SAINTS showed a different side of themselves to reach the Championship playoff final, and it has been coming all season.

The scenes at St Mary's before, during and after their 3-1 win over West Brom were unprecedented for the club in the modern era.

Saints legend Matt Le Tissier, speaking at half-time, described the team's entrance as nothing like he had ever seen here or at the Dell. 

Visiting Southampton Football Club has been too nice for too long. Nobody fears it, it is where winless and goalless records come to die.

Saints want to change that. They have won as many league games at home this season as in the last three campaigns combined.

They were favourites to beat the Baggies anyway, and rightly so, but Friday night laid bare the potential power of unity.

Daily Echo: Southampton's supporters welcome the team bus to a St Mary's hidden by red smokeSouthampton's supporters welcome the team bus to a St Mary's hidden by red smoke (Image: PA)

The suggestion of coming together to create an atmosphere was initially met with doubt or derision from some quarters.

The city of Southampton has always been humble, hard-working and self-deprecating.

Its people harnessed the seas to provide a gateway to the new world and their innovation protected the skies from tyranny.

Its former residents are kings or have produced literary works world-renowned and its football team is an historic institution at the top level.

But the locals will shout about none of that. They proudly sport the nickname 'Scummers', whatever the true context behind it.

After the West Brom match, a club staff member admitted that 'little old Saints' would have rolled out the red carpet in years gone by.

Not anymore. Baggies manager Carlos Corberan was left fuming at delays to their coach entering the stadium grounds.

They had only 75 minutes to prepare for the match once allowed inside the ground, rather than the 95 they had expected.

Delays were caused by thousands of Saints fans congregating around the stadium, armed with smoke bombs and flares.

Supporters claimed they saw the Baggies bus halted to allow the Saints coach's arrival to take centre stage amid the red smoke.

Daily Echo: Manager Russell Martin admitted there were emotional reactions to the scenes outside St Mary'sManager Russell Martin admitted there were emotional reactions to the scenes outside St Mary's (Image: PA)

Fans had been called to action by the club, who cleverly cooperated with influential supporters, fan pages and local media to spread the word.

Saints owner Dragan Solak told the Daily Echo that management had been impressed and inspired by West Brom's support last Sunday.

West Brom's players were this week greeted by a chorus of boos 45 minutes before the game was even due to kick-off.

Contrary to that, Jack Stephens led his team out for the warm-up to audible support not much later - and the atmosphere only grew.

On the pitch, CEO Phil Parsons and Mark Bitcon conspired to hamper the effective long-throws of Corberan's side.

They added new boardings around the pitch as obstructions, only slightly exceeding the EFL's 2-meter minimum distance requirement.

Manager Russell Martin quipped that this was merely free advertising for Saints Foundation but his smile told the truth.

The boss and his players felt the Baggies did not water their home pitch adequately, meaning Saints could not play their slick passing game.

How much of an impact such dark arts - within the rules of the game - have is up for debate, but it is a continuation of a theme this season.

Daily Echo: Saints midfielder Flynn Downes celebrates as his side reach the finalSaints midfielder Flynn Downes celebrates as his side reach the final (Image: PA)

It should not mean a lack of respect for one's opponent, or eroding the gentlemanly aspects of competition - there has to be balance.

There is no place for the scenes that prompted the arrests of three individuals from Southampton on Friday night.

But the club, spearheaded by new CEO Parsons, have spent all season looking at how they can fairly extract an extra percentage.

The former Dyson president thought Saints was too cushty an away day for visiting supporters and set to work immediately.

Parsons had audio experts survey the stadium to determine where away fans could most and least impact the noise in the ground.

They have been stripped of their half of the Northam, behind the goal, and moved to the Kingsland-Chapel corner.

Saints fans will create a 'Red Wall' in the new home-supporter-only Northam, complete with safe standing in its entirety.

Saints will boast one of the biggest standing areas in the country, with two-time Champions League winners Chelsea leading the way.

They have already begun improvements to the facilities at St Mary's to make for a better matchday experience and tempt a captive audience.

Daily Echo: Southampton's fans on the pitch at the end of the matchSouthampton's fans on the pitch at the end of the match (Image: Stuart Martin)

Unlike all clubs in English football, Saints own their stadium - St Mary's - and it is time to start making what they can out of that too.

The development of a pub suggested to be open daily for supporters and regular live stadium events are on the cards this year.

They will expand their hospitality sections increasing the potential revenue streams for a club that had become stagnant.

None of this, while all key in reality, is that important to the paying punter - they just want to see success on the grass.

And, despite excessive celebrations lingering on the pitch for embarrassingly too long on Friday, they have not sealed that yet.

The impact of winning against Leeds at Wembley on how Saints can operate over the next 12 months will be profound.

However, whatever happens, they have taken big strides to instil a winning mentality both within the club and its supporters.

Little old Southampton might not be able to compete on every front with the big guns but they do not need to roll over for anyone.

St Mary's, after years of grim acceptance and decline, needs to be a fortress again. They may never recapture the atmosphere of the Dell.

They are, however, going to try.