Saints top 10: bonkers moments by Luke Weir
It’s time for our next top 10 and this one is a more light-hearted one: the top 10 bonkers Saints moments.
I’ve used the word bonkers – for want of a better phrase – to indicate things that perhaps didn’t quite go according to plan or something that happened out of the ordinary.
For this reason, we’ve included record breaking moments, both good and bad – as well as some memorable occasions that are well worth including.
When putting together this list, I realised that google struggles to understand ‘Southampton bonkers moments’ – who would’ve thought it?
So I’ve had to go with things that I remember happening that caught me off guard so to speak which means that I’ve stretched the term ‘bonkers’ to its limit.
It also may mean that I’ve missed some glaringly obvious ones from back in the day but without further ado, this is my top 10 bonkers Saints moments.
10. Two own goals gift Saints win
We start with a sunny afternoon at St Mary’s in 2014.
The Saints, then managed by Mauricio Pochettino, hosted an Everton side who were on course for a Champions League place and needed a win to keep up their lofty ambitions.
However, what unfolded in the first half in hour could definitely be described a ‘bonkers’ as the Toffees conceded two bizarre own goals to lose the game 2-0.
The first came in the very first minute with Antolin Alcaraz heading home Rickie Lambert’s awkward left-wing cross before Seamus Coleman headed in another own goal to make it 2-0.
It got to the point that the Southampton crowd would shout ‘shoot’ whenever the Everton defence were in possession which unnerved Roberto Martinez’s outfit no end.
Everton eventually missed out on the top four and this strange match contributed to them coming up just short.
9. St Mary’s thrashings
Can you already tell I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel with the latter end of this top 10?
This inclusion features two thumpings which occurred on the St Mary’s turf since Southampton’s return to the top-flight in 2012.
Because they are very similar, I have grouped them together, although one will be much easier to look back on than the other.
The first came under Ronald Koeman in an 8-0 triumph against Gus Poyet’s beleaguered Sunderland side in 2014.
Even topping the extraordinary circumstances of our number 10 pick, there were an incredible three own goals that went past Vito Mannone, the first of which, scored by Santiago Vergini, took the term comical to the extreme.
The Saints scorers included Graziano Pelle (who scored two), Jack Cork, Dusan Tadic and Victor Wanyama on a sensational afternoon on the south coast.
However, this scoreline was unbelievably topped five years later, although this time it was the visiting team who turned defeat into humiliation as Leicester left St Mary’s as 9-0 victors.
I hardly need to go into details as I’m sure we all remember the harrowing details vividly – but I will say that some of the defending on show was most certainly bonkers.
8. Lightning Shane Long
These next two are very similar and it would be very difficult to describe them as bonkers, which is why they’re so low down, but they were moments that you never would’ve thought possible.
We start with Shane Long and his record-breaking goal at Vicarage Road last season.
Ledley King had previously held the record for the fastest ever Premier League goal after netting inside 10 seconds against Bradford in 2000.
The record had been held for all of 19 years and looked like it may never be beaten but up steps a pacy Irish striker who would incredibly beat the record comfortably.
What makes this even more incredible is that Watford actually had the kick-off and played it relatively safe back to Craig Cathcart, but Long was out of the traps quickly and burst towards the centre-back.
Long blocked Cathcart’s attempted punt forward and the ball ricocheted kindly before the 33-year old coolly lifted the ball over Ben Foster.
It was the perfect example of what can happen when you close down an opponent from what looks like a lost cause and illustrated the best of Shane Long in just 7.69 seconds.
7. Record breaking hat-trick for Mane
We stick with record breakers for our number seven and this one was truly extraordinary.
It was a sunny Saturday afternoon at St Mary’s when Ronald Koeman’s side hosted relegation threatened Aston Villa back in 2015.
The game would explode into life after just 13 minutes when a certain Sadio Mane terrorised the Villa defence.
The Senegalese international scored the fastest hat-trick in Premier League history after netting three goals in just two minutes and 56 seconds.
He calmly slotted home three attempts, often making the most of some disastrous defending, to not just beat but smash Robbie Fowler’s previous record of four minutes and 33 seconds that stood for over two decades.
This was an unbelievable achievement and the introduction of VAR to check every goal after being scored means that it’s incredibly unlikely that Mane’s record will ever be beaten.
6. Tranmere Rovers stun Saints
And now we have a moment that Southampton fans will want to forget.
We go back to February 2001 for this one in the FA Cup as Glenn Hoddle’s Premiership outfit travelled to Division One strugglers Tranmere with a place in the quarter-finals up for grabs.
The game was going to form with the Saints racing into a 3-0 lead thanks to goals from Hassan Kachloul, Jo Tessem and Dean Richards.
However, the underdogs would turn the tables with a famous second-half display for the Merseysiders where they incredibly scored four goals in just 24 minutes to edge a 4-3 thriller.
The hosts looked dead and buried at the interval but were inspired by veteran Paul Rideout who grabbed a hat-trick before Stuart Barlow struck the winner.
It was one of the most famous FA Cup upsets of modern times and even though Saints fans may not want to, it’s worth giving credit to that gritty Tranmere side.
5. The Swansea City hotel debacle
If the result had gone differently, we could look back on this moment very differently, but this was the very definition of karma in what was a huge relegation six-pointer.
This was the penultimate match of the 2017/18 season with the sides going into this Tuesday evening level on points either side of the relegation zone with the winner likely to secure their survival with three points
A match of this enormity didn’t need its fires stoking, but it was given an added layer of intrigue with the news that Southampton’s stay at their hotel in Swansea was cancelled at the last minute, meaning they had to stay at a different venue near Cardiff.
The Swansea Marriott claimed that a small number of guests had become ill so was a precautionary procedure, although they were still taking bookings from other associates.
