Saturday, August 29, 2009

This evening in a fit of desperation brought about by Saints conceding a 93rd minute penalty to snatch a draw from the jaws of victory at Stockport, I bundled Barney into the boot of the car and took him for a long walk in the Kent countryside. Now I haven`t yet managed to sort out the new car`s radio, but I have managed to find two stations - the one that provides Test Match Special and the other one is BBC Radio Five Live.
There is no Test Match on at the moment, so I opted for Five Live and came across a programme called 606, as that is the frequency it broadcasts on. It`s a football phone-in programme, which I may have grumbled about before. It`s `hosted` either by someone with the unlikely name of Spoony or by the BBC`s football commentator, Alan Green. Now Mr. Green has something of a reputation for upsetting people - `Big` Sam Allardyce, Everton`s David Moyes and `Sir` Alex Ferguson, to name but a few. I would normally be on the side of someone able to upset at least two of the above (I have a little time for Mr. Moyes) but I`m afraid I find Alan Green to be even more objectionable, which is really saying something.
His problem is that not only is he never wrong but also he is insultingly intolerant of people who have opinions different to his own. This is a phone-in programme, which survives on the fact that people are encouraged to phone in with their opinions about football matters of the day. This evening, an inoffensive sounding `punter` rang in to suggest that Wayne Rooney had dived to win a penalty for Manchester United - maybe not the most accurate claim I`ve ever heard, but an honest opinion nevertheless, which the gentleman concerned was entitled to have. Green went ballistic, shouting down the microphone, lambasting the caller and very rudely cutting him off before even a semblance of measured debate could take place.
If I had been the wounded caller, I might have issued a formal complaint, withheld my licence fee, called the Samaritans even, for it is not Green`s place to behave in such a way towards those who have no choice but to pay his doubtless inflated wages. So in future, I`ll tune in to Test Match Special, even if there`s no Test Match to listen to, or even tune in to the aforementioned Mr. Spoony, because anything will be better than the shrill ranting of Green and his Radio Ga-Ga. Oh, and by the way, Saints are now only minus seven points at the bottom of Division Three. Maybe I`ll feel better in the morning.

Friday, August 28, 2009

So far I have refrained from commenting on the England cricket team`s Ashes win over the Australians last weekend, partly because I have been `otherwise engaged` but also out of a sense of not wishing to offend the sensitivities of my antipodean correspondent, who I am sure has contracted the parrot sickness just as I have flown over the moon.
So I won`t go on about it. Instead, I just want to mention one particular aspect of the really beautiful game which applies to both teams. It is the sheer commitement that is required to play test cricket. Here we have a game that lasts for five days, each day lasting six hours or for a minimum of 90 overs and for all of that time, the requirement for physical fitness, raw talent, courage, determination and intense concentration is absolute. It`s not an easy game and it sure ain`t quick, unless you discount the split second timing needed to deal with a ball being hurled at you at 90 mph from a distance of 22 yards. Is it still 22 yards - the old `chain` - or has it gone metric yet? Shows you how long since I played the game.
Compare all that with the 90 minutes it takes for a Premiership footballer like, say, Glen Johnson now of Liverpool to `earn` £139,000 a week - allegedly. Okay, he has to be physically fit, talented at what he does, determined and has to concentrate for 90 minutes, but the commitment isn`t in the same league as that needed for test cricket. The cricketers earn their money, but I doubt that many of them earn £139,000 a year just from playing the game. Somehow it just doesn`t seem right, by which I suggest that it`s the madcap parallel universe of football that is out of step rather than the more reasoned arena of professional cricket. Nothing new there then.
But I do wonder how long before the unreal world of Premiership football self destructs, either by spontaneous combustion or by the customers simply having had enough of all the excess and the unfathomable `culture` that now and again shows itself in places like the Boleyn Ground or the New Den on a dark Tuesday evening. If they do, then there is a more beautiful game to be entranced by, where the yakka is hard, the rewards modest, the culture more benign and where it never rains, for if the heavens open, the game simply pauses until the sun shines once more.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


A few posts ago, I mentioned the press interest in the choice of pies on offer at St. Mary`s Stadium. See "GAME PIE" below. Now I see that the Daily Mail, whilst again devoting ten whole pages to last weekend`s Premiership matches, nevertheless found space to include - buried away in a corner of page 74 of Mondays edition - the following snippet:-

Gate of the Day
"Nine points adrift at the foot of League One, two points from four games, yet still the Southampton faithful turn up in droves - 19,169 saw the 1-1 draw with Brentford, more than at five Championship grounds this weekend."

