Say hello before waving goodbye

Say hello before waving goodbye

Say hello before waving goodbye

First published in View from the Chapel Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Digital Editor

First published in The Pink, Saturday April 30, 2011

Take a look around St. Mary's against Walsall - and pay attention to the empty seats you see.

Not the ones that haven't been sold but the ones that can no longer be filled by the person who sat there.

Think to yourself who they might be, what they might look like and what their name is.

I say this as last weekend as I went to take my seat, someone I had never seen before was talking to the people I sit in amongst.

I had no idea who he was, but he was in his 20s and quite emotional. The stark expressions of those around him instantly told the words he was struggling to find.

Every year, as every season ticket holder will tell you, people come, people go. New faces appear whilst others fade into the recesses of your memory.

Some stopped coming after relegation. Others when they became fed up of the politics. Others when they could no longer afford it, moved to be with their friends or just simply lost interest.

I've been sat in my seat since Paul Sturrock was manager. Practically face around me now is different to those when I first strolled up the steps of block 18.

All but one.

He hated the players I liked, loved the ones I loathed. What I thought were unlucky great passes were to him abominations of football. Shots high and wide would be greeted by him slowly turning around to look at the rest of us, before exclaiming how the side just lacks that 'bit of class' in a thick Welsh accent.

Wind or rain, sun or snow, he would be there in his seat wearing some form of Saints clothing suitable for the conditions. He would come down from Cardiff for every match. In the seven years I've sat in my seat, I don't remember his seat ever being empty.

But it was against Hartlepool, just as it will be against Walsall and for every subsequent match.

I spoke to him every week. I never knew his name though. None of us who sat around him did. We knew a son of his worked in a hotel where lots of football teams stayed, we knew he was from Cardiff and we knew he never missed a match. Beyond that, we knew nothing - other than his views on the team.

He wasn't old. Mid 60s or so, I'd guess, so the news that he had passed away so suddenly was a shock.

When Lambert scored the opener against Hartlepool, I swear the first reaction of everyone around us was to just look at the empty seat.

By the time you read this, Saints could well have virtually secured promotion. But spare a thought for the fans who will never see it achieved. Never be able to join in the celebrations.

And as you take your seat against Walsall next Saturday, make sure you turn to the person next to you and ask them their name - because one day, you won't be able to.

Comments (10)

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9:19pm Sun 1 May 11

G0Rf says...

nice
COYR!
nice COYR! G0Rf
  • Score: 0

8:50am Tue 3 May 11

ian redhill says...

Dan, that must be your best piece ever, brought a lump to my throat as we have lost fans in my part of the Kingsland. Also Markus has departed, not around to see the fruits of his involvement. Spare a moment fans for those who are no longer with us at the start of our climb back throught he leagues and lets hope they are all looking down raising a glass to this team and back room staff.
Dan, that must be your best piece ever, brought a lump to my throat as we have lost fans in my part of the Kingsland. Also Markus has departed, not around to see the fruits of his involvement. Spare a moment fans for those who are no longer with us at the start of our climb back throught he leagues and lets hope they are all looking down raising a glass to this team and back room staff. ian redhill
  • Score: 0

9:13am Tue 3 May 11

Linesman says...

I can identify with that. Being a season ticket holder is more than just being the customer of a football club, it is joining a community.

In my case, the person who sits next to me on my left is akin to haemorrhoids. Constantly issuing instructions to the players in a voice just loud enough for me to hear, but not those that it is intended to advise.

On my right, my wife, whose comments are less frequent, but make a lot more sense.

We are surrounded by a mixed bunch, whose names I do not know, but are part of the 'football family'.

No doubt some familiar faces will be missing next season, and new, younger ones will take their place.
I can identify with that. Being a season ticket holder is more than just being the customer of a football club, it is joining a community. In my case, the person who sits next to me on my left is akin to haemorrhoids. Constantly issuing instructions to the players in a voice just loud enough for me to hear, but not those that it is intended to advise. On my right, my wife, whose comments are less frequent, but make a lot more sense. We are surrounded by a mixed bunch, whose names I do not know, but are part of the 'football family'. No doubt some familiar faces will be missing next season, and new, younger ones will take their place. Linesman
  • Score: 0

10:07am Tue 3 May 11

Saintsayer II says...

