Having grown up in a sporting family, it was only natural that I took an interest in football.
Having grown up in a sporting family, it was only natural that I took an interest in football. I captained my school team, together with the Isle of Wight, as a youngster and soon had to make up my mind over a decision that would have a life long consequence.
Namely, would I be a red and white Saint, or a a blue and white Pompey fan. Maybe a gut feeling, maybe some inner wisdom, or possibly intuition, resulted in me pledging my allegiances to all happenings at the Dell.
My initiation came at the age of eight, when accompanied by a couple of older friends, I made my first of many pilgrimages across the Solent to cheer on the red and white stripes. If memory serves me correctly, Saints lost 2-0 to Arsenal, but not withstanding, I was hooked for a life time of following Saints through many trials and tribulations.
I became a Saints fan in earnest during the promotion campaign of 1978/79 when I mustered enough pocket money to afford the ferry crossing and a game ticket. Away travels to Bristol Rovers in the FA Cup (losing to Paul Randall’s goals, despite a foolish Saints pitch invasion). A league visit to Luton (8000 Saints fans compared to 6000 home fans!) and culminating in the final game of the season against Spurs which sealed promotion for both teams at Brighton’s expense.
I witnessed the halcyon days of Keegan, the Wallace Brothers, Shilton, Charlie George, Jimmy Case, Peter Osgood, Stevie Williams ‘n all. The 1979 League Cup Final loss to Nottingham Forrest was disappointing, but a great day out nevertheless.
Working in South Wales and emigrating to sunny Virginia, USA, has limited visits to the Dell and later to St. Mary’s, but Saints have remained entrenched in my heart.
One abiding memory in the early 1990s, pre-Internet, was clutching a short wave radio, hiking in the Blue Ridge mountains, trying to hear Saints score amongst the static.
Following Saints and The English Premier League has steadily become easier in the twenty years I have lived in this side of the pond. I used to have to travel 40 minutes in a car, followed by a half an hour metro ride to the closest sports bar that showed the big English games. I will never forget drowning my sorrows with fellow English expats after England’s final game at Wembley and the consequent loss to Germany.
Until this season I subscribed to The Soccer Channel to watch an array of English league and cup games. Wonderfully for me, NBC, a national, free TV network similar, won the broadcasting rights to the EPL League. So now I am spoiled to four or five live league games every weekend broadcast on television.
Incredibly, I am also able to hook my IPad up to the TV and watch every Saints game via NBC’s dedicated online screening. Needless to say, I’m in footy and especially, Saints heaven.
Despite only being able to make a couple of visits to St. Mary’s each season, the red and white blood still runs thick in my veins and always will. The blood pumped extra hard last season after Saints superb exploits and despite all the pundits dire predictions of a club in meltdown and its imminent demise, my blood has been pumping extra fast this season, and long may that continue.
If any Saints fans living in the USA are reading this, I would love to hear from them.
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