Thought this post, from an American perspective, was worth sharing.
Particularly the comments about the fans he met on the day and interactions with the players post-game.
***LONG POST WARNING***
We got in touch with a young American Saints fan, Alec Weise, after his first ever Southampton game to find out more about the day and how he came to support Southampton. The reply we received from Alec (below) is simply brilliant ��
If you’re a long suffering overseas Saints fan you’ll love this Alec was only in S’ton for 48 hours but has said the memories from his trip will last a lifetime ✈️
�� I started supporting Southampton 8 years ago (2009-2010 season). I have always been one to root for the underdog and a lot of that has to do with where I am from, Milwaukee, WI. Our sports teams don’t have the money to spend like teams from New York, Chicago, or LA so we are often not very good. Every once and awhile we will get a special player or two and have a serious shot at titles but it isn’t common.
�� Anyway, growing up I never followed soccer because it just wasn’t popular amongst Americans. I played FIFA for the first time and instantly fell in love with the game. Then I started watching games on TV as I now knew the players and then I realized how amazing a sport it is. All I needed was a team to root for each week. I went down to League One, because I have always rooted for the small teams, and did some research on each club.
�� I got about halfway through when I found Southampton. I watched a video of Le Tiss and was just amazed by how good he was and at that moment I had my team. Each year since then my fandom has grown, especially since we have made the Premier League because it finally gave me a chance to watch the matches. If we were to go down this year it wouldn’t matter one bit to me as I will forever by a die-hard Saints fan and no one can change my mind.
✈️ I decided to go to the Bournemouth match because of our relegation threat. I am studying in England in the fall for school so I will catch numerous matches next year, but I wanted to make sure I saw my team play in the Prem while still possible.
�� The trip itself was better than anything I could’ve ever imagined. Going in I was worried that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations and that I would leave less of a supporter than I came to England as. However, I left two times the supporter I was before, which is pretty incredible considering I haven’t missed a match live on TV or radio in nearly 4 years.
�� The first thing I noticed the day before the match was how nice the city itself was. The city center was beautiful and I was blown away by West Quay. I made the walk to St. Mary’s to go to the team store and I was in absolute shock when I saw it. Having seen it so many times in pictures and on TV I couldn’t believe I was actually there. I proceeded to buy way too much Southampton apparel (kits were 70% off so I got 6…oops) and spent the rest of my day walking around the city.
�� On match day, I went to The Standing Order a few hours before kick-off where I met some amazing people. I casually went up to a table of Southampton supporters to ask them questions about the match day experience. They were AMAZING and helped me out a lot and asked me a lot of questions about my hometown and why I became a Southampton supporter.
�� After an hour or so sitting at their table one of the gentlemen I was with (@Madmarky01 on twitter, follow him!) and I left for the stadium around two hours before kick-off. He showed me around and told me where the buses came in and where the players would sign after the game. He also introduced me to another die-hard Southampton supporter who would help me out a ton after the game.
�� When I walked into the stadium and saw the pitch for the first time I cried… I’ll admit it. It was so surreal to actually be there. I walked around the inside for a little just making small chat with everyone that was there. The whole club and its supporters having an amazing family feeling about it, which is something that made me fall even more in love with the club. What was even more amazing was people were coming up to me and saying that they saw I was in town for the match on twitter and they were all so excited I was there and wished me a good time.
⚽️ When the teams came out to warm-up and came out of the tunnel right before kick-off I was still in awe of everything, but about 5 minutes into the match the nerves kicked in and all that mattered were the 3 points. Something I will never forget was singing “Oh when the Saints” for the first time. I am literally getting chills right now just thinking about it. Having the whole crowd sing in unison isn’t something I get back here at home.
�� The match itself was amazing. At the time I wish it was a 4-0 easy win for my nerves but looking back I’m glad it was a nail-biting win. The intensity and pressure made my experience that much more amazing. I’ll never forget Redmond playing through Lemina who then slid the ball over to Tadic who slotted past Begovic. The pure jubilation from my first live goal was something I can still feel when I watch replays.
✏️ Afterwards I went and met up with the lady who I was introduced to before the match (Claire Cradock for those of you who know her…Amazing lady) and she brought me to where all of the players sign. I got my kit signed by almost the whole squad AND Sam McQueen took off his warm-up top, signed it, and gave it to me.
���� What amazed me most was how kind all of the players were. They all were amazed that I flew out for literally two days just to come watch the match and they even called me the good luck charm, which may be true considering it was our first home win in the league since November! Outside of McQueen I want to give special shout-outs to Oriol, Charlie, Prowsey, Bertrand, and Jack Stephens who were all great. All of the players were nice, but these are the ones that really stuck out in my mind.
�� Overall I had the best day of my life, and I wouldn’t say it was close. Between meeting all of the amazing fans, the win, and getting to meet most of the players it was more than I could have ever imagined. Now I can’t wait to get back next fall and make even more memories. Most importantly, LETS GO GET 3 POINTS AT SWANSEA ON TUESDAY!!! Up the Saints!
Photos of Alec's day can be found at Global Saints