Saturday, 17 November 2007

We're On Our Way To Wembley

We're on our way to Wembley
(click picture to enlarge)

I thought this picture was lost for ever, but I found it during a rummage through the attic today.

This was from the front page of the local (as it was called then) Southampton Evening Echo on 1st May 1976.(I am now reliably informed that the photo was in fact from our trip to the semi-final, see comments section) No Southampton fan will need reminding what that day was, it was the day the Saints went to Wembley as huge outsiders and won the FA Cup, beating the mighty Manchester United 1-0 (Bobby Stokes 83rd minute God rest his soul).

I went on a coach organised by the Running Horse (later to be renamed Wig & Pen ) pub, which was situated up an alleyway next to the Echo Office. (Both the pub and the Echo Office are long gone, demolished to make way for the soulless West Quay Shopping Centre). Clearly the photographer hadn't intended too travel to far to find a subject for his photo. Although by the time he took it we were probably the only fans left in town - apparently our coach had broken down en route to picking us up and a replacement was frantically being sought - not easy on a day when virtually every coach south of London had already been commandeered. But eventually one turned up and we were on our way.

I have very few memories of the game itself, apart from our goal and the last 7 minutes (which seemed like 7 lifetimes). I do remember Man Utd hitting the woodwork from only a few yards out on about the 60 minute mark and just knowing then that it was going to be our day. Worryingly (it was to a sober 14 year old anyway) the stadium terracing - I was upper tier behind the goal - was literally bouncing like a trampoline for the final few minutes of the game.

I have clearer memories of the journey there and back than the match.
Like about 40 desperate men exiting the coach in a traffic jam to relieve themselves against a garden fence, just after the last had finished an extremely snobbish looking woman in a fur coat, nose in the air and walking a poodle had to negotiate 40 rivers of piss streaming across the pavement.
Being able to jump off the coach before it had got out of the Wembley coach park and buy an Evening Standard with the match report in it - (whether that was a reflection on the speed of the printers or the slowness of the Wembley traffic I'm not sure).
Travelling up to London every bridge on the M3 (was it a motorway back then? it might even have been the A33) being covered with banners and waving fans, and the same bridges on the way back with the same banners but around ten times the number of happy cheering fans.
Getting back off the coach in the centre of Southampton to find the whole City Centre had turned into a party zone. I wasn't around for the war but any film clips I have seen of V.E. Day had nothing on that evening !.
Two men - they're in the photo - playing banjos all the way there to get the coach singing. Along with the lack of replica shirts (unheard of in those days) the photo is a great example of how following football has changed over the years - and not necessarily for the better.

And I suppose I had better own up, I'm the one far right front row, split in half on the edge of the photo. Did I really dress and have hair like that ?!?!?!


  1. Open top bus parade.

  2. How funny! I am that chubby kid front and centre (holding the "Southampton" silk scarf)!

    What a great day it was - hate to say though Wurzel, that was actually the semi-final day vs. Crystal Palace. Sadly, I didn't get a ticket for the final so watche it from home... still a great regret as a life-long Saints fan!

  3. I remember you then !!!!

    Being next to the Echo Office they took our photos for the semi and the final, clearly the old memory is playing tricks on me as to which day the photo was from.

    I actually remember the day out of the semi better than the final, I think actually winning the thing left me in a state of shock.

  4. Hi I am the Kid Far Left and my Mum and Dad ran the Running horse and the Coaches to the Semi and The Final and also the Charity Shield

    I was 11 what a fantastic time we had My Dad was a massive Everton Fan However we had season tickest in the West Stand at the Dell he supported his local team as I do today

    I will always remember the Saints Fans singing "Youll never walk alone at the semi final in the Old Shed at Stamford Bridge" I have been to Analfield a few times since then when Everton have played Liverpool and i can tell you Saints Fans sang it better that day

    I will never forget the party Living above the Pub it was just incredible.

    Still Watch Saints today and support my local club

    Sean Whelan


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.