By Connor Steel
GOSPORT BOROUGH FC completed their first signing of the summer on Tuesday afternoon as they confirmed a deal had been reached to bring experienced Danny Hollands to Privett Park for the 2022-23 campaign, the midfielder dropping into semi-professional football for the first time following a twenty-year career across the professional pyramid at various league clubs.
The thirty-six year old started his journey as he played for Chelsea academy between 2001 and 2006 across the youth sides, but failed to make an appearance for the Premier League side as they switched managers and were taken over by new owners in this period. But he did have a short loan spell at Torquay in 2005-06 where he scored one goal in ten appearances before his contract expired at Stamford Bridge.
Hollands then joined League One outfit AFC Bournemouth in 2006 and immediately became a regular starter as he won the Player of the Year for the 2006-07 season; although the Cherries were relegated twelve months later as financial issues affected the club. However the midfielder was vital to Eddie Howe’s success in getting promoted during 2010 as his captain, before injuries and a contract dispute ended his career at the Vitality Stadium in the summer of 2011 with Bournemouth becoming a Premier League side five years later.
He continued his League One career as he joined Charlton Athletic and helped them win promotion to the Championship in 2012 as an ever-present team member; making 43 appearances and scoring seven goals that campaign. Hollands stayed for another two years but saw opportunities limited, thus completing loan spells at Swindon Town and Gillingham before leaving the Valley at the end of the 2013-14 campaign.
But the midfielder wasn’t a free agent for long as he also completed a loan spell at Fratton Park in the later weeks of the 2013-14 campaign; scoring five goals in just seven games to become a fan favourite at Portsmouth. Signing for two years Hollands was made captain in their League Two journey and made 44 appearances in 2014-15, before a series of niggly injuries played their part and again he was released by the club after failing to agree terms as Portsmouth struggled financially.
This was despite pleas from fans and local media at the time as the midfielder joined Crewe, but was unable to save the club from relegation in his only season that was cut short due to injuries. He then decided to join Eastleigh in May 2017 in a bid to be closer to his Portsmouth home, becoming a stalwart and key performer for the Spitfires during the last five years as the club became a stable National League Premier level side.
Leaving Eastleigh earlier this season after over 150 appearances at the Silverlake Stadium and five hundred overall in his career included cup ties, Gosport Borough have pounced to bring the experienced and versatile player to Privett Park for the upcoming season; Hollands’ first experience of this level of the football pyramid. He will be contesting his place with other midfielders such as Harvey Rew, Ryan Woodford and Joshua Huggins, who have all signed their contracts over the last week as announced on club media.
The news was announced on Tuesday afternoon after being teased in the hours before and is seen as being a ‘major coup’ despite his age. And fans of Gosport Borough have expressed their joy on the signing, with the midfielder hoping to make his first appearances in July’s pre-season encounters before the new season. This starts with an away trip to Petersfield on July 1 before a home match versus Portsmouth two days later.
First team manager Shaun Gale said on the signing in a media statement on the club website: ‘Its always tough trying to get players signings across the line but we have in my view, captured a magnificent signing for the club. Danny’s pedigree speaks for itself and it is so important that we have really good senior players at the club who can lead & inspire some of the younger players.”
He continued to offer his gushing thoughts, saying: “Make no mistake this is a great capture, Danny is extremely fit and wants to carry on and win things with the BORO’,… he is still ambitious and the ambitions of our club, was one of the things that attracted him to come to Privett Park. He is a good character to have around the place and an extremely good player…we are delighted to have him with us”
PICTURED BY BBC SPORT: Hollands playing for Portsmouth during his spell at Fratton Park 7 years ago.