Tag Archives: Soccer

20 up for Saints!

We are one week away from the new Premier League season, the 27th of it’s kind since the financial revolution surrounding the ‘people’s’ game changed football forever.

It also happens to be the 20th Premier League campaign for Southampton Football Club. An achievement to be proud of for a club that has never been level in terms of resources with the giants of the era. Even more so when you realise that of the previous 19 campaigns, 7 have resulted in top 10 finishes. A club once synonymous with relegation battles actually has more mid to top half Premier League league finishes. Our average league position in the Premier League is 12.8th which given the restrictions placed on us by the Dell, the perennial harvesting of our best talent,  the infliction of messrs Branfoot, Wigley, Gray, Redknapp, Pellegrino and Puel, a financial meltdown and a self inflicted long term hiatus can truly be seen as a decent return.

In that time we’ve provided one of the most entertaining players ever to grace the modern game who dominated the goal of the season competition, continuously produced exciting young British talent who have become mainstays in the best league in the world, masterminded accumulator busting shocks, pulled off breathtaking great escapes in the face of impossible odds, won 8-0, consistently taken advantage of Liverpool’s desperation for a title, gambled on players and managers others wouldn’t, #greykitgate, and of course, gave the world the Ali Dia affair and mocked ourselves ever since.

Say what you like about Saints, but the Premier League is always richer with us in it than without. Always a conundrum, constantly written off, proudly representing South of London in the top flight.

The ‘Premier’ club on the South Coast in name and stature. How will the 20th Premier League campaign go? Who knows? With Saints we could easily be pushing for 7th or praying for 17th. The one thing that can be guaranteed, is that with the exception of 2016/17, it will never be boring.

Strap in & keep the faith!

World Cup 2018 – Meme’s, Dreams and Penalty Appeals

“I think people should recognise that I am also one of the best bloggers in the world and not just talk nonsense.”

For Southampton fans, this World Cup maybe best remembered as the time our Dejan Lovren schadenfreude went global. After the calamitous Croat made the ridiculous claim of being one of the best defenders in the world, you just kind of knew it would be followed by a 4th defeat in 4 finals for the hapless head wanderer.

I mean, the best defenders in the world don’t say in interviews ‘I’m one of the best defenders in the world. It’s the same as when a bloke in the pub says they used to be in the SAS. By the very nature of the fact that they are telling you… They weren’t.

We should have moved on from this Lovren hate to be honest, but the bloke doesn’t make it easy. The arrogance and delusion mixed with his prolific record of losing makes him a sitting duck for mockery.

Credit where it’s due though, he achieved something I didn’t think he could. He managed to have me cheering against a rather likeable Croatia team in favour of France. FRANCE. I wanted drastically overrated walking meme Paul Pogba to walkaway with a World Cup winners medal, trophy dab and all, more than I wanted to see glee on the face of little Luka Modric. Remarkable.

But what was better than one of the best defender’s in the world conceding four goals in the final?

The ‘It’s Coming Home’ Movement.

I, like many others lost faith in the England team a long time ago, and it’s difficult to describe what actually happened, but Harry Kane’s last minute winner against Tunisia seemingly turned everything on it’s head. I haven’t experienced English support like this since France ’98. Pubs in full swing, singing and a real sense of unison. The type of support was even different, less ‘Ten German Bombers’ and more Atomic Kitten.

On the pitch, we had players we could believe in again, and off it we had one of the greatest meme takeovers the internet has ever seen. The ‘It’s coming home’ memes were fantastic, and obviously only ever a subtle dig at ourselves, yet of course it was construed as arrogance by the ‘Anyone but England’ brigade. Divs.

We got to the semi final. That was far beyond our expectations, yet at that point you have to start believing you have a chance of winning it right? Arrogance again apparently.

Ultimately, football didn’t come home, but a restored sense of national pride did. It really was a fantastic few weeks to be a football supporter, even an English one.

Now when does the Premier League start?

THE WINNERS OF THE 2017/18 ALI’S! THE RESULTS ARE IN!

This is always one of the most fun and interesting times of the year for me. Reading through the voting forms is always a funny experience, and captures the melancholy/terrace humour of being a Saints fan perfectly.

Again, the response has been great, so thank you to everybody who took the time, especially after a torrid season.

Everyone associated with Saints covets one of these precious trophies*:-

And now we find out who has go their hands on one!

