Tuesday, May 31, 2011

FAIR ENOUGH?

Yet another Bank Holiday weekend when the media has diverted the  nation`s consciousness.   It seems unseemly, grotesque even, that the news of two more of our forces being lost in Afghanistan, bringing the total to 368, has been overshadowed, not by more pressingly important events but by events surrounding the  parallel universe of football.

It may indeed be the case that as a nation we are obsessed with sport, the last refuge for those who find it impossible to idle.   But yet, despite the unfairness of our priorities, when it comes to sport, by and large we like to think that we abide by the notion of fair play.   And when things become patently unfair - the current shenanagins at FIFA being a prime example - we rightly express our indignation.

So how is it that the system we have for deciding on promotion and relegation up and down the football pyramid is so blatantly unfair but yet we seems to accept it as part of the natural order of things?   It is unnatural justice writ large and worthy of more indignation than is currently shown.  

A couple of examples.   At the top of League One this season, Brighton were worthy champions and along with Southampton who finished in second place, were automatically promoted to the Championship.  Huddersfield, having gone 27 games unbeaten, were in third place, just five points behind Southampton.   Peterborough finished fourth, eight points behind Huddersfield, MK Dons fifth, 10 points behind and Bournemouth sixth, a massive 16 points behind third place.  

In League Two, where three teams are promoted automatically, Shrewsbury finished fourth just one point behind third place Wycombe;  Accrington seven points behind;  Stevenage 11 points behind and Torquay 12 points adrift of third place.   So we go to the play-offs  to decide which teams will join those already promoted automatically.   The League One play-off final saw Peterborough beat Huddersfield and the League Two final saw Stevenage beat Torquay. 

Now if there was any natural justice in football - an alien concept I know - third placed Huddersfield and fourth placed Shrewsbury would have gone up.   As things stand, of course, with money ruling everything, it is deemed necessary to hold these money spinning  lotteries.   And so the clubs and their players and supporters have to suffer knife-edge uncertainties despite the fact that, in the case of Huddersfield and Shrewsbury, they had already surely earned the right to be promoted by assorted country miles.   At least this year justice was done with Swansea, who finished third, winning the Championship play off and promotion to the never-never land of the Premiership.

So what to do about it?   Well it won`t happen, of course, but two suggestions spring to mind.   The first is that if, say, the team finishing third in League One or fourth in League Two does so by a margin of six points or more, then the play-offs become redundant.   The second is  much more simple.   If  we are stuck with the play-off system, then based on the faltering concept of fair play why on earth are there not play-offs for relegation as well as promotion?

Like the margin between genius and madness, the margin between success and failure is narrow, but is there any good reason to make it palpably unfair as well?


Saturday, May 28, 2011


PREFERRED LIES.

I suppose it`s inevitable that, as you get older, you start to think about the close of play, the 90th minute, the 18th green and the certainty that this wonderful life can`t go on forever.   On our recent visit to Cornwall, we went back to the Church of St. Just in Roseland, as it is a very special place.

First, Roseland has nothing to do with roses - but comes from the old Cornish word ros or roos, meaning promontory.   The 13th century Church and churchyard of St. Just are set amongst beautiful gardens alongside a tidal creek.  These photos I took (click on them for larger images) don`t really do it justice but they do show the gravestones set among the luxuriance of planting that abounds in this lovely setting overlooking the creek.   Indeed, as long ago as the 1920s, HV Morton in his book In Search of England wrote : "I have blundered into a Garden of Eden that cannot be described in pen or paint.  There is a degree of beauty that flies so high that no words or no snare of colour can hope to capture it and of this order is the beauty of St. Just in Roseland.   I would like to know if in the whole of England there is a churchyard more beautiful than this."

So, as I muse on when my ultimate fate might arrive, I also start to reflect on where my final resting place might be.   Behind the goal at the Northam End of St. Mary`s Stadium?   Under the old oak tree in the Grove Garden overlooking Southampton Water at Hythe?   Or even among the benign glades of Platt Woods, where Mrs. Snopper`s enticing charms and years of walking with our sons and our golden retrievers have brought comfort and contentment?   Well, it won`t happen, but the churchyard at St. Just in Roseland would do very nicely.

Friday, May 27, 2011


SNOPPER`S NATURE NOTES..

As you may have gathered by now, I am a keen nature lover and this week a couple of things have made me realise the threats that confront the natural environment here in deepest Kent.

