View from the Kingsland: avoidance, resignation and confusion

View from the Kingsland: avoidance, resignation and confusion

by Nick Mabey

It has been longer than usual since my last contribution to In Common.  Like many fans of Southampton Football Club I have been through a range of emotions over the past few weeks; mostly anger, sadness and fear, but occasionally glimmers of hope.  In trying to put my finger on exactly what I’ve been going through I discovered an acronym, ARC, to represent the arc (did you see what I did there?) of my feelings about the current state of affairs at St. Mary’s.  

When I last wrote, we were two points from safety and four points from 12th place in the Premier League. Five weeks on and that’s changed to six and a massive sixteen respectively.  Suffice to say it’s not been a great time to be a Saints fan.  With that in mind here is the ARC – avoidance, resignation and confusion – that seeks to explain my journalistic procrastination.



One of my coping mechanisms when my team is struggling is to put a proverbial pair of blinkers on and avoid everything but the essential. I still go to our home matches, and usually watch away ones if we are on TV, but everything else Saints-related gets shut down. No Twitter, no fans forums, no Match of the Day nor football phone-ins.  It all goes off my radar.  Even my friends and family know to tread very carefully when asking me about football during these periods. As preparation for this article I allowed myself a peek at some fans groups on Facebook, but it wasn’t pleasant reading and I was happy to shut it down again.

I don’t think avoidance is a great strategy for life but I can thoroughly recommend it for periods when your football team are performing like the game is completely alien to them. Checkout the idea of ‘doom-scrolling’ if you want more on this.  Saints lose, stay bottom, we feel miserable and our reaction is to want to read and write about it so we can hang out with others and get to feel even more miserable. Yes I know that’s what you and I are doing now but I’m hoping to alleviate the suffering here, not add to it.



I sat down to try and watch the West Ham v Saints fixture on Sunday 2nd April with more objective vision.  Partly because my partner is claret and blue through and through, and partly because I still couldn’t get a clear handle on how bad we are.  It became obvious to me that day that we just aren’t good enough to stay in the division we are in and, in that very moment of realisation, I accepted our relegation. This simple act of resignation released me from the mental slavery of hope upon blighted hope. 

It’s been so much easier watching Saints matches since that day; there’s been a freedom to the realisation that we are going down – I think I have even heard our fans singing it. I’ve been waiting to write the obituary of our season since then but it’s never felt the right time to do it. We are still not mathematically down but I am convinced it is only a matter of time. In the meantime, this limbo land does not offer much by way of inspiration to write about.



When we got relegated in 2005 my memory was of a much more conventional descent.  We struggled to avoid the drop until the end, feeling hope one week, dread the next.  It was a rollercoaster of emotions, but entirely to be expected.  On the last day we lost at home to Manchester United after taking the lead, we cried and I got a speeding ticket on the way home.  OK that last bit wasn’t conventional but you get my drift.  This time however I’m confused.

We’ve been bottom of the league since last year.  I accepted our fate five weeks ago. And yet we are still not mathematically down. Indeed some are still talking about a final surge of form to pull as out of the mire.  No, no, no. It shouldn’t be like this. Every now and then we put in a performance, or at least half a performance, where we actually look really good. Even more confusing is that it is normally against the better sides in the league. True, it’s not often enough and rarely wins us three points, but still the team conspire to make many believe that maybe, just maybe, it’s not too late.

The other factor confusing me is that there are teams around us (well above us, of course, but close-ish) who can’t pull away from trouble either.  Leicester, Everton, Forest and Leeds are all still in deep trouble and so the gap to hasn’t yet grown big enough where we can fully give up.  Personally, I’m still resigned to our relegation, but it is confusing to know how to feel when there is so much dross at the bottom end of the Premier League.  Even Chelsea have worse form than us! 

So my fellow Saints fan, look after yourself over these last few games.  Avoid doom-scrolling, resign yourself to our fate and don’t let yourself be confused by this strange season. 


  • To read all of Nick’s View from the Kingsland columns, click here.


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