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Southampton Football Club, formed in 1885 by members of St. Mary's Church Young Men's association, moved to their current ground, The Dell, in 1898. They rented the new stadium, built at a cost of £10,000.

A year later Saints reached the first of their three FA Cup Finals. They lost 4-0 to Bury and in 1902, in another final, they went down 2-1 to Sheffield United in a replay.

Originally called Southampton St. Mary's, the club had joined the Southern League in 1894 and won the championship three times running between 1897-99. And they finished top in 1901, 1903 and 1904.

In 1920 Saints joined the newly-formed Football League Division 3 which split into South and North sections a year later. The 1920-21 season ended in promotion and the start of a 31-year stay in Division 2.

During World War 2 when a bomb landed on The Dell pitch, leaving an 18-foot crater which damaged an underground culvert and flooded the pitch, Saints had to switch home matches to Fratton Park, Portsmouth.

Promotion was narrowly missed in 1949 and 1950 the margin one point and then goal average as Charlie Wayman rattled in a total of 56 goals. Then relegation in 1953 Sent Saints sliding back into Division 3 (South).

It took until 1960 for Saints to regain Second Division status, Derek Reeves plundering 39 of the champions' 106 League goals. In 1963 a crowd of 68,000 at Villa Park saw them lose 1-0 to Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-finals.

The dream of Division 1 football at The Dell for the first time was finally realised in 1966 when Ted Bates' team were promoted as runners-up. It was a never-to-be-forgotten achievement.

For the following campaign Ron Davies arrived to score 43 goals in his first season and Saints stayed among the elite for eight years. Twice they qualified for Europe before falling victim in 1974 to the new three down relegation system.

The most memorable day in Southampton Football Club's history came in 1976 when the Second Division side, managed by Lawrie McMenemy, won the FA Cup for the first time with a sensational 1-0 victory at Wembley over odds-on favourites Manchester United.

In 1978 Saints gained promotion back to Division 1 and a year later they were back at Wembley, losing 3-2 to Nottingham Forest in the League Cup Final. Alan Ball was in the Saints team, one of several star names to join the club.

The signing of Kevin Keegan, twice European Footballer of the Year, from Hamburg, was a masterstroke by Lawrie McMenemy, a move which stunned the football world.

The 1983/84 season was the most Successful in The Saints' history. With the great Peter Shilton in goal they finished runners-up to Liverpool in the League and reached the FA Cup semi-finals, losing to Everton in extra time. By finishing fifth in 1984/85 Saints qualified for European football for the fourth time in five seasons and the following year reached the FA Cup semi-finals again, only to go out to Liverpool. Lawrie McMenemy left in the close season only to be replaced by former Saints player Chris Nicholl.

In 1986/87 Saints were again stopped one step short of Wembley. It was Liverpool who again beat them in the two-leg Littlewoods Cup semi-final. During the 1988/89 season Saints created history by becoming the first club to include three brothers - Danny, Rodney and Raymond Wallace - in a Division 1 match.

The following season Saints emerged as one of the country's most entertaining teams with 71 goals and were second top scorers in Division 1. Matthew Le Tissier, 24-goal leading scorer, was named PFA Young Player of the Year with strike partner Rodney Wallace in second place.

In 1990/91 Le Tissier was again top scorer with 23 goals. Alan Shearer proved what an exciting prospect he was by captaining the England Under-21 team

The following season saw a change in the management with former Reading manager, Ian Branfoot taking the helm. Saints reached the Zenith Data Systems Cup Final at Wembley, going down 3-2 to Nottingham Forest in extra-time
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