It is truly refreshing to see not one jot of interest in how the team are doing, which is just as well, for in our now five competitive games so far this season, we have drawn two and lost the other three, the last being a Carling Cup encounter on Tuesday evening, when we narrowly lost 2-1 to Premiership side Birmingham City. The press might have mentioned that our attendance for that game was close on 12,000 - second only to the attendance at the West Ham-Millwall skirmish. Never mind, we can now concentrate on the Johnstone`s Paint Trophy, which we might well exit quietly too.

For all of that, there is a feeling among the faithful that the departure of Rupert Lowe and his regime, the emergence of Markus Liebherr as our new owner, the consequent absence of debt and the establishment of financial stability, the appointment of a new management team, the signing of a few decent players and - most tellingly - the absence of any expectation except that we might just avoid relegation again, have all conspired to make the tribal gatherings at St. Mary`s a more satisfying `matchday experience` than has been the case for the past five years.

And all conducted in a blaze of indifference as far as the press are concerned, with the unlikely exception of commenting on our pies and our attendances. The sound of silence is more than welcome, especially as we have a club to support again, rather than a business to patronise. The language and the landscape have most decidedly changed for the better.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

We`re dancing in our street this morning as near neighbour Scott Wagstaff has scored his first senior goal for Charlton in their 2-0 win over Walsall yesterday. He has been with Charlton since he was about nine years old and has risen through their Academy, youth team and reserves until finally, at just 19, getting his chance in the first team.
Yesterday, he came on as a substitute in the second half and scored after just four minutes of being on the pitch. He outpaced the Walsall defence to latch on to a through ball before scoring in the left hand corner of the net with a measured finish that left the visiting custodian beaten despite a despairing dive to prevent the goal.
This morning, the Wagstaff household and most of their neighbours - even those like me who follow the fortunes of a different team - are playing re-runs of the recorded moment when Scott scored and snapping up the Sunday newspapers to see what they have had to say (the report in the Mail on Sunday is especially complimentary and includes a nice photo of Scott`s magic moment.) We are all so pleased for him and his family and hope that he will now gain confidence and go on to a long and happy career in a difficult and testing profession. Just hope he doesn`t score against the Saints or there will be trouble.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I took delivery of a new car about three weeks ago. It`s fine. I like it very much. It`s a Nissan Qashquai N-tec, 2.0 litre, petrol, manual - all the stuff I`ve been used to driving for about 50 years. It`s very comfortable, has a nice high seating position, a nice glass roof with a kind of blind that covers it up if it gets too hot. It`s got a good radio, cd player, aircon, no less than six gears and a nice big boot for Barney top make himself comfortable. Feel a `but` coming on?
But, it`s got a lot of bells and whistles. An MP3 thingy, bluetooth whatsit, i pod something or other and a satnav! Now I have absolutely no need for the bluetooth, the i pod thing or the MP3, whatever that may be but I thought the satnav might be `interesting,` so on recent trips, I thought I would check it out and see how it worked. I thought it might have been especially useful on our journey to and from yesterday`s family wedding in Richmond, where our middle son, Kevin, was finally and enchantingly wedded to the lovely Claudine. More on that story in a later edition, however.
Back to the satnav. We had to make the journey from here in Kent up to Richmond. Now, normally I would have a look at a map, jot down the roads to follow and more often than not, get there without too much problem. But we punched the route into the satnav and tried to rely on the lilting tones of `Jane` to see us safely there. To be fair, we were held up by the closure of the M26 due to a bad accident, giving rise to a longish detour and some more delays on the M25 which seemed to throw Jane off course. She constantly urged me to make u-turns, come off at Motorway exits only to go back on again and suggest that I should go down routes I didn`t want to go down.
I`m sure she was trying to be helpful and efficient, but so far at least I haven`t grown enough in confidence with her and I`m pretty sure she feels the same way about me. I sense the early stages of an interesting relationship developing here, a power battle emerging and a grim determination to be proved right. But today I found my way home alright without any help from her, thank you very much. Fifteen all in the opening set at the moment.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The tension is rising in chez Snopper as the BIG DAY is now only 48 hours away. Middle son`s marriage on Friday promises to be a glamourous occasion with plenty of his show-biz friends expected to turn up for the evening reception. Yesterday I had my hair styled by the indomitable Chris of Larkfield, who said I should just have it `sharpened up a bit,` so it has been. I`m not quite sure what the coreography for Friday might be, so I`ll just go with the flow and hope that`s ok. What troubles me slightly, however, are the `catering` arrangements.
Now, as you may recall, I enjoy plain food - nothing fancy, nothing `messed about with` and most definitely nothing foreign. So it`s with some trepidation that I notice the introduction of a barbecue after the wedding ceremony. The hotel have produced a barbecue menu, which might turn out to be a bit fancy, a bit `messed about with` and possibly a bit foreign. They are quoting £56 a head for said barbecue - I might leave a note in the `comments book` to invite them to rearrange the words `off` and `rip,` but I suppose I had better wait and see how it turns out.
Also, it seems that no breakfast is provided for those, like us, who are staying at the hotel overnight. Breakfast is extra - anything up to about £20 a head - so I may be forced into an alternative strategy, which could consist of taking some barbecue avoiding sandwiches in my Oxo tin, along with one of those small packets of cereals you can get, a small flask of milk, some sugar, a bowl and spoon and a can of coke.
Of course, for middle son and his betrothed, I`m sure it will be a day to remember, with everything going as they would wish. So in all the mayhem and merriment I doubt for one moment that an elderly gentleman with a sharpened up haircut sneaking off for the occasional nibble will even be noticed.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

