Southampton F.C. 125 years of Football
125th Anniversary TIMELINE: by David Juson
1885 November: Football club formed by members of the St Mary’s Church of England Young Men’s Association.
November 20, St Mary’s Young Men’s Association FC play their first match, defeating Freemantle 5-1 on the “backfield” of the Country Cricket Ground.
1887 Formation of Hampshire Football Association. St Mary’s Young Men’s Association enter for
their first competition, the Hampshire FA Junior Cup.
1888 March 24, “The Saints”, now re-named St Mary’s FC, win the Junior Cup, defeating
Southampton Harriers 2-1 at the County Ground in the replayed final.
1889 March16 , Saints defeat Cowes 4-1, in a Junior Cup semi-final third replay at the County Ground. The “unprecedented” attendance was estimated at over 2,000.
April 6, Saints defeat Christchurch 3-0 at Bar End Winchester, to win the Junior Cup again.
Summer become joint tenant of the Antelope Cricket Ground, with Trojans RUFC.
1890 March 29, Saints win the Hants FA Junior Cup outright with their third consecutive
victory, a 2-0 win over Lymington at the County Ground.
1890 October 24, Having entered the FA Cup for the first time Saints are expelled after
defeating Reading 7-0 at the Antelope Ground, in the Second Qualifying Round. The crime? Fielding two improperly registered players.
1891 March 14, Defeat Royal Engineers (Aldershot) 3-1 at the County Ground, in the Final of Hants FA Senior Cup.
1892 Summer Saints, discretely, sign their first professional, Jack Dollin, from rivals Freemantle. However, rumours of “inducements” were well established.
1893 March 11, Saints’ attempt to win the Hants FA Senior Cup outright, with a third consecutive win, is foiled by Freemantle, who defeat them 2-1 at the County Ground, thanks to a hotly disputed last minute penalty. The crowd, around 7,000, is double any previous attendance in or around Hampshire.
1894-95 Southern League commences first season. Saints, now re-named Southampton St Mary’s finish third.
1895 February 2,For the first time Saints reach the 1st Round of the FA Cup, being defeated 4-1 at The Antelope Ground by Nottingham Forest.
1896-97 Saints take of residence at the County Cricket Ground. They go on to win the first of the six Southern League championships, undefeated.
1898 Summer Saints become a limited liability company and are re-named Southampton.
January 28, Saints become the first Southern League Club to eliminate a Football LeagueClub from the FA Cup, when they defeat Second Division Leicester Fosse 1-0 at the County Ground in the 1st round.
March 2, In a 3rd Round replay, Saints defeat First Division Bolton Wanderers 4-0.
March 23, In a semi-final replay at Crystal Palace Saints are eliminated from the FA Cup following the most notorious refereeing performances of the era –they concede two late goals playing into a blizzard!
1898 September 3, Saints open The Dell with a 4-1 Southern League victory over Brighton United; and with recently signed England internationals Harry Wood and Jack Robinson in the side. The first goal is scored by Watty Keay.
1900 April 21, In the FA Cup Final at Crystal Palace, Saints – the bookmakers’ favourites –are defeated 4-0 by Bury.
1902 April 28, In the FA Cup Final replay, Saints are defeated 2-1 by Sheffield United at Crystal Palace.
1903-04 Saints win the last of their six Southern League titles. Top goalscorer is Winchester born Fred Harrison, with 27 goals in 32 appearances.
1904 Summer Saints become the first British club to tour South America, playing six matches in Argentina. They win all seven matches.
1908 March 28, Saints reach the FA Cup semi-finals and, surprisingly, lose to Second Division Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 at Stamford Bridge. There’s an even bigger surprise in the Final when Wolves defeat Newcastle United 3-1.
1911-12 Saints’ first “Great Escape”, avoiding relegation by one point.
1915-1919 League football suspended for duration of “the Great War”. Saints confined to local competitions and friendlies.
1920 The Southern League First Division is adopted en masse by the Football League, to create Division Three.
Saints are runners-up to Crystal Palace. Only the champions are promoted.
1921 Division Three becomes Division Three (South) as The League inaugurates Division Three (North).
1922 May 6, Saints are promoted to the Second Division after defeating Newport County 5-0 at The Dell, piping Plymouth Argyle to the first Division Three (South) championship on goal-average.
