Southampton fans haven’t always had the best time watching their team play at Wembley Stadium in both its new and old iterations.
The two most recent trips saw Saints get soundly beaten by Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final in 2018 and fall late to a Zlatan Ibrahimovic goal for Manchester United in the 2017 League Cup final as Southampton were unlucky to lose 3-2.
But the start of the decade did provide a Saints fans with a day out to remember at Wembley.
The 2010 Johnstone’s Paint Trophy saw Southampton smash fellow League One side Carlisle United 4-1 in the final - the first silverware Saints picked up since their FA Cup win over Manchester United in 1976.
Dean Hammond, the man who captained Southampton the day Saints won the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, told Oh When The Saints podcast of his memories from that day.
“Amazing day. Great memories. Just from leaving the hotel on the bus and getting towards Wembley and seeing the red and white everywhere, the amount of fans who were there – we knew the importance of the game to the fans, to us as players,” Hammond told OWTS podcast host Patrick Surlis.
“I always wanted to play at the national stadium. I had been to the old Wembley and it was the first time I had been to the new Wembley. A great day.”
Despite the 4-1 scoreline, Southampton’s performance on the day wasn’t as commanding as we’d seen Saints under Alan Pardew in other games.
However, Hammond said he and his Saints teammates always felt that they’d leave North London with the silverware on offer after seeing the Southampton fans who had converged en masse on Wembley Park that Sunday afternoon.
“As soon as we saw the fans, the red and white and we heard the noise from the support and the passion they were giving us, there were never any doubt we were going to win the game. Not out of arrogance or overconfidence, it was just fate. It was meant to be and be the start of the club’s resurgence.
“The game couldn’t have gone much better for the team. We were 4-0 up, ended 4-1. We were comfortable. We scored goals at the right time. We put in a really good performance – especially as the team wasn’t the regular team we were playing in the league. There were a lot of players who came in January who couldn’t play in the competition so there were a few changes. The players who came in again showed the mentality of the squad and did a great job. Good celebrations afterwards. It was a good day all-round.”
However, winning what is now known as the EFL Trophy wasn’t just about coming out on top of the competition itself - it also marked Southampton turning a corner after years of on and off-field decisions almost costing the club its very existence.
You know the story by now. The late, great Markus Liebherr saved Southampton from administration just a month before the 2009/10 season.
He sadly passed away before getting the chance to see Saints rise from the third tier of English football back to the top. The German-Swiss billionaire entrepreneur, however, did get the chance to see his team win the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at Wembley - the early fruits of a club ownership which really wanted to see Southampton succeed.
Hammond agrees that the cup win was a major turning point for a lot of the Southampton playing and coaching staff.
“I think it just gave us that real belief,” Hammond said. “We always knew about the size of Southampton as a club and the history behind it, but seeing the amount of fans there that day, seeing what it meant and the volume and passion of those fans just really showed us what football club we were playing for. It enhanced our belief that we weren’t just going to try and get back to the Championship – this club needs to be back in the Premier League.
“Every day, the players we were training with improved. Training – Dean Wilkins is a great coach – he was improving everyone. The young players were becoming more mature, getting better and better with more games and learning how to win games.
“The younger players at the club were so talented as the academy was so good. One thing they hadn’t learned, or had forgotten, was how to manage games, how to win games. They had won a competition now and I think the JPT win triggered something and switched something in their minds to realise: ‘OK. We can really build something here.’ It felt like the start, it really did.”
You can listen to the Oh When The Saints podcast’s interview with Dean Hammond on your preferred podcast app here.
Follow OWTS on social media
You can also sign up to the Oh When The Saints’ weekly Southampton newsletter here.