THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

And whether to bring the topic up

icon sackboss6 October ~ I never did get all the blood out of my first Southampton scarf after the accident happened at The Dell. Matthew Le Tissier scored a beauty and I forgot we were 2-0 down to Oldham Athletic. During the celebrations I fell off the Milton Road terrace and cut my nose on the concrete floor. Three hot washes later and the white stripes were still stained red. My gran gave me the scarf; she found it in a drawer more than 25 years ago and I still have it. It belonged to my uncle but he wouldn't have much use for it now – he watches Portsmouth.

In WSC 313 Kevin O'Donnell wrote about changing the team you support. He got fed up with the behaviour of his club, so he chose another. This kind of thing isn't unheard of but as far as I'm aware changing allegiances is rare over the age of eight. As far as I remember uncle was more of a rugby man when I was growing up – that's how I justify his actions anyway.

But questions remain. Did the sight of Mick Channon not leave an imprint on his soul? I've never had the heart to bring up the matter of his desertion with him. Perhaps I'm fearful of what may come of it: "Why don't you come down to Fratton and try it, Mark? Then afterwards we can go for a drink with Alan Knight and Fred Dinenage." No, I've always thought it far better to avoid the subject altogether.

It's not as though he lives in between the two cities like I do in Locks Heath – the suburb sits where Southampton water meets the River Hamble and has addresses with Southampton and Portsmouth post codes. You can see fans in replica jerseys of each club going about their business in the local Co-op without the need for a police cordon.

My uncle grew up 14 miles further west, in Chandlers Ford, the home of Draper Tools. It doesn't get more Southampton than that. The name of the manufacturer was worn across the Southampton jerseys of Peter Shilton and Danny Wallace during the 1980s.

Maybe it's his wife. She's from Portsmouth originally. A family gathering in a pub garden in the country somewhere sticks in my mind. She got a bit defensive when the conversation turned to football, flipping back her hair to reveal a tattoo on her scalp. That killed it really – there's no going back when somebody shows you their head was used by an amateur tattooist to ink "PFC".

Last time I saw him was at my Grandpa's funeral. It was September 11, his birthday – for which he received a Portsmouth shirt from his son. I found myself drawn to the subject as we stood outside the church before the service. At the wake our shared appetite brought us side by side at the buffet table. It was the ideal opportunity to lance the wound – get to the heart of the matter. But I didn't. Instead a man from the Isle of Wight began talking to me about my Grandpa. I returned to my tuna sandwiches alone, deciding some things are best left unsaid. Mark Sanderson

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