Dean looks back on JPT win
Seven years on, the memories remain as vivid as ever for Dean Hammond.
“They’re always fresh in my mind,” he says, smiling. “I still say, to this day, it was one of the best days of my career.”
Hammond is, of course, referring to the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final of 2010, when Southampton triumphed 4-1 over Carlisle United to lift their first piece of silverware since the 1976 FA Cup.
As the club now prepares for its latest Wembley final, in this Sunday’s EFL Cup showpiece, memories of their last trip to the famous stadium are once again conjured up.
“It was just a fantastic day,” says Hammond, who captained the side on that affirming afternoon. “To share it with such good players and be part of that experience, I’ll always remember it.
“You play in your garden as a kid thinking 'I want to play in a cup final at Wembley one day' and we were doing that. It was an amazing feeling.
“Walking out for the warm-up, it was just the noise of the Southampton fans. I think about it now and it's breath-taking really, it's inspiring, and I think that's why we won the game.
“I think that really was personally the start of my career, having that feeling and wanting more success.”
Saints’ victory came less than a year after Markus Liebherr’s takeover had pulled them out of administration, and Hammond adds: “The manager at the time, Alan Pardew, he drilled it into us that this competition was important, because at the start of the season we were struggling to win games and he just wanted us to build momentum.
“We bought into this, we knew where the club were heading with the owners, the ambition and the size of the club, and we all wanted to be a part of that, and we knew this probably was the first period of it.
“It did feel important, and felt like we needed to win the game and we had to win the game, and we did in the end. It spiralled from there.”
I knew we were going to win. i know everyone says that, but there was never a doubt in my mind.dean hammond
former saints captain
Hammond’s memories are not of an exceptional Saints performance – “I don’t think it was our best or most free-flowing by any means,” – but Pardew’s men were comfortable winners, with a Rickie Lambert penalty and Adam Lallana header putting them 2-0 up before half-time, ahead of Papa Waigo and Michail Antonio scoring in the second half, before Gary Madine’s late consolation for Carlisle.
“I knew we were going to win,” says Hammond. “I know everyone says that, and it's easy to say now, but seeing the amount of fans there, what had happened to the club previously, with the new owners coming in, being on minus-ten at the start of the season, we'd been building up to this point and there was never a doubt in my mind… and we won comfortably in the end.”
With the game done and dusted, then came the iconic trip up the Wembley steps to collect the trophy, alongside club captain Kelvin Davis.
“Obviously, I'd always wanted to walk up the steps,” says Hammond. “You watch it on TV and see players going up there to lift cups and I always thought 'Will I ever be able to do it?' and it was a reality then.
“It was an honour to lift it with Kelvin, because he's a legend at the club, and we lifted it together.
“I thought at one point Papa was going to take it off us when he came flying past us, but we held onto it tightly!
“It was brilliant to be able to lift it, and you look out and see all the fans there in red and white – it was a special moment. Then going back onto the pitch, champagne everywhere, and celebrating with the fans, it was brilliant for them, because there had been a few years before where it had not quite gone for the club, and different things had happened.
“The club survived and had new owners, and there was just a real togetherness, and it felt like that. It was fantastic.”
For Hammond, who treasures his time with Saints, it is a special moment to now see the club heading back to Wembley.
"It was a brilliant experience, the three or four years I personally had there,” he says. “Winning the trophy at Wembley and two promotions in successive years, I'll never forget it, playing with good players and good people.
“I loved going into the training ground, loved being round there, every day was a pleasure. I know people say that, but it really was. It was just really good fun, with honest people who worked very hard, and the club has gone on even further now.
“It's a fantastic football club, and to be a little bit part of that was great. They're back where they deserve to be now, they've got brilliant people, they're a family club and they deserve everything they get, because it's just a great place to be.”