On This Day In History - 2nd May The Open Topped Bus Tour
Saturday, 2nd May 2020 09:06
On 2nd May 1976 a City woke up and the loudest sound was that of Aspirin bottles being opened as thousands of hang overs were in full flow. But now was the little matter of welcoming the team and the FA Cup back to the City.
Saints fans settled down to breakfast on the Sunday morning eagerly reading all the Sunday papers and the Football Echo which blazed the headline "It's Ours !"
Having confirmed that yesterday had actually happened the entire city and surrounding areas prepared to turn out for the open topped bus parade around the city.
The first stop for the team as they arrived back in the City was Fords at Swaythling to show the workers there the cup, then it was back to the Dell to board the bus.
Although the bus was going to pass near my house I met up with a few mates and we decided to go to the Saints Pub in Millbrook to watch the bus, the pub was packed and people were sitting on the roof and thousands lined the road.
The Pub landlord has apparently asked the locals to stop the bus and insist that the team bring the cup inside for a drink.
The wait seemed endless, with no forms of communication back then as we have now, what we didn't know was that the scenes that were about to take place outside the Saints pub were happening all along the route and the bus was getting delayed.
Eventually it appeared and chaos reigned, hundreds blocked the road and managed to stop the bus, but the police cleared the way through and eventually it got on its way.
We then jumped on the 17 bus and headed to town to see the team arrive at the Civic Centre.
On arrival it was chaos around the Civic Centre car park, every available space was taken and the crowd spilled out of the car park and on to the road and the fountain which was then situated in a little roundabout between the gates of the car park and the bus station.
People were clambering on to the balconies of buildings, on bus stops, up lamp posts, indeed anything to be able to get a better view and a more individual way of waving at the tea.
We were masters of weaving through crowds on the terraces so after deciding we weren't much use at climbing we squeezed our way into the Civic Centre Car park for a prime spot to see the bus arrive and to see the speeches etc.
The bus appeared and slowly made its way from Above Bar and into the car park, it was led by the Albion Band but they could barely be heard above the roar of the crowd and the main problem for the police was not only creating a path for the bus but of making sure that no one fell under its wheels.
The bus eventually parked up and the Mayor made a speech declaring that Southampton Football Club would now have the freedom of the city, Lawrie McMenemy and some of the players also said a few words and I remember Lawrie leading the crowd with Peter Osgood in a raucous rendition of Oh When The Saints Go Marching In.
It was over so quickly though and the team went inside for a Civic reception and the crowds dispersed.
It was estimated that over 200,000 lined the route that day, certainly in Millbrook and I'm sure everywhere else literally everybody came out to see the bus, even those who like my Mum had never even been to the Dell, at least not for a football match, although my Mum had been to the ticket office a few weeks earlier as described in the Bradford story.
But the greatest weekend in the City's history was still not over as the next day it was Mick Channon's testimonial against QPR, and that is yet another story that will be told tomorrow.
# Thanks to the unknown supplier of the photos used in this story from Facebook, I'm sure that you won't mind given that it is showing the world just how Millbrook was that day.
Photo: Action Images
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