As the death toll among our brave forces in Afghanistan now reaches 204 and the number of injured and wounded doubles in a month, questions are naturally being asked about our continued presence there and, indeed, what we are doing there anyway.
I suppose there was a time when people accepted that armed conflict was unavoidable against a clearly identifiable threat, most tellingly the threat of invasion. I could have believed the threat posed by Hitler and so I would have believed the words of the politicians at the time. I`m not at all sure about the present situation we face in Afghanistan though. Maybe my caution is encouraged by the outrageous war in Iraq, which we should never have been involved with but were condemned to as a result of duplicitous politicians.
And now we are told by our Prime Minister that it is essential for us to be waging the war in Afghanistan to keep terrorism off the streets of Britain. This from someone who was unelected by his own party, unelected by the people of this country, refused to have a General Election because he was sure he would win it, refused to honour the manifesto pledge to hold a referendum on the EU Constitution and brought the equally unelected Peter Mandelson back from the dead to lord it over us. You see, I`m not at all sure I can believe anything Gordon Brown ever says.
And the retiring head of the armed services, General Sir Richard Dannatt, also repeats the mantra about the need for us to be involved in Afghanistan. Now, I`ve a lot of time for him. He seems like a pretty straight sort of guy, but I can`t escape the feeling that what he is saying is the result of `pressure` brought to bear on him by Downing Street. It won`t be the first tiem. Lord West anyone? And how can anyone possibly be convinced by Bob Ainsworth playing the leading role in the Ministry of Defence?
I think it was Kenneth Clark in his `Civilisation` book who said, "If I had to say which was telling the truth about society, a speech by a Minister of Housing or the actual houses put up in his time, I should believe the houses." I know what he means now. However much I admire the heroics of our armed services - and I do so unreservedly - there is still something which fails to convince me that we should be there at all. And I suspect that we are there because the Americans are there - Iraq all over again - and that of itself is not a good enough reason either for the sacrifices already made or for the mantra which seeks to keep us there. If only I could believe what the politicians are telling me, but as I remain unconvinced, I will carry on believing in the lions fighting in the real world rather than the donkeys in a make believe world of their very own.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Just to prove my point about the comfort zone provided by the press ignoring the fortunes of Southampton FC, today`s Daily Mail has no less than ten full pages devoted to the Premiership. However, buried away in the bottom right hand corner of page 69 comes the news that "there are three types of pie at St. Mary`s, always a good start. Both the chicken balti and steak and kidney pies manage to hold their own, though they`re not Premier League. But if you`re faced with a choice, take the chicken."

