THE Saints side that started the 1965-66 season included a debutant, David Walker, while the other nine outfield players had turned out, almost unchanged, for the second half of the previous season.
This settled look would be short-lived.
Ted Bates would use 24 players, with nine of them making their League debut for the club and nine (including three of the debutants) playing their last game.
That hardly sounds like a promotion formula – certainly not in comparison with the stable side of 1960 – but this would indeed prove to be the season.
The first casualty was John Hollowbread in only the sixth game, when he sustained a career-ending injury.
This was the inaugural season for substitutes in the Football League.
Wimshurst became the Saints’ first player to come off the bench, as Huxford took over in goal for the last hour of Coventry’s visit.
The side hung on to win 1-0 – which might have been tough with only 10 men – to bag two points that would be so vital come May.
Tony Godfrey now returned yet again in goal. It was an interesting welcomeback, as the side scored 14 and conceded 11 in the next three games.
A 4-3 win at Norwich took them to the top. A Paine penalty hit the post at 3-3, but Terry was spared embarrassment when Norman Dean, on his League debut, scored the winner.
Despite a midweek set-back, 5-1 at Coventry, the Saints were still leading the table when the next game began in a familiar fashion, Knapp putting the ball past his ’keeper to give Wolves a first-minute lead at The Dell.
Whereupon the Saints rattled in five before half-time, sandwiching another from Wolves.
On the hour, Paine completed the scoring at 9-3.
It could so easily have been 10, but Sydenham and he each hit the woodwork in the remaining half-hour.
Still, this was the first time Saints had ever run up nine in a League match.
The goal-spree would now dry up: over the next nine games, the side would manage only six goals, shared between Martin Chivers and George O’Brien.
Twice in the autumn, Paine was absent – breaking a long sequence each time. First, in early October, for a topof- the-table clash that ended in Manchester City winning 1-0 at The Dell, Terry was winning his 15th England cap against Wales in Cardiff.
Which meant that he missed only his second game in almost four years, the previous time being when he was winning his sixth cap in Glasgow in April 1964.
The second absence – a 1-0 win over Orient, four weeks later – was even more historic: it was the first time in eight-and-a-half seasons that Terry had ever missed playing on account of injury.
O’Brien scored his 11th goal of the season against Orient in only 13 matches, but he would never score for the club again.
Indeed, nobody would score at all in his three remaining games for the Saints.
George caught hepatitis from one of his sons. With him sidelined, it was Chivers’s turn to go on a crazy scoring run – of 18 goals in 11 League games.
With Dean chipping in his share of goals, the side was running up some big scores, once getting four and four times getting five, without ever getting back into a promotion slot.
In the first of the five-goal wins, Preston came back late to halve Saints’ 4-0 lead to 4-2 before Chivers headed in Paine’s cross to settle it at 5-2.
The next nap-hands came in successive games at the turn of the year: a 5-3 win at Cardiff, followed by a 5-1 triumph over Bolton at home.
The following month, Saints rattled in five more at Fratton Park, Norman Dean hitting a hat-trick and Martin Chivers netting twice.
It was now the end of February.
March began with a home defeat – 1-0 by Birmingham – but Saints thereupon went on an undefeated 12-match run-in.
It began with a 1-1 draw at Molineux, with a goal by debutant rightback, David Webb, who had come from Orient in a deal that involved George O’Brien going in the opposite direction.
Saints were having to get their goals not only without O’Brien but without any more from Chivers. After an outlandish 30 goals in the first 29 games, Martin had stopped scoring.
The problem was his back, although he managed, with manipulation and cortisone from a London specialist, to miss only three games.
His deputy was Mick Channon, by now 17. He made his debut on Easter Monday, the climax to a crucial weekend.
Saints were fortunate to play only twice – on Good Friday and Easter Monday – their Saturday game at Brisbane Road being called off.
So Easter’s traditional three fixtures came down to Friday at Ashton Gate and a ‘return’ encounter with Bristol City at The Dell on the Monday – Saints winning 1-0 away and drawing 2-2 at home, Paine levelling in the last minute.
It was one of nine goals that he contributed in the 12-match run-in, exactly half of the goals the side managed.
The two most dramatic came in the last home game and the penultimate away game.
