As Kelvin Davis surveyed the scene ahead of him from the penalty box at the Chapel End of St Mary’s, he could surely feel the love that was directed his way.

This was a special evening for a special guy in Saints history.

This is a man who lived through some of the most dramatic highs and lows in the club’s long history, made more than 300 appearances and in the process earned himself a place amongst the legends.

In years to come it will be his opinion listened to about the state of the club and the side, he will be given the warmest of welcomes every time he returns to St Mary’s. His place in Saints history is assured.

What occurred last night at St Mary’s was a very fond send off, and in the process a chance to reminisce.

If Davis endured some tough times at the club down the years, he also enjoyed plenty of good ones as Saints hit the upward curve that they continue on until this day.

We should never forget, nor underestimate, the part that Davis played in that.

Forget for a moment the ridiculous virtuoso display at Leeds, or lifting the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at Wembley, his contribution was more remarkable, more marked.

That’s because Davis was a leader of the dressing room and a talisman, an ambassador, for the club.

His professionalism, his humour, his ability to pull people together and motivate has been arguably a bigger asset to Saints than even his considerable abilities as a goalkeeper.

It was those qualities that helped the club and individual players at key times, and it continued even this season as his playing days pretty much ended ahead of him formally playing his last game for the club last night.

Davis last night looked out at a packed Northam End to see the people who had turned out for him, both on the pitch and in the stands, and surely realised that everything he has done for Saints has been appreciated.

It was such an evening of warmth from the start to the finish.

Even before the game there was the sight of the two goalkeeping coaches credited with being probably the biggest influences on his professional career in attendance.

Malcolm Webster, the man really responsible for bringing Davis to Saints ten years ago was in the stands, while Keith Granger, who Davis says took his game to another level, was there to warm him up for his big night.

If there were ever any worries as to how big the crowd would be they were unfounded. How many testimonials have to have a delayed kick-off due to the numbers trying to buy tickets and get in?

Before the match got underway chairman Ralph Krueger made a special presentation of a signed book and picture.

But at that stage, with kick-off looming, it looked like Davis just wanted to get back between the posts one last time, which he did immediately after smashing the ball into the empty net to give the Promotions XI the lead.

It was a treat for Saints fans to see the heroes who helped the club back into the Premier League, managed by Nigel Adkins, reunited to face the stars who have taken on the mantle and have created history themselves.

It’s fair to say the biggest draw was Rickie Lambert. The crowd wanted to see Kelvin make some saves, and Rickie get a goal.

Unfortunately, Maarten Stekelenburg had a first half blinder and denied him time and again, much to the frustration of the crowd.

With Jason Puncheon playing eight minutes despite having the FA Cup final waiting on Saturday the current Saints equalised with Graziano Pelle firing home after a Dusan Tadic through ball.

Charlie Austin then rounded Davis to make it 2-1 to the current Saints before the Promotions XI roared back with two goals from Lee Holmes.

Austin levelled things up at 3-3 before half time and the penalty shootout to end all penalty shootouts between Lambert and Matt Le Tissier.

It was Lambert who won the day, perhaps a little more match sharp than Le Tissier who rolled one wide and, fittingly, saw another superbly saved by Davis.

There were understandably nine changes to the current Saints side at half time, which included game time for Florin Gardos as he continues rehabilitation from his ACL injury, and almost as many to the Promotions XI.

The second half was a quieter affair altogether on the pitch, as is often way in testimonials.

The current Saints team just edged it, Harrison Reed calmly slotting a finish from the edge of the area into the bottom corner and Shane Long hammering home a low drive.

The most notable absentee was Davis himself, allowing him a standing ovation, a real grandstand reception as he came on for the final throes to go between the posts for the current Saints side.

The final ten minutes was stolen by another generation of Davis though as Kelvin’s son, Sonnie, replaced Lambert.

His old man was in no mood to be generous, saving from him time and again, before Sonnie gave him no chance with a penalty drilled into the top corner to end the game at 5-4 to the current Saints having already smashed the crossbar from a spot kick earlier.

As Davis senior, whose evening also raised considerable funds for the Liver and Pancreatic R&D cancer charity, took once last lap of honour at the end of the game it was clear emotions were running high.

A closing speech from the man of the moment was perfectly pitched, reflection mixed with optimism for the future.

Super Kelvin Davis.

Saints first half: Stekelenburg, Martina, Yoshida, van Dijk, Bertrand, Wanyama, Romeu, S Davis, Tadic, Austin, Pelle.

Saints second half: Gazzaniga, McCarthy, Gardos, Jones, Martina, Mane, Reed, Hesketh, Juanmi, Austin (Long 65), Gallagher.

Promotion XI first half: K Davis, Butterfield, Fonte, Jaidi, Harding, Chaplow, Hammond, Cork, Puncheon (Holmes 8), Sharp, Lambert.

Promotion XI second half: Bialkowski, Richardson, Martin, Perry, Harding (Benali 84), Holmes, Wotton, Hammond, Forte, Barnard, Lambert (Sonnie Davis 80).