NORMALLY a visit to Lymington is quite pleasant.

It’s not a big town but has one of the longest high streets I’ve ever seen with every sort of shop, store, café, pub etc you need.

But the town’s main building is the statuesque St Thomas’ church, where the public thanksgiving service was held for Leon Crouch.

I must say, Leon would have been proud of his three daughters for the speeches they gave.

I was also asked to give a little tribute and, with more than 700 there, I have to say I was a little nervous.

For such a big crowd of people to be there shows how popular the man was.

Leon was a total legend in Lymington for the good things he had done, the donations he made to all sorts of charities and families with problems.

Ironically, he had made big donations over the years to Oakhaven Hospice, where he sadly spent his last days.

Mick Channon and Mark Dennis were there and former Southampton manager, Nigel Pearson, came down from Sheffield with his wife.

Ross Wilson was representing the club, who I must say has to be congratulated, as I said last week, for the way they organised the minute’s applause before the game against AFC Bournemouth

The leaving of flowers for the family both in the ground and outside was also a lovely touch.

There was a lighter atmosphere than I expected in the church.

Both the family and myself were able to talk about the cheekier side to Leon’s character.

I was able to repeat one story his dear friend Patrick Trant told me.

They used to go on the occasional golf trip together and while checking in at one overseas club, the gentleman at the desk said ‘name please’. Leon replied ‘Leon ‘d’Artagnan’ Crouch (this was a name Leon often used).

The man said ‘Oh Crouch, as in the footballer Peter Crouch? Leon, who was only 5ft 4in, replied: “I’m his father, but his mother was 7ft tall!”

As you would expect there were also many business people at the service, people Leon dealt with during his remarkable rise.

The youngest of six children from a working-class family, one of Leon’s daughters revealed that as he built up his engineering business there were times when he had to sleep in his car before eventually making it to the top.

Total respect was given to him from everyone I spoke to.

He will be very much missed by so many and full marks to everyone who turned up.

He never wanted publicity or for people to know when he was making donations etc. But everyone knows now and so they should.

One of the great things he did of course was save Southampton Football Club,. Everyone was delighted when the Liebherr family took over.

But without Leon there would not have been a club for them to take on. On leaving the church, the vicar and choir led the way, followed by the family and everyone else to the tune of When the Saints go Marching In.

As I’ve said before I also think it would be perfectly fitting for the club to commission a statue of Leon, who of course ensured the tribute to Ted Bates, another legend, outside St Mary’s. God bless and rest in peace, Lord Leon.

MANY people wore red and white at the thanksgiving service for Leon Crouch, at his request not to wear black, but I joked that there were also a lot of people in blue suits, which Leon would not normally have liked. But after the 4-0 win at Portsmouth the night before I’m sure he wouldn’t have minded!

Well done to Ralph and the team. The incredible atmosphere came through to my living room as I watched on TV and to be fair I was quite impressed with Portsmouth’s passing, movement and teamwork bearing in mind they’re a League One team.

But their finishing was poor. They were unlucky with the one that struck the bottom of the post but half-decent chances were missed.

That is probably the most significant difference between League One and Premier League teams. The first two goals finished the game. It was good for Danny Ings, who has struggled to score goals in the Premier League this season.

Finishing like he did will give him that boost he needs ahead of a very different game against Spurs today.

It was interesting to hear Ralph Hasenhuttl say he’d never experienced an atmosphere like the one at Fratton Park before.

That’s quite something bearing in mind he’s experienced many derby matches throughout his playing and managerial career around Europe. But we all know this one is a bit different.

People can now talk about 2019 like they’ve talked about 1984 for the last 35 years.

But the draw away to Manchester City has brought Southampton fans back to earth.

Crawley Town or Colchester would have been a good reward for the derby win but to draw the holders and last year’s Premier League champions away from home was disappointing.

However, the message from Ralph should be ‘there’s no need to score four. 1-0 will do!’

COINCIDENTALLY, I was already due to go to Lymington on the day of the thanksgiving service for Leon Crouch.

Before heading to the church I helped out one of our ex-players, Nicky Banger, who for many years now has been the CEO of a charity called the Knights Foundation.

Nicky has worked ever so hard and done a wonderful job. He has been aiming for a long time to raise enough money to buy a lodge at New Milton on a site which has to be seen to be believed.

Ex-players like Kevin Keegan, Mick Channon and Matt Le Tissier have joined me in helping raise the money and it’s gone so well I was able to open the new lodge along with scores of families and representatives of companies that have also helped.

It’s enabled families with a mentally or physically disabled child to have a free week’s holiday in a fantastic building with a special bath and toilet/shower facilities, a lot of which were donated by companies represented at the service for Leon.