Very comforting indeed to see the complete absence of any mention of our 3-1 drubbing away at Huddersfield. And these days, we can also find comfort in our cordon noir pies as we suffer silently in a blaze of media indifference.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Saints` new manager, Alan Pardew, looked distinctly grumpy as he prowled the sidelines at Huddersfield`s Galpharm Stadium yesterday. The home team were simply too good, too strong, too powerful for a Saints team yet to come to terms with so many things, not least learning quickly from the 3-1 hammering which saw us remain firmly rooted at the bottom of League One (really Division 3) and still anchored on minus nine points.
I had hoped for a more encouraging result in the depths of Yorkshire, where I wrongly assumed that the locals would be more concerned with whippet racing and pigeon fancying than growling encouragement to their football team. Wrong again, for Saints` shortcomings were cruelly exposed. Pardew`s response has been to call them in for extra training today in the build up to Tuesday evening`s encounter with the Robins of Swindon Town.
After only two league games, it is already perfectly clear that if, in 44 games time, we find ourselves buried in mid table obscurity, then that will represent a job well done. Another `nice thing` about being in the lower leagues is the almost total absence of any media interest in our progress or lack of it. So, we can accept defeat these days knowing that it truly is not the end of the world and that, mercifully, hardly anyone else knows about it or cares. I`ve always known there`s something to be said for mediocrity....and I should know!

Friday, August 14, 2009

My picture shows local hero Scott Wagstaff being unceremoniously `tackled` by Southampton`s Jack Saville in a recent encounter between the Saints and Charlton, for whom Scott plays. Scott lives just a few doors down the road from us so it`s natural that not only his family but also the entire street are following his progress as he seeks to make his way in the uncompromising world of professional football.
And this week has been a difficult one for him....and it ain`t going to get a whole lot better. On Tuesday evening, Charlton made the long trip to Hereford to play in a Carling Cup First Round tie. Sadly for them, Charlton lost 1-0 in extra time, which I imagine gave rise to a long time in the Edgar Street dressing room after the game as Charlton manager Phil Parkinson carried out his post mortem. I`m told Scott eventually made it back home here at 4.20am on Wednesday morning. Wednesday was a day off, but he was back training yesterday and this morning boarded the coach with his team mates for the even longer journey to Hartlepool, who they play in a League One fixture tomorrow. I shudder to think what time they will get back from there but I`m sure we will be well into Sunday.
So it`s not easy being a young man in a fiercely competitive profession, especially in the `lower leagues,` where the excesses of wealth, fame and fortune of the Premiership must seem like a distant dream. The Premiership starts again tomorrow and I am going to make a determined effort to avoid it. There is so much of it which is distasteful. Not just the greed, the exceesses and the arrogance, but also the fact that there are far too many foreign mercenaries turning out for teams and that there are still `personalities` like Ferguson, Alladyce and `Arry Redknapp behaving as if they were at all important. Sky`s coverage continues to be graced by the awful Andy Gray, whose main contribution appears to be "I have to say," when all the time he doesn`t have to at all.
I`m more convinced than ever that `proper` football is played in the lower leagues, where ambition, effort and determination are tempered by moderate rewards. Maybe Scott is better off plying his trade at Hereford, Hartlepool and other provincial outposts. At least he`ll enjoy his football and see something of the world......even if it is Hartlepool.


This time next week we will be on our way to Richmond for the wedding of our middle son, Kevin, (43!) and the lovely Claudine. Of course, there is much to think about and much to do but already I have made some excellent progress with my advance preparations.
I have bought a smart new shirt and a fetching tie, which of itself presents something of a challenge, for ever since I have been retired, I have stopped wearing ties and I just hope I remember how to do them up. On Tuesday (I think) I have an appointment with my stylist, Chris of Larkfield, for my wedding `coiffure.` I have left it for Chris to decide what to do in her quest to equip me with a fitting style for the occasion for, like fashion, hairstyles are something that have passed me by, leaving me with just the gratitude that I have any hair left to style. After that, I should be ready for the big day - chuck a few bits in a bag, head for the hotel and let the event unfold.
For others, however, it is becoming a tad more `challenging.` So many details to be attended to. Not just hairstyles, shirts and ties but whole wardrobes, worries about every detail, concern what others may think and all that. I frankly don`t care what others think any more - there will be people there I have never met before and am very unlikely ever to meet again, so for most it will be little more than a fleeting encounter. Now, all around me I detect a rising tension in the air - a distinct feeling of apprehension - and whilst I`m more than happy to play the part on my son`s big day, I am able to face it as yet another event, special though it is, in life`s rich pageant. These days, I`m happy for others to have their finger on the panic button whilst I sit in my corner and watch it all go by. I think it`s called `comfortably numb.`.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I`ve been retired a few years now and I`m the first to admit to being among the fortunate. I`ll just get the cliches out of the way. I worked my socks off for years, did as well as I think I could for my family and for those who employed me, had many highs, lows and bits in between, enjoyed a lot of what I did, got a lot of satisfaction out of much of it, met some good people who are still friends, but.....when the chance came to retire, I took it with hardly a backward glance.
The initial adjustment from work, pressure, daily challenges, was difficult at first, but time made me realise that there is a life beyond and I`ve found some of it. Nothing too spectacular, just a gradual settling in to a different routine but one which I can dictate rather than having it dictated to for me. Big difference. And it brings a sense of freedom - liberation almost - to go places and do things that suit us. By and large, life is gentle, undemanding, but surprisingly full. Voluntary work, playing golf, following sport, seeing friends, having holidays, blogging, keeping fit and all the things that need doing, ensure that each and every day is different. It`s odd to use the word `holidays` in the context of someone who is retired anyway, so I suppose I mean time away from home in places we enjoy being. Off to Cornwall again next month....but why not? I`ve worked out, I think, that to enjoy retirement, you have to keep the body moving, the mind active and have things to look forward to.

