For over a hundred years The Dell was the home of Southampton FC. The ground was officially opened on September 3rd 1898 and had a maximum capacity of 30,000.
Southampton’s original home was at the Antelope Ground, but when property developers bought the site in 1896 the Club were forced out. A short stay at a County Cricket Ground followed and in 1897 they acquired a piece of land to build their new home.
The ground featured two covered stands with seats, as well as room for standing. The Dell underwent major development in 1928 with a new West Stand being constructed. Fire destroyed the East Stand the following year but it was rebuilt in similar style to the West Stand.
Southampton’s first fixture at The Dell was a 4-1 win over Brighton with the first goal being scored by Watty Keay. The record attendance came in 1969 when 31,044 spectators attended a fixture between Southampton and Manchester United.
In 1950 The Dell became the first ground to have permanent floodlighting installed, the first game played under the lights was on 31 October 1950, in a friendly against Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic.
Probably one of the most memorable matches to be played at The Dell was against Manchester United in 1996. With the likes of Peter Schmeichel, Eric Cantona and Roy Keane in the side, Southampton would have their work cut out. However, the home side wowed their fans with a ruthless display to win 6-3. Despite a defeat to Aston Villa on the last day of the season the Club maintained their Premier League status.
Legend seals it
The final match to be played at The Dell was against Arsenal on May 19th 2001. Fittingly the home side won 3-2 with Club legend Matthew Le Tissier scoring the last ever goal. That same year the ground was demolished, and like many other old grounds in England, a housing estate was erected.
Many fans got the opportunity to take a piece of ground away with them during a friendly against Brighton and Hove Albion, who were the first and last opponents. Fans stripped The Dell of its seats and pitch as they said an emotional goodbye.
Bigger and better
Southampton were keen to make a return to the top flight and in 2001 they had a stadium to rival many of the bigger Clubs. Southampton moved into the St Mary’s Stadium, which is the largest stadium in the South East of England.