IT’s easy to forget the FA Cup starts back in August, but for Premiership clubs it doesn’t start until now.

Hopefully Saints’ third-round tie at Derby is the first of many FA Cup games this season.

I often wonder how the coaches from abroad look at our domestic cup.

Let’s be fair, even though all the other countries have similar cups it’s not treated in the same way as here.

Even after nearly 43 years, people still like to have a chat when they bump into me about the day we won the cup.

The open-top bus parade –which was going to be held win, lose or draw – had been estimated at 45 minutes but took four-and-a-half hours. A councillor recently told me it’s still down as the city’s biggest public turnout.

The size of squads these days, and the financial importance of league positions, means the FA Cup is an opportunity for club’s to rest their best players.

I hope that Ralph Hasenhuttl, who has shown so much enthusiasm, wants to win the FA Cup again. Let’s be fair, I don’t think any of our loyal supporters think we will ever equal our highest-ever position in the league, our second place (three points behind Liverpool) in 1984.

But the magic of the cup will always be there because anyone, on any given day, can beat anyone. Southampton should beat Derby today but it’s a difficult game no matter what team is put out because every lower-division club wants to beat a Premier League outfit. Their manager, Frank Lampard, together with Steven Gerrard at Glasgow Rangers, has made an impressive start.

But let’s hope, in a few months’ time, there will be a busload from our area travelling to Wembley with an open-top bus ready for the day after.

IT was sad to hear of the recent passing of the former Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood.

His father and grandfather had also been chairman of the club and Arsenal always had a special relationship with Southampton.

In my day the board of directors was a group of olde worlde gentlemen, many of whom had connections, with businesses in the area but never took a penny out of the club.

In fact they donated as and when necessary and they represented the man on the terrace.

My directors stood by me when, having taken over in the summer and took Saints as high as sixth by Christmas – we were unfortunately relegated, the first team to go down third-bottom.

The chairman just said ‘sort it out’ and Sir George Meyrick, a long-serving director, told me to get rid of the ‘pain in my side’ with a smile and a wink.

Guy Askham went on to become chairman and together with Mike Richards helped see the club through the modern era with their accountancy experience. I still see Mike and Guy at St Mary’s, where they are season-ticket holders at the back of the stand, but sadly many of the former board members have passed away.

Like the Hill-Woods, and the Cobbolds at Ipswich, Sir George was an Old Etonian. I believe Sir George owned half of Bournemouth (including Meyrick Park).

The boardrooms were full of similar gentlemen who made you very welcome whether you had beaten them on the day or not. I remember, after a game at The Dell, seeing a waiter putting out table cloths inside the Arsenal team bus.

Bearing in mind they only had a short journey home, I was surprised and told Mr Hill-Wood so. He said ‘well Lawrie, I also make sure there is champagne in the boot because, you never know, the boys might lose’!

I could tell many stories of the Cobbold family, the owners of Ipswich. Lady Cobbold was in charge but kept in the background. Her two sons ran the club but were total eccentrics.

Sir Bobby Robson, the Ipswich manager at the time, used to tell me many stories but his board, like mine, stood by him through thick and thin and of course he repaid them, as I think I did here.

One day the local newspaper sent a young reporter to the ground on his first day at the local paper.

He had been tasked with finding out from the manager what he was going to do about the ‘crisis’. He pulled up and got out of his car and bumped into ‘Mr John’ as he was called.

“Who are you, young man?” asked Mr John. The reporter nervously replied ‘I’m from the local paper.’

“What are you doing here?”

“I’ve come to ask the manager about the crisis.”

“What crisis? What’s happened?”

“You’ve lost four in a row.”

“A crisis, young man, is when you run out of £$&* red wine in the boardroom!”

Happy new year to all!

On another occasion Sir Geroege would not let the Cobbolds leave the Dell boardroom without a drink.

Sir Alf Ramsay, the Ipswich manager, was also in there. When I went to see him he couldn’t even stand up.I don’t think it was lemonade they were giving him!

They were happy days with lots of good memories.

It’s sad to see the end of the Hill-Wood family name but at least, like most big clubs, their name will forever be around the ground.