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Could This Weekend Be The Start Of The Greatest Ever Season For Southampton FC
Saturday, 13th Mar 2021 09:12

Its been a roller coaster ride this season, top of the league and then a record loss and losing run, but all that will mean nothing if Saints can win the next two games and suddenly this could be our greatest season.

Football is a funny thing, it can give you the greatest highs, but it can also give you the lowest lows, in some ways it is rather sad that a whole weekend can be ruined by a man in a Saints shirt failing to pick up his man in the dying minutes of a football match, but when we sign up to be football fans this is the lives we lead.

In many ways I feel sorry for those who aren't football fans or for those who never truly buy in to following a football club other than spouting off on Social Media about a team they live nowhere near and have rarely if at all seen them live, these are the people that irk all of us who actually go to games.

Supporting Saints is not something that we chose, it chooses us, mostly by birth or for some because they have moved to the area at some point in their lives.

But for us Saints fans or indeed any supporter of a club that isn't one of the so called big clubs who attract the armchair fans, we are members of exclusive clubs where we have something in common with 99% of our fellow supporters.

I have been in Madison Square Garden in New York at an Ice Hockey game and seen someone in a a Saints shirt, in situations like this you chat together, of what part of Southampton you are both from and how strange it is for both of you being in New York, or for that matter whatever part of the World you are in.

I feel sorry for the Spurs or Manchester United fans who don't have this local camaraderie, in the same instance two Spurs fans or United fans bumping into each other would probably live 50 miles apart not 5 and would not chat about Bitterne & Millbrook but Basingstoke & Milton Keynes.

Little encounters with fellow Saints fans brings home how lucky we are to support a team that has this camaraderie and is truly unique & special.

So when the chance of success comes we should embrace it, as I mentioned this season has had the highest highs and it has had the lowest lows, but all of those mean nothing when those opportunities arise to have a little shot at glory we have to grasp them.

This weekend sees the start of what could become the greatest season in our history, firstly we face Brighton, a win against the Seagulls would see us all but safe from relegation.

Then next week we face Bournemouth in the FA Cup, we beat them and we are in the FA Cup semi finals and only two games from winning a trophy.

If we can do that this will be my 6th FA Cup semi final, I was present in 1976, 1984, 1986, 2003, 2018, although sadly it looks like this years will be behind closed doors.

The first four were very special in that suddenly the whole City had a buzz, the Saints supporters were looking forward to a game and we forgot all the previous troubles of the past and just looked to the future.

Sadly in 2018 that was not the case, there was too much negativity, the loudest voices on social media were not those telling the World what a great day it was going to be, but those who seemed to take some pride is saying they would not be going because we had been so bad that season, or the ticket prices were so high (most tickets were cheaper than at St Mary's) or they could not justify the cost as they weren't being entertained.

Since when did being entertained matter when a Cup Final place is up for grabs.

This year will be different, but it is time to get behind the team in this shot at glory, I won't care about a losing streak, if we beat the Seagulls and Brighton and go on to finish 16th and win the FA Cup, someone reading the record books will only see the stats that Saints have just had their best ever season.

So now is the time to banish negativity, if Saints win these next two games then suddenly the season will look different, the negative types will suddenly see why Ralph changed the team against Man City to prioritise these two games.

When Saints beat Bradford back in 1976 to reach the Semi's the City suddenly went Red & White, we suddenly realised that we had a chance of winning the FA Cup we knew it was a long shot given two of the teams in the semi's but we didn't care we lived for the semi final anything that happened after that we would worry about then.

If we make the semi's It is time to be positive, time to celebrate what being a Saints supporter is all about, if you cannot find any joy in your team being in an FA Cup semi final, then I think you have to ask yourself why you support them in the first place, what is the point.

This could be our greatest ever season and there haven't been many times we have actually been able to say that in March, as detailed just 5 times since we won the cup 45 years ago, personally I'm very excited about that.

Photo: Action Images

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froggysaint added 09:53 - Mar 13
We can but dream.

What you say about the Saints strip is true. My friend Simon was living in Sao Paolo when Brazil beat Germany 2-0 in the 2002 World Cup in Yokohama. Out in the street in his Saints shirt, celebrating with Brazilian friends, Simon was pulled aside by a TV crew and interviewed. He was asked if he was really a Saints fan. When he admitted to it, the interviewer told him that Southampton are revered in Brazil, as it was St Mary's player Charles William Miller who had introduced the sport to Brazil in 1894.

EvertonSaint added 10:14 - Mar 13
In 31 years of teaching in Southfields (1973-77) and Carshalton (1982-2009) , I only taught one Saints fan. Despite all his year group supporting teams the length and breadth of the country, he remained steadfast and always wore a Saints badge on his tie. Not one teacher commented on it despite the ban on emblems and badges.

I worked in Oman between 1977-82 and always wore my Saints shirt in games of football with the Omani kids who all wanted the red & white striped shirt by the time I left. I did give two shirts as prizes. The highlight was the Notts Forest v Saints league cup final. They jumped up with delight when Saints scored and commiserated when the final whistle went

Shakin_Stevens added 11:13 - Mar 13
Enjoyed the read, cheers. But I do wonder why you bother with social media regarding saints? It seems to get a mention in almost every article you write. I agree it's full of nonsense and it obviously annoys you but you're not gonna change them so why don't you just give it up? I did and I don't miss it at all, fairly sure you wouldn't either.

dirk_doone added 11:14 - Mar 13
I was at a Pakistan v England cricket match in Dubai when I met someone wearing a Saints shirt. You often see them on TV at test matches abroad, including the recent ones in India. I guess if you support Man United or Liverpool, such overseas encounters with fellow fans are even more frequent.

