2nd February 1974
Old Division 1
Ipswich 7 Southampton 0
|What footballers used to look like|
Saints had travelled to Ipswich (if my memory serves me correctly it was a Saturday night time match for reasons I can't remember) and put up not much of a display at all in a 7-0 thrashing which I listened to in my bedroom. Much later that night, possibly into the early hours of the morning, I awoke to the noise of the party that my parents were hosting. I started to wander downstairs in my pyjamas to see what all the noise was about only to find my way blocked by none other than Eric Martin, the Saints goalkeeper who had let in 7 earlier that evening, and a few other players from the same team.
I was incensed (or as incensed as a young half asleep child in his pyjamas can be when unexpectedly coming across one of his heroes in his own home) and started ripping into Eric telling him what a disgrace it was that they were out enjoying themselves after playing so badly and letting the team down blah blah blah.
Eric calmly stopped his conversation with his team mates, drew on his fag, dipped two fingers into what I (probably naively) assumed was lemonade, and with a quick flick of the wrist shot drink into both my eyes, whilst uttering, in his broad Scottish accent, the immortal words "Fuck off kid"
So I did.:(
Fast forward 37.5 years
16th August 2011Championship (Old Div 2)
Ipswich 2 Southampton 5
|Modern day version|
We've played each other and beaten each other many times since, but last night we finally gave them the long awaited thrashing in revenge. Listening on the radio the final scoreline flattered Ipswich. But more importantly is the total professionalism of the players nowadays. The club has been through a terrible few years, it's actual existence being in doubt only just over 2 years ago. Since then the club has been transformed from top to bottom and the whole ethos is reflecting in the way the team plays. Back in 74 a professional footballer was just a very good footballer (this didn't necessarily apply in Southampton's case) who got paid to play. Now they have so much scientific research into their fitness and diets there is simply no comparison. I doubt any footballer with any respect for his profession would be caught smoking nowadays, although I'm sure they still partake in the odd after match lemonnade or two (all in the interest of team spirit of course).
In years gone by a Tuesday night Saints away game was a home banker whoever the opposition. Now our 9th consecutive league victory has smashed club records and had me casting an eye on the all time record (6 more needed for that). A 7-0 thrashing by any side simply seems out of the question at the moment.
There was one similarity with 37 odd years ago though. I once again listened to the game in my (considerably bigger) pyjamas. Some things never change.