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On This Day In History - 26th May 2001 The End Of An Era At The Dell
Tuesday, 26th May 2020 11:57

If the win over Arsenal a week earlier had been fairytale stuff then the visit of Brighton for what would be the last ever game was best described as a wake, albeit one that was a celebration of life.

Saints bid farewell to The Dell on this day in 2001 with a friendly against Brighton and Hove Albion.

It was the nearest they could get to the original opponents in the first game Brighton United, who had played their first ever game in the Southern League at what was the first match to be played at the Dell.

The result saw Saints win 4-1 on 3rd September 1998 with Watty Keay having the honour of scoring the first competitve goal to Matt Le Tissier's last one against Arsenal, you could say the ground went from Watty to Matty in 103 years.

The Dell cost £10,000 pounds to build back then and meant a lot of groundwork to fill in what was a hollow and it was built over a small lake and a river.

Fast forward to 2001 and Saints fans were arriving to party, the club had made it quite clear that fans could take a piece of the stadium if they wanted to do as long as it was done in a safe manner and some supporters came armed with an array of tools, screwdrivers and hammers.

But before the fans could party there firstly had to be a game, but few were that interested in who was playing or the result.

There would only be one goal and that would fall to Uwe Rosler, the German had not been a great success at Saints and had failed to score in the League, he would score only one goal for Saints in competitive games and that had been at Mansfield in an early round of the Cup, few Saints fans would be able to say they saw that one.

Indeed when you think of the players on the pitch that might well have deserved the honour it was ironical it should fall to perhaps one of the least deserving in terms of his contribution to Saints, I am not criticising Rosler here, he was nothing other than a model professional during his spell at the Dell, but he was in the twilight of his career.

At the final whistle there was once again another pitch invasion, but this one was accompanied by a sound, the sound of seats being removed, sign being taken and indeed parts of the subs bench etc, in fact anything that could be unscrewed or taken down as well as large chunks of turf.

All this whilst Brighton fans looked on in amazement and perhaps a hint of jealousy as they were now playing at the Withdean after their own stadium had been sold under them and they had even been forced to play at Gillingham for two seasons.

Then it was to the pub to drink, laugh and cry as we said goodbye to the Dell in the Fitzhugh, dozens stood out in the street as well as in the pub as Saints fans told stories and relived memories of the old stadium.

There was plenty of singing with one well known supporting leading a rousing chorus of Oh when the Saints go marching in from the top of a post box.

It was a sad day and a happy one, we all knew we had to move on, we all looked forward to St Mary's it was a celebration !

What are your memories of the final day at The Dell or indeed your happiest memory, put them in the comments section below.

Photo: Action Images



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andyt56 added 16:35 - May 28
Thank you for the time and effort posting these Nick. They have brought many happy memories, a few I’d forgotten and some I didn’t know.
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