Southampton Who are You?: Channon, Keegan, Le Tissier – and Kenwyne’s coldness allergy

Jake asks the question

The return of a fixture popular among exiled Sunderland fans in the deep south, Southampton away; I recall seeing lots of our supporters on the Isle of Wight ferry when heading for a short break after one match. Eugene McManus, a Southampton fan since boyhood, is the gaffer at The Saints**, a pub named after the team more than half a century ago and welcoming to “housetrained” away followers (though it’s in Millbrook, about five miles from St Mary’s stadium) …

Salut! Sunderland: As I write, we both hover perilously above the drop zone. Has the season gone more or less as expected for Saints or did you think you could be a lot higher?

When the fixture list was first released it was clear the first month was going to be tough, some good performances failed to bring us the points. However, those points picked up in recent weeks were more than welcome but it came as no surprise that we would be in the bottom third of the table at this stage.

The nearest thing to a local game for Jake (in Spain)

And does our predicament, and the resulting pressure on Martin O’Neill, surprise you?

We have been in a similar predicament with Nigel Adkin facing the same questions and pressure now being heaped upon O’Neill. It comes with being in the Premiership, as well as Chairman & The Press raising eyebrows as many fans do too. Both are great managers and I sincerely hope (but not until after Saturday) that Martin can turn things around.

Is Nigel Adkins the man to keep you up and build on that or do you need a change?

I am not an advocate of change. We experienced back to back promotions and I believe we have the right man to keep us in this League and to progress to Europe!!

When you last went down, and then down again amid terrible financial woes, did you fear the worst or were you always confident of climbing back into the Premier?

It was a terrible period for us but what helped was our infrastructure, so with the right investment it was clear we would get back to the top flight. Little was known of Markus Liebherr but what he has done for our club should never be forgotten; to see him at the Johstone Paints Final with his camera taking photos of the crowd and himself at Wembley is a memory that will stay with me. He became a fan of our club and we all became a fan of his, his passing saddened us all and we are thankful that his wish for us to be in the Premiership has been fulfilled.

Colin Randall disguised as Monsieur Salut, by Matt

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When you consider the riches available to a select few, what can a club like yours realistically hope for (I realise most neutrals would feel much the same question could be put to us)?

As we feature in the Premiership top 10 Rich List our position compared to other clubs could be considered one of luxury. However, our chairman believes our club should be self sufficient so we will not see extravagant purchases any time soon. Money has been made available for the manager and I hope those signings will gel but if the manager feels more is required, we can only hope the Chairman gives him further financial support.

On which players does your survival depend and where does the side cry out for strengthening?

Llalana getting injured is a bit of blow but we do not seem reliant upon one source for our goals. Puncheon is on form and Lambert hasn’t really got started but I believe he will be up there at the end of the season. Defensively we look unsettled but again this may be due to new players needing to settle in. Personally I would like to see us strengthen further in that area.

Looking back, what were your thoughts on Gareth Bale and Theo Walcott when you had them – were they always self-evidently destined for the top?

When Walcott had the ball you expected things to happen. Although Bale was good for us he has come on leaps and bounds in the last two seasons. I remain of the opinion both we and Theo could have done with a few more seasons here but with our finances what they were we had little choice, it is inevitable in this day and age that clubs like ourselves cannot hold on to such talents.

Jake: a cry for help?

Mick Channon, Kevin Keegan, Peter Osgood, Matt Le Tissier – or others I have missed: who are the greatest players you have seen or wish you’d seen in Saints colours and who should have been allowed nowhere near them?

I was lucky enough to see Channon and Keegan play together and during that era we played some fantastic football but the skill, the goals of Matt Le Tissier make him stand out above the rest. His loyalty to our club and this town goes a long way to keeping him in our hearts and minds and I don’t believe we will see another talent like him; great goals are scored but not as often from one man.

Do you have any thoughts, good or bad, on Sunderland – the club, the fans, the region?

Due to my Irish heritage Martin O’Neill was someone I watched as a child and his success at Celtic was welcome. Sunderland like ourselves could be categorised as a neutral’s favourite, little is done to evoke negative emotions and away fans travelling the distances that they do deserves respect.

And what about players and staff associated with both clubs. I seem to recall Lawrie McMenemy did rather better for you than for us, there was Kenwyne Jones of course and didn’t you once have a full back called Kevin Phillips?

Courtesy: A Love Supreme

Lawrie did do good things with us, the FA Cup win in particular and signing the European Player of The previous Year in Keegan was a major coup. Phillips gained iconic status with yourselves but never repeated the same form here and statements made upon his departure left a bad taste in the mouths of a lot of fans. Kenwyne Jones put in some good performances but seemed to complain about the cold a lot which was why it came as a surprise to some when he went up North.

What will be the top four in order, and who is going down?

Top four in my opinion will be Man U, Man City, Tottenham and Chelsea … going down Reading, Villa and Wigan although would like to see QPR one of the three but no doubt their manager will get lucky, again.

Where, if not already mentioned, will our two clubs finish?

Am hopeful of a 12th position finish for us with Sunderland not too far behind

Is it time to stop worrying about all the cheating in the game and accept it as part of modern football? If not, which form most annoys you, who are the worst culprits and how do we stamp it out?

I think the cheating should be highlighted at every opportunity and punishments handed down to the offenders and should never be accepted in Football; some players’ reputations precede them and they have fallen victim at times due to this but more accountability for their actions is the only way to eradicate it.

