by, 03-11-2010 at 11:33 AM (1307 Views)
I have decided to write this initial blog entry as a way of introduction, as I haven't used the site much in the past. So I thought I would start at the beginning........
“Obsession is a young man's game, and my only excuse is that I never grew old.” - Michael Caine
So there I was, 5th December 1992, about to turn 14 years old and with no real footballing identity. All Britpop and long since lost socialist ideals.
Having grown up on the Isle of Wight in a family half comprised of Scousers and Cricket followers. My football influences came purely from my friends. I flirted with Liverpool, Everton and even Tranmere Rovers (still my second team) through my Merseyside connections but never felt that any of them were a comfortable fit.
I loved football. I knew that much. I just needed something more.
So when a group of Saints supporting friends asked me if I fancied a trip to the Dell I jumped at the chance. Especially as the opposition were an attractive prospect. Arsenal.
Of course the perils of an Isle of Wight upbringing is that it is easy to fall into a despicable trap, am I honest enough to admit that had some of my Pompey supporting friends asked me along to Fratton Park first, I could be writing this for some deplorable blue few site? Yes I am. Thankfully they didn’t.
At this point you have to realise that a trip to “the mainland” in itself is pretty special to us Islanders, but without your parents? And to a Premier League Football match? Dreamland. It took a while to persuade my parents, but my impending birthday won them over in the end.
We got the car ferry (cheaper than the high speed, Dad was insistent on this) at about 10 o’clock (didn’t want to miss the pre-match entertainment) and on arrival in Southampton headed straight up to Bedford Place. Ted’s was the first stop so we could have our pre-match portion of chips and with other Saints fans gathering the excitement was building. We decided to loiter outside a pub for a bit, not sure why, just to feel part of it I guess.
Upon the good advice of my Saints guide, we headed up to The Dell at about quarter to two “They might have a marching band or a dog display team” We walked up the long road leading up to it, past the garage and there it was. The Milton Road end. My home for the foreseeable future.
£3 on the gate for one child on to the Milton Road Upper Stand. I was in awe, we went right to the front, so we could bang on the advertising hoardings. I didn’t know why I was doing this, but I knew it was right.
The players came to out to warm up. 14 athletes, ready to take on a formidable foe. I had only heard of one of them “Le Tissier” and even he couldn’t be much cop, or he would be playing for a better team. I was fully behind them though, this was "David v Goliath" and I was a washed in a torrent support!
As the crowd grew, I could see the gathering Gunners fans. I couldn’t see their faces, I didn’t know these people, but never more have I wanted other people to go home disappointed. They were the enemy, the crowd reaction was telling me that.
I remember little about the actual match. I know we won 2-0, I know Ian Wright missed a penalty. The details were irrelevant.
One thing I did know for certain was that the Saints manager Ian Branfoot was a tactical genius and was destined for great things………
The smell, the noise, the swearing, the “terrace humour”, I loved it all. Even when somebody shouted something, that wasn’t funny, or was just mindless abuse of somebody else, or didn’t even make sense.
This was where I belonged, this was my church.
December 5th 1992
Saints 2 Arsenal 0
(Maddison 16, Dowie 53)
Saints:- Flowers, Adams, Hall, Monkou, Benali, Kenna, Maddison, Hurlock, Le Tissier (Banger), Cockerill(c)(Groves), Dowie.
Fans converted:- 1
Years Following:- 18
Trophies won:- 1
Cup Finals:- 3