John Hollins

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John Hollins
John Hollins.jpg
John Hollins playing for QPR in 1975
Personal information
Full nameJohn William Hollins
Date of birth (1946-07-16) 16 July 1946 (age 74)
Place of birth Guildford, Surrey, England
Position(s) full back, midfielder
Youth career
1961–1963 Chelsea
Senior career*
1963–1975 Chelsea 436 (47)
1975–1979 Queens Park Rangers 151 (6)
1979–1983 Arsenal 127 (9)
1983–1984 Chelsea 29 (1)
1989 Cobh Ramblers 1 (0)
National team
1967 England 1 (0)
Teams managed
1985–1988 Chelsea
1997 Queens Park Rangers (caretaker)
1998–2001 Swansea City
2001–2002 Rochdale
2003 Stockport County (caretaker)
2004 Stockport Tiger Star
2005–2006 Crawley Town
2008 Weymouth
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

John William Hollins MBE (born 16 July 1946) is an English retired footballer and manager. He was initially a midfielder who, later in his career, became an effective full back. Hollins, throughout his footballing career, featured for clubs such as Chelsea, Queens Park Rangers, and Arsenal. [1] Hollins made 714 First Division appearances, an English top division record for an outfield player and second only to goalkeeper Peter Shilton. [2]


Playing career

Born in Guildford, Surrey, Hollins was born into a footballing family – his father, grandfather and three brothers were all professional footballers as well. One of those siblings, Dave, played international football for Wales.


He joined Chelsea as a youth player and made his debut for the Blues against Swindon Town in September 1963 aged only 17. A talented and hard-running midfielder, usually wearing the number 4 shirt, he was known for his dedicated attitude to the game and went on to become a regular and eventually club captain. Hollins played 592 games, and scored 69 goals in his first spell at Chelsea, and was part of the successful Chelsea sides of the mid-1960s and early 1970s. After establishing himself in the Chelsea side in 1964, he rarely missed a game over the next decade, appearing in 400 out of a possible 420 league games, at one point making 167 consecutive appearances, a club record. [3]

Hollins played in the first leg of the 3–2 aggregate victory over Leicester City in League Cup final in 1965 and the loss to Tottenham in the FA Cup final two years later. In 1970, he played a significant part in Chelsea's hard-fought FA Cup final win over Leeds United, supplying the cross for Ian Hutchinson's late headed equaliser at Wembley. Chelsea eventually won 2–1 in the replay at Old Trafford. They won the Cup Winners' Cup in Athens against Real Madrid a year later, again after a replay, but Hollins missed the second match due to an injury. He was Chelsea's player of the year two years running. While at Chelsea, he also won a solitary England cap, against Spain, on 24 May 1967.

He had his most prolific goalscoring season for Chelsea in the 1971–72 season, finding the net 17 times. Chelsea also reached another League Cup final in 1972, losing to Stoke City, but declined thereafter, though Hollins remained until the side's relegation to the Second Division at the end of the 1974–75 season, when he was sold to nearby Queens Park Rangers.

Queens Park Rangers

In June 1975 he was signed by his former Chelsea manager Dave Sexton, for Queens Park Rangers for £80,000. He stayed at the Hoops for four seasons, playing 183 matches in total and helping them to runners-up spot in the First Division in 1975–76. QPR lost the title to Liverpool by just one point. The veteran John Hollins, along with ex Chelsea veteran David Webb and ex Arsenal veteran Frank McLintock [ captain of the Arsenal double winning team ] had combined to so very nearly be First Division champions .


