Last week, having recently made a donation to the charity Mary’s Meals via the Saints Foundation I was lucky enough to be drawn out of the hat to attend the launch of the two charities partnership at Staplewood. Unfortunately, as I now reside permanently in the desert (Dubai) it was a little difficult for me to get there, but the upshot of that was I was allowed to return a long overdue favour. With Saints in Europe for the first time in over 10 years, I was gutted to be so far away and not involved, so I appealed on twitter for anyone who might fancy picking me up some programmes from the games as a way of having some memorabilia. Paul Dawson messaged me and said he was happy to do it, and I was astounded that this stranger to me was not only pleased to help, but insisted on no financial compensation for his trouble. A truly selfless act, and when the package arrived in the post I was deligthed to find a Saints v Vitesse pin badge included! When I realised I couldn’t attend the event there was only one person I hoped could attend in my place! Over to you Paul! – Chris
After a plea and a tweet from a Saints Fan abroad on the first night of our European adventure back in August, an invitation was kindly offered to Debbie and myself to attend the launch of the Clubs new Charitable partnership with Mary’s Meals at Staplewood. Warmly welcomed by Ralph Krueger, and split into smaller groups by Greg Barker, our tour guide was the Head of Education, (I didn’t take her name as we were a bit giddy by then)! and also we met the Campus Cat along the way, cute thing that took a shine too the Christmas Tree.
We were given the full no holds barred tour, including the Press Conference Room (which also doubles as a team debriefing room due too the 70 seats, ideal for all of the age groups of the team or indeed the 1st team).
Next up was the corridor down to the changing rooms, which is in the same style as the ‘tunnel’ at St Mary’s, but with the noticeable difference that it has pictures of Saints ‘Legends” Mick Channon, MLT, Matt Oakley, Franny, Kevin Keegan and Peter Shilton ect. but also had the Hydro Pool, and showers, and of course the hairdryer!
The first team’s changing room, has no apparent segregation, as the club try to encourage togetherness and it helps with banter! As we were allowed to nose and poke around all of the changing rooms, it was noticeable that the younger of the age groups rooms were the tidiest, with the first teams room being very reminiscent of ‘teenagers bedrooms’!
At the end of the corridor was the boot room, and while it stank of wet grass and sweaty feet (think of a Ski hire shop smell x 10, and you’re still not even close)! Cedrić and Clasie’s feet are the smallest I have ever seen on a grown man!
Just around the corner was ‘Kitman Forbsey’s’ place of work, and he gave an insightful speech about the amount of kit they wash each day (around 300 per day), and how they wash and clean Goalkeepers Gloves – and as the camera was snapping away we found the clubs underpants!
Next we were taken upstairs too the Under 21’s and below canteen, with the sofa’s, TV’s, pool tables, and the explanation that they were not allowed into the 1st team’s canteen, they had to earn the right to enter that canteen! Into the first team canteen, which was almost the same, but bigger maybe and with more comfortable seats! Also on the wall of the Kids canteen was the list of some of the ex-players that have passed through the system.
Then through into the corridor where all of the coaches, and Ronald’s office is – and the Director of Football etc. and the analysis office, which has the fabled ‘black box’ room, while very well publicised it was obviously turned off!
We then braved the weather and trooped down too the area that hosts the Foundation, Education and all of the kids needs, which is about too be moved when the next phase of the building work gets underway.
The placements of all of the individual pitches was explained, how the kids progress around the campus, ending up on the first team pitch. We were also given access to the ‘dome’, the new indoor structure for the all weather training (there were a group of under 13’s training, and also colder inside than it was outside. What was nice was that they all came over too our group and shook our hands and said ‘hello’, as all of the kids going through the system are expected to shake everybody’s hands they meet for the first time that day and say Hello, (a bit like the first team do on the Matchday Uncovered videos), and that was really nice too see, and all of the kids looked at ease doing so.
Back into the main pavilion, via the hallway too all of the changing rooms, and there was a batch of urine samples sat on the side(!), see pic, upstairs too the first team canteen for the launch of the new partnership!
Katherina spoke very passionately about why Mary’s Meals has been chosen to be the club’s foreign charity, and Greg explained how the Saints Foundation would be working and learning alongside Mary’s Meals going forward, I simply can’t do Mary’s Meals and the partnership justice, the best way of doing so is too click the clink and support the cause!