The club versus country debate: who wins for you and why

Why not club and country? Pride in playing for both should be paramount to all players. But I accept that when certain competitions are played during our season it can be costly to clubs and difficult for those not of those nations to accept their leaving at what, for some, are pivotal times … no player should refuse to play for their country.

Will you be at our game and what will be the score?

Work will keep me away this week but I see a 3-1 win for us.

** Eugene McManus on himself: As landlord for the last three years of a pub named after our club back in 1961 – visit The Saints pub’s website by clicking here – I have done all I can to be closer aligned to the club. We are in partnership  with the Saints Foundation and have regular fund raising events for them, footage can be viewed from the city tour back in the summer 1976. When the teams open top bus came past the pub with the FA Cup hundreds were gathered in the car park and on the roof… few pubs in the town could match the atmosphere here for live games.

I have supported Saints since I was a kid and to take Bush Hill, the senior football team that I manage, to a local cup final at St Mary’s last year was a great experience. As for Saints I hope we will see successful periods in the future including trips to Europe.

Interview: Colin Randall

14 thoughts on “Southampton Who are You?: Channon, Keegan, Le Tissier – and Kenwyne’s coldness allergy”

  1. It was The Brook, Terry. It was (maybe still is) a great little venue. In the middle of some 1930s houses and next to a car window replacement place. Most extraordinary location but a wonderful place for a gig.

    I really don’t know where all the recent pro Kilbane stuff has come from recently Goldy who said “unfortunate the way people remember Kilbane cos his first couple months – coinciding with our slump in form – distorts the actual realism of how decent he was for us.”

    That must be the drink which convinced you he was decent. He was a truly shocking player. He may have been a canny lad etc and very pleasant but the man has been stealing money from football for far too many years. Dreadful. His conscience has recently got the better of him and thankfully he has retired. I just wish he’d done that when he left The Hawthorns. His abysmallness (if there is such a word) is equalled by the likes of Hawke, Cunnington, and Corner and possibly Allan Kennedy. Total crap in more languages than I can speak.

    • The Brook in Portswood is still going strong. Between the Brook and the Joiners they’ve pretty much got all the live music on the south coast.

  2. I loved trips to Southampton at the back end of the century. Used to stay in b and b’s down there and as an 18/19 year old, they had some great nightclubs and pubs in the centre.

    Saw Kevin Kilbane score a peach down there in a 3-1 (I think) win down there, unfortunate the way people remember Kilbane cos his first couple months – coinciding with our slump in form – distorts the actual realism of how decent he was for us.

  3. I used to like the Dell – the pub we used to go to was really friendly. Can’t think what it was called now but you walked through a semi detached suburban Mr James estate, past the old Hampshire Cricket Ground and it was on a corner. My memory says it was immediately opposite the ground but that may have been the effect of the beer I’d consumed prior to kick off.

    • Sounds like the Gateway. Opposite the away end turnstiles.

      Sounds like Jeremy visited the Joiners Arms to see Blue Oyster Cult. There’s not many groups that haven’t appeared at that little pub.

  4. I’d feel more confident if we had a Superkev in our ranks going down there at the weekend. I’ve only been to Southampton twice in my life. Pleasant place. First time to a conference and the second to see Blue Oyster Cult a few years back in a pub the size of my living room. Never seen Sunderland play down there.

  5. Two memories;
    1967, first trip to The Dell, overninght on John Tennick’s bus. We went 2-0 up and managed to lose 3-2. In the evening, went to see The Dirty Dozen because we thought it was a film about Leeds United.
    St Mary’s 2007 after Grant Leadbitter and Carlos Edwards had scored two tremendous goals in the last ten minutes to just about clinch promotion and push Saints into the play off zone. As we walked back to the station, we got talking to a lovely bloke from the Isle of Wight and his ten year old son who was absolutely distraught at missing out. I knew how he felt and suggested to his dad that he kept him away from the side of the Red Funnel ferry.
    As Saints tumbled down the league, I often wondered what happened to him and how he dealt with it. Hope he is enjoying the Premier League and that he can wecome us to St Mary’s net season.

  6. Been a sunderland supporter for 50 years or so. Haven’t enjoyed every year. The odd million now and then would have helped. Failing that, £100,000 would have done,
    failing that….

  7. What did Phillips say on his departure?

    Thought he done well there, seemed to score a lot for them – unless my memory is obscured.

    • He did well for them. Scored 20-odd goals in 60-odd appearances. After he’d left I believe he said he’d rather have signed for Boro for family reasons.

      I think the wadge of cash that was his cut of the £3.2m transfer (£1m?) from Sunderland swung it. Boro wouldn’t match it, Southampton did.

  8. Readers of a certain vintage, especially those from the London Branch, will recall some epic weekends at the Old Brewery PH in Whitchurch, in the late 70s and early 80s. Run by a brother of Phil Parsons (god bless him), it was open house from Thursday evening until Monday lunchtime. Turn up with loads of money and a sleeping bag and you were assured of a warm welcome. Big session on Friday. Watch the pub team on Saturday morning (OB, OBF, OBFC, OK). Return to the pub after yet another defeat at the Dell, and drink the rest of the weekend away. This is where Andy Jackson earned his nickname of The Juggler after an unfortunate incident with a large tray of empty glasses. Definitely in the top three of away trips.

  9. Another player we shared of course was Reuben Agboola, who again seemed to do rather better for Southampton than us.

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