Ten of the best: Opening day wins

By SFC Media time Sat 14 Jun Club

As the countdown begins towards the release of the 2014/15 fixture list, we take a look back at some memorable first matches of the season.

Below are ten post-war successes involving Southampton in decades gone by, accompanied by a brief report of the game and its significance on the season.

2011/12 Championship – Saturday 6th August 2011 – Leeds United (H) – Won 3-1 – Hammond, Lallana, Connolly

Dean Hammond and Rickie Lambert celebrate at St Mary's

Saints marked their return to the Championship with a convincing 3-1 win over Leeds.

Dean Hammond (pictured centre celebrating) fired home a long range effort to give the hosts the lead, before Adam Lallana doubled it with a neat, curling finish from inside the area.

The victory was sealed by a third from David Connolly, but Max Gradel scored a late consolation penalty for Simon Grayson's side. Nigel Adkins’ men would go on to win promotion back into the Premier League at the end of that season.

1999/00 – Premier League – Saturday 7th August 1999 – Coventry (A) – Won 1-0 – Ostenstad

Egil Ostenstad in action for Saints at Coventry [Credit: Jamie McDonald/Getty Images]

Egil Ostenstad (pictured getting the better of Marc Edworthy) beat the offside trap to score with a crisp shot from Matt Le Tissier’s assist in the 84th minute of the game.

It was a complete performance from the side in a match which was also noteworthy for Dean Richards’ debut. It proved to be Saints’ only win on the opening day to a Premier League season in 14 attempts before the 2013/14 success at West Bromwich Albion. The 1999/2000 season saw Saints and Coventry both end the campaign on 44 points with the Sky Blues edging Saints out to 14th by virtue of a better goal difference.

1988/89 – Division 1 – Saturday 27th August 1988 – West Ham United (H) – Won 4-0 – Rideout (2), Cockerill & Le Tissier

Manager Chris Nicholl handed Russell Osman and Paul Rideout their Saints debuts. Rideout put Saints in front, and Glenn Cockerill doubled that advantage going into half-time with a chip over Tom McAlister in the West Ham goal.

Rideout made it a first game to remember with his second of the game on the hour mark, and then Matt Le Tissier applied gloss with a late fourth after running clear of the defence to score against the hammers who went on to be relegated at the end of the season.

1986/87 – Division 1 – Saturday 23rd August 1986 – Queens Park Rangers (H) – Won 5-1 – Holmes, Wallace, Clarke (3)

Danny Wallace scores at The Dell against QPR

It looked like £400,000 well spent as Bournemouth’s Colin Clarke paid instant returns on his move across the south coast with a hat-trick on his full debut with Saints.

The Northern Irish international struck the last three goals of this game after Nick Holmes and Danny Wallace (pictured) had put the hosts in control.

Martin Allen grabbed a consolation for the Rs with 20 minutes remaining. 

Despite this terrific start, Saints would end the campaign in mid-table only ahead of a clutch of teams on goal difference.

1983/84 – Division 1 – Saturday 27th August 1983 – Nottingham Forest (A) – Won 1-0 – Wallace

Mick Mills in action for Saints at the City Ground

In what was to be a memorable season for Southampton, Lawrie McMenemy’s side got off to the perfect start with a narrow success at the City Ground.

Danny Wallace struck the winner on 66 minutes in off the post with a low drive, but it was former Forest man Peter Shilton who earned the plaudits with a fine display to keep a clean sheet for the visitors, who would go on to finish runners-up in Division 1 that year.

1975/76 – Division 2 – Saturday 16th August 1975 – West Bromwich Albion (H) – Won 3-0 – Holmes, Channon (2)

Nick Holmes puts Saints in front against the Baggies

At the start of Saints’ second season outside of the top-flight they made a four match unbeaten beginning to the 1975/76 campaign.

Another season which would end memorably with the club’s sole FA Cup success to-date, also began well - on the pitch, anyway.

Mick Channon, who had a transfer request turned down in the summer, put that to one side to strike in either half after Nick Holmes had put the hosts into a sixth minute lead. Holmes tapped home a rebound from Jim McCalliog’s saved shot past Albion ‘keeper John Osborne (pictured).

1965/66 – Division 2 – Saturday 21st August 1965 – Derby County (A) – Won 3-0 – Chivers, O’Brien (2)

Ted Bates’ side got off to a dream start to their promotion-winning season out of Division 2. The quickest goal in all of the divisions on the opening day arrived from Martin Chivers who struck the first of his 30 efforts that year after just two minutes of the new campaign.

George O’Brien followed up with two more goals before half-time, the latter coming from Terry Paine’s assist.

1963/64 – Division 2 – Saturday 24th August 1963 – Charlton Athletic (H) – Won 6-1 – Kirby (4), O’Brien, Williams

Goals were not short in supply during this season as Saints hit the 100 mark in league football. It was still only enough to settle for a fifth placed finish, but they showed their best side on the opening day with a demolition of the Addicks at The Dell.

George Kirby fired in a 15 minute hat-trick to set the hosts on their way, with Charlton pulling one back before the break. It stayed at 3-1 until six minutes from time, when Kirby added a fourth with a header from John Sydenham’s cross, before George O’Brien and Stuart Williams each struck numbers five and six.

1956/57 Division 3 South – Saturday 18th August 1956 – Bournemouth (H) – Won 3-0 – Reeves, McLaughlin, Shields

Ted Bates’ first full season in charge began with a stylish success over neighbours Bournemouth. There was little to choose between the two teams over the course of the season, but Saints took an early win in this contest thanks to Derek Reeves and Bob McLaughlin’s efforts in either half. Debutant Jimmy Shields, signed from Sunderland in the summer, added a late third.

Saints finished two points clear of Bournemouth that season, and were only five points shy of the title winners, Ipswich Town.

1954/55 – Division 3 South – Saturday 21st August 1954 – Brentford (H) – Won 6-4 – Mulgrew (2), Walker (3), Day

Len Wilkins and Frank Dudley

As opening day success this go, this one had a bit of everything. Saints ran into a 4-0 lead before half an hour, with the first of those goals arriving on just 15 seconds from debutant Tommy Mulgrew.

It was 6-1 by half-time with Mulgrew adding another after Johnny Walker had struck a hat-trick in between.

Played in front of 21,145 fans - the biggest attendance Saints had ever attracted tin the Third Division, there was even a goal for Bees skipper Frank Dudley, who was making his immediate returned to The Dell straight after signing for the visitors. 

Pictured is Saints skipper Len Wilkins shaking hands with former Saint Frank Dudley prior to kick-off.

The 2014/15 Barclays Premier League fixtures are released on saintsfc.co.uk at 9am on Wednesday 18th June

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