Southampton FC: A Brief History of The Saints
Southampton FC History and Highlights.
Southampton FC are one of the most recognized names in English football.
Based in the port city of Southampton, Hampshire, this southern English football team is instantly recognizable due to their red and white striped team colors.
Having spent most of their time in the top flight of English football, you may be surprised to learn that many consider Southampton to be underachievers, as they have only bagged themselves one major trophy, the FA Cup, back in 1976.
Known as ‘The Saints’ due to their religious origins (more on that shortly), the team plays their home games at St Mary’s Stadium, which has been their home venue since 2001. Before that, they based themselves at ‘The Dell,’ their home since 1898.
The team that we now know as Southampton FC was formed all the way back in 1885 by members of St. Mary’s Church. They named the club St. Mary’s Young Men’s Association.
As the team grew, they became known as Southampton St. Mary’s and soon found themselves joining the Southern League. Between 1897 and 1904, the team won the league six times.
In 1897 they officially became known as Southampton Football Club, and in 1898 they relocated to The Dell, which was the same stadium that would be their home for more than a century.
After WWI, Southampton would join the English Football League Third Division, getting promoted to the Second Division just one year later.
They maintained good form for the next several decades, and came close to being promoted to the First Division in 1949 and again in 1950, where they missed out by just one point.
With the highs, however, came the lows because in 1953, they dropped back down into the Third Division. It took them 7 years to gain promotion back to the Second Division, and in 1960 they finally managed it, after netting an incredible 106 league goals.
Life at the Top
1966 proved to be a monumental footballing year, not only for the national squad when they won the World Cup, but also for Southampton FC, who finally gained promotion to the First Division. Finally, they had reached the big time.
Ted Bates, who was in charge then, brought in some new blood, including a Welsh striker named Ron Davies. Davies proved to be the difference maker as, in his first season, he scored an incredible 43 goals.
For the next 8 years, until 1974, the Saints remained in the First Division, where they again faced relegation. However, this was a little unfair, as new rules recently meant that the bottom 3 clubs would be relegated rather than the bottom 2, which had been the case for so long.
Nevertheless, the club made the best of a bad situation. In 1976 Southampton FC achieved their most outstanding achievement to date by winning the FA Cup, upsetting favorites Manchester United 1-0 at Wembley Stadium.
They were promoted again in 1978, and in the 1980s, they signed Kevin Keegan, who had been named European Footballer of the Year on two consecutive occasions. Keegan proved to be a very valuable player for The Saints, helping them to finish sixth in the league during the 1980-81 season.
This was only the start, as the club then went on a huge run, finishing as runner’s up behind Liverpool the following season, reaching two FA Cup finals, and qualifying to play European football on four occasions.
The Le-Tissier Years
By the 1990s, it was clear that Southampton FC belonged in the big leagues. In the 1980s, they had signed a young forward named Matthew Le-Tissier, who many consider one of the greatest English strikers in the history of the game.
Le-Tissier had a vision, and he was not afraid to run at players. He also had skill and made football look effortless, and he scored numerous goals to help ensure The Saints avoided relegation.
By 1990 he was voted PFA Young Player of the Year, and in 1992, once the English Premier League (EPL) formed, he was already on his way to becoming a Southampton legend.
Along with a little-known player named Alan Shearer, who joined Blackburn Rovers in 1992 and would become the EPL’s top goal scorer, Le-Tissier helped ensure The Saints stayed competitive in the Premier League.
Le-Tissier played his last match for the club on the 30th of January, 2002, after sustaining numerous injuries. He played his entire career at the club and scored a hugely impressive 161 goals out of 456 appearances.
Relegation and New Beginnings
During the noughties, the club really struggled in the EPL. Rich businessmen were taking over other teams and bringing in foreign players, and the club simply couldn’t compete. Moreover, any homegrown talent they nurtured became hungry for success and knew that success wouldn’t come at the club, so they left.
In 2009 they were relegated to the Championship (Formerly known as the First Division). With numerous debts stacked on top, and having gone through countless managers, the club was in real danger.
As luck would have it, in 2010, a businessman by the name of Markus Liebherr saw the club’s potential and bought them.
By the 2011/2012 season, Southampton FC club was back in the Premier League.
Southampton FC remains in the Premier League to this day, and with players such as James Ward-Prowse, Jack Stephens, and Che Adams all looking hungry for success, many are expecting big things from Southampton during the 2022/2023 season.