Down in the Dell

Watching the mighty Leicester City beating Southampton last night in a half empty and echoing St Marys Stadium I couldn’t help remembering the first time we’d visited Southampton in the early Eighties, and what a curious, interesting ground The Dell had been…

We’d wandered around the away section into what appeared to be a whitewashed cave with a fence at the front. At the other end there were little terrace boxes on stilts above the standing area, and awkward slopes and angles carved into stands wherever you looked.
The Dell had always battled with the problem of being a football ground not only centred around a large hollow but also squeezed into a tight parallelogram of land, hemmed in by Archers Road and Milton Road. Some ingenious designs were employed to accommodate spectators, but the Taylor Report of 1992 spelled the beginning of the end for this sort of quirky, eccentric quality. After making the place ‘safe’ enough to satisfy the stringent new standards, the Saints could only fit in 15,000 spectators – not enough for a club who were enjoying a good spell in the new Premier League, with Matt Le Tissier in his prime.

After over a hundred years at The Dell, the Saints moved to St. Mary’s in 2001, but it proved to be the beginning of their problems rather than the end. By 2009, they were cast into the twin hells of the Third Division and administration. Many a Saint must have longed for the days when they were crammed into a favourite, oblique triangular corner of their distinctive old home…

Read about more lost grounds and stands in ‘Got, Not Got’ available now from Amazon at a 40% discount… http://www.amazon.co.uk/Got-Not-Lost-World-Football/dp/1908051140/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1309435615&sr=1-1

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About thefoxfanzine

Editor of The FOX Fanzine - covering Leicester City for 23 years... it seems longer.
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