In the summer of 1979, the 33-year-old Hollins made a surprising move to Arsenal, initially as a cover player, but he ended up becoming a regular in the Arsenal side, although by now he played more often as a defender than in midfield. He played 172 matches and scored 13 goals, and was part of the Arsenal side that lost the Cup Winners' Cup final in 1980, coming on as a substitute. He did, however, miss out on a place in the squad for the same season's FA Cup final, which Arsenal also lost. [1]

He was awarded the MBE for services to football in 1981, and also made a memorable anti-smoking commercial for television in the same year as part of a Government campaign entitled Look After Yourself. [1]

Back to Chelsea

Hollins returned to Chelsea on a free transfer in 1983, and helped the club gain promotion back to the First Division in 1983–84, playing a further 30 times. He retired at the end of that season, having played 939 first-class matches in total.

Managerial career


Hollins was immediately appointed coach at Chelsea; a year later he became first-team manager following John Neal's retirement. Chelsea built up a strong title challenge in 1985–86 and went top in February, but they finished sixth after collecting a mere nine points from a possible 33 during their final 11 games. [4]

Chelsea won the Full Members Cup in the same season, though, hanging on for a 5–4 win over Manchester City at Wembley Stadium, having almost let slip a 5–1 lead.

Hollins was sacked in March 1988 with the club in the midst of a four-month run without a league win which would see the season end in Chelsea being relegated in the first ever two-leg relegation/promotion play-offs against Middlesbrough .


After leaving Chelsea in February 1989 he came out of retirement to sign for Irish club Cobh Ramblers. [5] However, he only played one league game before returning to England.

He then set up his own sports promotion and agency company, before being tempted back to join the coaching staff of his old club QPR in 1993, and stepped in as caretaker manager between Stewart Houston's dismissal and Ray Harford's appointment during the 1997–98 season. He later had spells as manager of Swansea City, Rochdale and as caretaker-manager of Stockport County. After which he managed Stockport County's Chinese affiliate club Stockport Tiger Star, before becoming a pundit for BBC Radio Five Live.

He was most successful in his managerial reign with Swansea City where he quickly established himself as a fan favourite and guided Swansea to the Division Three title in 1999–2000, but was sacked after they failed to sustain themselves back in Division Two. He steered Rochdale into the play-offs in 2001–02 but was notoriously sacked by fax that summer after prevaricating over a new contract. [6]

He spent a short time as the assistant manager at Raith Rovers in 2004, under Claude Anelka—the brother of Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka. He resigned following disagreements over tactics with Anelka.[ citation needed ]

On 21 November 2005, Hollins was announced as manager of Conference National side Crawley Town after the departure of Francis Vines. He remained with the club during the financial crisis that saw them docked ten points for going into administration, but left the club on 30 October 2006 after Crawley had been beaten by Lewes in the final qualifying round for the FA Cup.

In 2007 when Kenny Jackett left Swansea City, Hollins re-applied to become the manager of Swansea City for the second time. He did not get the job as it went to Spaniard, Roberto Martínez.

In January 2008, Hollins took over as manager of Conference National side Weymouth. He was joined just days later by Alan Lewer who filled the role of Hollins' assistant for the second time as they were together at Crawley Town.

On 13 November 2008, Hollins was suspended from his duties by Weymouth, while the Football Conference launched an investigation into whether there had been a breach of contract. [7] On 3 December 2008, Weymouth announced that Hollins had been sacked. [8]

Personal life

Hollins's son, Chris Hollins was the main sports presenter on BBC Breakfast.







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  1. 1 2 3 4 "Everything there is done with style".
  2. "West Brom's Gareth Barry on the cusp of setting new Premier League record: 'I'll know when I've had enough'". The National (UAE edition). 21 September 2017. Archived from the original on 5 December 2017. Retrieved 13 February 2018.
  4. "The forgotten story of ... the 1985-86 First Division season". The 27 November 2008. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
  5. "Hollins to Ramblers". The Irish
  6. "Hollins leaves Rochdale". BBC Sport. 14 May 2002. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
  7. Weymouth suspend manager Hollins. BBC Sport. 13 November 2008. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
  8. Terras sack Hollins. 3 December 2008. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
  9. "John Hollins: Profile". Archived from the original on 9 August 2016.
  10. "Where are they now: John Hollins". Swansea