For the start of their League career, Saints signed several new players on professional contracts, including Charles Baker, Alf Littlehales, and Lachie Thomson from Stoke and Fred Hollands from Millwall. After winning the Southern League title in 1896 – 1997, the club became a limited company and was renamed Southampton F.C.
Southampton won the Southern League championship for three years running between 1897 and 1899 and again in 1901, 1903 and 1904. During this time, they moved to a newly built £10,000 stadium called The Dell, to the northwest of the city center in 1898. Although they would spend the next 103 years there, the future was far from certain in those early days and the club had to rent the premises first before they could afford to buy the stadium in the early part of the 20th century. The club reached the first of their four FA Cup Finals in 1900. On that day, they went down 4–0 to Bury and two years later they would suffer a similar fate at the hands of Sheffield United as they were beaten 2–1 in a replay of 1902 final. Reaching those finals gave Southampton recognition, even internationally: in 1909, an Athletic Bilbao representative who played for Atlético Madrid traveled to Southampton and purchased 50 Saints shirts, which were shared between Athletic Bilbao and Atletico Madrid. This early Southampton popularity is the reason why both Spanish club colors (shirts and crests) became red and white, as they are nowadays.
Under McMenemy’s management, Saints started to rebuild in the Second Division, capturing players such as Peter Osgood, Jim McCalliog, Jim Steele and Peter Rodrigues (captain) and in 1976, Southampton reached the FA Cup Final, playing Manchester United at Wembley, and beat much-fancied United 1–0 with a goal from Bobby Stokes.
Their home ground since 2001 has been St Mary’s Stadium, before which they were based at The Dell. The club has been nicknamed “The Saints” since its inception in 1885 due to its history as a church football team, founded as St. Mary’s Church of England Young Men’s Association, and play in red and white shirts. Southampton has a long-standing rivalry with Portsmouth due to its proximity and both cities’ respective maritime history. Matches between the two sides are known as the South Coast derby.
1897 – Present / Southampton Football Club
1894 – 1897 / Southampton St. Mary’s
1888 – 1894 / St. Mary’s Football Club
1885 – 1888 / St. Mary’s Young Men’s Association Football Club
Southampton’s nickname also pays close attention to their roots. The team was founded in 1885 by the young men at St Mary’s Church – and to this day they are known as “The Saints.” The church is still standing and is only a few minutes’ walk from the ground.
Premier League / 0
FA Cup / 1
Premier League – FA Cup Double / 0
2001 – Present / St Mary’s Stadium
1898 – 2001 / Dell
1896 – 1898 / County Cricket Ground
1886 – 1896 / Antelope Cricket Ground
1885 – 1886 / The Common
2017 – Present / Lander Sports Investment
*Blue is this team’s history