Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Southampton - St Mary's

Southampton FC
St Mary's
Britannia Road
SO14 5FP

0845 688 9488
Official Website

Ground Number: 151
Tuesday 1st December 2009
Southampton 1-0 Wycombe Wanderers
Coca Cola League 1


1:  The club was established as St Mary's, changing their name to Southampton St Mary's soon after and finally settling on Southampton in 1897. Due to connections with the church, their nickname was the Saints and their current home named St Mary's in recognition of their beginnings.

2:  The club played at the Antelope ground originally, sharing with Hampshire Cricket Club. They moved out in 1896, along with the cricket club and moved to the County Ground. However, rent of £200 a year (just under £27,000 in today's money) led them to getting their own home in 1898, namely The Dell. It was redeveloped many times and in 1950 became the first ground in the UK to install permanent floodlights. The Taylor Report in response to the Hillsborough Disaster led to Southampton forcing the stadium to go all-seater and at the time, it was the smallest ground in the Premiership with a capacity of 15,500. Therefore a new stadium was needed and they moved into St Mary's in 2001. 

3:  Ther club initially started out in the Southern League, winning it six times. In 1920, they joined the Football League. Starting in Division 3 South, they were runners-up in their debut season, winning promotion as champions the following year. Since then, they've remained mainly in the top two tiers, though a couple of 14th place finishes in the third tier in the 1950s represent their worst seasons. Their best season came in 1984 as they finished as runners-up to Liverpool in the top tier.

4:  Southampton won the FA Cup in 1976, beating Manchester United 1-0 at Wembley thanks to a goal from Bobby Stokes. They were also finalists in 1900, 1902 and 2003. 

5:  In the League Cup, Southampton have twice been runners-up - losing 3-2 to Nottingham Forest in 1979 and 3-2 to Manchester United in 2017. 

6:  The club has enjoyed nine seasons in Europe. Their best came in 1976/77 when they reached the Cup Winners Cup Quarter Final. They beat Marseille and Carrick Rangers prior to a loss to Anderlecht.

7:  In terms of minor cups, Southampton won the Football League Trophy in 2010, beating Carlisle United 4-1 at Wembley. They were also 1976 Charity Shield runners-up.

8:  Southampton added an unwanted record to their history in 2019 as they were thumped 9-0 at home by Leicester City. They also beat Sunderland 8-0 in 2014 but their record wins of 11-0 came against Northampton Town and Watford in 1901 and 1902 respectively.

9:  Famous Southampton FC fans include singer Craig David and a number of minor celebrities.

10: The city of Southampton has a population of just under 270,000. It has a history as a Port, dealing with some of the biggest ships in the world including the ill-fated Titanic. It is the birthplace of many famous people with footballers Matt Le Tissier and Francis Benali being given the freedom of the city. Other famous 'Sotonians' include politician Rishi Sunak, singer Craig David and comedian Benny Hill. 


I'd originally intended to revisit Southampton, owing to me wanting to have a batter explore of the city. But with the 2020 Coronavirus outbreak stopping all football and leaving me with plenty of spare time, I was beginning to revisit old blogs and redo them to avoid a revisit. I'd noted down a fair bit back when I originally typed this blog in 2011 and also had some good pictures, so I had a good base to work from. Now I will still visit the city, but go and see a local non-league team instead. Wycombe's away game at Southampton was a highlight to look out for when the fixtures came out, playing at grounds like St Mary's was the best thing about getting promoted. The fixture computer handed us a midweek trip in December, but still, on the night, nearly 700 Wycombe fans travelled, not bad when people had work both the day before and day after. Looking back, I could have done it better, but there were not so many resources on the internet back then and I wasn't as fussy anyway. I helped offset my costs by giving my friends Paul and Sue a lift, 
as usual, going by car and visiting grounds along the way. 

The roads down to Southampton was not a well-trodden path for me at the time, so after visiting quite a few grounds at Guildford City, Godalming Town, Petersfield Town, Fareham Town, Moneyfields, Havant and Waterlooville, Portsmouth, Hamble ASSC & VTFC. A real football ground bonanza for me then, the most enjoyable being Moneyfields and Portsmouth, both within a mile of each other and both allowing me into the ground and being really friendly too. The least inspiring being Guildford City, which was a basic athletics stadium and VTFC (Now called Sholing) where all I saw was a gate. In between seeing the game and updating this blog, I have visited and enjoyed all but Hamble which is still on my 'to-do list'. It was still only 3pm when I had visited all these grounds, so we made our way to Southampton City Centre for a look around the shops. The city centre was decent enough, one of the better ones I have been to. If I recall correctly, there was a brilliant football stall in a shopping centre and I picked up a couple of interview CDs with Tony Cottee and Ron Atkinson for a quid each. In hindsight, I wish I'd bought more because they were really good. With all the Christmas stuff about, I was in a pretty happy mood when we set off for St Mary's. We got there about 5.30 and went to a nearby Wetherspoons for dinner, my backdated research revealing it to to be the tongue-twisting 'Admiral Sir Lucius Curtis' which as per usual for them was a good pint, but variable food. After that it was a short walk to the ground, arriving just before 7.

My initial thoughts were that the game wasn't up to much, but looking back, maybe I'd been a bit harsh. For a side that had Scott Shearer, Michael Duberry, Luke Oliver, Ian Westlake and Matt Harrold in the starting line-up we did impressively well. Some of those five did better than others, but I don't think that any of them were up to League 1 standard. Peter Taylor had bought a lot of mediocre rubbish in and played dreadful football, but thankfully, he'd been replaced by Gary Waddock at the start of October and the initial signs were encouraging with us actually trying to have more than one shot a game. Southampton had an impressive lineup with Rickie Lambert, Michael Antonio, Chris Perry and Adam Lallana amongst others. Wycombe had a few half chances in the opening half an hour but the Saints had the better chances,  Papa Waigo N'Diaye blasting over from close range on 28 minutes. Slack marking allowed Rickie Lambert to get on the end of N'Diaye's cross on 41 minutes to give the Saints the lead and only goal of the game. Wycombe had a chance to equalise just before half time, but Chris Perry's excellent clearance off the line denied Stuart Beavon an equaliser. The weather worsened in the second half and the chances dried up, Lambert coming close to getting a second goal for Southampton as he volleyed just wide. Later on, Scott Davies, John Akinde and Matt Phillips came on and Davies forced Saints keeper Bartosz Bialkowski into a good save as Wycombe tried to get on level terms. From then on, it was the home side that had the better chances but Scott Shearer was in decent form to deny them a second goal. The attendance of 16,402 was a decent one by League 1 standards but the ground was only half-full.


ST MARY'S is a great ground, smart and modern with good legroom. At a capacity of around 32,500, it's the ideal size for Southampton in their present status. Opened in 2001, it replaced The Dell, a very interesting ground that I'm disappointed to have missed out on. The ground is the standard bowl shape of all new stadium but it does have some nice touches to make it feel unique. Away supporters are allocated 3,300 seats in the Northam Stand behind one goal which offer a good view and decent legroom.

The food and drink will probably be your standard football fare and the club shop the usual megastore that you'd expect from a top-flight club. There isn't much around the ground itself, though the city is on 20 minutes walk away, a real bonus for a new build. When I visited Southampton around ten years later, the Stable was an excellent pub for cider lovers, but there is plenty to suit all tastes.

1 comment:

  1. St Marys fits 32,600 ,good blog though very interesting.