1922-1939 Saints remain in Division Two, and rarely look like going up – or down!
They do reach the FA Cup semi-finals twice: 1925 and 1927.
1937 May, Young inside-forward, Edric Thornton Bates, signed from Norwich City.
1939-1946: Normal competitive football suspended for World War II, and Saints are confined to regional competitions.
1940 November 30, Milton Road end penalty area bombed, leaving an 18 foot wide crater and the pitch is flooded due to damaged drainage culverts. Saints forced to play all fixtures “away”.
April 10 Home leg of War Cup match with Brentford played at Fratton Park. Pompey supporters “adopted Saints for the day”. The game ended 2-2, and Saints lost 5-2 on aggregate.
1941 May 17, TheWest Stand damaged by fire. The RAF, occupying the Club’s offices, admit responsibility!
1946-47 War over, the Football League resumes business.
1946 January, Bill Dodgin appointed manager.
1947 October, Charlie Wayman signed from Newcastle United for the astronomical fee of £10,000.
1948 April, Saints finish ’46-47 season third, missing promotion by 4 points.
Summer Saints tour Brazil, playing eight games, winning two and drawing one.
1948-49 Saints are edged out of promotion by Fulham and West Bromwich Albion, after finishing the season with a run of only three points (two points for a win) from the last eight games. Injury to Wayman (32 goals in 37 games) is the primary cause.
Bill Dodgin accepts offer to manage Fulham, and is replaced by Sid Cann.
1950 May 6,Saints defeat West Ham United 3-2 at The Dell on the last day of the season, but are edged out promotion once again.
1950-51 Wayman is sold to Preston North End in September and, despite a good start to the season, slump to finish 12th.
1952-53: Following a season plagued by injury and illness the Saints are relegated for the first time in their history.
1955 September: With Saints struggling near the bottom of Division Three (South) reserve team coach and former player Ted Bates is appointed manager.
1957-58 Division Three North and South to merge, and form new Division’s Three and Four. Saints end season sixth and make the cut to Division Three.
1959-60 Saints promoted as champions of Third Division and eliminate First Division Manchester City from FA Cup, winning 5-1 at Maine Road.
1962-63 In a season disrupted by the “Big Freeze” Saints reach semi-finals of FA Cup after eliminating First Division Nottingham Forest 5-0 in a sixth round second replay at White Hart Lane.
They lose in the semi-finals 1-0 at Villa Park to eventual winners Manchester United.
1965-1966 Promoted to Division One as runners-up in Division Two.
Terry Paine selected for England World Cup squad. England defeat West Germany in the Wembley final, despite Paine’s non-selection for the game.
1968-69 Saints qualify for European Fairs Cup, after finishing seventh in Division One.
1973 December, Lawrie McMenemy succeeds Ted Bates as manager.
1974 April, The Saints relegated for the second time in their history.
1976 May 1, Wembley: Southampton 1 Manchester United 0. Bobby Stokes’s late goal wins Saints the FA Cup. Read More
1976 March 16, Saints defeat Anderlect 2-1 at The Dell in the 3rd Round, second leg of the European Cup-Winners’ Cup, but are eliminated 3-2 on aggregate.
1977-78 McMenemy’s Saints, captained by Alan Ball, promoted to Division One.
1978-79 Saints reach the final of League Cup, and are defeated by Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest 3-2 at Wembley.
1980-81 With Kevin Keegan now a Saints, Saints qualify for the EUFA Cup, after achieving their highest placing yet in Division One: sixth.
1983-84 Saints finish season as runners-up to Liverpool in League and are eliminated from FA Cup in the semi-finals by Everton, 1-0 at Highbury.
1984-85 Saints are expelled from UEFA Cup with all other English clubs in the aftermath of the Heysel disaster.
Lawrie McMenemy resigns and is replaced by former centre-back Chris Nicholl.
1985 November 30, Saints celebrate their centenary with a 3-2 home defeat to Everton – thanks to a referee who can’t tie his bootlaces!
1987 April, Alan Shearer makes his full-debut against Arsenal at The Dell, and becomes the youngest ever hat-trick scorer in the top-flight as Saints triumph 4-2.