Here are YOUR winners…

Player of the Year

This was calculated like so:- Each player got 2 points for a vote as winner and one point for a vote as runner up. Here are all those that received votes and their points percentage.

Scored points:- Nobody, Sam McQueen, Mario Lemina, Olufela Olomola. Jan Bednerak, Shane Long, Cedric, Manolo Gabbiadini, Wesley Hoedt, Les Reed, Fraser Forster, Mauricio Pellegrino, U15’s kid & The Kitman (<1%), Oriol Romeu, Sofiane Boufal & Jeremy Pied (1%), Ryan Bertrand, Matt Targett, Charlie Austin & Jack Stephens (2%), James Ward-Prowse (5%), Dusan Tadic (6%)

3rd Place:- Maya Yoshida (7%)

2nd Place:- Pierre Emile Høijbjerg (18%)

And the winner is…..with a dominant 46% of the points with his impressive displays in the run in of the season….

Most Improved Player

Received Votes:- Nathan Redmond & Fraser Forster (1%), Matt Targett & Maya Yoshida (3%), James Ward-Prowse (5%), Jack Stephens (8%)

3rd Place:- Alex McCarthy (15%)

2nd Place:- Jan Bednarek (17%)

And the winner is…..

Young Player of the Year

Received Votes:- Enzo Robise, Stuart Taylor, Did we play any kids?, James Ward-Prowse, Sam McQueen & Jake Vokins (2%), Michael Obafemi (4%), Matt Targett (5%),  Pierre Emile Høijbjerg (8%)

3rd Place:- Jan Bednarek (15%)

2nd Place:- Jack Stephens (21%)

And the winner is….

Unsung Hero

Received Votes:- Manolo Gabbiadini, David in Sweden, Whoever got rid of ‘My Way’, Jack Stephens, Jeremy Pied & Mauricio Pellegrino (1%), Nathan Redmond, Alex McCarthy, Dusan Tadic, Forbsey & Kelvin Davis (3%), Stuart Taylor, Oriol Romeu, James Ward-Prowse, Jan Bednarek, Ryan Bertrand & Shane Long (4%), The Fans (7%)

3rd Place:- Cedric (9%)

2nd Place:- Pierre Emile Høijbjerg (14%)

And the winner is…..

Signing of the Season

Received Votes:- Sure for Men (2%), Wesley Hoedt, Guido Carrillo & All shit (3%), Quincy Promes (10%)

3rd Place:- Jan Bednarek (12%)

2nd Place:- Mark Hughes (30%)

And the winner is…..

Performance of the Season (Team or Individual)

Received Votes:- Gabbiadini v Swans (A), Boufal v WBA (H), van Dijk v Leicester (H), Team v Fulham (A), Team 1st 60 v Chelsea (H), Long v Swans (A) & Media Team Taylor Announcement (1%), McCarthy v Bournemouth (H) & Team v Bournemouth (H) (7%), Lemina v Palace (A) (10%)

3rd Place:- Tadic v Bournemouth (H) (12%)

2nd Place:- Team v Everton (H) (14%)

And the winner is…….Team v Swansea (A)

Goal of the Season

Received Votes:- Nathan Redmond & We scored? (1%), Boufal v West Ham (3%), Yoshida v Stoke (4%)

3rd Place:- Lemina v WBA (9%)

2nd Place:- Gabbiadini v Swansea (17%)

And the winner is…..for that ridiculous solo run and finish v WBA….

Comedy Moment sponsored by Marriott Hotels

Received Votes:- Bournemouth getting stage fright at St. Mary’s. Again., Pompey Owner publicly praising Gareth Bale’s South Coast development, Lemina’s air shot, Mark Hughes saying how nice the stay in Cardiff was, Ralph Krueger’s five pledges, Champion’s League final schadenfreude, Carrillo calling Pellegrino ‘The Master’, Summer Scouse meltdown over van Dijk, Liverpool’s public apology, Scoring four against Everton, Alonso’s challenge on Long, Mark Hughes marching the team to the Liberty, WBA Taxi chants, Swansea Ball Boy, There were three teams worse than us, Tadic striptease, Ralph Krueger saying Pellegrino is the perfect coach, Boufal’s sulk & Austin accepting McCarthy’s man of the match award (1%), Ralph Krueger’s interviews, Tadic’s celebration at 5-2 down, All the injury time goals conceded, The Watford handball & Puel beating us 4-1 (2%), Hoedt’s defending, Pellegrino’s claim about playing attacking football, Bertrand time wasting v Bournemouth & Signing Carrillo (4%), WBA defending v Boufal (7%)

3rd Place:- Hiring Pellegrino (8%)

2nd Place:- Swansea’s failed sabotage attempts (13%)

And the winner is….Pierre Emile Høijbjerg kicking Jack Stephens in the groin during his goal celebration at Wigan!

