IT has been a week mixed with sadness and happiness.

The passing of two managers from my era, Ron Saunders and Jim Smith, was followed by a happier occasion when I attended the Saints Foundation’s annual Pensioners’ Lunch.

Only last week I mentioned I was at the Norwich game with Mark Dennis and Dennis Rofe, two of our ex-players. I had a good laugh with them about how I had dealt with Birmingham when I signed Mark.

Ron Saunders was Birmingham’s manager at the time and a good friend of mine. He warned me how Mark was a bit of a character and could be hard to handle.

Sadly, only a few days later, it was announced that Ron had passed away.

Ironically, a couple of days after that, another manager from my era, Jim Smith, passed away.

Incidentally, Mark Dennis played for both Ron and Jim. Between them, they managed nearly 20 different clubs, but you couldn’t get two more different characters.

Ron as a player was one of the more aggressive centre-forwards. He played 392 games and scored 207 goals, mostly for Portsmouth.

As a manager, players would never want an argument with him.

Jim was exactly the opposite, he always had a smile and was the sort of manager who would put his arm around a player.

Popular with everyone he met in the game, Jim also had some measure of success and will be sorely missed, not only by his fellow managers but players and supporters as well.

Despite managing three midlands rivals in Aston Villa, Birmingham and West Brom, Ron was popular at every ground and that tells you everything.

I have happy memories of getting to know both Jim and Ron better away at the annual week at Lilleshall organised by what was then called the Secretaries and Managers’ Association.

During the day we looked at different coaching and training methods but the evenings were very laid back with a good meal and one or two drinks.

Everyone knew the problems and realities of football management and it was good for all the managers to get together, especially for the younger ones to learn from the seniors.

Ron and Jim were so well liked amongst their fellow managers but they were also family men. My thoughts are with their loved ones at this time.

THE Saints Foundation does so much good work in the community under Greg Baker each December they have a Christmas lunch for pensioners.

This year there were over 200 at the St Mary’s on a day superbly well organised by Marion Gealer, one of the health team.

Whilst they were having lunch I caught up with the four members of the 1976 FA Cup-winning squad I brought along as special guests; goalkeeper Ian Turner, captain Peter Rodrigues and two of the Scotsmen, Jim Steele and Hughie Fisher.

After our catch-up we made a surprise entrance and the pensioners gave the players a fantastic welcome. Many of them were either at Wembley to see us beat Manchester United or were on the streets of Southampton the day after, waving to the team as the open-top bus went by.

As well as the many other things it does, the Foundation visits over 300 pensioners a week.

Some visits are to care homes where they help the staff put on activities like circuit training and chair-based exercises. Or they might just have a chat with them.

Most of the staff are what you would call ‘rehabilitation trained’. No matter what position Saints are in, the Foundation continues to do a top-of-the-table job in the area.