With a couple of previous Total Saints Opinion's under his belt, TSP patron Alistair Downs reflects on his recent 40th birthday........and a 'Saintly sense of perspective'!
"Sunday the 20th of September was my 40th birthday.
As soon as I realised that the Spurs game would fall on such an auspicious occasion, the initial excitement soon turned into strong suspicion that a Saints win on my big day was asking for too much.
A brief Twitter poll confirmed my suspicions:
Living in New York City dictated that the Spurs game would be my 7.am wake-up call. Sure enough, I managed to get up in time, sitting with my usual levels of slim hope and high trepidation. As we all know by now, things began promisingly, but ended rather disastrously.
Come 9.am, I was, to say the least, a little deflated with life as a Saints fan.
I fired up the obligatory Zoom call to my parents for a birthday chat and the opening of my presents, which I'd promised would remain unopened until the call.
The gifts I received proved to be the perfect tonic to that early morning disappointment.
The first was an original Saints program, from Saturday September 20th 1980 - the day I was born!
Saints had taken on Liverpool at the Dell.
Fittingly, we took a 2-1 lead in the game, only to end up at 2-2 (still, at least we didn't concede 5....!).
Here are some highlights of that 1980 fixture.
My Dad was actually a photographer for the Club at that time and attended the match, having been present for my birth in the early hours of the morning (quite what would have happened if I’d have been born around 3pm I’m not sure! Anyway, I’m glad I didn’t give him a decision to make!)
The second gift was a lovely new Saints home shirt, with my name and ‘40’ emblazoned across the back of it.
Upon closer inspection, I was promptly blown away to see that it had also been personally signed by a certain ‘Club legend’, who has always been mine (and many Saints’ fans) footballing idol. FANTASTIC!
These incredibly thoughtful and generous gifts quickly put to bed any disappointment from the earlier game and gave a much needed sense of perspective about being a Saints fan.
Despite being a ‘big’ Premier League Club, we are still in many ways a very small one, based around the City and it’s community.
The signed shirt was a reminder of how lucky we all are to support a Club who haven't completely forgotten where it came from and/or who still does what it can to help out and engage with its supporters.
I have plenty of friends who 'support' the so called ‘big 6’ Clubs – but I’m sure none of them opened up personalised gifts and messages from their own teams’ Club legend on their 40th birthday's...
The original 1980 program reminded me that I’m in this ‘for life’ and that even my own birthday was in some way linked to Saints.
In the 40 years since I was born we have been up towards the top of the league, down to the very depths of the lower leagues...and come all the way back again!
Dare I say that, if I’m given another 40 years, we'll more than likely do it ALL again.
If that is the case....bring it on!"
Article by Alistair Downs
Uploaded by Ben Stanfield
(All images property of Alistair Downs and shouldn't be reused without prior written consent)