The Global Saints group is testament to how many fans we have in farflung corners of the earth.


darthvader added 11:28 - Mar 13
I have friends in New Zealand and i have sent them Saints shirts for their kids with their names on or their fav player ,the oldest (twins) are 22 now and still want them every couple of years .


Boris1977 added 11:39 - Mar 13
Enjoyable and positive article nick. Spot on about how the club gets thrust upon you - my uncle who first started taking me to the Dell made it clear early on that the Saints were the team I supported not one of Northern powerhouses.

I've had plenty of weekends ruined by blokes in red and white this season but come back for more because there isn't an alternative and it makes the victories much sweeter. COYRs

Bulgarian added 13:18 - Mar 13
A short note by a person that according to this article is a typical "armchair fan".
It is true that I have nothing but admiration for people supporting their local clubs, however this is not only the case.
I have chosen to be a Saint (or Saints chose me) in 1996 Bulgaria with no persective to meat a fellow fan in the forseeable future. Since then I have listened to all radio commentaries, and since 2012 I have watched 99% of our games on TV (well, we overseas desperate fans have our ways to do so).
And not only this - there are Saints fans that do not visit England often, but follow the everyday life of the club extremely closely on the internet. It is amazing how much quality information somebody can aquire if he is persistent enough.
Today I run the Bulgarian Saints community and I can assure you that there ale dozens of supporters in my position. We go to St Marys only on special, almost once-in-a-lifetime occasions. We follow virtually everything said about the club, we discuss it thoroughly in our own exotic language, we feel we know of Kane Ramsey or Harry Lewis as much as any die-hard fan working near the Bargate. And yes - we have our annual gatherings, as well as the odd meeting for collective watching of games, surrounded by crowds of stunned top-club fans in the pub. There is even a footbal club called "The Bulgarian Saints", and there are many fans in the country that you can call if you happen to pop in a specific place in Bulgaria ( https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1UvrtCag2CeInV48JdkBrYnbIW0g&ll=47.
So what I try to say is just an offer for an alternative perspective to Nick's view. Yes, the Saints community cannot exist without its local support - that's crucial if we want our club to survive in the Prem. On the other hand - believe it or not, Saints are slowly becoming a real global club with passionate supporters. The internet makes it possible, so if you want to be a 24/7 Saints follower, it can be done even without breathing the Solent air. What is funny enough, when a Sotonian meets such people he could be a little puzzled by the detailed discussions that may arise.
Of course, we are not the global trend of the CL favorites and may never become such in the next couple of centuries. But maybe here lies the exact reason for our love of the Saints.
Anyway, if Southampton are to remain an elite club for years to come, we must develop our global mentality. I don't imagine there is another way for the club regardless of a cup success.
So let us finish above 14th place and let's have a go at the Cup. We are long due a true trophy in our cabinet!

Shakin_Stevens added 13:33 - Mar 13
Nice one Bulgarian 👍 in defence of the author I don't think he was taking a swipe at people like you, you obviously care about the club and have to go to greater lengths to support it than most of us. Keep it up 💪👍

zitlig added 14:16 - Mar 13
Well said Shaky, Mr Bugaria sounds a more ardent fan than me. Finances allowing I make the solitary 160 mile trip from Deal in Kent. We have not got a point from my last 8 trips but I am keeping the faith and am truly appreciative of far flung support for our team.

wessexman added 16:44 - Mar 13
On my travels abroad supporting the England cricket team, I wear an England shirt with " SCUMMER " printed on the back. As there is a lot of cricket support 17 miles east from us as well, I get quite a few questions asked about my allegiance parentage and such like by people who frequent that institution in that city. Abroad, in far flung places it usually ends up with sharing many, often too many, beers. Cricket unites...

Foreverred added 20:11 - Mar 13
Yes saints fans are everywhere around the world, I have seen saints shirts in Times Square New York
And they were American supporters. I remember my late father taking me to my first match at the
Dell. It was an evening game in the old league cup. I was very excited to see a live football,and being amongst the crowd .as we made our way away from the ground my father said to me son you
Are now a saints supporter they will be your team forever now, players and managers will come and go but you will always support them to end. And many years later I am still supporting them through highs and lows they are the only team for me .they are unique, Southampton till I die.

SanMarco added 23:01 - Mar 13
Nice to read stuff like this - I suppose 'greatest ever season' is win the cup and a higher league place than in 1976, so even if we are relegated it is our greatest ever season? Only kidding.

I think 84 comes close. An off-day at Highbury in the semi cost us dear, I am sure we would have won the final.

AmericanSaint added 02:38 - Mar 14
Yes, Saints fans are everywhere. I can tell you that I have run into fellow fans from NYC, Bangkok, to war torn west africa. There red/white stripes are so familiar to us that we spot one from far away and will walk over to see if it is our kit and a fellow Saints fan. So let/s win on Sunday and at Bournemouth and see where this season takes us. COYR.

SaintPaulVW added 14:14 - Mar 14
Could Next Weekend?

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