some legitimacy to her presence as our eyes met for the first time across that steamy all male domain.
I recall at least one occasion when playing in the far flung reaches of the rural hinterland of mid-Kent when, quite literally, a herd of sheep was driven off the field they had occupied for the week before, so that we could play our football. Each `move` in the game was a series of dainty sidesteps to avoid the obvious remnants of the sheep`s occupation and there was never any question of falling over on that surface, so tackling was reduced to a kind of token gesture rather than a determined effort to win the ball. I`m pretty sure that game was against Frittenden and finished 6-6, which seemed fair enough.
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As we left the ground at the end of the game, the sheep could be seen being coaxed back on to their own domain, clearly upset by the disruption but enjoying the compensation of finding the odd copy of the Reader`s Digest (they made very good shin pads,) bits of orange peel and stimulating wafts of linament drifting on the winter air. I really don`t know what there is to moan about at Wemberley.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY 2 -
SOUTHAMPTON 0
Sometimes, all you need is a picture to paint a thousand words......so here it is. :-(

Saturday, April 18, 2009


BEYOND THE PALE...

It`s an odd phrase. The paling fence is significant as the term pale came to mean the area enclosed by such a fence and later just the figurative meaning of 'the area that is enclosed and safe'. So, to be 'beyond the pale' was to be outside the area accepted as 'home.' So what possessed `Sir` Alex Ferguson to use this phrase in his latest rant against Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez? Did Ferguson know what he was saying? Did he understand the true meaning?
More to the point, what on earth was he doing even commenting about Benitez, especially in the week when Liverpool had to endure not only defeat on the pitch against Chelsea but also the anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster which saw them lose 96 of their fans? It seems that Ferguson cannot keep quiet about anything. I suspect he believes he is being clever, upping the ante in the war of words between the two, gaining a psychological advantage for the battles ahead.
Well, maybe, were it not for a couple of problems. The first is his delivery. He is one of life`s mumblers. Sometimes it`s just possible to discern what he is mumbling about, but not often. He mumbles in a thick Caledonian drawl, which cries out for sub-titles and in the process he loses any semblence of credibility his oafish ramblings might have gained. Second, after the interpreters have done their stuff, we can examine what he was trying to say and it seems, once again, he fires off random mumbles about anything and everything. Apart from Benitez, he has had a go at Wemberly being used for this weekend`s FA Cup semi-finals and this comes on top of a whole string of attacks he has made on other clubs, the FA, referees, the media and anything and anyone who he takes a dislike to.
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Laughing stock
It is, frankly, astonishing that the FA have not taken more firm disciplinary action against him for a pick and mix variety of offences such as ungentlemanly conduct, improper conduct and bringing the game into disrepute. I suppose in a way it is sad that someone who has had so much success as a football manager has become, through his own shortcomings, such a laughing stock as a man. I look forward to the day when he decides to step beyond the Old Trafford `area that is enclosed and safe` for him and goes himself beyond the pale, mumbling his way towards the obscurity which he so richly deserves.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


ALL ABOARD....

As our own Members of Parliament are continuing their seventeen day Easter break, attention has turned to the latest outrage to beset the taxpayers of the European Parliament.
Buried away in the internal documentation of the EU, it has emerged that the 785 `members` have awarded themselves yet more eye-watering allowances. On top of yesterday`s announcement that they have awarded themselves a 20% salary increase (while the rest of the `employed` world have to settle for an average of 1.5%) today comes news that they have invented a new `allowance` for themselves which pays them whilst they are travelling.
From June, MEPs will be able to claim up to £257 per journey under a `duration allowance` which reimburses them for the time spent travelling between their homes and European Parliament buildings. This will be in addition to all the other allowances they get, including free business class travel to anywhere in the EU and a `distance allowance` which is supposed to cover the costs of meals, taxis and any other expenses incurred whilst they are travelling.
A couple of things, apart from the obvious, occur to me. The first is that these things are a million miles away from the original concept of the EU, which was basically formed by the German/French axis to stop them going to war with each other and the rest of Europe. Konrad Adenauer, one of the driving forces behind the EU `project,` foresaw it as the only way to achieve supremacy having failed twice to achieve it by military means. The more that self-serving `initiatives` like this one come in by the back door, the more the needs and wellbeing of the people are ignored, the more likely that goal is to be achieved. On a more pragmatic point, if there are 785 MEPs to cover the whole of Europe, isn`t it about time we looked at why it takes as many as 658 Members of our own Parliament to represent the good folk of just this country?
It seems more and more to be the case that members of Parliament, either national or European, inhabit a parallel universe where the taxpayers are there simply to be taken for granted and squeezed relentlessly so that a comfortable lifestyle can be guaranteed in the corridors of power, especially in Brussels. Maybe somewhere in a distant galaxy far, far away, there is a system whereby the taxpayers have elected representatives whose first and most important function is to do the representing, rather than the blatant, shameless nest feathering that goes on down here.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009