1989-90 With youth-team graduates Matthew Le Tissier, Rod Wallace and Alan Shearer leading the way, Saints finish seventh, with 71 goals – a total only surpassed by champions Liverpool; who had lost 4-1 at The Dell.
1991 May Chris Nicholl sacked as manager, and is replaced by Ian Branfoot.
1992-93 The Premier League is launched. Saints finish 18th, surviving thanks to 15 goals from Matthew Le Tissier.
1994 December, Lawrie McMenemy returns to The Dell as a director.
1995 January,Ian Branfoot departs, by “mutual consent” – Alan Ball returns to The Dell to replace him.
1995 May, The season ends with a 3-3 draw at West Ham United and Saints avoiding
relegation by one point. Le Tissier having scored 25 League goals in 35 starts.
1994-95 Alan Ball’s young side finish the season 10th, the highest placing for five seasons.
1995 Summer, Former youth and reserve coach Dave Merrington is promoted to manager
after Alan Ball is lured to Manchester City.
1996 May, Saints avoid relegation with a scoreless home draw with Wimbledon on the last day of the season – Alan Ball’s Manchester City go down instead.
Dave Merrington is sacked, and succeeded by Graeme Souness.
1996-97, Despite a sizable investment in terms of transfer fees and wages Souness’s
side struggles. Saints eventually finish three points and one place better off than under Dave Merrington.
Meanwhile, the Club becomes a plc, Southampton Leisure Holdings, and Rupert Lowe succeeds Guy Askham as chairman.
Graeme Souness and Lawrie McMenemy resign.
1996-97 Dave Jones, manager of Stockport County becomes Saints’ fifth manager in five seasons.
1999-2000 January,With Saints precariously placed and Dave Jones embroiled in a “child-sex” police investigation, former England player and manager Glenn Hoddle is placed in charge of the team, while Jones is given “gardening leave”.Jones is later cleared “without a stain on his character”.
2001 March, Glenn Hoddle defects to manage Tottenham Hotspur. Coach Stuart Gray is
2001 May 1,The last ever League match at The Dell, v Arsenal.
Saints win 3-2, thanks to a stunning Matthew Le Tissier strike with less than two minutes on the clock.
2001 August 1, The Friends Provident St Mary’s Stadium opens with a “friendly” against Espanyol. Stuart Gray’s Saints lose 4-3.
2001 October , Gordon Strachan replaces Stuart Gray as manager.
2003 May 17, Saints defeated 1-0 by Arsenal, in the FA Cup Final, at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.
2004 February, Coach Steve Wrigley takes temporary charge following Gordon Strachan’s decision not to fulfil his contract – amidst boardroom and media brouhaha inflamed by Rupert Lowe’s wish to bring back Glenn Hoddle.
2004 March, Plymouth Argyle manager Paul Sturrock appointed.
2004 August, Sturrock leaves (by mutual consent) two matches into the new season. Steve Wrigley appointed as Head Coach.
2004 December, Harry Redknapp replaces Wrigley.
2005 May 15, Saints relegated to Football League Championship.
2005 December, Redknapp walks! His assistants Dave Bassett & Denis Wise act as caretakers until George Burley is recruited as manager.
2006 May, Saints finish 12th in Championship.
2006 June 31, Rupert Lowe resigns under pressure from shareholders, supporter groups and media.
The “Magnificent 7” take over, with Ken Dulieu of business consultants Vantis PLC as plc chairman, largest shareholder Michael Wilde as football chairman, Jim Hone as Chief Executive and Lawrie McMenemy “… as a bridge between the board and the fans.”
2007 February 2, Wilde steps down from the board and Leon Crouch becomes football chairman, amid claims that the plc is in financial trouble.
2007 May, Saints reach play-offs and are eliminated in a penalty shoot-out with Derby County.
2007 July 23, Crouch ousted from the football board, remains as PLC director.
2007 December, Ken Dulieu, Jim Hone and Michael Oldknow, executive directors recruited by by Michael Wilde, all resign following opposition from leading shareholders to a buy-out by hedge fund operators Sisu. Leon Crouch returns as chairman.
2008 January, Burley recruited as Scotland manager. Chief scout John Gorman & Jason Dodd appointed as caretakers.
2008 February 16, Nigel Pearson appointed manager after 1-0 defeat at League One club Bristol Rovers, in FA Cup fifth round.
