Football Travel: Southampton FC

Few people know it, but football owes the city of Southampton a great deal. From the man who introduced football to Brazil to some of Europe’s most famous kits, the English southern port has played a role. We went down to St Mary’s to witness a true renaissance team.

 

The industrial port of Southampton has given more to the world than many give it credit. Charles Miller, the man credited with introducing ‘futebol’ to Brazil, learned to play the game while at school in Southampton before taking a ball back to Brazil with him.

 

Meanwhile, Basque student Juan Elorduy brought Southampton kits to his native Bilbao, so both Athletic Bilbao and, subsequently, Atlético Madrid wear the red and white stripes thanks to Southampton FC. [Continues…]

 

The approach to St. Mary's on match day

The approach to St. Mary’s on match day

Unless you’re a fan of local rival Portsmouth, for whom Southampton are ‘Scummers’, it’s hard not to have a soft spot for the ‘Saints’. This is the club whose highly efficient youth training set-up has given the world Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain, Wayne Bridge, Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana.

 

Yet the club has just the one major trophy to boast for its entire history – a surprise FA Cup final win against Manchester United in 1976.

 

The club was formed as St Mary’s Church of England Young Men’s Association (or St. Mary’s YMA) in 1885, earning the team the nickname ‘Saints’. The club changed its name to Southampton FC in the 1896-97 season, and played the majority of its sporting life at The Dell, a tight-knit ground out of the city centre.

 

In 2001, the club returned to its spiritual home in the St. Mary’s district of Southampton and into a brand-new, 32,000-capacity stadium. [Continues…]

 

Saints' pre-match huddle

Saints’ pre-match huddle

The St. Mary’s Stadium, Southampton

 

Southampton FC signalled its ambition by building a stadium with twice the seating capacity of The Dell. It’s a generic and uniform ground, but efficient enough and easy to get in and out of. It’s hosted internationals and, while it lacks the old school character of The Dell, it’s a perfectly functional modern stadium.

 

I went for a Premier League match versus West Bromwich Albion, whose fans’ surprisingly flat support was echoed by a dire performance on the pitch. Southampton won comfortably 3-0, and it should have been more.

 

St. Mary’s is a polite crowd. I’m sure an evening match under the lights against Pompey, Chelsea or Manchester United would be much more intense, but I went to a quiet, mid-table match in January.

 

You cannot mention Southampton FC without mentioning Matthew Le Tissier. A true one-club gent, he (fittingly) scored the last goal at The Dell and could have had a Goal of the Season competition just for himself. Let’s enjoy this montage of his greatest goals:

 

How to get to St. Mary’s Stadium, Southampton

 

St. Mary’s Stadium is a 20-25 minute walk east of Southampton Central station. It’s not the prettiest of walks but the stadium itself is pretty good and really easy to get in and out of.

 

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Football Travel: Southampton FC
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Football Travel: Southampton FC
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We visit the south coast to the St Mary's Stadium, home of Southampton FC.
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