The first concerns the wellbeing of our only poisonous snake - the adder.   An article in today`s local newspaper , the Kent Messenger, reveals that adders may become an endangered species.   The National Amphibian and Reptile Recording Scheme (NARRS) confirms that adders are in decline and there `is a risk that they may disappear from our landscape for good.`   A local outfit called the Medway Valley Countryside Partnership (MVCP) wants to find out just how serious the problem is locally.   They have joined forces with the Kent Reptile and Amphibian Group (KRAG) to find out how many adders there are in the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Beauty (KDAONB.)

Between them they have identified 30 areas  as potential adder habitats and for six months they will be monitoring evidence of adder activity.   The evidence produced will be used for guidance on how to improve the land for this diminishing species.

SNOPPER SAYS : Wrong. I think the six months could be better spent eradicating this dangerous species from the area and if the MVCP/KRAG publicise the habitats they have identified then I suggest a sponsored adder eradication programme in aid of a local charity such as Green that Hillside would be much preferable. 

 
 On a grander scale, a few miles away in yet another sylvan valley of the Garden of England, there`s much kerfuffle about a strawberry grower (who supplies Wimbledon no less) wanting to cover a Kentish hillside with 408 acres of polytunnels so as to guarantee a good crop in time for the excesses of SW19.   There`s a lot of fuss locally by people who have already seen the visual impact of polytunnels on the KDAOB and so there is a bit of a campaign against this planning application for yet more of them.   The local council have deferred a decision so as to inspect the area concerned at first hand and whilst they may be right to tread carefully one can`t help wondering whether the delays have already put the strawberries and cream orgy at risk.

SNOPPER SAYS ; I think they should approve the application immediately as the fruit growing industry is a vital cog in the Kent economy and anyway I like strawberries and cream.   However, so as to satisfy the objectors as well as giving added impetus to the adder eradication campaign, I would suggest a planning condition that requires the polytunnels to be painted green.   Simples.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

THE NAME OF THE ROSE..

Pretty, isn`t it?  Smells nice too.  This is Rosa Catherine, lovingly created in honour of Catherine Middleton, aka Duchess of Cambridge and Mrs. Wales.   It appeared a couple of months ago in advance of the royal wedding but has now been usurped by a new white rose, which made its entrance at the Chelsea Flower Show a couple of days ago.  

This new one is named William and Catherine, which got me wondering about how roses come to be named in the first place.   These two are clearly in honour of the royal couple and I`ve got some in my garden named, for example, Arthur Bell, Henri Matisse and Handel.   I`ve no idea who Arthur Bell might have been (or still is) but the other two are pretty obvious.

There`s probaby an Alex Ferguson rose somewhere, covered in dense thorns, rarely flowering and  less than fragrant, but I suspect it will be some time before the Chelsea Flower Show sees the emergence of Rosa Ricky Lambert Southampton`s Goal Machine.  Sweet.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


UP THE INJUNCTION..

Bingo indeed!!  Until Birmingham Yardley MP John Hemming (pictured) stood up in the House of Commons the other day and named him,  I must have been the only person in the whole wide world who didn`t know that it was Ryan Giggs who had successfully and expensively secured a super injunction for himself.

Not that I really care that much for, you see, I am much more interested in Imogen Thomas.




CHEER UP PETER REID
..and possibly Mr. Slightly too

Each time we go away on holiday, I always pick up a copy of the local newspaper, so as to get more of a feel for the area we`re staying in.   Last Thursday I bought a copy of the West Briton (Truro and Mid-Cornwall edition,) which seems an excellent publication, full of local news, events, property for sale or rent, motors, all the usual stuff including ....local sport.   And being an afficionado of the so-called beautiful game, I spent quite a bit of time combing the details of football scores and league positions around the Cornish leagues.

I came across Division One of the Mining Division Football League.   Now, probably because of my own inglorious football `career` coupled with being a lifelong Saints fan,  I always look for those teams who are struggling near the foot of the table and I noticed that Madron FC seemed not to have had the best of seasons.   In fact, they finished bottom of the league, having played 28 matches, won none, drawn none and lost all 28.   They did manage to score 12 goals in the season but, sadly, conceded no less than 406, leaving them with a goal difference of -394.