2008 May 4, On the last day of the season Saints avoid relegation with a 3-2 win at St Mary’s over Sheffield United.
2008 May 15, Leon Crouch, Patrick Trant & Keith Wiseman resign from board. Rupert Lowe and Michael Wilde return as Company and football chairmen respectively.
Dutch coaches Jan Poorvliet and Mark Wotte appointed head coach and Academy director.
2009 January 23,Following a 2-1 home defeat by Doncaster Rovers, with Saints 23rd in the Championship, Jan Poortvliet resigns and Mark Wotte takes over as head coach.
2009 April 2, Barclays Bank call in administrators, Begbies Traynor. Mark Fry takes up the financial management of the Club.
2009 May 3, Already relegated, Saints lose 3-1 at Nottingham Forest.
Having suffered just two relegations in the entire 20th century, Saints have already suffered two in the 21st!
2009 July 8, After much speculation, concern, consternation and many wild rumours, Saints are purchased by DMWSL613Limited, owned by Swiss industrialist, Markus Liebherr.
Nicola Cortese is installed as chief executive.
2009 July 17, Alan Pardew is appointed as Saints’ latest manager.
2009 August 8, Saints commence their first season in the third tier of English football (then Division Three, now League One) for exactly 50 years with a 1-1 draw with Millwall at St Mary’s.
2010 March 28, Saints defeat Carlisle United 4-1 at Wembley, to win Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
May, Saints finish first season in League 1 in seventh place, one position from the play-offs.
Saints: 125 seasons
The Saints celebrate their 125th anniversary this season. This month in fact. Hence the change of kit. The famous red & white stripes replaced by white shirts adorned with a red diagonal sash, a tribute to the original Saints, who had stitched red sashes to their ordinary white shirts (or their dad’s). That Saints have reached this landmark is thanks to Swiss industrialist Markus Liebherr and his associate Nicola Cortese, who bought the Club out of administration in the summer of 2009, after an unsettled six year period following the 2003 FA Cup Final. A period unremittingly punctuated by boardroom in-fighting, widespread supporter descent and scabrous media coverage. The result: after 50-years of financial stability and 27 seasons in the top flight: two relegations and a crippling debt.
The first Saints were members as St Mary’s Church of England Young Men’s Association, a guild of Sunday-school teachers and other parochial volunteers in the parish of St Mary’s. In the local press they were usually referred to as “St Mary’s Y.M.A.”, but after splitting, amicably, with the Y.M.A. during the 1887-88 season, they became St Mary’s FC. It was as St Mary’s that the Club embarked on a five year unbroken run of junior and senior Hampshire FA Cup wins. By 1894, when they became members of the newly created Southern League, the Saints were firmly established as the most successful and best supported football club in and around Hampshire.
The Southern League and Two Cup Finals
The name Southampton St Mary’s was adopted on the commencement of league football; St Mary’s being dropped in 1897, after the Club won its first Southern League championship and reconstituted itself as a limited liability company.
Despite playing outside the Football League, Saints’ were among the leading clubs of the 1900s; as their FA Cup record testifies. Between 1897-98 and 1905-06 – a period that saw them win six Southern League championships – Sants eliminated 16 Football League clubs from the competition, 11 of them First Division sides, and reached two Finals. Both ended in disappointment. Despite being bookmakers’ favourites, they were soundly beaten 4-0 by Bury in 1900. Their performance in 1902 was more respectable: they took Sheffield United to replay, before losing by two-to-one.
This success was hardly surprising, they recruited Division One players, many of international repute: most notably goalkeeper Jack Robinson, the redoubtable England and Wolverhampton Wanderer’s inside-forward Harry Wood and the renowned amateur all-rounder C.B. Fry.
The Football League and Two semi-finals
Saints joined the Football League in 1920, when the Southern League’s first division was adopted, en masse, as Division Three. They made their bow in Division Two in 1922. Given their Southern League standing First Division football was, surely, a season or two away?
It transpired that, between the wars Saints rarely threatened to go up or down, although they enjoyed valiant runs into the semi-finals of the Cup in 1925 and 1927. Following World War Two they challenged unsuccessfully for promotion in 1948, ’49 and ’50. But manager Bill Dodgin departed for Fulham in ’49, closely followed by goalkeeper Ian Black, and, in 1950, talismanic centre-forward Charlie Wayman was lost to Preston North End. Saints were relegated in 1953.
