I recently had a nice chat with Keely, one of Alan Ball’s daughters.

The family are thinking of setting up a children’s coaching academy in memory of their dad.

The Echo, ironically, have put in a lovely article remembering what happened 25 years ago – which I found hard to believe – when Alan came back to the club as manager.

The story behind this was simple.

I had resigned, along with Graham Taylor, from the England set-up a few months earlier and was invited to go back to Saints.

I didn’t want to manage again but agreed to help bring in a younger manager who I would work with.

A list of names were discussed but Alan was the one I brought up and he had cut his teeth and was still working at Exeter at the time.

I contacted him and quite honestly I think he would have walked back if necessary.

He arrived on a Thursday, two days before we were to play Newcastle United away.

We were in a dodgy position, 18th in the league, and sadly Ian Branfoot had lost the job because of the club’s situation and the crowd had turned on the board big time during games with abuse to the director’s box, both verbal and sometimes with things being thrown.

When Alan arrived the press conference was on the morning.

I had told Lew Chatterley, the trainer, to bring the players in in the afternoon and ready to travel straight to Newcastle on the Thursday.

In those days we went by bus as a Friday to Newcastle would have been a nightmare.

Once the press conference was over, I said to Alan I would do the first training session as I had been watching the team the last few months.

We had 13 or 14 players and I remembering placing the keeper between the posts, a back four, then a three and two others.

The three or four other players waiting included a young Matt Le Tissier.

I then went to him, put my arm on his shoulder and said ‘this one is special, You know he is and he does as well.’ I had been watching him in games under Ian where he was more or less used as a left winger, which didn’t suit him.

I brought him in, placed him in the centre in front of the three behind the two and said ‘when you get the ball sicken him with it. He isn’t 100 per cent fit and will probably fall over and then Alan and me will come and carry him off.’ After the laughter we went about the training session. I mentioned free kicks to be taken from the right and the left all from the maestro and, ironically, in the match we got a free kick, which happened to be dead centre.

He strolled up, hit the ball, it swerved and bent, the goalkeeper never moved and, along with the goal scored by Neil Maddison, a product of our Newcastle academy, he gave us a 2-1 win.

I remember going down to the dressing room at the end where there was singing and dancing and the trip home was long but one of the happiest.

From then on with Alan Ball in total control the points came in and we stayed up one point above relegation.

Alan and Matt formed a terrific relationship, they both respected each other’s ability and I used to pull their legs years later saying one of the reasons, of course, was they both liked an afternoon off.

Alan would often pop off to the races to pal up with his old team partner Mick Channon.

Talking of which, another look back over the years in the Echo was even further to 1982.

My youth policy, or what you would now call an academy, was up and running and another of the local players was David Puckett.

Dave had spent a long time as a substitute but his first home start was against Arsenal.

Everyone in football likes to be part of something which is a success for the first time, and the article mentioned that a week after that match, which we won 3-1, the club went top for the first time in its history.

David played a wonderful part by scoring two goals. He went on to play nearly 100 games and eventually moved on to Bournemouth and one or two other clubs.

Believe it or not, if you look at his history, he turned out for Lymington for four games at 51-years-old. He then had a career in coaching.

Looking at the team in which Dave made his home debut I suppose it helped a little bit to have Mick Channon on one side, Kevin Keegan on the other and Alan Ball behind him.

Incidentally, another first which I had forgotten was even earlier in 1977. A year after winning the Cup we made the long trip to Carlisle. We had about seven shots in the game but six hit the net.

This was the club’s biggest ever away win. Since then it’s happened three times – 2007, 2011 and 2015.