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On This Day In History - Easter 1966 A Star Is Born
Wednesday, 8th Apr 2020 14:24

The promotion race was starting to hot up on Easter weekend 1966 although the rain played it's part in postponing one of the three games in four days due to be played.

Saints Easter programme for 1966 was congested as usual, it was due to start on Good Friday 8th April with a trip to Bristol City, the following day they would travel to Leyton Orient and then after Sunday off they would meet Bristol again this time at the Dell on Easter Monday.

Going into Easter the table was as follows:

League Division Two table after close of play on 07 April 196
Pos Team Pld W D L GF GA GAvg GD Pts
1 Manchester City 33 17 12 4 60 35 1.714 25 46
2 Huddersfield Town 35 17 11 7 54 27 2.000 27 45
3 Coventry City 34 16 12 6 61 41 1.488 20 44
4 Wolverhampton W 35 17 8 10 77 51 1.510 26 42
5 Bristol City 35 13 15 7 50 43 1.163 7 41
6 Southampton 33 17 6 10 72 48 1.500 24 40

It was tight at the top and with Saints playing the team directly above them twice in quick succession this was seen as the weekend that would make or break their push for promotion, with games in hand a successful Easter programme would see them right up in the race.

A big Saints following made the trip up to Bristol on Good Friday 8th April in a packed Ashton Gate crowd of 25,106, they would be the ones celebrating when the 13th minute proved to be unlucky for the home side, a Saints shot was saved by the Robins keeper but it hit home defender Connor and went into the net to give Saints the lead.

This would prove to be the only goal of the game and Saints were described as lucky to take all two points in what was their first clean sheet for five months, the celebrating Saints fans didn't care, they had seen their team jump not only above Bristol City with two games in hand but also above non playing Wolves on goal average.

On Saturday morning some Saints fans had already set off for East London for the game against rock bottom Leyton Orient when it was announced that the Brisbane Road pitch was waterlogged and the game was called off.

Saints themselves were on their way and when they found out they diverted to Stamford Bridge to watch Chelsea take on West Brom, on one hand they were glad of the rest but on the other they now had two away games to re arrange.

So their next opponents would be Bristol City on Easter Monday 11th, although with not playing Saturday they had dropped back to 6th again albeit with games in hand, don't forget in those days only the top two went up.

Another big crowd at the Dell saw the debut of a 17 year old called Mike Channon and it was this then unknown but soon to be future Saints legend who brought the crowd to their feet when he scored from a shot fallowing a Terry Paine corner on 33 minutes.

But if the crowd thought that the game was going to go the same way as a few days earlier up in Bristol they were mistaken, the visitors were on level terms within 4 mins and then on the hour mark they took the lead.

When the game reached it's final minute Saints were still a goal down and it looked like the promotion campaign was going to suffer a real setback, but then came one of those moments that changes a game, changes a season, changes history, a Bristol defender misheaded a hopeful cross ball by Tony Knapp and Terry Paine nipped in to fire Saints level.

It didn't change the table much but it meant that they were still in the mixer although at this stage they were pretty much outside bets, Huddersfield led the table with 48 points, Man City were now second also on 48 and then Wolves on 45.

Saints now had 43 but they had 3 games in hand on Huddersfield and 2 on Wolves, they were in with a shout, but they had to win those games in hand first.

Photo: Action Images

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