RIGHT ARM UNPREDICTABLES...
The English county cricket season starts today and it seems to bring with it a change of perspective. OK, so the world is still in a mess after a frantic winter of discontent, but for those, like me, who love the game, cricket brings an altogether different outlook. Well, at least it used to. I loved playing the game with its pace of life, its gentility, its respect for opponents and officials and the long, summer evenings whose peace was only disturbed by the sound of leather upon willow. In recent years, I`ve not seen as much cricket as I would have liked but I hope to see a bit more this season, possibly at Canterbury or the Hampshire Rose Bowl or even at Lord`s, who have sent me their splendid catalogue for the season.
But I wonder whether professional cricket is as it used to be. I wonder if circumstances are forcing it more and more into a purely commercial, results-drive business - like football, where the rich get richer and the poor fall by the wayside. The advent of money-spinning ventures such as 20/20, the 40 and 50-overs games seem to have captured the public imagination in a way that the county four-day matches have failed to do. But in the process, I worry that the essential spirit of the game is being lost.
Even on village greens, the game is played in competitive leagues with the antics and attitudes displayed in the professional game picked up and mirrored. There used to be - maybe there still is - a whimsical convention of telling the umpire what sort of bowler you were when you first came on to bowl so that he, in turn, could alert the batsman at the other end. "Right arm unpredictables," was my accurate announcement, for that is how I bowled. Maybe the game these days has become too predictable with too much at stake. And maybe I long for the unpredictability that used to be the hallmark of the cricket I used to know.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


SINGING THE BLUES...
As you can see, the fat lady is singing at last. Yesterday`s televised humiliation saw Saints lose 3-0 to Wolves with the game being over really after 17 minutes. So that`s it. Saints must surely now be relegated to the third tier of English football for the first time in 49 years.
There`s no point in going on about the football, but yesterday`s events have thrown up one or two `interesting` things. For example, Wolves first goal was scored after 41 seconds by Sam Vokes, who is a lifelong Saints fan and was signed by Wolves from Bournemouth earlier in the season. When I walk from Town Quay to St. Mary`s Stadium, I pass a small park on the way. It`s called the Vokes Memorial Park....and I wonder if there is any connection with Sam. Interesting.
I then got to wonder about the fat lady and her singing. It seems that this phrase refers to Wagner`s Ring cycle - a lengthy opera finally concluding in a stirring aria sung by a heavy-set woman dressed like a warring valkyrie. The Ring cycle is a set of four separate operas (lasting about 15 hours), in which the final scene includes Brünnhilde singing, and then riding onto Siegfried's funeral pyre. The set collapses and the entire cycle ends up in the Rhine river, where it started. Sounds like a fitting allegory of Saints` season. The "fat lady" is often illustrated with a horned helmet, a spear, possibly a shield, and possibly blonde braids. One thing`s for sure - she ain`t dressed in red and white stripes but if she was, she would probably be singing the blues. Interesting.

Friday, April 10, 2009



IMPROPER CONDUCT
This was the scene in stoppage time at the end of last Saturday`s encounter with Charlton Athletic, which ended in a 3-2 defeat for Saints. There were lots of verbals flying around between Saints Head Coach, Mark Wotte (in shirtsleeves) and his Charlton counterpart Phil Parkinson, himself a former Saints apprentice.
The referee had little choice but to send the two malcontents to the stands and I see today that both have been charged by the Football Association with improper conduct. Now, given that Charlton seem doomed to relegation, despite Parkinson apparently clinging on to the improbable notion that they might still survive, and given that Saints go into this afternoon`s televised match away at table topping Wolves having failed to win any of their previous six games, it somehow seems unneccesary for the FA to level such charges, for the respective performances of both teams this season must surely take the term `improper conduct` to another level. I won`t be watching this afternoon. Quite apart from it being too nice a day to be indoors, such tv exposure should really only be allowed after the watershed.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009



THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME?
Yesterday, I had the very real pleasure of a most convivial lunch with two good friends. For years, the three of us worked together in varying capacities, throughout which time we developed a friendship as well as a working relationship. We`re all retired now from the slings and arrows of that former life and we have each found our own way of coming to terms with a different sort of life, away from the career-driven compulsion of permanent employment.
By and large, we are pretty fit and we keep in touch and every three or four months we meet up for lunch and compare notes. It`s a pleasant thing to do and although we are the same people, our respective roles in life these days are very different to what they were when we worked together. Yesterday, however, perhaps for the first time, there were just hints of fleeting moments when it seemed that we might be beginning to settle in to the kind of people we might become as the years continue to pass.
I found it difficult to escape the notion that the three of us might, after all, be slipping unknowingly but inevitably into our own Last of the Summer Whine. The stage is set, the conditions are right, the cast in in place. All we have to do now is decide which of us is Clegg, which is Compo and which is Foggy.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009



A MUG`S GAME...
I got a bill yesterday from the TV Licencing Authority `inviting` me to renew my tv licence for the princely sum of £142.50p. It was accompanied by loads of information about how I could pay but, more threateningly, what might happen if I did not.
"It is important that you renew your tv licence by 30 April 2009. If you don`t, it will be illegal for you to watch or record tv programmes at this address as they`re being shown on tv. Whether you use a tv set, digital box, computer or mobile phone, it will still be illegal," it said. So, I suppose I had better splash out the £142.50.
But I will do so under protest. I don`t like the compulsion of it, the KZ6090 SMITH, W, 1984 attitude, the absence of choice. I don`t have much time for a lot of the BBC - especially the flagrant squandering of mine and other people`s money on excesses like taxis (see illustration above,) Jonathan Ross, Russell Brand, Graham Norton, BBC Alba and today`s further example of flying reporters out to Italy to bring on the spot non-stop reports about the earthquake there, when there were perfectly adequate `resources` already permanently stationed there.
And speaking of Jonathan Ross, it is truly unbelievable that, since the BBC has been fined £150,000 by Ofcom for Ross and Brand`s well publicised transgressions, then the fine will actually be paid by mugs like me who pay the compulsory licence fees. Now, if I could be bothered, I would withhold a few pence from the £142.50 just as a symbolic protest against this nonsense, especially now that Ross himself has refused to pay the fine himself.
But then I would just get a knock on the door and be carted off to the colonies for not taking heed of the threat contained in the renewal notice. Now if I was a Member of Parliament, it wouldn`t bother me, for I could charge the cost up to my allowances and get some other mug to pay it for me. Sometimes, I wonder whether it`s all worth it.

Sunday, April 05, 2009


SACRE BLEU....
It comes to something when the highlight of a trip to Southampton to see a must win six pointer turns out to be the time I spent at Monsieur Hulot`s Patisserie on the Town Quay. Not for the first time in years of making the pilgrimage did the football disappoint, discourage and depress. The game against bottom of the table Charlton ended with Saints losing 3-2 in front of a crowd of over 27,000 who were there in numbers to celebrate to departure of Rupert Lowe and cheer the team on to a victory which would have propelled them out of the relegation zone.
In truth, Charlton deserved their win, for they played with a freedom which only a team virtually certain of relegation can. Saints, on the other hand, played with all the freezing tension of team desperate for a win but never looking like getting one. I fear relegation for Saints is all but a foregone conclusion, for if we can lose so convincingly to a team that had won only one game away from home all season, we surely can have little chance away at Watford on Tuesday, away at Wolves on `Good` Friday and away at Sheffield Wednesday the week after. The optimists believe relegation is still avoidable. I wish I could share their optimism.
The reality seems to be that if relegation does not arrive via performances on the pitch, which seems increasingly likely, then it might well come by means of the Football League imposing a 10-points penalty for the holding company going into administration. There are moves afoot to avoid that eventuality, based on the notion that it was the holding company, not the football club, which entered administration, but I see little satisfaction in that kind of dishonour. I would rather we retained our respect in the lower league than be outcast for the sleight of hand now being considered.
And so for Monsieur Hulot`s Patisserie - the traditional meeting place where the Codgers Crew have over the years enjoyed their pre-match coffee and croissants. We were thin on the ground yesterday - no surprise there - and over the years, the availability of M. Hulot`s almond croissants has been a little hit and miss. None were on sale yesterday and so refuge was taken with an apple lattice and a capuccino, despite which Hulot`s - not for the first time either - turned out to be the highlight of yet another agonising afternoon seeing my football club lurch from crisis to disaster. Sacre bleu.

