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On This Day In History 24th March Part 1
Tuesday, 24th Mar 2020 10:13

We continue to take a look at what happened on this day in the past, whatever year it was I doubt if anyone back then ever thought that we would be a country in lockdown.

1972/73 was one of those seasons where we spent most of it between 10th and 13th where we would eventually finish, but it was also a season of transition with one of the Saints greats Ron Davies departing just before the end of the season to join of all teams Portsmouth, indeed his last goal at the Dell would be a Penalty in September 1974 for our hated rivals.

His last goal at the Dell for us was in January 1973 when he scored in a 1-1 draw with Sheffield United, only 12,125 were present the lowest crowd of the season, a week later and he scored his last ever goal in our colours at Ipswich Town.

But on this day in March we travelled to West Brom for yet another draw, the Baggies were bottom of the table and would eventually go down, according to the Echo we failed to take chances but it was the man signed a year earlier as a centre forward to eventually replace Davies who scored our equaliser, Paul Gilchrist.

Fast forward a couple of years to 1975 and the locals were restless in Southampton, we were fizzling out in mid table in the Old Second Division and we had a midweek trip to Fulham, who had an FA Cup semi final to look forward to, we lost 3-2 after being 2-0 down at half time before a David Peach tap in from close range and a Nick Holmes strike had brought us level, just to prove that not a lot changes with Saints we gave away a goal with 5 minutes left to snatch defeat from the jaws of a draw. 8 of the Starting line up would start at Wembley just over a year earlier.

It was one of those weekend in 1978 when you felt deflated, a week earlier we had been playing in front of 100,000 in the League Cup Final at Wembley, two days later we met Arsenal at the Dell in the FA Cup and two days after that we lost to them in a replay at Highbury.

Therefore very few Saints supporters made the long trip to Bolton Wanderers, I was one of them on one of the infamous coaches run by co Ugly Inside Founder Clive Foley, the only highlight was we got to see the League debut of Charlie George, it wasn't a great game, Burnden Park was a big ground back then and even with 19k in it it looked half full and it was, we caved in on 65 minutes when Alan Gowling scored twice in the space of the next 5 minutes, but we could be excused we had played 4 times in 7 days and seen our chances of a Trophy and and FA Cup semi final evaporate in that period.

1983/84 was our greatest ever season in the League but 23rd March was a day which started a week that cost us the League title and three weeks later the FA Cup.

We travelled to QPR with high hopes, after all we had destroyed Liverpool just over a week earlier and beaten Sheffield Wednesday in the quarter finals of the cup, in the previous fortnight we had proved we were the inform team in the division and would do so in the final weeks of the season, but little did we know as we travelled to West London that we were about to suffer three defeats in four that would burst all our dreams.

Saints took around 4,000 fans up to QPR perhaps 5,000 in a crowd of only 15,407, QPR would eventually finish 5th that season but their crowds were poor, mind you back then so were most club's, in the League Saints would play in front of 30k just once, the trip to Old Trafford saw 40,371 in attendance.

Saints put out a good side for the trip to Loftus Road, but it was missing one key component, Steve Williams was injured and would be for the rest of the season barring a misjudged attempt to play him in the FA Cup Semi Final a few weeks later.

Back then QPR played on a plastic pitch and that had a lot to do with their good hme form, astroturf back then was just like Carpet, hard with a little bit of give on the surface,but under that solid, you had to wear trainers on it and if you fell over you got a nasty burn or worse.

Therefore it was a different game altogether and we quite simply were not up for it, 2-0 down at the break and 4-0 down after 64 minutes, we were lucky to get nil.

Luckily we adapted and rallied in the final part of the season but ultimately it meant it was a season of what if !

Photo: Action Images



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