On This Day In History 6th May 2007 A Play Off Place Secured
Wednesday, 6th May 2020 11:07
The last day of the regular 2006/07 season saw Saints at home to Southend United and needing to rely on results elsewhere to get a place in the play offs,
The 2006/07 season had started with a lot of home after Michael Wilde's takeover of the club, but the writing had been on the wall from the start with Wilde needing to enlist other shareholders to facilitate the takeover and it had soon become clear to those brought in by him to run the club that he did not have the money to put into it that he had said he would.
Rupert Lowe had said he had put by a £7 million transfer kitty after the sale of our Premier League era players as he fought a losing battle to retain his power in St Mary's and with Wilde promising more money Saints fans had been excited about a new beginning at St Mary's.
We had only seen £2 million of that spent with the loan signing of Gregorz Raziak made permanent before Lowe had been ousted and we looked forward to a summer of signings and given that we had raised another £1.25 million by summer sales it would be a disappointment that we would not get anywhere near the amount that Lowe had promised let alone anything near the riches that Wilde had promised.
By October we were only two points off automatic promotion after 10 games, by November we were 10th and 9 points away things were not going to plan, but we won 4 straight games and by the start of December were back to be only 2 points behind.
But after that our form became patchy, funds were promised by Wilde for new signings in January but the money was not forthcoming and the month ended with no new faces.
On 16th March we lost at home to Colchester United in a Friday night shocker at St Mary's and we ended the weekend in 10th place, 10 points off automatic promotion although we were only 4 points from the play off spots, but that was a big gap with only 7 games to play.
A great win at Wolves 6-0 gave us some hope of making up the ground, but two straight defeats saw us still 4 points behind going into the last 3 games, a 1-0 win at home to Leeds followed by the same score in a nailbiter at Norwich meant we went into the final day in that last play place.
We would start the final day on 72 points with a GD of 21 goals, Stoke were also on 72 points and they also had a GD of 21 goals, just behind them were Preston on 71 with a goal difference of 10, but it was a tight table and we were reliant on other peoples results.
West Brom and Wolves were both a point ahead of us and had worse goal differences, so potentially we could make the top six with a draw if one or both of them lost, but as I say a win would be no guarantee of a play off spot if Stoke won by a bigger margin than us.
The good news was that we were playing Southend who had already been relegated and so had nothing to play for, Stoke were away at QPR who were near the bottom but avoided the drop.
So all was set for a nervous afternoon, but unlike our last day relegation escape against Wimbledon exactly 10 years and 1 day earlier although at the Dell, technology had moved on and news from elsewhere would not be relayed by the odd fan with a transistor, people now had information from their phones, the World had changed drastically in that decade and although the first i phone would not appear until the following year, and most in the ground had a phone capable of getting texts from those not at the game and could make and receive calls to get updates on scores elsewhere.
The gme kicked off and it was not long before cheering started to erupt aroung the stadium as news filtered through that QPR had scored against Stoke after only 6 minutes.
But that soon changed as Southend took a shock lead on 13 minutes to stun the vast majority of the 32,008 crowd.
But it did not take long for the mood to change, on the half hour Kenwynne Jones equalised and that was how the score was at the break, so where did we stand at the break, well West Brom were 4-0 up against Barnsley so home and dry and Wolves 2-1 up away at Leicester, below us Stoke were still losing and Preston drawing at home to Birmingham, things were still in our favour but could change with a goal from either of the teams below us.
But it was not long after the break that we took the lead Leon Best firing home on 48 minutes to put us in front, bur we needed a third to soothe the nerves and it was not forthcoming.
The game dragged on and more and more we were looking to see if anything had changed below us, the game came to the last ten minutes and we were still leading and Stoke were still losing and Preston drawing, we just had to make sure that we held our lead,
A goal or two could change things right around, then that goal came, Leon Best scored with ten minutes left on the clock and before we had sat down Kenwynne Jones had bagged his second to suddenly give us a 4-1 lead.
News came through that both Stoke and Preston had scored with 5 minutes to go, but they must have been hearing the news from St Mary's just at that time and knew that the game was now up for them both.
At the final whistle fans poured onto the pitch as was usual back then for the final home game, but this was not to be the final home game as we now had a play off leg to host.
We hoped that perhaps Leicester had equalised against Wolves as that would mean we would be in 5th spot and mean that we would be home in the 2nd leg of the play off, but Wolves had won 4-1 and we now knew that we would be home to Derby County the following Saturday and away in the midweek after.
We had dragged ourselves into the play offs by our boot straps, but now we were there we fancied our chances against any of the other three clubs, what we didn't know at the time though was how badly the clubs finances were in, this was truly last chance saloon for Michael Wilde, if we got back to the Premier League he would be the hero and we would have money back into the club, if we failed then we were stuffed.
The history from this time paints Rupert Lowe as the complete villain of the piece and there can be no doubt that his decisions in the 2004/05 season cost us our place in the Premier League, but Michael Wilde should be just as villified, he gave us plenty of promises that he couldn't keep and he did not have the money to pay the wages of the players we had signed, Lowe took us out of the Premier League but Wilde sent us into near bankruptcy, administration and almost out of existence.
Photo: Action Images
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