R's on The Road... To Southampton
by Lee Brown.
This coming Saturday the R's go on the road on a relatively short trip to St. Marys where in-form Southampton are the hosts.
Current capacity - 32.489
Southampton moved into their new(ish) St. Marys stadium in 2001, leaving their home for more than 100 years, The Dell. In 1898 Southampton St. Mary's, as they were known then, built a new home for the club, The Dell, as they were in the middle of their most successful period where they won the Southern League 6 times in 8 years between 1897 and 1904 and also played in 2 FA Cup finals in 1900 and 1902, losing both to Bury and Sheffield United respectfully. The Dell cost the Saints £10,000 back then and played host for the home team for 103 years before moving into the St. Marys stadium. The grounds name was adopted from their former club name Southampton St. Mary's and embrace in a little bit of nostalgia.
Traditionally away supporters are housed in the Northam Stand to the left hand side of the ground. There is usually an allocation of 3,200, this can be increased to 4,750 but this only ever occurs on cup tie occassions. The ground itself can be compared to Middlesborough's ground (The Riverside) for those who have not visited St. Mary's.
Personally speaking I find St. Mary's to be a fantastic stadium, plenty of atmosphere can be created and witheld within the constraits of the stands. There is plenty of leg room for when you are watching the game, plus a large concourse area for us all to enjoy a pre match discuss and maybe a pint or two.
The History between the teams
At Southampton (36 games)
Since Southampton moved into their new home Rangers have never lost on their travels there, winning 2 and drawing once. This has definately been a lucky ground for us in recent years and has provided us with a good few memories to reminice a few times when the fixture comes back around. The last 2 encounters have ended in 2-1 and 3-2 wins for the R's, providing both sets of fans a great days entertainment along the way.
For me the most memorable game came on 30th Sept 2006 where Rangers won the game 2-1, but it will be remembered for a fantastic equaliser from the narrowest of angles after Ray Jones dispossessed Kelvin Davies on the far right on the penalty box (as we saw it from the stand) and cooly slotted home from an accute angle to send the away support into raptures.
How to get there
By Car :- The traditional way to reach Southampton is to use the M3 and turn off at junction 14 onto the A33. Continue down the A33 and follow Kingsway, which is on the ring road. Hit the B3038 which will lead you to Marine Parade and you will then hit the ground and can choose your parking destination.
Parking is very limited in the area, you can try and use a small industrial estate on the Northam side of the stadium, or alternatively use one of the few NCP car parks. The last option is to park a small way out of the city centre and use the park and ride facility which is located just off junction 8 of the M27. It is clearly signposted using the AA sign identity and is located near a big Tesco superstore. This service is free as you will have the park and ride ticket stubs on your match ticket.
By Train :- Plan your journey very carefully this weekend as there are engineering works meaning that the trains will be stopping a lot earlier than expected at Southampton Airport Parkway. Buses will be provided for football fans from here to Southampton Central, but your trip could be delayed by some time so please allow extra time when using this service.
Pubs 'n' Grub
There are many options open to fans in terms of pubs and food, which also makes the trip to the south coast so appealing.
As pubs go, i would recommend using a pub which is a stones throw from the ground. I am unsure of the name of it but i know it used to be Le Tissiers, it may be the Coopers Arms but please dont hold me to it.
If you choose to venture into the City centre for a beverage or food then you will have many options open to you. Yates would probably be my vote for the pub to use there, it hosts an equal amount of both home and away fans alike and is very friendly. As far as food goes, in the City centre you will have the usual choice of fast food chains, and a few healthier options around if you choose to go searching.
Plenty of burger vans are available around the stadium.
I do recommend holding on at the end of the game and approach the van across the road from the away stand as last year myself, Lofty, PK, Gordon and the rest of the Henley mob were offered the bargin of a lifetime! Double up for 50p! We did enjoy taking advantage of the cheap food on offer at the end of a very good day of football.
As always I have a small list of prices for the grub inside for us to enjoy pre match or durin half time. My picks this time around are - Hollands Pies (£2), Burgers (£2.50) and Hot Dogs (£2.50), a very limited list this week.
Southampton have hit a rich vain of form at home in recent weeks and under new manager Mark Wotte have started to play the total football that former manager Jan Poortvliet tried to get his side to play. The Saints looked like a team full of youth and inexperience until the last month or so, and with experienced goalkeeper and captain Kelvin Davis, with the likes of Jason Euell and Chris Perry also helping them along surely the future at St Mary's should be an exciting one with the likes of Andrew Surman coming through the ranks and establishing himself as one of the divisions brightest prospects over the last 2 seasons.
Rangers have now gone 8 games without a victory and a lack of goals is surely becoming a concern for the under pressure Paulo Sousa as he attempts to get the 'project' which is so often talked about back on track. Now with the R's 8 points off the play offs with a game in hand and everyone around them faltering at the same time everytime they slip up, can they start to pick up the vital points needed to secure their highest finish in recent years. May I just add, only 3 more points are needed to secure their place in the Championship next year...