I already have Dan I was fortunate enough to get the same seat on a match to match basis this year and have sat wit 2 guys Bob & Chris who travel up from Plymouth every game bar one Fantastic fans who could not have been friendlier
I already have Dan I was fortunate enough to get the same seat on a match to match basis this year and have sat wit 2 guys Bob & Chris who travel up from Plymouth every game bar one Fantastic fans who could not have been friendlier Saintsayer II
  • Score: 0

7:55am Wed 4 May 11

mayfly says...

ian redhill wrote:
Dan, that must be your best piece ever, brought a lump to my throat as we have lost fans in my part of the Kingsland. Also Markus has departed, not around to see the fruits of his involvement. Spare a moment fans for those who are no longer with us at the start of our climb back throught he leagues and lets hope they are all looking down raising a glass to this team and back room staff.
A very thoughtful post, Ian.
It will be three years this October since we lost Jean; a true Saints supporter in the mould of Mrs Linesman - quiet by comparison with some but so knowledgeable.
She was utterly devastated when Saints fell from grace but would be very pleased at this moment with the recovery process.
There would be no raising of glasses with her however until the task has been completed.
See you at the St Mary's party on Saturday.
[quote][p][bold]ian redhill[/bold] wrote: Dan, that must be your best piece ever, brought a lump to my throat as we have lost fans in my part of the Kingsland. Also Markus has departed, not around to see the fruits of his involvement. Spare a moment fans for those who are no longer with us at the start of our climb back throught he leagues and lets hope they are all looking down raising a glass to this team and back room staff.[/p][/quote]A very thoughtful post, Ian. It will be three years this October since we lost Jean; a true Saints supporter in the mould of Mrs Linesman - quiet by comparison with some but so knowledgeable. She was utterly devastated when Saints fell from grace but would be very pleased at this moment with the recovery process. There would be no raising of glasses with her however until the task has been completed. See you at the St Mary's party on Saturday. mayfly
  • Score: 0

3:49pm Wed 4 May 11

brightonneil says...

That is what football should be about, not abuse, a coming together of people from different origins, different opinions all with the common aim of wanting their team to be the best, each one entitled to their own view on things. It may only be a game but it means so much to so many.
That is what football should be about, not abuse, a coming together of people from different origins, different opinions all with the common aim of wanting their team to be the best, each one entitled to their own view on things. It may only be a game but it means so much to so many. brightonneil
  • Score: 0

6:09pm Wed 4 May 11

Saint Shamrock says...

Very touching piece....and very true! I'm surrounded in the Kingsland by many different characters from different walks of life who's paths would never cross if it wasn't for the shared passion of Southampton F.C. How fantastic will it be to share a very happy end to the season on Saturday!
Well done you reds! :-)
Very touching piece....and very true! I'm surrounded in the Kingsland by many different characters from different walks of life who's paths would never cross if it wasn't for the shared passion of Southampton F.C. How fantastic will it be to share a very happy end to the season on Saturday! Well done you reds! :-) Saint Shamrock
  • Score: 0

7:47pm Wed 4 May 11

Andy Lombardi says...

This time last year one of my best ever friends was fighting cancer. We met and chatted about things and he told me he was still fighting it, admittedly he looked chipper but the detail told me differently. Only months later he was gone. I had known him and his wife since I was 14, some 40 years.

Saints have made the first big step on the road upward, but then you know that Des.

Still love you mate.

For all our departed fans.

R.I.P.
This time last year one of my best ever friends was fighting cancer. We met and chatted about things and he told me he was still fighting it, admittedly he looked chipper but the detail told me differently. Only months later he was gone. I had known him and his wife since I was 14, some 40 years. Saints have made the first big step on the road upward, but then you know that Des. Still love you mate. For all our departed fans. R.I.P. Andy Lombardi
  • Score: 0

8:52pm Wed 4 May 11

Tim 'the station' Northam says...

saintsayerII, contact me on timothypatston@gmail
.com regarding the 2 plym fans that go up to every game. really important
saintsayerII, contact me on timothypatston@gmail .com regarding the 2 plym fans that go up to every game. really important Tim 'the station' Northam
  • Score: 0

11:07am Mon 9 May 11

ewell says...

Great article, and so true.
Great article, and so true. ewell
  • Score: 0

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