Best Opposition Team

Received Voted:- West Ham, Referees & Southampton A (2%), Watford (3%), Leicester (4%), Chelsea (7%)

3rd Place:- Spurs (11%)

2nd Place (becoming a habit):- Liverpool (22%)

And the winners are…..The Champions.

Best Opposition Player

Received Votes:- John Moss, David de Gea, N’Golo Kante, Kenedy, Officials, Jack Cork & Mike Dean (1%), Raheem Sterling (3%), Leroy Sane, Riyad Mahrez & Harry Kane (4%), Eden Hazard (12%)

3rd Place:- Mo Salah (17%)

2nd Place:- Kevin de Bruyne (20%)

And the winner is…..

Best Opposition Fans

Received Votes:- Swansea & Liverpool (1%), Watford, WBA, Chelsea & Newcastle (3%), Wigan & Burnley (5%), Bournemouth (7%), Manchester United & Manchester City (8%)

3rd Place:- Leicester City (12%)

2nd Place:- Crystal Palace (16%)

And the winners are……Huddersfield Town!

Best Saints Related Tweeter

Received Votes:- Official Club Account, Shirley Mush, Nobody, Yershida, Lucy Highnett, TalkSaints, Swansea, ArchersRoadEnd, OilySailor, chrs00, Max Sopel, Rauschgiftsucht, benstanners, Liam Coward, Marriott Hotels, Billy Fingers (1%), DavidC00k, Tadic, Sam Dobson, Luke Osman, Simon Peach & SFC_Dellivery (3%) SaintsinFrance & crstig (6%)

3rd Place:- @mattletiss7 (12%)

2nd Place:- @AdamBlackmore (14%)

And the winner is……@L1minus10

Usually that would be the end of the Ali’s, but I realised today that i had forgotten to award the Ali Dia services to Southampton Award this year to mark the site’s 8th birthday. So to that end here is your winner (explanations not really necessary):-

The 2018 Ali Dia Services to Southampton Award goes to……

Gareth Bale.

So that concludes this season’s Ali’s! Congratulations and thanks to everyone who voted and massive congratulations to all the winners!.A big thank you to Alistair Downs for the Photoshop wizardry! Keep the faith!

For previous years awards results see here:- http://georgeweahscousin.com/awards-history/

Chris

*- There is no actual physical trophy. Soz.

 

2017/18 GWC.COM END OF SEASON AWARDS!

A difficult season for Saints, another decent cup run, but an undeniably disastrous league campaign that was almost fatal. But. It’s that time of year again and I have made the decision to do the awards anyway, if only due to the tough competition for comedy moment!

Forget the ‘official awards’  now it’s time for the only ones the real fans have any interest in! The Ali’s.

Who has stood out? Who will win one of these coveted trophies?

You decide.

If you want to have your say on who should be honoured, just fill out the following form, all votes will be anonymous and collated with the winners revealed at the end of the season!

For the ‘Player of the Year’ award, a winner vote get’s the player 2 points. A runner up vote gets them 1 point. The player with the highest combined total will get the ‘Ali’.

For previous winners see here:- Awards History

* – There is no actual physical trophy.

Chris

Be in that number with a Saints Legend!

Ever fancied living out your dreams? Walking out on to the hallowed turf at the home of football perhaps? Playing the killer pass that allows Brett Ormerod to steer home? Getting on the end of a Jason Dodd cross? Maybe you’d like to be on the receiving end of a Benali tackle? Or simply fancy the perfect view of Le Tissier’s grace?

Well now you can, and what’s more, with the help of this site you can get 5% off of the cost of doing so!

Play at St Mary’s with Saints legends!

Matt Le Tissier, Jason Dodd, Francis Benali and Brett Ormerod will be lacing up their boots once again to take to the St Mary’s pitch for a one-off four team tournament, and you could be playing alongside them!

