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Southampton's 2003 FA Cup run

The above montage are pics from the Southampton 2003 FA Cup run which led them to the final.

I think we are all familiar with their current woes so I’m not going to bother with all that. If you are not go and look it up.

I want to concentrate on their FA Cup Final appearance, but before that a short background on events which eventually led them to Cardiff…

Southampton had outgrown their old ground (which wasn’t had to do) and a new place: St Mary’s Stadium was due to open for the next season. The last game at The Dell was on 19th May 2001 and it was between Southampton and… their 2003 FA Cup Final opponents Arsenal.

It was pretty much a swansong not just for the stadium but for the club legend Matt Le Tissier, who wrote himself further into that legend when he scored the winner in a 3-2 defeat of the Gunners.

At the beginning of the next season, initially with Le Tiss in their ranks, they were struggling. Les Grey was sacked and Gordon Strachan was brought in. He steadied the ship and things began too look up with an 11th place finish in the Premiership. The next season things got better and better when The Saints finished in a high 8th spot plus a cup final appearance to top it off.

So then to Cardiff (because Wembley was still under construction) and because it was pissing it down that day the roof was closed. Thus it became the only FA Cup Final ever to be played “indoors”…
One for you there fact fans.
2003 FA Cup Final programme

The Saints as mentioned were on a high and full of confidence for this final, even with the task ahead of them. That task was to beat the “Invincibles” – as they later became to be known – of Arsenal FC.

Arsenal went into this as the FA Cup holders. They had beaten Chelsea the year before and had once again defeated them in the 6th round (after a replay) for this year. Southampton under Strachan’s guidance had some now familiar names in their ranks, such as the Saints youth player Wayne Bridge. Up front they had James Beattie.

Despite their opposition it was a close game, with Arsenal and some household names such as Seaman, Laren, Ashley Cole, Pires, Henry and Bergkamp in there, having to work to get the 1-nil win.

– The music created to commemorate that day came via the prolific songwriter Carl McIntosh, who has composed over 40 songs. Seriously go and have a listen.

For the FA Cup Final he did two songs, one of them named after Chris Marsden, the Saints captain.

Southampton badge » Carl McIntosh – Southampton Boys

» Carl McIntosh – Marsdeninho

There will be a now-rare South Coast derby when the troubled Pompey travel to take on the (still troubled ?) Saints for the 5th round of the FA Cup. Whatever happens after this, who knows. But good luck to both. I hope there are better times ahead.

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