On This Day In History - 10th May 1998 White Hart Lane
Sunday, 10th May 2020 10:24
This day in 1998 saw one of those last day's that seemed to be a rarity for most of the 1990's, in that we didn't have to worry about relegation or what was going on elsewhere. But the writing was on the wall for the following season.
The final day of the 1997/98 season was one of celebration as around 4,500 Saints fans travelled up to White Hart Lane, but the season had been a roller coaster one with a poor start and a poor ending, and only a great run in the middle making sure that we didn't fall into the relegation battle after Xmas but stayed in mid able.
I have to say I'm not a fan of Dave Jones, I think he was ultimately a man out of his depth and at the end one who put his own problems, and I'm not saying they weren't serious, above that of Southampton Football Club, yes he needed something to take his mind off his impending court case, but not at the club's expense.
The start of 1997/98 had started badly 7 defeats in the first 9 games with only one solitary win and a draw meaning we were anchored at the bottom on only 4 points.
Then came a middle section where Kevin Davies and David Hirst started to score for fun and we seemed to be looking at a top 10 finish.
But with Davies being injured the goals dried up and in our final 9 games we didn't fare much better than the first 9, two wins, two draws and five defeats, meaning we clung to 12th place when it should have been much better.
Ironically Mathew Le Tissier who would end up as top scorer on 11 goals in 26 games in an injury hit season, scored 6 of that total in these final 9.
For some reason Spurs gave us most of the lower tier of the away end and we therefore had around 4,500 fans at this one all wanting to enjoy a day out in the sun and forget the trials of the past four seasons where it had been final day nerves in all but one of them.
I remember I had a seat in the first row just to the left of the goal post, an awful view of the pitch, most of the action was in the first half, Saints drew first blood when Matt Le Tissier hammered a free kick from just outside the box through the wall and past an unsighted keeper Ian Walker who was beaten by the crisp shot.
But the lead didn't last long, six minutes to be precise, when Jurgen Klinsmann equalised and that was the end of the scoring.
Saints finished the season where they had spent most of it after that poor start, in 12th place and a win or a draw at Spurs would not have changed that either way, Spurs also struggled in the 1990's, in 1994 like us they only just avoided relegation, although they did not have to sweat on the final day
The signing of Klinsmann in 1995 saw a couple of top 10 finishes, but this season again saw them nearer the bottom than the top, they would only finish 4 points clear of the drop and only saved themselves with a win in their penultimate game of the season, if they had lost that then their game against us might have been a very tense one for them.
After the game it was a quick pint in the pub before heading back to another bar near the Thames where the London Saints were hosting one of their memorable end of season parties which would be attended by the team.
Standing at the bar I watched Carlton Palmer struggling to get there as he was pestered for autographs and photos of him with fans, when he got there I asked him if I could have a picture of him buying me a pint, he replied "Yes as long as I can have one of you writing me a cheque"
A good end to the season, but the inconsistencies were there for all to see, ironically Paul Jones the goalkeeper was player of the season in a defence that in conceding 55 goals was the 7th worst in the division, although in fairness almost a third of those were conceded in those opening 9 games.
Photo: Action Images
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