Play With A Legend, the events company which brings you closer to your footballing heroes, is running the event for the third year at St Mary’s. The organisation was co-founded by Perry Groves, best known for his time at Arsenal (and Saints too of course!), who wanted to give fans the chance to play on pitch with their favourite ex-players.

The four team tournament will take place on 14th May from 6pm, on the pitch at St. Mary’s where you can get either 45 or 90 minutes of action, plus your own personalised kit, enjoy post-match drinks with the legends and have your photo taken. Friends and family are invited to purchase audience tickets to cheer you on from the stands too.

Check out highlights from last year:
To find out more and book your place ‘in that number’ go here:- https://www.playwithalegend.com/southampton-2018

Don’t forget to use the code ‘WEAH’ at checkout for 5% off!

Have Saints found pragmatism too late? Or will Hughes Spark them into life?

So, the Saints board finally caught up with the rest of us and lost patience with the Argentine Branfoot and gave him his marching orders (#youmarchon) after the frankly diabolical display at Newcastle. Too little too late? Perhaps, but the last couple of days has felt like a fresh start, and for the first time in a long time there would appear to be hope.

Now he is gone, I wish Mr. Pellegrino no ill will, seems like a (too) nice bloke, just wildly out of his depth. I did ‘celebrate’ his sacking though, and I feel no guilt in doing so. This isn’t a bloke on £15k a year who has just been made redundant from the local factory as the result of some Tory inflicted austerity scheme, who now has to worry about how he pays his rent and feed his kids. This is a highly paid man (no doubt already comfortably off from his playing career) who showed incompetence from day one. Worse than that, he didn’t learn and was loyal to the end to his turgid style and failing system. What’s more he didn’t even have the decency to resign when it was plain to see he was taking us down. He will have received a handsome pay off for his trouble and will now be having a lovely holiday in a luxurious resort. With respect Mauricio, I wish you luck in your future endeavours, but I am glad you were fired, please don’t ever darken our door again.

This current Saints board had never been more under pressure. They left the sacking of el confundido far too late, he should have gone after the Leicester debacle and in not removing him sooner have left us staring into the abyss with a very difficult run in. This is self inflicted pressure, and meant the job of replacing him was not an easy one. You could argue the logic behind the appointments of both Pellegrino and Claude Puel, both were employed in pre-season, and both looked like long term options, sadly both failed. Employing someone with 8 games to save the season is a different kettle of fish altogether. Premier League experience is absolutely essential, we aren’t in a position to be letting someone learn as they go, and in Mark Hughes we got the best available.

While Pellegrino floundered on the touchline, it cannot escape attention that the players were not performing to their ability, and that may have been a question of motivation. What we have now in Hughes is someone who knows this league, knows how to organise a team and won’t accept dropping standards of his squad.

To those who I’ve seen complaining about the appointment, I always ask the same question? Who would you have brought in? You can rule out the currently employed. Why would they risk it, when they can wait until the end of the season and see if Saints are still interested, and more importantly what division they are in?

That leaves the unemployed, and risking someone without experience of the Premier League would be one risk too far. The current Saints board are 1 for 2 when it comes to appointing foreign first timers, 1 for 3 would be relegation and their own positions untenable.

Hughes’ record in the Premier League is decent, there is no doubt about that, and despite a poor spell at car crash club QPR and this season with Stoke he would firmly be considered a middle tier manager, and here’s a newsflash. We aren’t a middle tier club at the moment, we are lower tier and in danger of being out of the top flight.  Lest we forget, that in removing Hughes, Stoke have ended up with Paul Lambert. A fate worse than death in my opinion. The point is right now we don’t have a ‘project’ to sell to a fashionable foreign manager like we have had in the past, we are in a desperate situation. We should be grateful Hughes has put his reputation (never having been relegated) on the line for us.

Yesterday’s press conference gave everyone a lift. A football man, talking a good game and not the riddle messr’s Puel and Pellegrino gave us. We need grit and we need fight from our squad, they have the talent. Hughes is the man to get it.

It’s time for the fans to stop the infighting and the ‘woe is me’ attitude to go. This is what being a Saints fan is all about. We had it far to easy for far too long and we got comfortable and we got entitled and we got lazy. On Sunday Mark Hughes will start his reign with a trip to league one Wigan and the potential to take us to an FA Cup Semi-Final and as we know from last season once you get a semi anything can happen. Then it is 8 cup finals.

