On This Day In History - FA Cup Semi Final 1976 Part 1
Friday, 3rd Apr 2020 08:00
On Monday 8th March 1976 at lunchtime everyone in Southampton was sat around a transistor radio waiting to find out were they would be on April 3rd, for those lucky to get a ticket it would be Stamford Bridge.
I remember that Monday almost as much as I remember any of the games in the cup run that year, I had missed only one, the replay at Aston Villa and I certainly wasn't going to miss my first chance to see Saints in an FA Cup semi final.
The problem was though that the draw was right in the middle of a school day, but most of the pupils and teachers at Redbridge were keen to find out who we would get.
The feeling was that we wanted Crystal Palace, they were a 3rd division side and if we drew them we surely would get to Wembley and a day out for a cup final would be better than none at all.
Both Manchester United and Derby were flying high in the First Division and at the start of March United were the favourites for the title, so if we didn't get Palace then Derby would be the second choice, we thought we had a chance against them.
In the class I was in there was one lad who had a small radio and he had a little head set so he was going to be our source, how he didn't get caught i don't know, but I suspect the teacher was turning a blind eye, you could feel the tension, he relayed the first part of the draw, Deby will play....... when he said Manchester United a huge cheer went up and when this news was relayed, even the teacher laughed and said "great now we can finally get some work done"
We weren't the only ones cheering the team were round their radio at the Dell and they felt the same way, lets get the easiest tie on paper and then worry about who we play in the Final, I dare say Crystal Palace and their fans cheered just as hard when they heard the draw.
No chance of that though the entire school was talking about only one thing and that was Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge on April 3rd at 3pm.
The first good news was that Lawrie McMenemy had got in quick and secured the Shed End for Saints, this was the home end and although the terracing at Chelsea was mainly uncovered and way back from the pitch with what had been a greyhound track in between, at least the Shed had some covering and was one of the few places that could generate noise in what was an open bowl where the noise just flew up into the wind.
Malcolm Alison and his lucky fedora was making all the headlines whilst Lawrie McMenemy and his men just stayed quite and focused
Saints offical allocation was 23,500 tickets, both clubs got half and the FA and the home club ie Chelsea got the remaining 5,000 or so tickets, in fairness there might have been a thousand or so more Saints fans in the crowd of 52,810 but it looked virtually a 50/50 split.
In the build up to the game the city went mad, at Redbridge School art classes were used to paint bed sheets and create banners and literally everyone was going.
Back then we only had 6,000 season ticket holders and all of these were in the upper West & East Stand, you could not get a terrace season ticket, instead the club usually issued a voucher at a lowly attended game,so that you would get priority for a bigger game if that arrived later in the season.
The game they selected was Oldham back in January and with only 14,294 in attendance, taking away the season ticket holders mean that there must be about 8,000 voucher holders who were guaranteed a ticket for the semi on top the season ticket holders, I had one of those vouchers.
So there was no need to queue for a ticket, I and the mates I went to the game with all had a ticket too and we just bought our tickets for the Shed at our leisure, it was then a scramble for those who were after the 9,000 tickets that would go on general sale, I think they may have sold the next tranche to those with Bradford ticket stubs from the previous round and then it was the usual overnight queues for those who had neither.
On the day I went up on the National Coach from Bedford Place coach station, they had laid on a fleet of coaches and the City was buzzing as we made our way into town that morning to catch the coach, we passed the train station that was a sea of red & white and everyone seemed to be getting on a coach, a train or a car.
The army was on the move to London !
Photo: Action Images
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Letters from Wiltshire #28 by wessex_exile
It’s difficult to think about quite how to write this editorial, without appearing mawkish. On Sunday 17th February 671 people succumbed to coronavirus, with the 7-day average creeping just above 1,000 deaths. On that day, one of those was someone very dear to me, who died in Watford General Hospital of Covid-19 pneumonia. Idiots and conspiracy-theorists will tell you there’s no plague, or that masks infringe their civil liberties, or some other form of spurious non-science bullsh*t, so do me a favour – if they say this to you, please punch them on the f’cking nose for me, and say that’s from Wessex – thank you.
Letters from Wiltshire #27 by wessex_exile
Welcome to 2021, and hopefully a vaccine-driven start to a much better year for everyone – which as you can guess was going to be my introduction two weeks ago. From a selfish perspective, hopefully an improved year for the U’s as well that sees us cement at the very least a play-off spot, but why stop there – don’t mess around with the lottery of play-offs, go straight for it with automatic promotion (who am I kidding). First up in that quest is a tough match against Tranmere Rovers Cambridge United, and no longer with Chuck to help us out. Still, set up for Jevani to put one over on his former club.
Letters from Wiltshire #26 by wessex_exile
Well, after a piss-poor Xmas period so far for the U’s, culminating in the Roots Hall horror show on Boxing Day, let’s hope the U’s have burned off those festive calories and are raring to go. They’ll certainly have to be at their best against a Cheltenham side aiming to force their way into the automatic promotion places. In other news, we now finally have confirmation that there will be a trade deal in place with the EU once Brexit arrives in 2021. It remains to be seen whether it’s a good deal or not, and more to the point, who for, but at least it’s not the economic uncertainty of no-deal.
Letters from Wiltshire #25 by wessex_exile
A little earlier than usual, but as we approach the end of what has been a most difficult year for everyone, I’ll keep the introductory editorial brief, as I’m sure you will all be very busy in the coming days rescuing what you can from this pandemic-ravaged festive period. I simply wish you all peace on earth, goodwill to all (yes, even our South Essex cousins), and here’s to a happy, prosperous and most importantly healthy 2021 for us all.
Letters from Wiltshire #24 by wessex_exile
Welcome to our last match before Christmas. With South Essex going into Tier 3, by the time we take to the pitch at Roots Hall, it’ll be another behind-closed-doors match. With the Tier 3 boundary creeping inexorably closer, one wonders how long the JobServe will hold out and still be able to allow fans to attend. Robbie is doing all he can to make it possible for supporters to attend, and I confess I’m seriously considering our January 2nd match against Tranmere. In other news, I’m relieved to read that the FA will not take disciplinary action against Colchester United after a shameful minority chose to boo players and officials taking the knee, in the words of the EFL “as they highlight the inequality and injustice experienced by the Black Community”. I noticed a tiny minority chose to boo at our mid-week match at the Abbey Stadium, but I was pleased to hear they were immediately drowned out by the remainder of the 2,000 cheering and applauding. I admit I’m a little anxious about today…
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