Friday, April 03, 2009


THE FINAL FAREWELL?
There are some things in life that are difficult to shake off - superglue, summer colds, hangovers - and Rupert Lowe, seen here exiting stage left yesterday, is another. He reminds me of Damien in The Omen, who kept coming back despite desperate attempts to be rid of him. Then there was the Billy Zane character in the film, Dead Calm, who terrorised Nicole Kidman and Sam Neal until he was finally disposed of by means of a distress flare being fired in his chest.
Mercifully for Rupert, no such extreme measures were necessary yesterday as his second period as Chairman of Southampton Leisure Holdings came to an end, following the withdrawal of the £4million overdraft facilities by Barclays Bank, uncertainty about the attitude of Norwich Union/Aviva towards the £24million debt outstanding on the cost of providing St. Mary`s Stadium and the suspension of trading in the company`s shares by the Stock Exchange.
As Rupert left St. Mary`s by a back entrance, an Administrator appointed by the court swept in the front door to take control of the club as Rupert`s resignation was followed by all but one of the other Directors (the remaining one being teflon coated Finance Director, David Jones, presumably retained to guide the Administrator through the labyrinth of the club`s accounts.)
It seems that unless a buyer can be found for the club in the next three weeks or so, then the club will probably cease to exists and consign over 100 years of history, tradition, triumph and disaster to history. There are a few candidates out there who profess to be lifelong Saints fans - Gavin Davies, David Frost, Craig David, the guy who plays the drums for Coldplay - but it`s difficult to see much hope of anyone in their right mind buying a football club in these economic times, even at a knock-down price. Unless, of course, Rupert decides to put in a bid, buy the club outright and, like Damien and Billy Zane, come back to haunt us yet again.
So I`ll be going to the game tomorrow, since it might just be one of the last ever played by the team I have supported for over 60 years. The game is against Charlton Athletic, already virtually certain of relegation themselves, so I don`t expect a feast of football. What I am looking forward to, however, is once more being part of a tribal gathering, as I`m told that already nearly 30,000 tickets have been sold for tomorrow - double the attendances during Rupert`s tenure. Which says much about the fans` attitude towards a man who, first time round, took numbskull management decisions which led to relegation from the Premiership and, this time round, has led to the holding company going bust and with it the future of the football club hanging by a thread.
I think it was Graeme Souness who, on being the first manager to be sacked by Lowe, asked the rhetorical question, "Who has ever heard of anyone in football being called Rupert?" Now we know why.


Wednesday, April 01, 2009


THE GAME`S UP....
Some years ago, I bought some shares in Southampton Leisure Holdings PLC (SLH), the holding company which owns Southampton Football Club. When I bought them, the price was about 39p a share and I said at the time that I didn`t look upopn it as a financial investment but an emotional one, since I have followed the fortunes of The Saints since my father first took me to The Dell in 1946 (Southampton 4 - Derby County 2.)
How right I was to view my investment as emotional. When the team was riding high in the Premiership and reaching the FA Cup Final, the share price rose to something like 70p. I never once thought about `profit taking.` After relegation, battles against yet more relegation which are still going on, boardroom wrangles, inept management, dwindling crowds and a painful decline, shares in SLH have this morning been suspended with the price listed at 9.5p per share.
I gather that SLH, as a holding company, are likely to go into administration, which for some unfathomable reason will avoid the football club itself incurring a points deduction either this season or, more probably, next. This move smacks of yet more sleight of hand by Chairman and Chief Executive Rupert Lowe and can only result in the reputation of the club sinking even lower, if you will excuse the pun. But whatever happens, the future - if indeed there is one - can only be bleak, which is sad given the years and years of achievement, entertainment, history and tradition of a once proud club. The game`s up, I fear, accompanied by a wave of mixed emotions, shoulders being shrugged and share certificates being shredded.