Forgotten Heroes - Denis Hollywood
Wednesday, 1st Dec 2010 09:03
Older fans will tell you that the hardest left back Saints had was a Denis but not the double NN's Mark
Born in Scotland and one of 15 children, he had lived with his grandmother and migrated South to Essex with her aged 12, as a youngster he had trials at both Spurs and West Ham, however it was Saints who offered him an apprenticeship, the then new fangled way of signing youngsters.
He made his debut still a month short of his 18th birthday against Scunthorpe in the League Cup in October 1962, ironically enough in midfield and would make a further two appearances in that season in the middle of the park.
In 63/64 he was converted to full back and finished the season with 11 straight games, funnily enough the exact same run of matches he would manage in the following season before Tommy Traynor squeezed in a couple of games, however Denis was by now the acknowledged first choice left bac, only missing five games all season and winning a Scotland U21 cap in the process.
1965/66 would be a momentus season for Saints although not a great one for Denis, playing in the opening games and not getting a regular place till the run in to promotion in the last 10 fixtures, however he would score his first ever goal for the club at plymouth, the equaliser to make it 2-2 in what would finish a vital 3-2 win for Saints.
In our first top flight season, he managed 33 out of the 42 league games and continued his rich vein of scoring form notching 3 more goals, although strangely these would be the last he would score for the club.
He had now pretty much made the left back berth his own barring injuries, suspensions and the odd young pretender to the crown every now and then, so although 71/72 wouldnt be his greatest season, marred by a long suspension, by the end he had once again re claimed his first choice spot, there would not be many Saints fans who would have predicted it would be his last in the Club colours.
His last match at the Dell came in a goaless draw with Spurs, a game that lacked finesse on the pitch and also off it with a backdrop of violence on the Milton Road terraces, Denis came off the pitch with his shirt stained with blood and Ted Bates arm around his shoulder afte rplaying his part in a no nonsense game.
But the last game of the season at West Ham would be the last of his Saints career, Bates knew that he had to revamp a side that had developed a reputation as ale house brawlers over the past few seasons and although it had its flair players, the teams survival had been built on a hard as nails approach to winning the ball and perhaps the manager now felt that had to change.
So in the summer of 1972 Denis was given a free transfer at the age of only 27, true he had squeezed a lot into his ten year Dell career, 266 games plus 1 as sub and 4 goals, but it seemed he still had a lot to offer, even stranger was the fact that his professional career was over within months, initially he went to Blackpool but by October 1972 he was back in his adopted home of Southampton, took employment in the docks and signed part time for Bath City, although he soon transferred to Basingstoke Town.
There are many who believe that Denis Hollywood was the hardest player ever to pull on a Saints shirt and thats some accolade when you consider the names he played alongside in that decade who sent a shiver down the spine of those who faced them, men like Brian O'Neill & John McGrath to name but two, so its perhaps ironic that Hollywood's middle name should be Fallen, a name that summed up many of his opponents.
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