Of course, like Durham City a few seasons ago,  there`s a story here.  It seems the whole first team, having gained promotion from Division Two last season, upped and left at the start of this season.   As the reserve team were doing quite well in their own league, it was decided not to draft them into the first team but to play the Division One games with a mixture of `experience and youth.`   By December, they had conceded 227 goals in their first 11 games, scoring just twice, and reinforcemnets were indeed needed.

They arrived in the form of vastly experienced player and manager Peter Reid (pictured above turning away  in frustration from a Madron stalwart), currently managing Plymouth Argyle, who agreed to take a training session with the Madron lads to see if he could help them in their plight.   Sadly, it seems not, for the season went from bad to worse, including a 55-0 hammering with just seven players and no goalkeeper against league leaders Illogan RBL.

So where`s the comfort in all this?   Well, I`m not sure there`s anything to cheer up Peter Reid, whose Argyle suffered relegation to League Two after a points deduction for going into administration.    But my good friend Mr. Slightly can perhaps take comfort in the knowledge that although his beloved Gillingham missed out on the play-offs by just one point, in another life he could have been a Madron fan.   As for Madron FC themselves, well they can rest assured that their 55-0 tonking is not the record loss suffered by a football club.   That `honour` goes to a team in Mozambique who contrived to lose 143-0 by scoring 143 own goals in protest at a penalty decision refused in the first minute.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A POINT PROVEN..

Last week as we continued to take bite sized chunks out of the wonderful south west coast path, we managed to conquer Dodman Point, `the most striking headland on the south Cornwall coast.`   It`s over 400 feet up and, on the clear day we had, we were able to see as far west as Lizard Point and as far east as south Devon.

Over the years, the Dodman and the rocks close by have caused numerous wrecks.   The imposing granite cross, built in 1896 by a local parson, was supposed to provide a seamark but unhappily it failed to save the destroyers Thrasher and Lynx from hitting the rocks in fog a year later.   A more recent tragedy was the loss of the pleasure boat Darlwin in 1966, which sank with all its passengers.

We enjoyed the walk around this formidable headland from the National Trust car park in the hamlet of Penare and when we returned we set off down the hill towards Hemmick Beach, one of Cornwall`s most beautiful coves.   I thought it would be a wise precaution to take the above photo of the granite cross just to prove that we had made the Point, for there might just be the occasional cynic who cannot bring himself to believe that two septuagenarian codgers and a laid back golden retriever are capable of such feats of endurance.   Hang on - maybe I`m being cynical.

Monday, May 23, 2011

PHONE BOOKS..

Stopped off in the Cornish village of Feock last week. It`s one of the last truly Celtic places in England and claims that a parson as late as the 17th century had to speak Cornish in order to be understood.

We had made the perilous crossing on the King Harry Ferry and I was keen to explore Feock, which has some interesting features including a church with a seperate bell tower, a quiet beach overlooking Carrick Roads and some very attractive houses.

Another is this former telephone box which, as you can see from my photo, has been converted into a book swap box.   The deal is that if you want to take one of the books off the shelves, you have to leave another one in its place.   Seems fair enough and just the kind of thing you might expect to find in this quiet, delightful, peaceful village.

Much more about Feock at http://www.cornwalls.co.uk/Feock-village.htm, although the  much vaunted Pandora Inn was unfortunately destroyed by fire recently.   The fire apparently started in the thatched roof and completely gutted the 13th century building.   Fortunately no-one was injured in the fire and the owners, St. Austell Brewery, have pledged to rebuild and reopen the pub as soon as possible.  But for now at least the book swap box has my ringing endorsement .

Sunday, May 22, 2011


 SNAIL MAIL LIVES..

Just back from a super week exploring yet more of the coastline of Cornwall.   This time we stayed in an area called Rosevine, close to the fishing port of Portscatho.   For those unfamiliar with Rosevine, take the road from Tregony to St. Mawes (the  A3078)  and at Trewithian turn off and enter an almost secret world, where the only sounds are the waves hitting the shore, the birds in the air and the buzz of early summer.   An ideal location for our continued bite sized, 5-mile chunks of the great south west coast path.

Among our travels, we made a return journey to the small hamlet of Portholland, tucked away down a narrow lane and, I believe, forming part of the Caerhays Estate.   We arrived there at lunchtime, Barney had a scamper on the beach and we sat at a picnic table for our lunchtime munch.   Afterwards, I had a stroll around as there seemed to be a shop in the terrace of houses overlooking the sea.  

