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Lawrie McMenemy speaks exclusively to St. Mary's Musings!

Southampton's most successful manager of all-time, Lawrie McMenemy, speaks exclusively to St. Mary's Musings as we look ahead to the 40th anniversary of the FA Cup glory of 1976.

David Cannon/Getty Images

On the 1st of May in 1976, Southampton won their first, and only, major honour.

Bobby Stokes scored an 83rd minute winner as second division Saints beat Manchester United 1-0 at Wembley Stadium.

Today, Connor Armstrong and George Galpin of St. Mary's Musings were invited down to Southampton Guildhall for a Mayoral reception with Lawrie McMenemy, the manager of that famous side - as well as rubbing shoulders with Saints legends Nick Holmes, Hugh Fisher, Jim Steele and Paul Bennett.

In part one of our coverage of the event, we talk about lifting the FA Cup in 1976, Lawrie's fondest memories at Saints, the importance of the FA Cup and his hope for Ronald Koeman's men next season.

We'll hear more from Lawrie next week, when the fan favourite talks Schneiderlin and the summer transfer window with Connor Armstrong.

Below is the transcript from when Connor and George met Lawrie.


Obviously approaching the 40th anniversary now, since the cup win - what are your fondest memories from that day?

Well, obviously the final whistle!

Those nerves for the last seven minutes. Bobby Stokes got the goal, bless him - but it was the seven longest minutes of my life. Really. From then on in I can remember clearly everything that happened. Back to the hotel, we were always going to go out that night. We had booked to stay the night [in London] that night.

The journey back, the bus journey - everything. Some fantastic memories. The fact there were so few players compared to now. You've got squads now of 25, this cup squad was 14 - in fact, one of them moved after the first round! That would never happen nowadays, because they played 42 league games before FA Cup and League Cup games. I think that is what makes it so special. <!-- ######## START FLOATED VIDEO SNIPPET ######## -->

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The evidence is two lads have gone already. It's sad. They were very, very popular. Little Bobby scoring the winning goal and Ossie was a legend anyway. Tommy Docherty is a great friend of many years, he's coming down I think, to re-enact bits of the final.

I was with [Roberto] Martinez when we were at the ‘Hall of Fame' for the LMA. I was stood next to him and I said "You look a bit down, come on, get your head up". He said he'd just been relegated, but I said "Yeah, but you won the FA Cup. Look, in twenty to thirty years time, everybody in Wigan will remember you winning the cup - they'll forget you being relegated."

It was the best season the club's ever had in its history. We were second in the first division in 1983-84 after 42 games. But, the man in the street doesn't remember that: they all remember us winning the cup.

Do you think winning the cup proved the catalyst to going into the First Division and that great run that Saints had in the 80s?

Well, in my first season we got relegated in 1973-74. We were third bottom and it was the first time anyone third bottom had gone down - and we went down with more points than we'd stayed up with in some of the previous seasons! These days, I would've been out of the door. The board stood by me and I repaid their loyalty with the cup in '76, the Charity Shield, which was a bonus, and the League Cup Final in '79. But, the one target was always getting back in the top flight and we did that.

Then the task was to keep Saints in there and then climb up as high as we could. You need time for that and they don't give managers that time these days. Some managers don't want that time. I was here, altogether, for 12 years. It was a terrific period and I also established what is now the academy.

We didn't have any money compared to some. But, the board allowed me to appoint people up in Newcastle, London and in the West Country. We had three centres. We brought school kids in and had professionals coaching them in each area. The best ones came down in the school holidays. The result of that was, from the north-east - Alan Shearer, Ian Maddison and Tommy Widdrington. From London, the three Wallace brothers. Steve Williams and Austin Hayes. Matt Le Tissier came in a different way, but I signed him as a schoolboy. Eventually, Gareth Bale and Jason Dodd also.

So, my idea was young legs with senior players at the end of their careers. I couldn't have afforded them normally. So it was old heads and young legs together - and it worked. We played good football and the youngsters learned every minute - from Alan Ball in particular.

I met little Steve Moran on a Sunday morning in the Tyro League while I was watching my own kids play. He was up at Hull and he asked me to come and meet some people. I asked if he'd told them about all the goals he'd scored. He was smiling and I said "Did he tell you he had Keegan on one side, Channon on the other and Alan Ball behind him?"

You spoke about Martinez and the people of Wigan and what it means to them. Does it mean a lot to you that the people of Southampton still show an interest 40 years on?

Oh, totally!

I can go into Romsey, which is my area, and I can go around the post office, bank or get a cup of coffee and there'll be at least one person that will stop me and remember where they were on the day after the final, on the route around [the parade]. Old ladies who've never been to the ground! But, they can all tell you where they were.

We were just talking a moment ago about winning it in '76, but just how far away do you think Ronald Koeman and his team are now?

Well, that's the magic. If you were to say to me, "How far off do you think Saints are [of finishing 2nd in the league like in 1984]?", I would say it was nigh-on impossible with the way the money situation is in the game.

The bigger clubs, with bigger grounds and bigger budgets have got more chance. But the cup, the magic of it is that anybody can win it. It's been proved in recent years how somebody in the Second Division can get to the final, as we did. We were in the second level. That's the magic of it.

Southampton are not just second level now. They've proved that they can beat anybody in the country. I would love them to win it next year. That'd be fantastic, to win it in the year of the 40th anniversary celebrations.

St. Mary's Musings would like to thank Lawrie for taking the time to speak to us, and would also like to extend our gratitude to the organisers of today's event.