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On This Day In History 16th March Part 1
Monday, 16th Mar 2020 09:42

With little footballing news in these unprecedented times, let alone anything related to Saints, we will be publishing a daily look back at what happened each day going back in history, we look forward to your anecdotes.

1996 was another of what seemed at the time constant relegation battles as we struggled in the still fledgling Premier League to be able to compete with those who had bigger grounds than us.

Indeed with our capacity in the now all seated Dell around 15,200, perhaps only QPR came close with Loftus Road holding around 19,000, although Wimbledon were rattling around in Selhurst Park with their average attendance only held up by it's ability to accommodate 10,000 away fans when the big boys came to town.

On 16th March 1996 we were heading to Maine Road for a relegation 6 pointer with ex manager Alan Ball's Manchester City, Ball might be held in great esteem now, but back then he was public enemy number 1, branded a Judas for the way he negotiated behind the club's back with City and jumped ship, leaving Dave Merrington to take over.

Saints season was not going well under Merrington, we spent most of it between 15th -18th place, but we were doing just enough to keep our heads above water, but when we arrived at City we had dropped into the relegation zone with 25 points from 27 games, City were one place above with 26 points.

We drove up by car on a rainy day and after a couple of pints in a pub near the ground we joined around 1,500 other Saints supporters in the stand behind the goal, Maine Road was one of the few grounds that the away section has been in each of the four stands at some point.

At this stage we had won only once in the last 12 games so hopes were not high, but we had Le God although he had not scored in the Premier League since the start of November and that in itself had been his only goal since an opening day hat trick against Nottingham Forest.

The game looked pretty even until the half hour mark when Georgie Kinkladze took the game by the scruff of the neck with two goals in six minutes, one of which was an amazing run through what looked like most of our side to score what would be the goal of the season come the end of it.

On 65 minutes Paul Tisdale dragged us back into the game and that started the home nerves jangling prompting a frantic finale which saw Saints think they had equalised in injury time only for referee Jeff Winter to disallow it, Gordon Watson being sent off for his protests.

Saints now looked doomed, but as we know we pulled out of it with another spirited end to the season, staying up at the expense of Alan Ball's Man City side, who on the last day thinking Wimbledon had scored a last minute winner at the Dell leaving his side staying up if they drew ordered his side to keep the ball in the corner rather than go for the all out attack needed.

In the Fitzhugh pub on that last day an effigy of Ball was hung from the pub's sign outside and much mirth ensued, time as we know heals some rifts.

In 1985 in Lawrie McMenemy's last season in charge at the Dell, rock bottom Stoke arrived at 4th place Saints , the Potters were relegated with 17 points in a 42 game season some 23 points off safety, in a dire game this was one of them.

Photo: Action Images



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dirk_doone added 10:00 - Mar 16
How can any Saints fan who was there forget 16 March, 1977, when we beat Anderlecht 2-1 in the European Cup Winners' Cup Quarter-Final?? That was, admittedly, a very bittersweet night, as at 2-0, the crowd at the Dell were going wild as we were going through to the semi-finals, only for Van der Elst to score a late goal.
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SaintNick added 10:23 - Mar 16
We weren't going through to the semi finals at 2-0 as this made the scores equal having lost the first leg 2-0 as well. We had the momentum though until that slip up
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redwight added 11:00 - Mar 16
And then, instead of putting it into row Z, Jim Steele decided this was the moment to display some fancy footwork which none of us knew he possessed. He didn't!
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SaintNick added 11:09 - Mar 16
I'm not sure he was actually trying any fancy footwork I think the bal just bobbled under him because the pitch was so sandy.
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ThereIn76 added 20:31 - Mar 17
The state of the pitch in March 1977 - I thought we’d taken the wrong turning and gone to the beach! Amazing match - momentum firmly with Saints, then Van der Elst struck. Arie Haan and Robbie Rensenbrink in the Anderlecht team and we still had them worried.
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