Faith of Southern should be repaid

Pool can always rely on Southern for 100 per cent effort
Pool can always rely on Southern for 100 per cent effort
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Steve Canavan calls on Pool to do the decent thing and reward their longest-serving player

Karl Oyston has always been shrewd and calculated when it comes to Blackpool FC’s money.

If he is quoted £5,000 to repair a floodlight, he’ll try and find another firm which does it for a grand less.

It’s a common sense approach which has served the club well. Under Oyston’s watch, they have risen from League One to the Premier League and back to the Championship while remaining in healthy shape. They are in the black and have a stadium unrecognisable from when the chairman stepped in at the end of the last century.

Blackpool are not a Plymouth or a Bradford and not once under Oyston’s tenure have they threatened to be.

But there are certain, particular occasions when it would be lovely, not to mention right and proper, for the chairman to loosen the pursestrings and act as a human rather than a businessman. I’m thinking specifically of Keith Southern.

It is rare in modern football for a player to spend his entire career at the same club.

It is rarer still for such a player to be a lad like Southern, who would run through a brick wall for his manager and team-mates, and never walks off the pitch having given less than 100 per cent.

He has given his all for Blackpool FC since being plucked from Everton’s reserve team in the summer of 2002.

Southern has been at the club throughout their rise from bottom to top, racked up more than 350 appearances and been a regular under five managers- Steve

McMahon, Colin Hendry, Simon Grayson, Tony Parkes and Ian Holloway.

Yet, in his tenth season at the club, a season that should be a celebration and an appreciation of his efforts over the years, he is unsure where he will be playing for Pool next year.

Along with Gary Taylor-Fletcher, he rejected the offer of a new contract from Oyston.

But whereas Taylor-Fletcher is about to agree fresh terms – and well done to Oyston for that – Southern says he has had no further dialogue with the Seasiders hierarchy.

I don’t know the ins and outs of what Southern has been offered, but it won’t be anywhere near what Barry Ferguson or Kevin Phillips are being paid.

And here’s the thing. Southern doesn’t want as much as them. He just wants to be on a par with the likes of Ian Evatt, Matt Gilks and Stephen Crainey.

And why shouldn’t he be? He’s an automatic choice, he works as hard as anyone else and, to put it simply, he deserves it.

I agree that in business there is no room for sentiment. But this isn’t sentiment talking, it is fact,

Keith Southern has done a wonderful, sterling job for Blackpool over the last decade and continues to do so. He should be rewarded accordingly.

MILESTONES ON KEITH’S LONG JOURNEY

Debut

Bristol City 2 Blackpool 0 (August 10, 2002)

Not an ideal game for 21-year-old Southern to make his debut as Steve McMahon’s Pool started the season in miserable fashion - not only losing but ending the game with nine men after Lee Collins and Martin Bullock saw red.

The full team that day: Phil Barnes, Simon Grayson, Chris Clarke, Peter Clarke, John Hills, Martin Bullock, Southern, Lee Collins, Richie Wellens (Ian Hughes 83), Scott

Taylor (Tommy Jaszczun 63), Richard Walker (Paul Dalglish 63); subs not used: Jamie Milligan, John O’Kane

First goal

Blackpool 3 Tranmere 0 (September 7, 2002)

Starting alongside Richie Wellens in the centre of midfield, Southern hit the target in the 54th minute. It was his first ever goal in senior football. He has gone on to score 24 league goals, with a further eight in cup competitions. Southern’s most prolific goalscoring run came when he notched six in eight league matches between February and March 2005

Best quote

After Steve McMahon’s departure in April 2004: “I’ve been totally out of favour ever since I asked to go to my gran’s funeral before the LDV final. He didn’t want to know after that. I was bewildered. I didn’t lose much sleep when I found out he was going. To be honest I’m delighted – it’s a fresh start now.”