Nicky Southall
Southall playing for Grimsby Town in 1994
Personal information
Full name Leslie Nicholas Southall
Date of birth (1972-01-28) 28 January 1972 (age 50)
Place of birth Middlesbrough, England
Position(s) Midfielder
Club information
Current team
Dover Athletic (first team coach)
Youth career
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1991–1995 Hartlepool United 138 (24)
1995–1997 Grimsby Town 72 (6)
1997–2001 Gillingham 154 (17)
2001–2002 Bolton Wanderers 18 (1)
2002Norwich City (loan) 9 (0)
2002–2005 Gillingham 92 (2)
2005–2007 Nottingham Forest 67 (13)
2007–2009 Gillingham 83 (4)
2008Dover Athletic (loan) 4 (0)
2009–2010 Dover Athletic 27 (4)
2010–2012 Gillingham 0 (0)
2012–2014 Whitstable Town 20 (5)
Total 684 (76)
Teams managed
2012–2014 Whitstable Town (player/manager)
2014–2018 Maidstone United (assistant manager)
2018– Dover Athletic (first team coach)
*Club domestic league appearances and goals

Leslie Nicholas Southall (born 28 January 1972), is an English former professional footballer, currently serving as first team coach at National League South side Dover Athletic.[1]

During his time in professional football Southall was a midfielder from 1991 to 2014 who competed in the top four tiers of English league football, notably in the Premier League for Bolton Wanderers. He has represented Hartlepool United, Grimsby Town, Gillingham, Norwich City and Nottingham Forest in the Football League as well as Dover Athletic and Whitstable Town in non-League football.

Childhood and early career

A former pupil of Coulby Newham Secondary School, he has used his second given name since childhood. He started his career as a left-winger, but has played in most positions, including goalkeeper.

Southall was spotted playing Sunday football for Nunthorpe Boys and was offered a trial at Newcastle United. After realising he'd have little chance of breaking into the Newcastle team he left and joined Darlington on schoolboy terms.

Playing career

Hartlepool United

Darlington let him go but he resumed his career with Hartlepool United where he was a regular in the first team for four seasons. Every one of his 130 appearances for Hartlepool was as a member of the starting line-up, and he scored 28 goals.

Grimsby Town

He was transferred to Grimsby Town for £40,000 and played 55 times, scoring nine goals. On his home debut he had to play in goal after the Grimsby keeper was sent off – allegedly, the other players forced him in because he had the same surname as legendary Everton keeper Neville Southall.

Grimsby manager Brian Laws signed the Italian Ivano Bonetti as Southall's replacement just months after Southall himself had arrived at Blundell Park, forcing Southall out of the first-team altogether for much of the mid-season. He often failed to even make the bench and at one point was even asked to do co-commentary for the local media stations.

Southall became a target of the boo-boys at Grimsby after his own-goal against Stoke condemned Grimsby to relegation.
Southall became a target of the boo-boys at Grimsby after his own-goal against Stoke condemned Grimsby to relegation.

After Bonetti had a disagreement with Laws, Southall was given a chance to re-establish himself in the first-team. After scoring an own-goal against Stoke City during Grimsby's relegation run-in the 96/97 season, Southall was frozen out of the first team in the 1997–98 season.


He then moved on a free transfer to Gillingham, where he became a popular figure. He made almost 200 appearances for the Gills and scored 29 goals, including a goal nominated for Goal of the Month against then Premiership side Sheffield Wednesday to knock them out of the FA Cup.

Bolton Wanderers

After this spell at Gillingham he moved to the Premiership with Bolton Wanderers. He thereby became one of the few footballers to play in all four divisions of the Football League system. He made just over 20 appearances for them and scored once, against Newcastle United.[2] He went on loan to Norwich City for a brief spell as he looked to secure a permanent move away from the Premiership.

Gillingham (second spell)

He caused a stir at Gillingham by making a welcome return there on a free transfer. He made a further 90 appearances but failed to recapture the form which had previously made him a cult hero there.

Southall slumps to the ground after Gillingham are relegated by Nottingham Forest
Southall slumps to the ground after Gillingham are relegated by Nottingham Forest

Gillingham were relegated to League One at the end of the 2004–05 season after being held to a draw by Nottingham Forest. He was out-of-contract and Gillingham did not retain his services.

Nottingham Forest

Nottingham Forest offered the 33-year-old a two-year contract shortly after. In the 2005–06 season, he came second in the club Player of the Season vote, behind Ian Breckin, with 18% of the votes. He finished the season with eight goals as Forest narrowly missed out on a play-off place.

Gillingham (third spell)

At the end of the 2006–07 season he was due to be out of contract. Forest fans were keen to see his contract renewed, however, on 31 January 2007 it was announced that he had rejoined Gillingham for a third spell on a two-and-a-half-year deal.

Southall made his third debut for Gillingham in the 3–1 away defeat to Huddersfield Town on 3 February.[3] He joined Dover Athletic on a one-month loan deal on 9 September 2008.[4] Southall made an immediate impact on his Dover debut, setting up Shaun Welford for the opening goal of the game against Hendon.[5] He regained a place in the Gillingham team later that season, and made his final appearance as a substitute in the playoff semi-final second leg against Rochdale on 10 May 2009.

Dover Athletic

Southall rejoined Dover Athletic during the 2009 pre-season on trial, playing in a handful of friendlies before signing on a permanent deal.[6] In August 2009, Southall scored his first goal for Dover with a well struck free kick to give his side the lead in an encounter against Dorchester Town. He became player/assistant manager when Ian Hendon was appointed manager of the club in May 2010; however, within a month Hendon had been appointed as assistant manager at Gillingham by his predecessor at Dover, Andy Hessenthaler.

Gillingham (fourth spell)

Southall signed for the Gills for a fourth time, as player-coach.[7] His fourth Gillingham debut came in a defeat to his previous club, Dover, in a first round FA Cup match on 6 December 2010. When he departed Gillingham in May 2012, his appearance in the FA Cup represented his only appearance in his two years with the Gills.

Whitstable Town

On 26 June 2012, Southall joined Whitstable Town as a player-coach. He then took over as player manager,[8] but left at the end of the 2013–14 season, moving to Maidstone United as assistant manager. He remained with Maidstone until October 2018 when he joined Dover Athletic as first team coach.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Nicky Southall – DOVER ATHLETIC FC". Retrieved 27 June 2020.
  2. ^ "Toon add to Bolton's woes". BBC. 2 February 2002. Retrieved 28 March 2010.
  3. ^ Gillingham F.C. official website
  4. ^ "Southall set for Dover loan". Gillingham F.C. 9 September 2008. Retrieved 9 September 2008.
  5. ^ Hendon 0–2 Dover Athletic match report from
  7. ^ Gillingham offer too good to miss – Nicky Southall
  8. ^ "Gills favourite Nicky Southall signs for Whitstable Town - Sport - Kent News". Archived from the original on 29 July 2014.