I READ A recent letter in the Soapbox columns from a Elaine and Jenny from Chandler's Ford and Bassett that was reference the Southampton vs Leicester City game.

The two ladies commented on how some of their fellow fans were proud to announce that they had walked out of the ground ages before the end of the game and how the twosome weren't rightly pleased with the actions of the escapees.

Any fan of any club wouldn't be pleased with seeing such a game and the result would test one's loyalty...especially if you see part timers leaving in their droves.

But what then tests one's patience and sympathy for these two is when they come out with a remark regarding theirs and the players and managers loyalty to Southampton Football Club by saying: "We're Southampton fans (not Manchester United), this is what we do..."

Well, as Kevin Keegan once said "you went down in my estimation when you said this" because you don't show any depth of support for the game by coming out with this kind of remark - because you are lucky that the team you decided to follow is only a short distance from your home and that you can leave home at 2pm and be back home by 6pm at the latest.

Whereas the "glory-seeking" fans who go to United games, regularly (or when they can locate a ticket by getting enough points to purchase a home or away ticket..or waited years to buy a season ticket...or know some one who can't go one week and borrow it) have to go away to every game and that entails us getting up at 6am and travelling more than 500 miles and not getting back until near midnight for Saturday and Sunday games or taking the day off for a mid week game versus some team in the Europa League, that you've never heard of now or ever again and as we did recently...not getting home till 3.30am..but we were part of a 62,000 crowd,twice the number that go to St Mary's, who see the second half as well as the first.

As some one who was an avid Saints home fan in the mid 60s and went to all the games, often after my paper round, I graduated to being a 110% United fan after meeting Bobby Charlton outside the old

Dell and went to Old Trafford over night on a Saints bus in 1969 and got dumped off in MR16 at 6am by my self with not a clue where the ground was. But I caught the bug and while on another Southampton coach in December 72 I took the telephone numbers of fellow United fans and set up the South Coach Reds branch of the United Supporters Club. We regularly took in 24000 miles a year often going three times a week and come home on a Saturday and play for our supporters football team, on a Sunday.

These trips took place from '73/'85 when my job prevented me from running one,some times, two buses of glory seeking fans who went to all the early 70s games that resulted in us being relegated and then to the Orient, Ninian Park, The Den and Bootham Crescent , York City and Ayresome Park & not getting back till 7am and having a shave and coffee and go open up for work.

Amongst all this may-hem we built up great friendships of people who have continued to go and still do when every game is still an away game that, as i said,y ou cant just book up to go.

You have to pay or the privilege of buying a ticket and they can check that you physically went - unlike some SO14 based teams that give U your ticket and one for your mate, who needs a sat nav to get to his home town ground.

So, I suggest before you come out with your mind blowing thoughts that you consider what these regulars do to support their team in such large numbers and for so long anD if you still have such an attitude that you give me a call and I'll gladly book you up to go on a trip, as I'll arrange to get a couple of tickets for you to go on a trip.

And while on my hobby horse are you a true regular...i'm sure you are..but your manner suggests to me that you are the kind who 'disapprove' of fellow Southampton people who go to Old Trafford. when they should support their

local team but happily dismiss the people who travel down from Surrey or up from Dorset to support Saints.

Mike Thomas