Then-Saints manager Mark Hughes wasn’t happy with the situation of having to drive an extra hour on the M4 to the ground with Hughes stating that there were ‘dark arts’ involved:
“It’s just maybe overzealous Swansea fans in positions to affect our hotel booking. But those things you can use to your own benefit and use as a motivating factor.”
Southampton would win the match 1-0 courtesy of a Manolo Gabbiadini strike with the hotel debacle fortunately not having an effect.
The Southampton Twitter account, who are run by some of the best in the business, were able to look on the funny side after securing the win and later tweeted a witty review of that particular hotel which included ‘Not planning to return any time soon’ in its mocking assessment.
4. Charlie Austin’s VAR rant
Charlie Austin may not be one of the most popular players to have played for the Saints, but he did leave us with an iconic Premier League interview.
In a crunch match at home to Watford with Saints desperate for a win that would boost their survival chances, Manolo Gabbiadini gave Mark Hughes’ side an important early lead.
Austin then thought he had doubled Southampton’s lead but referee Simon Hooper believed that the ball had gone in off Maya Yoshida who was stood in an offside position so therefore disallowed the goal.
To add insult to injury, Watford made the most of this by equalising in the 82nd minute to snatch a point, but it would be Austin’s post-match interview that would steal the headlines.
When asked about his disallowed goal, Austin exploded with anger, exclaiming:
“It’s ridiculous, they shouldn’t be in the game.
“We scored a perfectly good goal that was ruled out for offside. The officials cost us two points. They said it was offside, that is a joke.
“People go on about VAR, they clearly need help. If this is the best, most-watched league in the world then give them all the help they need. It’s a joke.”
This rant went on to be remixed with Blur’s ‘Parklife’ to create a highly amusing video that went viral on social media.
3. Massimo Taibi’s howler
Matt Le Tissier scored many spectacular goals during his time at Southampton, this wasn’t one of them.
This is perhaps a moment more synonymous with Taibi than it is Le Tissier but it’s still worth including because this was rather bonkers.
The year is 1999, the match is against Manchester United at Old Trafford and the minute was the 51st with United 2-1 up.
That was when Le Tissier unleashed an effort from outside the box that so often thundered into the back of the net, however this time when the ball left Le Tissier’s foot, the shot was noticeably weak and was going to safely dribble into the grateful arms of Massimo Taibi.
Or so we thought.
Somehow, Taibi let the ball go through not just his arms but his legs as well with the ball trickling over the line and Southampton drawing level.
This is one of the most iconic howlers in Premier League history with one newspaper dubbing him ‘The Blind Venetian’ before he was shipped off back to Italy a few months afterwards.
2. Manchester United’s grey shirts
This selection isn’t just an iconic moment in Southampton’s history but is an iconic moment in Premier League history.
Southampton hosted Manchester United at the Dell in April 1996 with the hosts threatened with relegation and the visitors on course to win the title having gone their last 12 games unbeaten.
However, the Saints would defy the odds after an extraordinary first-half display that saw goals from Ken Monkou, Neil Shipperley and Matt Le Tissier give Dave Merrington’s side a 3-0 advantage.
But that would be overshadowed by what occurred during the interval as Sir Alex Ferguson ordered his side to change strips from their grey shirts to a new blue and white one.
After the match, Ferguson explained his reasoning by suggesting that the United players couldn’t see each other in their grey outfits which is why they were comprehensively beaten.
United would go on to win the second-half 1-0, losing the entire match 3-1, so who knows – maybe Ferguson was right all along, although I still have my doubts.
And so does Matt Le Tissier who, having played and scored in this famous match, took issue with the excuse of the grey kit, believing that Southampton were simply superior to Manchester United on the day:
“It was probably one of the worst excuses I’ve heard It was definitely a case of the manager taking the heat off his players. We just battered them in the first half. We were unbelievable. I remember they got a consolation in stoppage-time but it was nothing to do with their kit.”
It was always going to take something special to beat the grey shirts to our number one spot; step forward a certain Ali Dia.
Incredibly, it’s been over 23 years since Ali Dia made his one and only appearance in a Southampton shirt, but the tale remains legendary.
For those that don’t know, the story goes that Dia had somehow tricked the then-Saints boss Graeme Souness into thinking that he was the cousin of George Weah, who had just won the Ballon d’Or and World Player of the Year awards in 1995.
He had also claimed he’d turned out for Paris Saint-Germain, played 13 times for his country and even scored for them, and despite this all being a big, fat lie, Dia managed to earn himself a one-month contract at the Dell.
However, it could easily have turned out that Dia never even made the squad during his short stint but desperate times call for desperate measures in one of the most bonkers moments in Saints’ history.
On November 23rd 1996, Dia, wearing the No.33 shirt, replaced Matt Le Tissier in a home game against Leeds after the Saints legend picked up a first-half injury.
It was clear pretty early on that all may not have been right with regards to Dia’s story and his performance was so bad that he himself was substituted in the 85th minute with the side losing 2-0 and Dia exposed as a fraud.
These comedic moments have been retold many times and remains vividly etched in many minds of people associated with the club; Souness later described Dia as a ‘dumpling’ while Le Tissier also likened him to ‘Bambi on ice’ as well as saying that many of the squad thought he had won a competition.
The Ali Dia story is one of the greatest in football history and is the deserving winner of our most bonkers moments countdown.
Honourable mentions go to a couple of peculiar signings by the name of Martin Caceres and Mouez Hassan who both arrived in 2017 and made just one appearance between them and John Barnes who was the half-time entertainment in Southampton’s trip to Vicarage Road last season where he belted out Elton John’s Rocketman as well as his classic World in Motion wrap – truly bizarre.