Well, it turned out to be the Post Office but, being Monday lunchtime, it was closed.   A more detailed inspection revealed that it was, in fact, closed all day Monday.  And Wednesday.   And Thursday.   And Friday, Saturday and Sunday too.   On the door was an official Post Office notice, pictured above, confirming the fact that the only time it was open was between 9.00 and 12.00 on Tuesday mornings.   A notice detailing `closing hours` instead of `opening hours` might have been more relevant.

No matter, for this is the hidden coast of deepest Cornwall, where time doesn`t seem to matter that much, which is just as well.   But it has provided me with the perfect reason (as opposed to excuse) why, if you were ever expecting a postcard from Portholland wishing you were here, I fear you may have been disappointed.

Friday, May 13, 2011


DOWN TO THE SEA..

Just over the ridge of the hill on the left of the photo is a small cottage where tomorrow Mrs. Snopper, Barney and I will take up residence for a week.   It`s a long way from home - about 290 miles according to the RAC - and as the picture suggests it`s a remote location far away in deepest Cornwall.   And I do mean deepest.

The nearest outpost of civilisation is the small fishing village of Portscatho, which according to the Visit Cornwall website  `has a good butchers as well as a grocery/off licence, pub and cafĂ©,` so we should be ok.  And yet I can`t escape the notion that we might be entering into unknown territory - certainly for us - and that we might discover a hidden treasure, where the old ways of life and the old traditions of Kernow are still alive.

As one of the off-shore rocks (Gull Island) was apparently used in the filming of the 1950 version of Treasure Island, it wouldn`t surprise me at all to come across Cap`n Smollett, Squire Trelawney, Black Dog, Long John Silver and Jim Lad.   It could indeed be a world where planks are still walked, timbers are shivered and mainbraces still spliced.   I may find out as in my piratical fantasy I call in the Spyglass Inn  with my pieces of eight for a Smuggler`s Lunch and a flagon of grog.  Ha Haarrhh!!

All being well, I`ll see you in a week or so.   If not, you know where to find me.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


RADIO GOES GAGA..

Hard on the heels of Robbie Savage`s faltering entrance into the parallel universe of Radio 5 Live`s 606 phone-in extravaganza and as if to prove that the world survives by the cock-up theory rather than some grand design, the other evening saw the Sony Radio Academy Awards which, of course, had to feature our friend Savage.   Here he is  having clearly scrubbed up for the occasion and looking his usual debonair self  pictured with a slimline version of Geri Halliwell, having won the award as this year`s Sony DAB Rising Star.   In truth, seldom has belief been so beggared, but there may be a plausible explanation

Savage walked away with this Award, the night’s only people’s choice award,  by himself having rallied the support of listeners to receive thousands of votes – the most in the awards history - to secure him the title.   Seems entirely logical and predictable  that this serial charlatan should arrange to win an award for himself and bathe in the resultant glory, however counterfeit that may have been.   A major surprise is that he refrained from repeating his after match performance on Saturday  by not stripping off his eveningwear and handing component parts to Geri and others in awe of his engaging personality.  

However, in an effort not to disappoint, it`s reported that there was something of an `incident` just afterwards when Richard Keys offered his hand in congratulation to Savage, only for a stream of obscenities to come his way along with an invitation to `ave some outside.  Keys, himself no stranger to controversy, was apprently heard to remark that Savage `was a difficult man to ignore....but well worth the effort.` 

Sounds like a good idea.

Monday, May 09, 2011

(Click to enlarge)
IF CARLSBERG DID PITCH INVASIONS..

......it would probably be this one.  The scene at St. Mary`s following Saturday`s last game of the season, which saw Saints promoted back to the Championship following a 3-1 win over Walsall.   The Saddlers fans were celebrating on the pitch too, as despite their team losing, theye were saved from relegation thanks to Dagenham & Redbridge going down 5-0 at Peterborough.

My only regret is that the Saints will not be joined by Charlton, who faded badly after being in second place earlier in the season.  This means I will not have the pleasure of seeing neighbourly pacy flanker Scott (`Buzzin`) Wagstaff strutting his stuff on St. Mary`s hallowed turf.  Not just yet anyway unless the Saints management make a close season bid for our hard working wideman.  

I also feel for Mr. Slightly and his Gillingham buddies, as the Gills missed out by just one point on a play off spot in League Two.   There are no words of comfort I can offer, especially as this means that Snopper Street`s three teams will all be playing in different leagues next season.  At least I am spared the rigours of the Brian Moore `Stand` at Priestfield for another season. 

