BACK IN the late 80s my son Chris and I were at the vanguard of a brave ‘family season ticket’ venture at The Dell, home of Southampton FC, ‘The Saints’.
Chris, then about seven years old, paid next to nothing (£10 for the season, if I remember) and I paid far less than I would have done anywhere else in the ground to stand (remember standing?) in the concrete monstrosity that replaced the ‘chocolate boxes’ at the Milton Road End. The only ‘catch’ was that we both had to go in together to be allowed in.
We watched Alan Shearer, Matt Le Tissier, Jimmy Case, Russell ‘Shoot’ Osman and someone who looked like a younger, slimmer Neil Ruddock run rings round the opposition…or at least that’s how I remember it.
Back in that part of Southampton for the first time in a generation I retraced our old steps to the game: along Northlands Road, past the old cricket ground (another RIP), left at Archers Road past the church, nip along behind the east stand and…there it was – gone.
Bizarrely the flats are in a large rectangle roughly the same dimensions as the pitch, but where once Terry Paine knocked it over and Ron Davies knocked it in bored teenagers smoke on tiny balconies and rusty bikes fight for space with windblown litter. I’m grateful to @ReddArrow for the aerial view above.
Apart from homage to the greats – Stokes, Bates, Le Tissier, Bates, Channon – in the naming of the blocks there is nothing that I could see that commemorates more than a century of footballing greatness.
But thanks to my new friends on Twitter at least the mem-or-ree lingers on. One little message and this picture prompted several hundred retweets, favourites and comments including one from my hero Danny Baker. There was predictable abuse from Pompey fans, serious discussion about the merits of new grounds and more misty-eyed recollections like mine.
Back in the prehistory of January 2011 I wrote that Twitter was “the biggest revolution I’ve seen in my time in journalism”. I never cease to be amazed that this lawless, irksome, bastard child of ‘proper journalism’ continues to surprise and delight. And long may it do so.
Follow me @alangeere