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Normans Tales

Hello everyone, another little story and some photographs from my Saints memories.

One of the perks/privileges of Yvonne working on match days was that it enabled me to sit and watch the activity in the main reception area, before and after the game. The players arriving, unable to play through injury, non selection etc. Coming in with family, their guests and making their way to the Saints Box or one of the Suites. 

Listening in (sometimes joining in) to the banter with the staff performing security duties, always a very friendly bunch. I was able to sit and watch all this from the season the stadium opened up until ‘07 when Yvonne retired. I was under orders (Yvonne’s) to sit there, say nothing, unless spoken to, don’t ask for autographs, don’t comment on players performance or not etc etc. On the whole, I behaved myself incredibly well. Hmmm, with one exception. 

Graham Poll was the Referee for this particular match. Always liked GP but …. We had just lost and I couldn’t believe what had happened towards the end of the game. We wuz robbed of a certain penalty, every person in the ground saw it! How could it not be awarded? 

As usual, after the game, I made my way to sit in reception and wait the hour or more for Yvonne to finish work. Busy with players, guests leaving, I was still annoyed at us not getting that blatant penalty. At the end of the games, the match officials, having changed, plus the assessor would come into reception and meet their driver and off they would go in the black Merc. Graham and his assistants arrived at the reception desk and I caught Yvonne’s eye, which was glaring at me. Her face said, ‘Don’t you dare say a word! We’ve all heard we were robbed! Sit there and don’t move!’ I couldn’t resist the urge to say something! I approached the desk, still feeling the heat from her eyes, and said, “Hello Graham, can I ask a question about the game?” “Hello, of course” was his friendly reply. “How was it that 32,284 people in the ground saw the handball and yet you and your assistant, standing 10 feet away, didn’t?” Not sure why but the smile on his face disappeared and I never got a reply. 

I missed sitting in the reception area for the next two games as punishment by Yvonne. 

Yvonne at the time of her retirement

Being a huge football and Saints fan, I had the pleasure to meet and chat with many players and sometimes managers, although they always seemed in their own world. After games, players would make their way to reception to perhaps wait for a taxi/their driver or guests coming down from the Suites. Many would acknowledge me with a nod or hello and many would chat about the game. On many occasions, Yvonne and I would give a lift to a player unable to get a taxi, dropping them off at the Grand Harbour hotel, as we left for home. 

Work colleagues, family & retirement

Yvonne loved her time at SFC, moving from The Dell, into the Visitors Centre and then the excitement of the new stadium. Often spoke of the kindness of her colleagues, senior staff, players and Ex players. 

Favourite players and ex-players? Of course she had many and here are just a few, in no particular order,

Terry Paine, Syde, Jimmy Melia (yes!), Brian O’Neil (always made a point of chatting with Yvonne on match days) John Hollowbread and Hughie. Her number 1, is, Matt, always nice to her

I hope you are enjoying my memories and I will be back soon with another one, please take care of yourselves during this time

Regards Norman

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