As I say, I am among the fortunate ones and I know it only too well. My body still works, my mind is as inquiring as ever and I have much to look forward to. I suppose my only real regret is that time is passing much too quickly - a good sign of a full and active life, I imagine. The twilight days may at last have arrived, but the sunset can wait a while yet.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

There are days when I just despair and today is one of them. Late last night the news broke that the three perpetrators of the brutish treatment leading to the death of baby Peter Connelly can at last be named. After a two year wait, we now know the identities of the pond life (with apologies to amphibians) and the full horrors they inflicted not just on Peter but on others too, including the two brothers` own grandmother, who was violently assaulted so that she would change her will in their favour.
All three are now behind bars, of course, with at least two of them having `indeterminate sentences.` There is the possibility, however remote, that they could be out of jail in a few years, which is leading to the speculation that, if they are, then they will have to be given new identities and given police protection costing taxpayers anything up to £1million a year, and all for their own benefit. There`s a simple solution - don`t ever let them out of jail!
Last night also, there was a Panorama programme about drunken behaviour in Oldham, Lancashire. It seems that in Oldham and countless other towns across the country, each weekend sees a grim determination on the part of hordes of young people to get paralytic on cheap booze and then cause untold mayhem. To be fair to Oldham, they have introduced some (half) measures to try to limit the damage - orderly post office type queues in pubs and bars to order drinks and having a go at supermarkets who sell the stuff on the cheap - but still the mayhem goes on with all the disruption, police and cleaning costs involved.
Now I think it`s the case that the local councils or magistrates have the powers to issue and withdraw licences for the sale of alcohol. The licensed victuallers and the supermarkets won`t like it, of course, but there is a simple solution - stop issuing licences and withdraw the ones that give rise to the problem. All it needs is a bit of courage.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

I`ve got quite a collection of books about cricket. I won`t list them all here but they include the collected works of John Arlott; Ronald Mason`s `Ashes in the Mouth,` which chronicles the 1932-33 Bodyline series; David Foot`s excellent biography of Harold Gimblett; histories of Hampshire, Somerset and Glamorgan; numerous Wisdens including Benny Green`s Wisden Anthologies and David Frith`s `Silence of the Heart,` which details the alarming number of cricketers who have died by their own hand. You get the picture - I love the game, always have , always will, but not just for the game itself. For it also provides a rich heritage of literature which in its depth and quality is unsurpassed by any other sport.
Last week, I spent a lost couple of hours in Waterstones bookshop in Bluewater. Amongst the kind gifts I received for my 70th birthday was a generous Waterstones voucher and I searched the shop for something I would really enjoy. I tried all the sections - fiction, travel, history, humour and then sport. The shelves were pretty much stacked with books about football, mainly it seemed the `autobiographies` of assorted poseurs whose lives have little to commend them unless one is impressed by shallow excess. Golf was well represented and also rugby, but it was the stock of cricket books that held my attention. And there were a lot to choose from. I boiled it down to two - Duncan Hamilton`s authorised biography of Harold Larwood and Stephen Chalke`s `The Way it Was` - `glimpses of English cricket`s past.` I couldn`t decide between the two, so I used my voucher for one and put my hand in my own pocket for the other.
Now earlier this afternoon, England were comprehensively stuffed by Australia in the fourth Ashes Test of the current series. Never mind, for the series is nicely poised at 1-1. There is still one final Test to be played and anything can happen at the Oval. (That`s the spirit.) But whatever happens, there will always be the consolation of the richness of cricket literature, where one can look back on triumphs and disasters, characters and personalites, genius and mediocrity all in equal proportion. And all written with a love and feeling for a game which is not just a game, but more a way of life. Especially if you`re English and you`ve just been stuffed. Again.

