SOME top performers have earned their big break at Butlins – among them Danny Hollands.

The Cherries midfielder was spotted by scouts from Chelsea when he starred during an Easter tournament at the holiday camp in Bognor Regis.

And since topping the bill as a 10-year-old, Hollands has gone on to become one of the leading men in the Dean Court players.

“When I was seven, I was fortunate enough to play for team a year older than me,” said Hollands. “I think that helped me from an early age.

“I was playing for Hampton & Richmond under-10s at Butlin’s and had a successful tournament. We reached the final and I was lucky enough to get offered a trial with Chelsea.

“I had a few training sessions with them and they offered me a contract. At the time, I didn’t realise how lucky I was. But, looking back, I was so lucky to get such excellent coaching at such a young age.

“I signed a scholarship with Chelsea when I was 16. I was there for four years and, although I didn’t make any appearances for the first team, I got to train with some great players.

“I used to watch and sometimes work with Frank Lampard. He played the same position as me and you couldn’t fail to learn from someone like him.”

Despite captaining Chelsea’s reserves, Hollands knew his chances of breaking through were limited, his time at Stamford Bridge coinciding with the start of the Roman Abramovich era.

“When I was 20, I went on loan to Torquay,” said Hollands. “It was a culture shock, to say the least. I had gone from one of the biggest clubs in the world to the one at the bottom of the Football League.

“For the first time in my career, I was playing for points and people’s livelihoods were at stake.

“It was a far cry from being wrapped in cotton wool at Chelsea. I was grateful for the opportunity, even though it was a massive shock.

“In my first game, I was elbowed in the eye and had a thumping headache. It was a real welcome-to-League-Two moment! I had a successful time there and we got out of trouble and stayed up.”

Hollands, whose father Tim remains the appearance record-holder at Hampton & Richmond, joined Cherries in 2006 and was one of Sean O’Driscoll’s final signings before he left for Doncaster.

“I’ve had a lot of ups and downs here and you never really know what’s going to happen next!” laughed the 25-year-old. “We’ve been relegated, promoted, had points deductions and gone into administration. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it!

“It’s a great club and that’s why people stay here. Even players who have left like to come back from time to time. I love it here and can’t see any reason why I won’t stay for a good, few more years.”

Hollands, who is fast approaching 200 career appearances, has had offers to leave in the past but has always opted to stay. He does, however, realise why other players have flown the nest: “If a club from a higher league offered to double or treble your wages, you would be stupid not to go.

“Some supporters get upset when players leave but they would probably do the same. It is a short career and you have to make the most of it while you can.”

Asked why he was nicknamed ‘Doug’, Hollands replied: “I haven’t got a clue!

“For some reason, Darren Anderton called me Doug one day and it has stuck. It’s quite funny because some of the new lads this season thought it was my real name!”