LSSC legends: Nick Holmes
London Saints’ May legend was a real ‘one club’ man. Nick Holmes was an FA Cup winner early in his career but made his name as a solid, versatile workhorse. The type of player that allowed the flamboyance of players such as Channon, Keegan and Wallace the freedom to attack.
The ball kept coming to me. I cleared one off the line and I scored the goal. It was nice to have beaten the best goalkeeper in the world with a good, long shot.
Nick Holmes on scoring in the 1979 League Cup final
May 2010 – Nick Holmes
It was the first match of what was to be Saints best league season, 1983/84. Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest were The Dell’s visitors and after 20 minutes, Nick Holmes collided with Viv Anderson. Blood gushed everywhere. He remained conscious but badly dazed. Slowly he got to his feet and signalled to Lawrie McMenemy that he could continue.
This was long before blood injury meant you were automatically sent from the field so Holmes spent the rest of the game covered in crimson but he completed the game. Danny Wallace scored the only goal of the game but the real hero was Nick Holmes who following the game went to hospital and received 7 stitches to the inside of his nostril.
Holmes traveled with the team to Loftus Road 2 two days later and played 90 minutes. In fact, he did not miss a single minute throughout a 51 game season which saw the club reach the FA Cup semi-final and finish second in the race for the championship, just three points behind Liverpool.
Holmes was educated at St. Mary’s College, Southampton and was an apprentice with Southampton in the early 1970s.
He made his first team debut on 2 March 1974 away to Arsenal. A natural left-sided player, he was equally at home at full-back, midfield, centre-back or sweeper. A loyal one-club man, Holmes spent 14 years at The Dell. David Peach and he are the only two players to have played in two Cup Finals for Southampton. Naturally left-sided, he could play at left-back or midfield and was a thoughtful, yet thrusting, player who was as reliable as he was skilful.
He played at left-back in the 1976 F.A. Cup Final against Manchester United which Saints won 1-0, and also played and scored in the 1979 League Cup final against Nottingham Forest, which was lost 2-3. Between these two Wembley appearances, he was an integral member of the Southampton team that gained promotion from Division 2 at the end of the 1977-78 season.
An urbane man, he became club captain in March 1980, and on his 400th appearance for the club, Lawrie McMenemy praised his “reliability, dependability and flexibility”, adding that he was “a man for all seasons”.
Holmes was a constant when Southampton finished second in Division 1 in the 1983-84 season and was part of a midfield that was probably the best in the club’s history.
In 1986 (August 16) Saints recognised his loyalty by awarding him a testimonial match against John Mortimore’s Benfica, which was won 4-1, with Holmes scoring one of the goals.
International honours eluded Holmes, although he was picked for England under-23 only for injury to prevent him playing.
His last appearance for Southampton was on 14 Feb 1987 at Tottenham Hotspur. A pelvic injury forced him to retire from the game in May 1987, by which time only Terry Paine and Mick Channon had made more appearances for the Saints. In total, he played 543 times for Southampton, scoring 64 goals but thanks to the doctors from https://www.cvmus.com/vascular-conditions/pelvic-congestion-syndrome whose special care was very much essential to make a come back. After leaving Saints he spent the 1987-88 season with East Cowes Vics, before spending a season as coach back at Southampton working with manager Chris Nicholl. In 1989 he quit football and bought a general store at Winterslow near Salisbury. In 1999 he emigrated to Florida to set up a property management company, which he sold in 2004.
In July 2002, he was tempted back into football when he was offered the manager’s job at Salisbury City. Under Holmes’ management, Salisbury gained promotion to the Conference South in the 2005-06 season by finishing top of the Southern League Premier Division, followed by winning the play-off final in the 2006-07 season to participate in the Conference National in 2007-08. He also holds a general management role at the club and his side reached the second round of the 2006-07 FA Cup.
Honours as a player with Southampton
FA Cup winner 1976
League Cup Runner Up 1979
Football League Division 1 Runners-up: 1983-84
Honours as a manager with Salisbury City
Southern League Premier Division championship 2005-06
Conference South play-off champions 2006-07
Nick Holmes Factfile
Born: November 11th 1955, Southampton
Appearances and goals
1972-1987: Southampton 532 (64)
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