Thursday, August 06, 2009


Unlikely though it may seem, the football season kicks off on Saturday. I feel I should be going to see Southampton`s first game at home to Millwall, but a couple of things put me off. It`s still the height of summer and today is one of the hottest days we`ve had for weeks and on Saturday the traffic going down to the south coast will be awful. It has taken me anything up to four hours to get to Southampton during August and so I`m not sure I will make the early 12.45pm start. In any case, the game is being televised by Sky, which is not always a good thing. It seems each time we are live on Sky we underperform. In fact, the last time I can recall a win on Sky was when we beat Spurs 4-0 in the early rounds of the FA Cup in the year we went on to the final at Cardiff.
Having staved off receivership, thanks to the club being bought by Swiss billionaire Markus Liebherr, Alan Pardew (pictured) has been appointed to manage the team, which might account for his worried expression. He has a good track record as a player and manager and he should have enough experience to haul us up to mid table obscurity as we have to start the season minus ten points, thanks to going into administration a few months ago.
Now normally, at the start of any season, there are expectations of success, promotion, winning the league and any other fantasy you care to mention. This season, however, things are different. We have reached the low point - bottom of the third tier of English football for the first time in 60 years - but there are no expectations of a rapid climb back to the higher echelons we enjoyed for three decades. Instead, there is a realisation that our recovery needs to be surefooted, step by step, so as to consolidate our position in this league as the first priority. Careful planning, shrewd investment and patient progress is what the fans expect, nothing more, as we rejoice in the fact that we still have a club to support.
I have pencilled in 19th September for my first visit to St. Mary`s this season (we have a hectic schedule of weddings, holidays and the like in the next few weeks) when the visitors will be Yeovil Town and I`m looking forward to being able to simply enjoy the experience once more, rather than being stressed about the outcome. After all, if The Times prediction is that we finish 15th, then there`s nothing to worry about. Is there?

Monday, August 03, 2009

It was reported recently that two policemen from Southampton have become the country's first gay couple to father a child.

PC Ivan Sigston and special constable Steven Ponder have had a son named William thanks to Steven's sister Lorna Bradley, who acted as surrogate mother for the pair. It is believed the birth makes them the first gay couple in Britain to father a baby.
Mr Sigston, 48, provided the sperm but did not put himself down as the father, meaning he and Mr Ponder, 28, must formally and legally adopt William.
A spokesman for Surrogacy UK commented: "We wish this couple all the best, but under the law it is not a proper surrogacy arrangement. That involves the couple applying for a parental order within six months of the child's birth. At present, same-sex couples cannot apply for a parental order but have to go through the adoption process. As only Lorna's name is on the birth certificate, she is William's legal guardian."
It also emerged that the happy couple were, in fact, in `civil partnerships` with two other men and as I am not au fait with the law relating to getting out of - never mind getting into - civil partnerships, I can only assume that yet another legal complication has yet to be overcome in William`s fledgling life.

At the risk of compromising `human rights` in our modern day me-me society and being ever in fear of yet another knock on my door, I will simply say that I do sometimes wonder whether I am in the wrong world at the wrong time. So I will leave any comment to the Simpsons who, in the picture above, have probably asked the most important question in all of this.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Like everyone else with any knowledge of or interest in the world of football, I was saddened by the loss of Sir Bobby Robson yesterday, following his long battle with cancer.
It might seem churlish of me not to embark on a heartfelt tribute to a good man, but so much has already been written and said about his qualities as a player, a manager and, most importantly, as a man, that there is nothing more I can add.
Except, perhaps, to mention a little known fact about the great man. From 1946 to 1949, my club Southampton FC was managed by Bill Dodgin, like Robson a native of the north-east. In 1949, Bobby Robson signed for Southampton as a 16-year old amateur and when Dodgin left to manage Fulham, Robson went with him to embark on a hugely successful career in the professional game.
I`m truly sorry that football has lost one of the few remaining real gentlemen left in the game but proud to know that, even for a fleeting while, he was associated with at least the earthly Saints.