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H’way the Saints

Thank goodness Saints can escape the perpetual gloom and negativity which pervades among the almost silent crowds at St Mary’s.

The tension which grips the terraces even before the kick off would appear to have a negative effect on the teams performance particularly in the first half of matches.

That said the manager Mauricio Pellegrino hardly helps by selecting a dour, one up front formation, for the first forty five minutes and only reverting to a more aggressive formation late in the game.

A fact that made his after match comments about starting games with more aggression a little hard to understand.

Saints particularly in the second half had the majority of possession and chances and only a good performance by England’s best goalkeeper Jack Butland gave Stoke the point.

With an amazing tally of fifteen corner kicks in the match almost all of which were poor and mis-directed it was strange to see James Ward-Prowse spend the full match warming the substitutes bench.

With the usual raucous travelling support behind them the trip to the north east may strangely not be as daunting as the deflating atmosphere at home matches.

Mind you as I told the lads from the local pub who are making the trip to Newcastle United this weekend it is as well to take a pair of binoculars in order to see the game from their lofty lair.

Portsmouth after a blank weekend due to the weather face a home match on Saturday against Gillingham at Fratton Park and will be hoping to get their season up and running again after the reversal against Blackpool in the last home game.

Hampshire yet again released the news of another star signing for the coming season with the news that the famous Scot Hamish Amla is joining and it appears he will be involved in both red ball and white ball games.

How divisive will this new habit of pick and mix be to the four day county championship in the future is still unresolved?

For far too long the longer game has been sidelined like some form of contagion which can only exist in the cold damp dark corners of the season, and if that was not enough some players now treat the game as if it was a democracy.

To any man of my generation the death of Roger Bannister is the passing of one of my life long heroes whose gentlemanly behaviour and modesty were an object lesson in this present age of commercialism.

Whenever he ran on my black and white television he had a lithe beauty that distinguished him from all the other athletes, even under pressure he continued to cover the cinder tracks with grace and elegance.

The film of his record breaking run on the Iffley Road track at Oxford always seems to be in slow motion and the last lap running past the spectators lining the track seems endless.

It was a golden age of amateurism long departed.

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