Fittingly, Southampton born Neil Bartlett becomes the first ever ‘Latter Day Saint’, he won 35.34% of the 282 votes, beating Phil Parkinson (33.19%), Patrick Colleter (20.26%) and Chris Perry (11.21%).
Bartlett will always go down in the vaults of footballing history categorised in the ‘What might have been?’ section.
Seemingly with the world at his feet the midfielder soon crashed and burned, with barely a handful of first team appearances to show for his time as a pro.
Such was his foreseen potential and talent, he was referred to by journalists in the early 90’s as the ‘next Gazza’. I distinctly remember buying the football sticker book, which must have been for season 92/93 or 93/94 and in the opening few pages it had a section called ‘Rising Stars’, there was a place for Bartlett’s sticker right there.
It was 1992/93 that Ian Branfoot gave Bartlett his first chance, handing him a debut off the bench in a 0-1 home defeat to Manchester City. The then 18 year old Bartlett (at the time the youngest ever to play for Saints) was brought on for Tommy Widdrington in the 71st minute.
The following season looked good for Bartlett, gaining his full debut in Saints first win of the season, 5-1 over newly promoted Swindon Town. It was Bartlett’s cross that provided Matt Le Tissier with the opportunity to open the scoring in the 12th minute, and Bartlett played until the 68th when he was replaced by Nicky Banger.
Bartlett kept his place and played his first full 90 minutes in the visit of Manchester United, but Saints were beaten 1-3. Bartlett remained in and around the first team for the next three consecutive games before being dropped for new arrival Paul Allen in September. Bartlett eventually found himself either an unused substitute and then out of the squad altogether, making his final Saints appearance as a half time replacement for Iain Dowie in a home defeat to QPR in the December.
Bartlett lasted exactly another year at the club, but without making another first team appearance. He spent the majority of his career in non-league football playing for Fareham Town, BK Hacken, Bashley, Hereford United, Newport County, Newport IOW, Salisbury City, Hastings Town, Lymington Town, New Milton Town, Tring Town, Bath City, Shildon, Ballyclare Comrades and Institute. Most of this was while serving in the Princesss of Wales Royal Regiment, British Army, where he also played football up to Combined Services level.
Neil Bartlett – Played – 9, Won – 2, Drawn – 0, Lost – 7. Latter Day Saint.