FOOTBALL clubs are often upheld as vital parts of their local community, but it can be hard to pin down exactly what that means.
Perhaps it’s raising money for charity or maybe it’s sending coaches into schools to chat to youngsters.
It could just be the simple of act of being there, so that a community of like-minded individuals builds up around you.
The reason for this somewhat random question is that for the last few weeks I have found my life taken over by my work on the impact the sinking of Titanic had upon Southampton 100 years ago.
In the last few days, I’ve made public a list and map of all the crew members who came from Southampton, and it really does paint a stark picture of how big this event was (if you’re interested,
you can find it at dailyecho.co.uk/titanic).
Admittedly, it’s not something that immediately screams football at you but in looking at what people were saying about the list, I stumbled across a discussion on a Saints fans site about what the
club could do to mark the centenary in April.
Some argued that the club should do nothing at all. It’s an historic event with little or no impact upon people’s lives today and certainly had nothing to do with the club, other than a lot of
those who died may have been to The Dell or The Antelope Ground to watch games.
I can see the point, but I think it fails to grasp the real matter at hand.
When Saints moved to St Mary’s in 2001, it was heralded as the club coming home, returning to its roots. A link with its history.
Well you can’t celebrate history and then ignore it at the same time.
The Titanic sinking was arguably the biggest thing to ever happen to Southampton.
Indeed, the very road that the stadium now sits on, Britannia Road, was home to three people who perished in the sinking.
It’s part of the fabric of the city, just as The Blitz, the docks, the walls and Southampton FC are.
We play Reading at St Mary’s on April 14, the very day the ship struck the iceberg and it will be the biggest gathering of people in the city that day.
I don’t know what the club have planned, if anything, but a simple minute’s silence and the flags at half-mast to commemorate the 547 souls from Southampton lost that day would be the perfect way
to underline the fact that Southampton Football Club is not just a sport business, but a real part of the community of the city.