LSSC legends: Hughie Fisher
Ted Bates made a habit of signing players that had previously performed well in opposition. Hughie Fisher was signed for a fee of £35,000 having just done that in a First Division match against Blackpool in December 1966. He signed 3 months later, making his debut (along with Eric Martin) in a 1-0 victory at Everton.
Hugh Fisher was part of Southampton’s Scottish dynasty of the time that included Eric Martin, Denis Hollywood, Gerry O’Brien and Jimmy Gabriel. His energy and tackling, a feature that epitomised Bates’ sides, made him a favourite with the Dell faithful and he went on make over 350 appearances.
Hughie, whose father was also a professional footballer (Peter Fisher played for Clyde, Burnley, Watford and Stenhousemuir in the 1930s), was playing for a Glasgow youth team when he was spotted by Blackpool and signed by them in August 1962, aged 18. He sooned established himself with the First Division side in midfield alongside Alan Ball.
On 31 December 1966, he was part of the Blackpool side that defeated Southampton 5-1 at The Dell, and scored the opening goal. This was Blackpool’s only away win of the 1966-67 season when they finished bottom with only 21 points and were relegated to Division 2. He played 55 games in his 5 seasons at Blackpool scoring only 1 goal.
Fisher had an excellent game in that match at Goodison Park and remained ever-present to the end of the season when Saints narrowly avoided relegation in their first season in Division 1, thanks largely to the goal-scoring talents of Ron Davies (37 league goals) and Martin Chivers (22 league goals).
In 1967-68 he was the regular at No. 4, but the following season he lost his place to Fred Kemp. By November 1969 he had re-established himself as first choice in midfield and was ever-present in the 1970-71 season as Saints finished 7th in the First Division.
On 2 October 1971, he broke his leg in a collision with Arsenal’s goalkeeper, Bob Wilson, thus ending a sequence of 50 consecutive appearances. Fisher was then side-lined for the rest of the season, when again Saints struggled to avoid relegation. He was restored to the starting line-up the following season and barely missed a game over the next 3 seasons as Saints finally slipped back into Division 2 in 1974.
During the summer of 1975, he played in the United Sates with Denver Dynamos in the NASL.
His greatest moment in a Southampton shirt came in the 76-76. The Saints were having a mediocre season in Division 2, but on 3 January 1976, in an F.A. Cup third round match at The Dell, Saints were 1-0 down against Aston Villa when, in the 89th minute of the game, the ball was crossed into the area by David Peach. The ball was touched on by Pat Earles to Mick Channon and back to Fisher, who shot the ball into the goal through a crowd of defenders. This goal, Fisher’s first for 16 months, kept his side in the competition.style=”width:400px”>
Southampton progressed through the remaining rounds of the cup to reach the final. Fisher had played in all the rounds up to the semi-final, but had to withdraw from the starting line-up, in favour of Paul Gilchrist, with a pelvic strain. For both the semi-final and final on 1 May 1976 Fisher was on the bench, as Southampton went on to win their first trophy.
At the start of the following season, Fisher was still carrying the injury that had prevented him playing in the cup final, but he still appeared in most of the league games until 20 November 1976, when he played what was to be his last game for Southampton in a 3-1 home defeat by Bolton. By this time, Steve Williams was beginning to make a name for himself in midfield and shortly afterwards Saints signed Fisher’s former Blackpool team-mate, Alan Ball. As the pairing of Ball and Williams became a virtual fixture in midfield, Fisher became a regular in the reserves, together with several other members of the team that had won the cup only a season earlier.
In all he had played 366 games for Southampton, scoring 11 goals and over his 10 years with the club he played a massive part in Saints’ survival and ultimate establishment among England’s elite football clubs.
In March 1977, after 10 years with Southampton, Fisher joined Fourth Division Southport as player-manager. He played in Southport’s remaining 15 games of the 1976-77 season, and only missed one game in the following season. Together with cup games, he made 66 appearances for Southport in a period of 14 months. Unfortunately, however, his efforts were not enough to keep Southport in the Football League and they were not re-elected to the Fourth Division at the end of the 1977-78 season and were replaced by Wigan Athletic.style=”width:400px”>
As a result of Southport leaving the Football League, Hugh was out of a job, although he played as a semi-professional for various Hampshire clubs, including a season with Waterlooville, but finally retired from football in 1980.
By this time he was working as a sales representative for Schweppes before moving on to Watneys (brewers) and then to Newcastle Courage, although he is now recently retired spending a lot of his time on the golf course. He lives in Bishop’s Waltham, Hampshire with his wife, Claudia.
Hughie Fisher factfile
Born: 9th January 1944. Pollock, Glasgow
Appearances and goals
1962-67: Blackpool 55 (1)
1967-77: Southampton 302 (7)
1975: Denver Dynamos (loan) 22 (0)
1977-78: Southport 60 (0)
January ’11: David Armstrong
November/December ’10: Brian O’Neil
September/October ’10: Jason Dodd
July/August ’10: Peter Shilton
June ’10: Tony Knapp
May ’10: Nick Holmes
April ’10: Derek Reeves
March ’10: Bobby Stokes
February ’10: John Sydenham
January ’10: Jimmy Case
December ’09: Alan Ball
November ’09: George O’Brien
October ’09: Francis Benali
September ’09: Steve Williams
August ’09: Terry Paine
July ’09: Charlie Wayman
June ’09: Jimmy Steele
May ’09: Matt Le Tissier
April ’09: Antti Niemi
March ’09: Steve Moran
February ’09: Ted Bates
January ’09: Marian Pahars
December ’08: Mick Channon
November ’08: Ivan Golac
October ’08: Ron Davies
September ’08: Chris Marsden
August ’08: Danny Wallace
July ’08: John McGrath