London Saints

LSSC legends: Derek Reeves

LSSC’s legend of the month for April takes us back to the late fifties. Derek Reeves’ scoring record during that period was phenomenal. Although relatively small for a centre-forward, he was Saints leading scorer for four consecutive seasons between 1956 and 1960.


LSSC legends: Derek Reeves-Body

April 2010 – Derek Reeves
“Derek scored 145 goals in 273 League appearances, and in 1959-60, the season they were promoted from Division Three, he scored 39. Goals used to go in off his knee, head and arse.
Derek epitomised the spirit at The Dell. Southampton used to play attacking football and it captured my imagination. Football was fun. It was exciting. You had a contrast: the skills of Sydenham and Paine, and then you had Reeves, who, for a centre-forward, was minute. Derek was quick, though, and he was always in the penalty box. He threw himself at anything and he was prepared to miss. He used to miss hundreds, including countless howlers, but always came back for more. You could tell he loved it.”
Mick Channon talking about his boyhood hero, Derek Reeves.

Derek Reeves joined Southampton FC in December 1954 having been demobbed from National Service. He scored on his debut against his home town club, Bournemouth. Reeves soon became the scourge of Third Division services. A quick, bustling player with explosive finishing he was able to capitalise on any half-chances inside the penalty area and his lack of height did not interfere with his heading capabilities. He was the first of a succession of Saints forwards to benefit from the services of those wing wonders, Paine and Sydenham.
Reeves finished as Saints’ top scorer for four consecutive seasons, culminating in 1959-60 when his 39 League goals created not only a Saints’ but Division Three record which remains to this day.
There are a couple of standout matches that highlighted Reeves’ career. In January 1960, Saints took on top-flight Manchester City in the FA Cup third round and came away with an incredible 5-1 win – this regarded as Saints finest hour in the competition until 1976! Over 2,000 Saints fans travelled to Maine Road and Reeves, whose four goals underpinned the incredible scoreline dedicated his feat to those fans. He said, “I was determined to run myself into the ground just to thank them for their wonderful support.”
In December of that year, Saints drew Leeds in the League Cup at The Dell. Due to two lengthy floodlight failures the match lasted an incredible 2 hours and 40 minutes. Injuries meant that the match became effectively nine against ten (Huxford in goal and no subs in those days). Saints led the match 4-0 with all four scored by Reeves. In the second half, Leeds threw everything at the home defence and with 10 minutes remaining drew level. But with virtually the last kick of the game, Reeves slotted the winner and for the fifth time in the game, Paine provided the assist!
Finding Second Division defences less generous; he struggled to maintain his prodigious scoring and in 1962 he moved to Bournemouth for a fee of £8,000. Surprisingly, he only managed eight goals in 35 games before moving on to non-league Worcester.
Having moved back to his home town, Reeves died at the age of just 60 in 1995.

Derek Reeves factfile
Born: 27th August 1934, Poole

Died: 22nd May 1995
Appearances and goals
1954-62: Southampton 273 (145)
1962-65: Bournemouth 35 (8)

Previous legends
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

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