Benjy Nurick

Southern Daily Echo

Earlier this year, the Southern Daily Echo embarked on the most seismic change to their digital sports coverage since the dawn of the internet age.

In an effort to revamp and modernise the newspaper’s flagship Southampton Football Club coverage, the Daily Echo launched SaintsPlus - an online-only subscription service aimed at providing detailed analysis and features that dive behind the curtain of the club and look deeper than the day-to-day news lines. With no blueprint or strict plan of how this project would be put into action, I was recruited to bring it to life. The entire aim has been to think outside the box and cover Saints in a way that has never been done before. I am proud of what we have accomplished thus far. The three articles included below are merely a window into the innovative and exciting content we are experimenting with in order to provide the most passionate Southampton supporters with coverage that is completely new and unique. In late April, Saints celebrated the ten-year anniversary of their promotion to the Premier League. Multiple publications covered the momentous anniversary, but none like we did. In the weeks leading up to the date, I managed to connect with 12 players and coaches from that victorious team. With each member, we looked back at crucial moments from different months in the season in order to create a full season review in the words of those who provided the epic moments. For August, I spoke with captain Dean Hammond, scorer of Saints’ first goal of the Championship season while Euro 2016 winner Jose Fonte and England international Adam Lallana also shared their thoughts on key moments. In total, the 12 participants joined us from all across Europe and the world to talk through memories that will stick with Saints fans for a lifetime. Presented in a creative and easily digestible visual style, this article is a great representation of what we are trying to do at SaintsPlus - deep and experimental coverage in the most unique ways possible. Projects like this take incredible effort and time but are worth it when you see the impact on long-time supporters. In this case, one Daily Echo reader commented: “Probably the best piece I've ever read in the DE (Daily Echo).” While praise certainly isn’t the intended goal, comments like this just further visualise the positive effect we can have. In addition to this article, I have attached two more, one a full-feature interview with Saints legend Rickie Lambert, looking back on his favourite ten goals from his Southampton career as well as a deep exploration into the roots of manager Ralph Hasehuttl, speaking with coaches and players who worked alongside the Austrian during his first coaching job in the German lower leagues. The work highlighted here is just a fragmental glance into the kind of energy and commitment I put into everything we do at SaintsPlus and I am proud of the journalism that has come from that.