Southampton Football Club are often complimented for their state-of-the-art facilities, including the 32,000 seater St Mary’s stadium, but what ever happened to The Dell, the Saints’ former home between 1898 to 2001?
The mid-1990s was when the people of Southampton knew The Dell wouldn’t be around for much longer, the club chairman at the time, Rupert Lowe, announced plans to move to St Mary’s on the banks of the River Itchen.
The new ground has witnessed some extraordinary sites since being made available for the 2001-02 season, with two relegations, two promotions, and fourteen managers, but things seem to have changed since the takeover of Markus Liebherr in 2009.
Everything is all very well and rosy now with St Mary’s as a UEFA 4-star rated stadium, but what ever happened to The Dell?
The Dell was the first stadium to have permanent floodlighting installed and was the home to Southampton for 103 years, including some of the club’s finest moments – including a 1976 run which ended in a win at Wembley. At the end of the 2000-01 season it was time to say goodbye to The Dell and the fans decided to strip all the seats for memorabilia, there were even some fans taking advertisement boards home with them.
Saints legend Matthew Le Tissier said goodbye to The Dell in style by scoring a last minute volley against Arsenal to win the match 3-2. A week later, the final game had taken place and it was Uwe Rosler who scored the final goal at the ground.
Following The Dell being knocked down, a housing estate was built on the site that used to host some memorable matches, the apartment blocks on the site make up the names of former Southampton players. Le Tissier – The first midfielder to score 100 goals in the Premier League – is one of the players with their names on the apartment blocks, along with Bobby Stokes, Ted Bates, Danny Wallace and Mick Channon.
Then: The Dell; Now: The new housing estate
The Dell had been redeveloped four times over its history and was iconic for the Milton Road Stands‘ wedge-like appearance. Prior to the Hillsborough disaster, The Dell once had a record attendance of over 31,000 people watch a single match, but due to the new obligations, the stadium was eventually restricted to a capacity of 15,200.