Sunday, May 08, 2011


SUBLIME AND RIDICULOUS..

It`s been a difficult couple of days with the untimely loss of two great sporting heroes.   First we had the passing of Sir Henry Cooper, `Our `Enery,` a national treasure admired and respected for his boxing prowess but also for his humility, his courtesy and his unfailing decency.

And yesterday morning the news broke that Seve Ballesteros had left us at the age of just 54.   It really doesn`t seem fair that one so talented, so personable and so loved should pass away so young.   There are rightly so many things written and said about him that it`s difficult to add to them without appearing mawkish, but he will forever stay in my thoughts for a very good reason.

As one of the world`s worst golfers, I took the advice of a more accomplished friend who gave me a useful golfing tip.   "When you do your backswing, say to yourself `Severiano,` and when you do the downswing, say `Ballesteros` and that way you won`t hurry through the shot."   Well, I`m not sure it made much difference because just one of the many differences between people like Seve and me is that Seve played golf and I just hack golf balls around.   But I still inwardly chant his name to myself and will do so with even more reverence now that he`s gone.

And so we have said `Goodbye` to two supreme sportsmen who were masters of their profession, sublime in manner, bringing a smile to our hearts and memories that will linger. 

So where`s the ridiculous in all this?  Well, yesterday I went to St. Mary`s to see the Saints` last game of the season (a 3-1 win to secure promotion before an assembly of 31,635) and on the journey home, I surfed the airwaves for some evening entertainment on my 120 mile journey.   I happened across Radio Five Live and their 606 football phone-in programme.  In the depths of winter this was `hosted` by Alan Green, he who is never wrong, but last night it was the turn of joint hosts Mark Chapman and, of all people, Robbie Savage.

I`ve no problem with `Chappers,` who seems a jovial enough chap but I couldn`t quite understand what Savage was doing there - neither, I suspect, could Chappers.   It turned out that yesterday afternoon, Savage had played his last ever game for Derby County and  the BBC had lined up a succession of numbskulls who dutifully rang in to thank Savage for his contribution to the beautiful game and to heap cringing praise and good wishes for his future.

Now, Savage has made a very good living out of football with his limited abilities both as a player and as a role model for any youngsters watching who might want to grow up to be a belligerent, disdainful bruiser with an eye for the main chance.  So it was no surprise to hear that his radio persona accurately reflected that of his playing days.   He was virtually unintelligible, belligerent to callers who had an opinion different from his own and disdainful of any criticism.  

In short, an object lesson in self-preservation and self aggrandizement and predictably lacking even a whiff of dignity, style or modesty.   Later in the evening Sky Sports showed the bizarre spectacle of this grotesque poseur stripping off most of his kit and ceremoniously handing it to grateful spectators at the Madjeski, although quite why anyone would wish to cherish a pair of his soiled and discarded football shorts remains one of life`s compelling mysteries.

All of which made me wonder whether the BBC had now completely lost any sense of reason by hiring this charmless chancer at licence payers expense to embark on a broadcasting career, having said goodbye to professional football.   But it did serve at least one useful purpose, for the sublime qualities of `Our `Enery` and the incomparable Seve were brought into sharp relief with the stumbling ineptitude of the ridiculous Robbie Savage, thus confirming their respective status in the hearts and minds of the sporting public. 

No contest.  Some goodbyes, you see, are heartfelt and sincere.   Others are met with a sigh of relief.  

Friday, May 06, 2011


TURNERING IN HIS GRAVE ?

I`ve never really understood why the annual Turner Prize is named for JMW Turner, one of the country`s greatest artists and recipient of the recently opened Turner Contemporary Gallery in downtown Margate.   Maybe someone can enlighten my philistine approach to matters concerning modern `art,` as I grapple with the shortlist of entries for this year`s Turner Prize which has now been published.

It includes Karla Black’s `What To Ask For Others` - pictured above, which has been fairly accurately described as `a skinned dog suspended in a shopping bag` - and  which apparently typifies the ‘vulnerable beauty’ of her art, according to judges.   Black creates her works from a variety of unusual materials, including lipstick, flour, bath salts, plaster, petroleum jelly and soil.  

