Southampton Football Club and St. Mary’s:
Life began for the Saints in 1885 when a football club was founded by members of St. Mary’s Church Young Men’s association, who played their football on the banks of the Itchen for thirteen years.
Originally called Southampton St. Mary’s, which explains the club’s nickname, the club joined the Southern League in 1894 and won the championship for three years running between 1897 and 1899 (and again in 1901, 1903 and 1904).
The club’s early successes led to a move to the newly built £10,000 stadium called The Dell in 1898, where the Saints would ply their trade for the next one hundred and three years.
The Saints’ long-held dream of Division 1 football was finally realised in 1966 when Ted Bates’ team were promoted as runners-up.
After a seven year absence from the top flight, the Saints secured promotion on te final day of the 2012 season by beating Coventry City to secure second place in the Championship and prepared to make their return to the Premier League after a seven-year.
St. Mary’s, which was completed in 2001 at a cost of £32 million, is a 32,689 all-seater stadium. Away fans are seated in the Northam Stand at one end of the stadium, where up to 3,100 fans can be accommodated. Despite being set well back from the pitch, fans can enjoy good views of the action on the field and leg room is adequate. The facilities in the concourse area are quite good as well.
How to get there:
A journey to St. Mary’s by car from Birmingham will take in the region of two and a half hours, depending on traffic.
Sat nav users should input postcode SO14 5FP for the stadium.
For full directions, click here.
Parking is very limited around the stadium and many fans choose to use one of the city centre car parks then walk the fifteen – twenty minutes to the ground. The town centre becomes very congested after matches so expect a lengthy wait to get moving again.
An alternative is to park in the marina area, which is ten minutes’ walk from St. Mary’s. Although you will be charged £5 for parking there, it has the advantage of enabling you to avoid the gridlocked town centre after the game.
Crosscountry services run at least hourly from Birmingham New Street to Southampton Central and more frequently at peak times. The journey takes approximately two hours and thirty-five minutes.
The stadium is located one and a half miles from the train station, which also has a large car park. From the station, you can walk to the stadium in twenty-five minutes or avail of the bus service from Blechyden Terrace, which is outside the station.
Where to drink:
There is very limited choice for away fans close to the stadium.
Many choose to drink in the centre of Southampton, where Yates’ Wine Lodge and The Slug and Lettuce normally accept away fans. The Station, The Eagle and The Prince of Wales also welcome away fans.
If you are parking in the marina area, known as Ocean Village, you will find The Admiral Sir Lucas Curtis contains a mix of home and away fans.
Another option is The Coopers’ Arms on Belvedere Road.
Away fans should avoid the pubs along St Mary’s Street.