July 21, 2024

Much of the conversation this season has focused on the incredible away support at Millwall, and as Saints prepare to face fifth-placed West Bromwich Albion at St Mary’s Stadium, that zeal needs to be repeated at home.

The Saints fans at the Den on Saturday were incredible, both in terms of attendance—with over 3,000 in attendance, this was one of the biggest away crowds at Millwall ever—although, to be fair, this was partly caused by the police restrictions placed on the London club; Leeds, on the other hand, only had 2,037 fans present.

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But the Saints’ performance on Saturday was more than just their stats; as the game progressed and they began to dominate, the noise level increased. The supporters had faith in the team and thought it could come back with a late victory, and they cheered the team on.

This hasn’t been an unusual occurrence this season, though. On a Friday night, 3,000 Saints fans traveled 450 miles round trip for a televised match in Sheffield. The Saints army has been on the road, with 1,600 traveling to Stoke midweek and 1,800 traveling to Preston on a Wednesday night.

This season, the Saints’ away games have mostly been played over long distances (the trip to Millwall was the first one to be under 150 miles), and some of them—some in the evenings and some during the Saturday lunch hour—have also been televised.

I see some familiar faces both at home and away; they had grown weary of the Premier League and what it had become. The Championship, on the other hand, is a different story. Nevertheless, Saints fans have traveled and supported their team, no matter the distance or time of kickoff. This is astounding given the trials and tribulations of the previous season.

If the support from away has been incredible, it is also true that the support from home has been excellent. The average attendance to date has exceeded 30,000, which is praiseworthy in and of itself. The last time Saints were demoted to the Championship was in 2005–06; that was a terrible season, but as we advanced to the playoffs the following year, the average actually dropped by about 100.

While there were some full houses during the 2011–12 promotion season as Saints advanced, the average was only 26,240, and the lowest was slightly over 21k.

Support-wise, this season has been peculiar; the long-standing hard core has come back to support the team and, more importantly, has stayed with it.

In fact, the West Brom match is already expected to draw in an additional 30,000 fans. As of Wednesday morning, there were only about 1,500 general seating tickets left, and those are selling out roughly 250 per day.

Adult tickets can be purchased by clicking on Southampton FC for as little as £20.

While there are enough supporters for away games, the volume of support for home games is not as high as it is for away games. This is understandable given that away from home games receive concentrated away support, whereas at home games it is dispersed.

The Northam End has always been the location of the greatest noise and singing since the stadium opened. However, in recent years, the Itchen North has added a stereophonic effect and enhanced the atmosphere. Additionally, a group of fans called The Back Of The Chapel is attempting to establish a third front in the stadium’s noise rankings.

Few teams in the Championship can claim to have as many fans as they do, but it is still not as good as the away team; they simply need to put in a little more work to ensure that the crowd cheers for the entire game, just like they do at away games.

Everyone in the stadium can contribute, of course. While I understand that not everyone enjoys singing and yelling during home games, words of encouragement can help raise the energy. Too many fans sit silently through the entire game, and from where I sit, I can see that some fans hardly say anything encouraging at all—not even a “Come on Saints” every now and then. Surely that is not too hard to do once in a while.

The teams with the best home crowds didn’t get there overnight; instead, they had to work hard and develop a culture over time. It’s wonderful to see Southampton fans starting to do the same.

 

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