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On This Day In History - One Of The Legendary Cup Ties
Monday, 30th Mar 2020 11:49

In a "On This Day" special we take a look at what is still considered to be one of the greatest FA Cup 6th Rounds in Saints history, the three game saga against Nottingham Forest 1963.

When Saints travelled to The City ground in on 30th March 1963 shortly after the big freeze had ended little did the 5,000 Saints supporters in the crowd of 28,232 know that this game would be the calm before the storm, the game was pretty much standard FA Cup fare until the 80th minute when First Division Forest looked to have won it when McKinlay headed in from an89th minute corner.

But Second Division Saints were made of sterner stuff and Terry Paine lobbed the keeper for an equaliser that saw them in the draw for the semi final, then done on a Monday lunchtime.

But first there was the question of beating a top flight side at the Dell and the Saints fans were excited at the prospect, the gates were closed on officially 29,497, around 1,500 short of the eventual record attendance at the old ground, but back then in the days of terracing the official attendance was not an exact science.

There was firstly the double click were youngsters would go in in the same click of the turnstile as their fathers with the operator receiving a "tip" for his trouble, then there was the practice of where the gate stewards would let their mates in for a few bob.

That meant that on a day like this how full the ground actually was, was more an estimate and gates were actually closed when the ground looked packed and there was nowhere rather than the official ground capacity.

Terraces unlike seats had a lot of variables, one being the size of those in the ground, 31,000 kids would take up a lot less room that 31,000 adults and then 1 fat man might take up the space of 3 thin men, hence packed houses at tight little grounds like the Dell were never exact.

What we do know though is that at 7pm half an hour before kick off, the gates were locked and that thousands were locked out, with many fans trying to get vantage points from the tree's behind the Archers Road end, something that would happen 14 years later when Manchester United were the visitors for a 5th round tie.

On that note take a look at pictures of both those games and note the difference in the make up of the crowds, it is striking, it looks more like 50 years difference than 14.

Things did not go to plan though, Forest made four changes for the replay mainly to facilitate a more defensive formation, Saints under Ted Bates knew how to play only one way and that was attack.

Twice in the first five minutes they were caught out and found themselves two goals down and that is the way it stayed at half time, soon to be famous cricket commentator John Arlott was reporting on the game and wrote that as Southampton strove forward they came against a defence so tightly packed "There barely seemed room for a ferret to have wriggled through"

The second half started just as badly as the first when on 55 minutes Forest scored again, but the feeling in the Saints team was that Forest had not been in the game up to that point since the 5th minute and that a goal would change everything.

That goal came with 25 minutes remaining when Terry Paine headed home, but wait the linesman's flag was up, strangely the disallowed goal seemed to spur the team and the crowd on, especially the crowd, it was almost as if both knew that a special result was on the cards it was only a matter of time.

But with 16 minutes left Forest were still holding firm, but then in a goalmouth scramble George Kirby got in a low header and that goal had finally come.

On the wings Terry Paine and John Sydenham were running amok and putting cross after cross and the Forest keeper was getting rattled as George Kirby got physical, back then keepers were not untouchable in fact the opposite and then the keeper with one eye on Kirby fumbled the ball into the net and the crowd went ballistic.

But Saints were still losing and they pushed forward with Forest encamped in their own box, with a minute to go time was running out, there were no subs allowed back then so no running down of the clock and no injury time as such for making those changes.

Then came the goal that tied the game, with the crowd almost sucking the ball into the net David Burnside shot through a crowded goalmouth, somehow it went through and the Dell went mad.

There was barely time to start the game and now it was extra time, but the fans were not to see a win, Grummitt in the Forest goal made three good saves but the frenetic finish had taken something out of Saints and they couldn't muster another goal.

Again John Arlott as he did so many times with cricket caught the night perfectly:

The crowd voice went on and on, in an atmosphere at once warm and electric,one of those emotional moments which sport, unpredictably and rarely produces; which almost cannot be controlled, nor once shared forgotten.

