Saturday, May 30, 2009

30 May 1995 - The Passing Of A Saint

On 30 May 1995, former Southampton forward and FA Cup legend Bobby Stokes died at the age of 44.

Born in Portsmouth on 30 January 1951, Stokes signed for local rivals Southampton in September 1966 as an apprentice and turned professional in February 1968. He made his first-team debut on 7 April 1969 against Burnley and contributed a goal to the Saints' 5-1 win. Thereafter, Stokes was a regular, if not constant, presence in the first team.

He is best known for his role in the 1976 FA Cup Final, which pitted Southampton, at that time in Division Two, against First Division Manchester United. Although United was a heavy favorite, the Saints surprisingly held them to a scoreless draw until the 83rd minute, when Stokes raced past United defender Martin Buchan and shot the ball past keeper Alex Stepney to score the match's only goal. The 1-0 win remains Southampton's greatest honor.

Stokes left the Saints in 1977, playing one season for Portsmouth and two for the Washington Diplomats before retiring from football after the 1979-80 season. He battled with alcoholism and died in 1995 after contracting pneumonia.

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