Get behind the manager, get behind the team and as always keep the faith.

With apologies to Madonna…

Steve Wigley and Poortvliet
Mark Wotte and Dave Bassett
Alan Pardew, Wilkins Dean
On the cover of a cheap fanzine.

Stuart Gray; Puel, Claude
Picture of a coaching fraud.
Paul Sturrock and Souness.
Pellegrino, what a mess.

They had no style, had no grace,
Harry Redknapp twitchy face.
Gorman, Wise, Sturrock too.
Ian Branfoot we hate you.

Manager’s without a clue.
Fellows that weren’t in the mood.
Don’t just stand there let’s get to it
Strike the pose there’s nothing to it.

Coach.

The Weekly Rannt: Ex Infatuations

Yesterday Saints beat Watford 1-0. Perhaps not the most inspiring or dominating victory, but a victory nonetheless, and passageway into the 5th round of the FA Cup.

I opened up Twitter this morning to see what the assembled masses had made of our performance, the manager’s tactical decisions, maybe even an honest appraisal of the striker that was promised and how he will save our season.

But no. The first so many tweets I saw were all melancholy teenage angst surrounding the performance of Jay Rodriguez for West Brom. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure it was an impressive showing from the former Saints forward,  as he bagged a brace and duly put a van Dijk inspired (snigger) Liverpool defence to the sword and out of the cup, but should it be the primary focus of the Southampton support?

It’s an odd phenomenon amongst our fanbase, especially the social media wing of it that certain players are elevated to the status of deity when they move on.

If you read the words of our fans on twitter today, with no previous knowledge of Rodriguez and his time with Saints you would form the impression that he had left the club against it’s wishes on the back of a goalscoring season the likes of which could barely be believed. The reality of course is that he never looked the same after his horrific injury against Man City and scored just five league goals in the three and a bit years that followed it.

It’s called Jack Cork syndrome. Cork, like Rodriguez was a good player for Saints and a decent servant, but as the club moved on in terms of the quality of player it attracted his playing time reduced and at what was the right time for both him and the club he was moved on. Both Cork & Rodriguez went to clubs where they were more likely to play and neither pulled up any trees. Yet, every time they put in a decent shift for their new clubs, the Saints fans unite in their bemoaning of ‘the one that got away’ and how shortsighted the club were in letting them go.

The fact is the club have improved on both those players. Several times.

If you stop being blinkered and analysing one off games you will see that they aren’t actually being consistently brilliant for their new clubs either and there was a reason Saints let them go. Despite a considerably higher amount of game time for West Brom, Jay Rod has scored just four league goals for the Baggies, Austin has six for Saints in a third of the minutes on the pitch!

I don’t have an issue with still liking those players, or appreciating what they did in their time at the club, but do we need the constant outpouring of support every time they have a good game? We don’t put as much energy into supporting the players that are currently at the club!

I don’t know what it is about them that makes them so universally popular still, perhaps it is because they are clean cut young English lads? I don’t know. But the time for them to go was right.

Move on. They have.

Keep the faith.

 

My Ultimate XI

Dear reader, I’ve no doubt that this will open me up to some criticism and that’s fine, all I ask you is that you make that criticism constructive and debate worthy!

Recently Saints have launched their campaign to find the ‘Ultimate’ Saints XI.

As a fan you are entitled to vote for a Goalkeeper, four defenders, three midfielders, three forwards and a manager. Simple right? Not quite. Only those with 150 plus appearances qualify. That to me is an odd rule. There have undoubtedly been players who made less than that but had more impact than some that did, but anyway, that is their rules and like the submissive man that I am I shall simply take that restriction on the chin and vote while mumbling Dean Richards quietly under my breath.

The beauty of a public poll like this is, that everyone interprets it their own way. For instance I immediately decided I couldn’t vote for those I never saw play.  This was a sub-conscious but clear decision. This is MY Ultimate XI. To me the idea that someone in their 20’s is voting for Mick Mills is a little ludicrous. This is your team, not your Dad’s! But, as it is your team then you are entitled to interpret it however you see fit.

Due to my decision, basically anyone who played for Saints prior to 1986 was basically out. This might seem reckless, but no matter how good they might have been they don’t mean the same to me as they might those who were there at the time. And besides, olden days football was a rubbish standard right? (joke).

