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SAINTSPLAYERS-THE STORY

Author and Southampton FC historian Duncan Holley has recently launched a simply fantastic website detailing Saints players details over the history of the club. The site has information on over 1000 players and is the new go to resource for people wanting to check our player history.

Duncan has very kindly given us a few words telling how this latest venture came about, so I’ll leave you with him now.

I have always enjoyed researching and writing books on the history of Southampton FC and one or two publications have actually made a profit, but there are downsides. There is nothing more frustrating than being at a book launch when from out of the crowd someone will emerge with a photo never seen before or some more information that could have been included in the book they are holding out to be signed. 

John Page

It’s quite a nerve wracking feeling to finally send the finished book off to the printers knowing that whatever mistakes there are will be there forever and whatever new material appears it will be too late to add it. Of course none of this is the case with a website which can be instantly edited or embellished In the few weeks since the launch of www.saintsplayers.co.uk I have probably changed at least 50 profiles as people (usually relatives) have got in touch to tell me more. Indeed the best way of uncovering fresh  material is hearing from relatives of ex-players and the internet is a much more efficient way of reaching out to those relatives, many of whom would never have seen a book, especially if they didn’t live locally. Only yesterday I posted a profile on Facebook on Jimmy Dunne a player from the 30s and his grandson got in touch. 

James Gabriel

Sitting in a pub arguing about what club we signed Ricky Lambert from for example can now be accessed by a couple of touches of a mobile’s keyboard whereas before it would have had to wait until the pub had closed and a book had been retrieved from a shelf. Of course, there was always Wiki but my experience was that it was often wrong or out of date or both.  

The final realisation for me that it was time to move into the digital age came last summer when Carl Anka the journalist designated to write about the Saints during 2019-20 for the “The Athletic” came to pay me a visit. I flogged him a heavily discounted copy of “All the Saints” which was Hagiology’s Who’s who on the Saints published in 2013. We were very proud of the book but it was six years old and it did have errors in it which always jumped out at me whenever a page was turned. Two weeks later Carl conducted an interview with Jo Tessem and I was perturbed when he mentioned checking Wiki to find out Jo’s stats. Why hadn’t he consulted All the Saints, I wondered? And then I realised a book on a shelf back in one’s house is simply less accessible, it is too heavy to cart around and in this day and age it is no longer a consumer-friendly reference source. That finally convinced me It was time to join the 21st century. 

Kevin Keegan & Francis Benali

I knew little about website construction but, going online, I found Damteq, a local company specialising in designing and building bespoke websites and within a month I had paid a hefty four figure deposit and saintsplayers was conceived. They did a fantastic job even though the final touches had to be organised remotely as the world went into lockdown. I have literally thousands of photos that have never been published before and the website has been constructed that I can add and add images all the time. I hope this will encourage Saints fans to visit and revisit and hopefully not only learn about the 1100 or so ex-players but even contribute should they feel they can add something. Most fans are only interested in the club’s history from the time they first started watching which is a shame because so much went on before and I am hoping therefore not only to make a visit to the site an enjoyable one but an educational one too. The club have a link to it from their official site which is nice, and I like to think no club has a better website devoted to its players.

One of the things I have enjoyed the most when researching players is discovering what happened to them after football, how some did well some not so good. Some died early, some lived well into their 90s (obscure fact alert – no Saints player has lived to 100). Some lead lawful lives and some did not (Check out John McKie). Some remained in the public eye but some disappeared without trace, but I am hoping with the introduction of saintsplayers more and more facts will emerge and the fans of 100 years hence will be able to look back with pride at what went before.

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