|Southampton 1 v 0 Leeds United|
Barclays Premier League
Saturday, 16th October 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Thursday, 14th Oct 2021 09:04 by Tim Whelan
We visit Southampton on Saturday, the first time we’ve played at this venue with fans present since 2011. Kick-off is at 3pm, and you’ll find the St. Mary’s stadium about a mile to the east of the city centre.
Southampton moved from the Dell in 2001, and appropriately enough they are back in the St. Mary's area of the town where they were formed as St. Mary's YMCA in 1885, hence the nickname 'the Saints'.
By car you will approach Southampton on the M3, and at the end of this motorway make sure you end up on the A33 rather than the M27, so you continue heading into Southampton. Continue on the A33 until you reach the junction with the A3024 Northam Road and turn left onto this road towards Northam, but you will need to think about parking when you’re some distance from the stadium.
Street parking near St. Mary’s is extremely limited and residents-only restrictions are enforced by an army of traffic wardens on matchdays, so the official Southampton website says “we recommend making use of public transport wherever possible”.
You can park in one of the city centre car parks, but another option is to park at the Marina for £4, as that is only about ten minutes walk from the stadium. And if you don’t mind driving a long way round, you can head for Woolston, on the other side of the river ( Junction 8 of the M27 and follow the A3025 to Woolston).
It would be easier to follow the club’s advice and use public transport if there wasn’t engineering work taking place on the railways. Cross Country trains from Leeds are running as usual (changing in Birmingham) but trains from London are being diverted over a longer route as the direct line is closed between Woking and Basingstoke.
It's about a 25 minute walk from Southampton central railway station to the stadium, and special bus services also run from here, for those who can’t raise the energy to do it on foot, with a return fare of £3. You can also catch a local train to St Denys stations which is no more than 15 minutes walk from the stadium.
The nearest pub to the stadium is ‘Browns’ on Millbank Street, which normally allows a mixture of home and away fans, and nearby is the ‘Tap It Brewery’, serving craft beers in an industrial unit in William Street. Another option is ‘The Admiral Sir Lucius Curtis’ in the Ocean Village.
Real ale diehards can head a little further away to the north of the stadium to visit the ‘Rockstone’ on Onslow Road, while there are plenty of pubs to sample in the city centre. If you find any decent takeaways near the stadium, then do let me know.
The 'Friends Provident St. Mary's stadium' cost £32m to build and is over twice the size of the Dell, holding 32,505 fans, but far more importantly they can now serve 1,500 corporate meals on matchdays compared to a mere 180 at their former home. The away allocation is 3,300 in the eastern corner of the Northam Stand, which offer pretty good views of the action and are reached through turnstiles K, L and M.
The Leeds section did of course sell out straight away, and there aren’t many still available in the home stands either, so by Saturday Southampton could be hosting their first capacity crowd of the season. We’re not famous any more! Our tickets cost £30 for adults, with various concessions from £12 to £27.
If you’ve had to resort to buying a ticket for the home section you will have to avoid drawing attention to yourself, as the regulations say that “Any individual who has entered any part of the Ground designated for the use of any group of supporters to which he does not belong may be ejected from the Ground.” Though according to the exact wording this only seems to apply to men.
In the past we have been given dire threats of reduced allocations for this fixture if we carry on standing up at St. Mary's, but if you do manage to stay in your seat you should find that the legroom is quite good, though the seats are a little narrow. There is a spacious concourse with good choice of food and drink, but as at most grounds, everything costs more than you would pay for it elsewhere.
Saints have no current plans to extend the capacity of St Mary's, but it might happen at some time in the future, if they ever think there is sufficient demand. The stadium was designed to make expansion possible, but it would be hugely expensive, as it would cost somewhere between £15m and £17.5m to add an extra 5,000 seats. They would also have to get planning permission and improve access, as there is already congestion on the footbridge after games.
Some of this stuff came from target="_blank">www.footballgroundguide.com .
Photo: Action Images
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