Hilary Lloyd’s work is described as ‘slightly voyeuristic’ and features video screens and projectors showing images of building sites, highway bridges and other eerie urban scenes, while George Shaw paints suburban scenes of ‘foreboding and danger’ using Humbrol enamel paints, of the kind often used by model makers.  Martin Boyce, meanwhile, specialises in installations inspired by Modernism, which have included items such as fences, chairs, rubbish bins and neon lights.

Now just up the road from me, a neighbour is embarking on an extension to his house.   As a result, he has a skip in his front garden which contains the soil from digging out the footings and assorted material from a discarded conservatory.   As I passed the skip yesterday, it struck me as symbolising the essential conflict between past and present, reaffirming the truism that the only constant thing in life - and, indeed, the here and now - is change, whilst at the same time accentuating the sharp difference between the spartan minimalism of yesterday and the heroic materialism of today. 
 
The point is, of course, that my neighbour`s skip has as much artistic relevance as all the smug pretension of anything you will find in Tate Modern come November, when the verdict is announced.   It seems entirely logical and deliciously appropriate for the £40,000 Turner Prize money to be stumped up by Gordon`s Gin, as maybe the only way to appreciate the entries is through the vague mist of an alcoholic stupor.   As for the great JMW, he must surely be turning in his grave, for to be associated with Margate is one thing but to be associated with the establishment equivilent of my neighbour`s skip might just be a commission too far.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011


DON`T WORRY, THEY`RE HERE..

There has been a lot of misinformation leading up to tomorrow`s local council elections and the referendum about changing the voting system.   I have to confess almost total indifference to either, an attitude brought about largely by the petty squabbling between our mainly national politicians who seem to have little better to do than to score political points off each other and indulge in schoolyard bullying and name calling.  Well, if their antics don`t turn you off politics, I don`t know what will.

And it`s pretty clear that one particular `story` that has emerged in recent days is yet another deliberate attempt at the kind of pre-election `mindgames` designed to influence the way we vote.   The `story` in question refers to the Arc Manche, an idea dreamt up by the EU 15 years ago in an attempt by Brussels Eurocrats to break down national barriers across Europe.   In fairly typical EU style, the Arc Manche was devised, without asking anyone, as a cross-border region comprising northern France and southern England and in 2005, a special assembly was created to include `representatives` from those areas.  

As such, of course, the Arc Manche has to have its own President - some unknown French politician apparently - its own transnational emblem (aka logo) and a muti-million euro annual budget to pursue its curious `projects.`  These include a £7.6million network of cross-channel cycle lanes;   a £2million programme of cross-channel contemporary art tours;   and a £5.5million scheme to pay for circus clowns to perform throughout the Arc Manche region.

It`s doubtful that projects of this kind will provide us long suffering taxpayers with any semblence of value for money, especially in times of economic stringency.   Value for money is, of course,  a concept quite foreign to our friends in Brussels, as witnessed by their recent demands for a 5.9% budget increase which would take the UK`s annual contribution to the EU above the £10billion mark - £400 for every UK household.

Now it may well be that the emergence of this 15-year old Arc Manche business has come to the fore deliberately in advance of tomorrow`s elections, in which case it should perhaps be treated with the scepticism it might deserve.   But please don`t bother to send in the clowns - they`re here in the EU already.
 

Monday, May 02, 2011

Sunday, May 01, 2011


....Me too!!   I can`t bring myself to face my neighbour Mr. Slightly, who has once again put the mockers on his beloved Gillingham FC by actually going to Priestfield Stadium yesterday to watch them lose 4-2 to lowly Macclesfield in a game the Gills could have done with winning to keep their play-off hopes alive.   I know how he feels, so I`ll just keep quiet and hope the Gills` form returns as Slightly must surely be speechless himself.

Our heroic, iconic pacy flanker went all the way to Walsall only to sit on Charlton`s bench and nurse his tweaky hamstring.   His Dad went too, so I expect they`re speechless as well, especially as Charlton`s dismal run of results under manager Chrissy (The Legend) Powell continued yesterday with a 2-0 defeat.

As for me, my speechlessnes stems from the fact that whilst the Saints were thumping Brentford 3-0 at Griffin Park, our arch rivals Huddersfield went to Brighton and won 3-2 with the last kick of the game.  Conspiracy theories are abounding but this result means that Saints go to Plymouth tomorrow in a game which each team needs to win - Saints to cement their automatic promotion bid; Plymouth to stave off relegation.   I think the best thing I can do is to remain speechless until there`s something to say.   Could be a while.