Holt Arthur Image 2 Southampton 1937

Holt Arthur Image 2 Southampton 1937


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Southampton, Hampshire born inside forward (he played in all three inside positions) Arthur Holt represented Southampton Schoolboys, before turning out for Bitterne Congregational in the Church League in 1930. Moving to Totton in the Hampshire League in 1931 he came to the notice of Second Division club Southampton, whom he joined in September 1931 as an amateur, before signing as a professional in October 1932.

He made his Football League debut away to Manchester United on 7th January 1933 at centre forward in place of Ted Drake who was suffering from influenza. Despite scoring twice in five matches, he lost his place to Drake and only made three more appearances in the 1932-33 season. He established his place in the side from the start of the following season, playing as an inside forward alongside Drake, Dick Neal, Tommy Brewis and Fred Tully. It soon became obvious to manager George Kay that in Holt and Drake the “Saints possessed two extremely promising young forwards”.

He was “a punchy, enterprising player” and was “reputed to be one of the hardest kickers of a dead ball in the Football League”. Over the next few seasons he remained a stalwart in the forward line as other players came and went as The Saints struggled both on the pitch and financially.

His best season was 1935-36 when, now supporting Vic Watson, he scored 13 goals (to Watson’s 14). The 7-2 home win over Nottingham Forest on 15th February 1936 was the first time that two Saints players had scored hat-tricks in the same match. Watson and Holt were the hat-trick heroes, with Dick Neal popping in the seventh in The Saints first seven-goal haul in a Division Two match. The following season he missed only two matches for Southampton. The outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939 effectively ended his peacetime career, by the time peacetime football was suspended Holt had played a total of 214 matches, scoring 49 goals for Southampton.

He continued to appear for The Saints in the early years of the War, but joined the police and turned out for Cunliffe-Owen Aircraft in the local wartime league. Whilst playing for Cunliffe-Owen, he “discovered” Len Wilkins and recommended him to Southampton. Wilkins became the mainstay of The Saints’ defence until retiring in 1958.


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