In September 1955, with Saints floundering near the bottom of Division Three (South), reserve team manager and Club loyalist Ted Bates was handed the manager’s job. The turn-round was not sudden, but quite few of the results were, as Ted ushered Saints ever upwards. His greatest assets, local wingers Terry Paine and John Sydenham, delivered opportunities for succession of prolific goal-scorers, including Derek Reeves, George O’Brien, Martin Chivers, Ron Davies and Mick Channon. First Division football came to The Dell in 1966 (the same summer as England won the World Cup) and Saints were to qualify for Europe twice under Ted – then five times under his successor, Lawrie McMenemy.
McMenemy didn’t get off to the best of starts. Saints were relegated in his first term, but he made amends by winning The FA Cup in 1976, following that with a good run in the European Cup Winners’ Cup in ’76-77 and promotion in 1978.
Back in Division One, Saints returned to Wembley in ’79, losing 3-2 to Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest in the League Cup final, then qualified for the UEFA Cup in 1980; 1982; 1984, after finishing League runners-up to Liverpool; and 1985. Unfortunately, following the Haysel Stadium disaster Saints were banned from Europe with all other English clubs.
McMenemy departed in 1985 and, with no income from European competition and the progressive reduction of The Dell’s capacity because of safety legislation, the wage bill was radically reduced. His successor, Chris Nicholl, was, though, able to take advantage of a successful youth system: giving Rodney Wallace, Alan Shearer and Matthew Le Tissier their league and cup baptisms.
A series of unfortunate events
Chris Nicholl was sacked after five seasons, in May 1991. Thereafter, Southampton, having been a byword for managerial stability, became a managerial abattoir. With Saints in the Premiership relegation zone Lawrie McMenemy returned as a director in December 1994, and Nicholl’s successor, Ian Branfoot, was off within days. McMenemy resigned during the summer of 1997, hard on the heels of manager Graeme Souness – the third recruited during McMenemy’s first tenure on the board, after Alan Ball and Dave Merrington.
Souness and McMenemey had not seen eye to eye with new chairman Rupert Lowe. Rupert Lowe had been brought in to re-modal the Club as a plc, but his revamped board proved no better at hanging onto managers than its predecessor. In October 2001 Gordon Strachan became the tenth manager since Ian Branfoot had succeeded Chris Nicholl. And despite reaching 2003 FA Cup Final (which Saints lost 1-0 to Arsenal at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium) he resigned in February 2004.
A new home … a standing problem
Despite the managerial instability Saints thrived. The youth system had been rejuvenated and was beginning to produce some promising players, the Staplewood training ground had been modernised and enlarged and was, and remains, one of the best regarded football facilities in the country and, most dramatically, the long wished for new stadium had become a reality. In August 2001 the Saints had taken up residence at the Friends Provident St Mary’s Stadium, which had been erected on the site of the old Northam Gasworks. With over double the capacity of The Dell, attendance records were exceeded routinely throughout 2001-02.
But, to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, you cannot please all the people all of the time. The Club had critics, within and without. That boardroom power struggles were a factor in both the recruitment of Harry Redknapp during the 2004-05 season and the Club’s subsequent relegation is to state the obvious. Thereafter, the reasons for the Club’s continuing collapse become too complicated to summarise – though four changes of chairmanship on the “football board”, in two seasons, suggests that the Club’s internal politics did anything but improve after Rupert Lowe’s resignation in 2006.
The Liebherr legacy
With Nicola Cortese installed as chief executive during the summer of 2009, Alan Pardew was engaged as manager and there was a good deal of expenditure on team re-building. Rickie Lambert and Radhi Jaidi being notable signings. Saints had a good season, after an awkward start, a season capped at Wembley in March, by defeating Carlisle United in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final.
The 2010-11 season was anticipated with relish but, hardly had it begun than fans were stunned by the news that Markus Liebherr had died. His ownership had barely lasted a year, but the impact he had made was considerable. Not only had he wiped out the Club’s debts, and invested generously in the team and the Club’s infrastructure, he had, in passing, bequeathed Southampton with something that, since the bickering, infighting and snarking had started, had appeared to have been lost: a football club with a bright future.