Anyway never-mind the reasoning, here is my team:-

This side would of course be managed by Gordon Strachan.

As everybody will think, my team seems self explanatory to me, but I’ll explain it anyway.

Goalkeeper:- Antti Niemi

The Flying Finn, was simply put, a fantastic Goalkeeper, and undoubtedly the best I’ve seen for Saints (even without the 150 appearance rule).  His shot stopping was often spectacular and he was certainly one of those keepers that was worth a few points a season.

Left Back:- Wayne Bridge

Now a star of reality TV, Bridge really was as good as we made out at the time and his further career at Chelsea, Man City and with England goes to prove it. The local lad I watched from debutante to high profile transfer exit. It seems odd to think he is two years younger than me!

Centre Half:- Claus Lundekvam

Our Claus, the Norwegian with a Hampshire twang to his accent was somewhat of an anomaly. It is rare in modern football that somebody earns a testimonial, even rarer when a foreigner does it, but Claus took the city and the club to his heart and backed it up with solid performances.

Centre Half:- Mark Wright

This was the first time when I was selecting where the appearance rule proved a problem. Wright only just sneaks into my own personal criteria, but I have to say the choices in this position weren’t awe inspiring. Wright was a classy ball playing defender, perhaps ahead of his time!

Right Back:- Jason Dodd

For me Dodd was Mr. Dependable. Over 400 games for the club and I don’t remember a bad one. Maybe not the most dynamic right back in the league, but one you could trust and never lost his affinity with the club, even drinking with the fans in Milan last year!

Midfield:- David Armstrong

Largely regarded as one of the most underrated players in English football, though he was recognised internationally. I didn’t worry too much about balance in my team, but I do feel Armstrong is key to that. A tidy midfield player who chipped in with goals.

Midfield:- Morgan Schneiderlin

Like Wayne Bridge, this one has a sense of journey about it. I watched this lightweight French kid who looked useless at first develop into one of the most accomplished midfielders in the Premier League. A defensive midfielder, but so much more, under Pochettino then Koeman he was consistently outstanding.

Free Role:- Matthew Le Tissier

The greatest of all time. Surely there wasn’t anybody who didn’t vote for him, except himself?

Forward:- Danny Wallace

This could easily have gone to Rod, but not Ray. Sorry Ray. Eventually I went for the one with the most goals. Again, I wasn’t looking at balance (but perhaps I was) but with one target man, I wanted my other strikers to be the exciting pacy kind.

Forward:- Rickie Lambert

Had he not continued his fantastic form into the top flight then maybe this position would be filled by a Beattie or a Shearer, but he did. Of course he did. Perhaps the first player to capture the imaginations of Saints fans since Le Tiss. A gentleman, and a great goalscorer.

Forward:- Marian Pahars

 

Impact. Longevity. Talent. The kid from Latvia who dazzled us both with his fantastic ability and his affection for the club. His celebration v Portsmouth still sends shivers down my spine, the man from Riga celebrating like he grew up in Sholing. Some will overlook him, but they would be wrong to, had injuries not hampered him I’ve no doubt he’d be talked in higher regard.

Manager:- Gordon Strachan

I spent more time on this than perhaps on any of the others. There were three periods as a Saints fan I really loved. Under Messrs Strachan, Pochettino and Koeman. Poch didn’t qualify so it was a choice of two. At the end of the day both got us into Europe after prolonged breaks but only one got us to a cup final!

So there it is. Make of it what you will, but please remember, this is MY Ultimate XI, I’m not asking you to change yours. There will be thousands of different combinations, all with great justification but ultimately democracy will decide! I do think the more recent players will win as this is an internet competition for the internet generation, but let it be said, that every nominee in the list deserves our respect and our gratitude for being Saints!

Vote here:- https://southamptonfc.com/news/2017-10-13/southampton-fans-ultimate-xi-sea-city-museum-exhibition

Keep the faith!

Ali Dia: Origins

Let me take you back to the Summer of 1996. It was a different time. Robson & Jerome were stunning us on a regular basis with their reworked classics and we were still the best part of a year away from Tony Blair and Cool Britannia taking the country and turning it on its head. It wasn’t all grim though, England had just put in a credible performance at a major tournament on home soil and were a Gazza boot lace away from a major final. There was an air of optimism, especially for this Isle of Wight student about to embark on a miserable (self-inflicted through lack of effort) A-Level campaign……

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