Now for the second replay at White Hart Lane.

That emotional moment had certainly not been forgotten by Saints supporters and they had two problems if they wanted to go to the game, firstly all the trains were soon fully booked both specials and the ordinary services and secondly coaches were being booked from far afield.

An estimated Army of 25,000 left the City . the largest Army in peacetime, but many would suffer yet a 3rd problem and that was the roads, firstly there was no M3 in those days so it was the A30 right up to London and then a battle around the North Circular Road to White Hart Lane.

Southampton was described as having closed down for the day with the vast convoy of coaches and packed trains heading up to the Capital.

Many did not arrive until half time, but even those that arrived before kick off struggled to get in, Spurs had completely underestimated the size of the Saints support and had not put on enough turnstile operators, so there were large queues.

The official attendance would be 42,256, most Saints fans with a few thousand Forest and the rest neutrals.

Saints ran out in their lucky Old Gold shirts, Black shorts & Old Gold socks to a rousing chorus of "Oh when the Saints go marching in" which was described as deafening and stewards and journalists present said it eclipsed anything created by Spurs fans at their home games, perhaps that's why they like to sing it so much themselves these days.

Forest were already at a psychological disadvantage, they had complained to the FA about the treatment meted out to Grommitt in their goal at the Dell , the feeling was they were running scared.

But for the first 40 minutes there was no indication of what was about to come, perhaps though as more and more Saints fans got into the ground the intensity heightened, but five minutes before the break firstly David Burnside and then Ken Wimshurst scored to put Saints 2-0 up at the break.

Officially over 3,000 more Saints supporters passed through the turnstiles during and after the break and this increased the volume even more and the impetus was with Saints, just as many felt that even at 3-0 down at the Dell the game was not over, the feeling now was that it truly was for Forest, on the hour came the third as Burnside scored again.

The ground erupted and press reports said that Oh When The Saints must have been heard many miles away.

Not long after it was 4-0 as George O'Brien scored and it was the Scotsman again who fit the fifth and final goal to cap one of the greatest nights in the club's FA Cup history since the 1902 Final.

The only thing left was for the Saints fans to get home talking about the Semi Final at Villa Park against Manchester United.

I was of course too young to have even known about this game at the time let alone have gone to it, but as a kid in the 1970's I can remember older Saints fans telling me about it, but back then it seemed as distant as the Second World War even though it was only 13 years before our next semi final and as I said at the start of this article, if you look at old photos of the crowds in 1963 and 1976, not only has the demographic of the crowd changed drastically but the attire.

With thanks to Duncan Holley and Gary Chalk, without whose book In That Number and other excellent publications by them, this article and indeed this series would never have been possible.

If you don't own one of these books then you really should, as a club we do not respect and love our history as much as others I.m afraid.

Photo: Action Images

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aceofthebase added 13:28 - Mar 30
Comments already made with Underweststand in your '63bigfreeze blog'
Pleased to have seen these matches thanks to my belated Dad.

codge added 14:51 - Mar 30
Of all the games over the years l had been to this is one that brings back so many memories,l was 19 at the time and remember it like yesterday.Two years later l was delivering milk and John Sydenham was on my round and he was such a gentleman.Anyway l was at the replay with my wife to be and it was a day you would never forget just like the 76 cup final, Another game that also sticks in my mind the day we got promoted when we beat Leyton Orient 1 nil with Paine scoring the winner there were more Saints fans there than the home side by the thousands.So many good times hopefully more to come Coyr.

saintpete01 added 09:58 - Apr 1
Great stuff nick

I was very fortunate as a 10 year old to with my Dad god bless him to have
Gone to all 3 forest games
Also having to travel to villa to get tickets for the semi sac sold out
At the semi I remember a united fan giving me a sausage roll
How times have changed
Also remember Terry Paines goal at the orient as I remember I think 18000 saints
Fans then heading of to Fleet Street for the first covers at an all night cafe
Happy days

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