SHOLING FC boss and Saints fan Paul Doswell has credited Russell Martin with giving supporters "memories to last a lifetime".

Martin's Saints won promotion back to the Premier League after beating Leeds United 1-0 at Wembley nearly three weeks ago.

The St Mary's side had been relegated as bottom of the division last campaign and lost four league matches in a row in September.

Doswell had spoken out with criticism of former Saints boss Nathan Jones in 2023 but has only positives to say about Martin.

Speaking to the Daily Echo, Doswell said: "It was a very fractured football club. It's remarkable what he's achieved and the way he has.

Saints boss Russell Martin celebrates winning promotionSaints boss Russell Martin celebrates winning promotion

"To bring those players so close together in such a short space of time, he deserves an enormous amount of credit.

"It's not easy for a manager that takes over a club that's in disarray. You had three split dressing rooms.

"It's all come out since. You had players getting changed in separate dressing rooms. There were cliques of players that would talk to each other.

"It is a brilliant football club which has had two years of absolute torture from it - and four different managers in a year.

"The ability of Russell to come in and get everyone in the building, not just the players, is a remarkable achievement and feat.

"You could see the love he had for all of the staff and the players and it filters through. The biggest thing that he's done is brought us all together."

He continued: "He got, in my opinion, massively unfairly criticised at times by a few supporters. I don't think anyone realised what job he had on his hands.

"It's one of the hardest leagues in the world to get out so it's great for him to achieve that and also to give people a day out.

"I was unlucky to miss out on a ticket in 1976. I'm 58 now and the playoff final at Wembley is my best day ever supporting a football club.

"My family were there and it made a memory to last a lifetime. They have brought memories now that no one can ever take away from us."

Doswell insists the turmoil of last summer's transfer window had a big impact on the beginning of Martin's St Mary's reign.

Captain James Ward-Prowse, Daily Echo player of the year Romeo Lavia, Tino Livramento and Nathan Tella were all amongst those sold.

James Ward-Prowse pictured alongside eventual captain Jack StephensJames Ward-Prowse pictured alongside eventual captain Jack Stephens (Image: PA)

The drama continued up to deadline day in September, which saw the club reject a late transfer bid against the wish of a Saints player.

Doswell said: "I don't think anyone realised how the club had been ripped apart. It was a massive job that he had.

"To even get in the playoffs was a massive achievement. Everyone was saying, we had the players, the Premiership players.

"They were players that were losing for two years. You lost Ward-Prowse who was the heartbeat of what was good at the club.

"Saints did lose some wrong'uns, and there were plenty of wrong'uns, but he lost some really good people and James was one.

"They had to get the recruitment right and to get that group gel together. You could just see the smile on the players' faces.

"That just shone through for me. It's a club that you're proud to support again and you love getting behind."