MICK Channon knew he had one hand on the FA Cup when Saints had somehow vomited their way to a fifth round replay against West Brom in the triumphant 1976 run.

Three days before legend Channon smashed in a hat-trick to beat the Baggies 4-0 at a packed Dell, sealing their progression to the quarter finals, a nasty sickness bug put their cup run in jeopardy.

As Saints prepared to take on West Brom, a number of key men, including Bobby Stokes, Nick Holmes and Paul Gilchrist, were all hit by a mystery illness.

To make it worse Peter Osgood was suspended.

As we approach the fifth round stage this term, Channon looks back on the 40th anniversary of that nauseating occasion.

“I was alright but a lot of the lads were pretty sick. We just had to get on and play. In them days you couldn’t just abandon it,” said Channon.

Some suspected underhand tactics were being used by West Brom to try and lay low Saints’ best players.

“I didn’t think it couldn’t have been anything like that,” said Channon. “It was just food poisoning or something like that.

“I’ll always remember. It was quite amazing. I remember Nick Holmes, who was probably the fittest in the squad, after about ten minutes I’m running down the left wing.

“I hear someone coming up gasping for breath, breathing heavily. I thought ‘who the bloody hell is that?’ and I look round and it was Nick Holmes.

“After ten minutes that was - he was the fittest player in the team. I thought ‘well there’s something wrong with Nick!’

“Anyway, it was bit of a messy game from what I can remember. Stokesy got the equaliser.

“I know there were a few lads who had something. Whether it was food poisoning or whether they just got a bug. Nobody knows.”

Saints, with 10,000 travelling fans cheering them on in the Midlands, grabbed an unlikely draw through Stokes after Tony Brown had given the Baggies the lead.

After getting the sickness bug through their systems, Saints were back to their best for the replay at The Dell.

And in front of a season-best 27,614 crowd, the club's all-time top-scorer, Channon, was in full flight.

With the cup already a glint in his eye, he smashed Saints into a first minute lead before Gilchrist doubled their lead.

Channon then made it 3-0 at half-time and finished the scoring from the penalty spot after the break.

“We were flying. We knew if we got through the fifth round anything could happen,” Channon explained.

“It was a big game when we went up to West Brom. There was 36,000 people there, it was a big crowd.

“There was 27,000 back at The Dell. You imagine The Dell with 27,000 in it.

“We knew we had to win it. We started great. I remember scoring quite early on. We’re were 3-0 up at half-time. It was quite a relief.

“We won it at half-time, but you've just got to make sure. Nothing’s certain, but we just had to make sure we got there.”