On This Day In History - 11th May 2003 Last Game At Maine Road
Monday, 11th May 2020 13:18
It was the final day of the Premier League season in 2002/03, but not our last game as we had the FA Cup final the following weekend, however it was a big day for Manchester City fans as they were playing their last competitive game at Maine Road.
These were happy times for Saints fans as we prepared for the final day of the 2002/03 season, but the weeks before had see Manchester City refusing to give us our full allocation for this fixture, offering us only around 1,200 tickets in what was dubbed the Gene Kelly stand, a temporary structure in the corner totally open to the elements.
They wanted us to take so few tickets as they wanted as many of their own supporters to be present for this final game at Maine Road, we could see their point but not the way they railroaded it through.
We had no real choice but to take the tickets, but the League decreed that the following season they would have to give us tickets at a reduced price to make up for this shameful behaviour.
On the face of it there was little on this game aside from money, we started the day in 11th place on 49 points, 2 behind City, we could finish as high as 8th or as low as 13th.
It had been a season of what might have been, we had been as high as 5th in January, but prior to this game we had only won once in the last 8 matches and indeed only 3 times in 15, even an average record in that period could easily have seen us up into 6th place.
If we had Marian Pahars available for most of the season, he would not play after November then things might have been well different, as we struggled for goals all season scoring only 43 in the League, James Beattie accounting for 23 of those.
City were obviously in party mood, but we sat in the Gene Kelly stand would soon be singing in the rain as it was one of those afternoon were it could go from dry to a monsoon in minutes and then back again.
At one stage even the most fashion conscious in the travelling Saints fans had to pull on the see through plastic macs they had dished out as we got rained upon in Biblical proportions.
But we would have one thing to cheer about as during one of the sunny periods Michael Svensson stormed in unmarked to power in a header to stun the home fans on 34 mins.
This would be the only goal of the game and we saw out the game to leapfrog City and finish the season in 8th place, the goal was worth about £6.5 million in terms of prize money for places, doesn't sound a lot these days, but bear in mind our record transfer fee was still the £4 million paid for Rory Delap.
There were loads of rumours about what would be happening after the game, it was rife that Oasis would perform, it all turned out to be a bit flat really, unlike our last game at St Mary's there would be no spontaneous pitch invasions, everything would be well choreographed and it turned out the headlining attraction would be Badly Drawn Boy.
When he came on it was all pretty much a damp squid and a couple of songs in he shouted out "Southampton fans" a few cheered and waved back and he then retorted with " Do One " a petty little remark that just about summed up the day, I have always been quite glad that his career went into nosedive shortly after.
All that was left now was to go back to the car and go home, but there was one more bit of entertainment, as we walked through the terraced streets behind the ground we came across a house with a Portsmouth shirt hanging in the window, one of our number let's call him Tim from the USA knocked the door and shouted through the letterbox asking if he would come out to pose for a photo, but the inhabitor of the house hid behind the curtains.
Tim explained to various City fans passing by why he was shouting through the letterbox and asked them how they would feel if they saw a Man Utd shirt in the window of a house at an away game and they agreed, some might even have offered to fetch a brick, but that was not our intention lol.
A great day out in the North of England and sadly the last Premier League game Wayne Bridge would play for us.
Photo: Action Images
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