When Charlton came to The Dell on 30 April, the game was goalless and 89 minutes old when, bad back or not, Chivers made a memorable run down the right touch-line, his huge stride deceptively making him look slower than the defender giving hopeless chase.
‘It was tough to keep up with him,’ Terry reckons, but he it was who got himself into the danger zone, bursting into the six-yard box and throwing his body forward to meet Martin’s cross, ahead of the advancing goalkeeper.
Paine and the ball somehow connected and two more points were secure.
What followed was described by the man from The Times: ‘Paine was chaired from the pitch, and the glow of optimism matched the sun. It had been a long time in setting, but for all their over-eagerness, punctuated at times by the opposite quality of extraordinary casualness, Southampton had done enough to suggest that they were worthy of higher things.’ They still had to prove their worth over the three remaining games, all of them away.
Paine’s availability for the next due game was an issue. It had been predictable, from the start of the season, that Alf Ramsey’s World Cup preparations would clash with end-of-season fixtures; and postponed games had made matters worse.
Saints had arranged to play their game at Brisbane Road, postponed from Easter Saturday, on Monday 2 May, but Ramsey was unwilling to release his outside-right – even though his selection to win his 17th cap against Yugoslavia on 4 May would be a late one.
Leyton Orient sportingly agreed to hold the game over until the following Monday. This gave Saints a considerable advantage over their rivals.
While they were winning 3-2 at Plymouth on 7 May, to bring their points total to 52, Huddersfield and Coventry, who’d started the day on 51 points each, were meeting at Leeds Road. Coventry won 2-0 to put them in second place, on 53 points, behind Manchester City who had pulled clear of the pack to be champions.
This should have been the last day of the season, but while that was so for Coventry and Huddersfield, Saints still had two games to play – not only at Orient but also at Maine Road, where their March fixture had had to give way to City’s sixth round FA Cup-tie.
To add to the fixture congestion, City had taken three games to lose that tie.
So now both Saints and they were playing post-season catch-up.
With a superior goal average to Coventry’s, Saints knew that, in order to clinch promotion, they needed to gain one point and avoid a silly goal deficit.
They looked good for at least a point at Brisbane Road, where their hosts had not won since November. But Orient were already relegated and might expect to be less tense than their visitors.
Their gates had dropped to under 3,000 by April, but their two most recent visitors, Man City and Coventry, had each attracted around 6,000. The Saints somewhat bettered that: the attendance, that May evening, was 19,839.
As for that 1963 Cup match at White Hart Lane, Southampton had once again emptied into the far side of London.
Tense it was. Orient, with O’Brien sidelined, took a seventh-minute lead and an equaliser was a long time coming.
But then, in the 52nd minute, Terry Paine headed what he describes as a ‘fluke’ goal: ‘It was a punt from Campbell Forsyth. And, as it’s coming, I read it – everybody might miss it. I’ve got on my bike early and it’s bounced. It’s bounced over the top of them and I just head it and stick it into the back of the net.’ Just like that. Terry is surely being too modest here.
OK, so he didn’t have to be as brave as for his goal against Charlton nine days earlier, but he had to show the same anticipation as to what might be on and go for it.
All they had to do now was hang on for a 1-1 draw and we jubilant fans could invade the pitch, confident that our team could avoid losing 6-0 at Maine Road in a further nine days’ time – which is what it would take to throw away a superior goal average.
‘The Manchester match will be just a case of champions v runners-up,’ Saints chairman George Reader told the Portsmouth Evening News. ‘It’s as simple as that.’ The Southampton public was collectively of a similar mind, it would seem.
John Sydenham found ‘everybody celebrating around the town… everyone wanted to give you a drink and celebrate,’ yet he still ‘had this nagging feeling that it would all be over,’ should they lose 6-0 at Maine Road.
Well, Man City never looked like scoring six and, as the game progressed, ‘it didn’t look’ to Sydenham ‘as if any team was going to score any goals… The last half-hour of that game, everybody’s got a smile on their face.’ But not in Coventry, surely.
It would eventually dawn on the authorities, of course, that allowing a promotion contender to play two of its games in an 11-day epilogue to the season, the way Saints had, was not exactly fair; so all the sides in any division must kick-off at the same time, on the designated last day.
But never mind that.
Terry Paine had reached the First Division without needing a transfer.