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The FA Cup Draw Invokes The Spirit Of 76
Tuesday, 30th Jan 2018 10:22

If there is a time when Saints need a good omen it is now and the draw for the 5th round of the FA Cup provided that with a trip to West Bromwich Albion.

Saints and West Bromwich Albion were big rivals in the League in 1975/76 season with both fighting for promotion from the then Second Division back to the top flight.

That season would turn out magical in Saints history, but those that were there will remember that the first half o the season was not the bed of roses that you would assume some 40 years later, it was riddled with supporter discontent after Lawrie McMenemy had taken us down in his first season and then the following had seen us struggle back in the second tier spending most of the season in the bottom half of the table.

That meant 1975/76 was crucial, not just for McMenemy, but the club in general who would not be able to hold on to the big names like Channon and Osgood for much longer.

Although it started well it soon dropped off and by early December we were as low as 12th and the crowd was restless and the manager's head was firmly in their sights.

A rally at Xmas saw us rise as high as 4th in a time when it was 3 promoted automatically, but that form had gone in April and when we travelled to West Bromwich Albion on February 14th in the 5th round of the cup, we were sat in 6th and the season was finely balanced and with West Brom favourites for this tie, it was not a rosy outlook for the club or it's manager.

But something changed in the supporters that weekend, it had perhaps surfaced the week before when thousands travelled to Bristol City, but this tie at the Hawthorns captivated Saints fans in a way that virtually no other game had done in a decade.

For a reason not really apparent then or even now an army of 12,000 travelled, making up a third of the 36,634 crowd and the team played in Yellow and Blue for the first time in the competition.

It was a draw, it turned out that the Saints team were riddled with a virus, it took a late Bobby Stokes goal to keep Saints in the cup and that in itself was prophetical. The replay was won in front of a full house at the Dell a few days later and the dream was on.

But something had changed amongst the fans, the mindset had changed, instead of negativity and moaning about how the team was once again failing to succeed, there was a renewed passion in the fan base, a feeling that things were changing and the rest as they say is history.

So this is a good omen that 42 years after our greatest season we are again going to West Bromwich Albion in the 5th round of the FA Cup (OK I know we also went there in the same round in 78/79, although that was another season we played at Wembley so another omen perhaps) and it can again be the catalyst for a Saints revival both on and off the field.

It is a chance for the team to win games and for the fans to get behind it, show some passion, show some pride and get behind the team, in 75/76 that was the case, as supporters we need to learn from history and ironically repeat it.

If you want another omen this is the second round running we travel to a Premier club and then face them in the FA Cup two weeks later.

So like 1976 this could be a great ending to the season, you are either with the team or against it, the cold reality though is this, we beat West Bromwich Albion twice and the season could just start to get interesting.

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Photo: Action Images

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patred added 10:33 - Jan 30
It doesn't invoke any spirit of 76 at all. In fact the LES REED FACTOR has stripped this club of any spirit.
Then we were one team, Club, players, and fans.
Today we are 3 seperate identities.

AirFlorida added 10:34 - Jan 30
Great photo! More of these please. It takes my mind off the rubbish going on today.

PhantomTippler added 10:55 - Jan 30
To be fair Patred. No premier league club and very few Championship clubs can still claim
To to be at one. Wages and the mercenary factor of everyone associated with modern football from the record signing to the academy player is why any spirit of past glories will only be found in pictures and newspaper clippings.

Number_58 added 11:09 - Jan 30
Patred, were they the same fans who threw vegetables at the manager just a year or so before that famous FA Cup run? Nothing changes, except the tint of the glasses gets rosier by the year.

skiptonsaint added 11:19 - Jan 30
We are officially the unluckiest team in Europe I saw so why not get a good transfer window completed and then have all our luck in the second half of the season. These things balance out.

We could certainly get a draw at West Brom especially if we have got some points by then and can field a strong team. Win at a rocking St Mary's.

Then we would be one game from Wembley maybe it could be a memorable season after all.

Maybe I need to put the happy pills away

PAUL54 added 11:21 - Jan 30
That does it for me was my first away game at WBA in 76 and will never forget the last away game of that Season or Channon's testimonial on the Monday night following. What a year that started lets hope it starts all over again.
Lets all get behind the team and see what happens can remember Lawrie getting all that abuse lets hope that history repeats itself.

SaintNick added 11:26 - Jan 30
Pat, back in 75/76 we were definately not one team club etc, the fans were getting impatient and in January 1976 it was looking increasingly unlikely we would make a serious promotion challenge, the fans were upset with the manager and the board of the club as it looked like we would be stuck in the 2nd division for another year and the likes of Channon and Osgood would go.

The West Brom game was a big factor in changing the fans, I know Les Reed s not your favourite person, he is not mine either, but his record over the past 4 years does stand up to any other club outside of the top six, but this is now a catalyst is needed we need to get behind the team and then argue about Les Reed when we are safe

SaintBrock added 12:02 - Jan 30
Spirit of '76, not in me for sure. We're not going to win it with Man C, Manu and Chelsea still in there and with easy ties to the last 8.

Forget the Cup and stay up is my priority.

Don't forget the fiasco at Cardiff in 2003 when we didn't turn up.

SanMarco added 12:07 - Jan 30
So many omens. Are there any good ones for us beating Brighton tomorrow? I am going to worry about the cup after these next two games.

As for fan discontent - at any one time 95% of all fans worldwide are discontented. Its one of the reasons we do it. If we did it to make us happy we would have all given up long ago. I remember the WBA replay - I lived down in Cornwall at the time and we were 3-0 up before I got the radio to work.

Good luck with suspending the Les Reed debate until we are safe Nick - buy yourself a lottery ticket, you'll have more chance.

SaintNick added 12:36 - Jan 30
SaintBrock, we were never going to win it in 1976, even as the semi final draw was made Man Utd and Derby were going to win it till they got drawn together, then we became the biggest underdogs in living memory, right up to the game itself we were merly lambs to the slaughter, but we did win it.

Perhaps you should get a bit of the spirit of 1976, back then we didnt get sucked into social media that made us believe that the whole fanbase wanted the manager sacked, we just got behind the team and suddenly found it had it in them to pull out a few good perfomances.

Have a little optimism, gt behind the club, it is in a far better state now than it was in 1976, in 2003 we lost because Strachan bottled it in the final having been beaten at Arsenal 6-1 a couple of weeks earlier, but we almost snatched it at the end.

Its all about supporters creating the atmosphere for the team to prosper rather than a toxic one

Number_58 added 16:32 - Jan 30
The scenes in that photo will never be repeated - health & safety wouldn't allow it and I'm too old to climb onto a roof.

LoisDeem added 09:33 - Jan 31
Anyone got any pictures from West Brom?
Awesome scenes all day and night, I'm sure I recall a fan putting a Saints flag on the halfway line.
The mercenary behaviour of clubs and players should not unduly effect us fans, that's surely why we're still here isn't it?
Dare to dream.

LoisDeem added 09:35 - Jan 31
Saint Brock: Cardiff, I think most of us turned up, did you not enjoy it?

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