Three forwards joined the club in the pre-season: Jack Farrell returned from Stoke, where he had spent the 1898–99 season having played for Southampton from 1895 to 1898, and Archie Turner was recruited from East & West Surrey League club St. Michael’s, Camberley, but the major signing was former England international Alf Milward from Football League Second Division side New Brighton Tower.
The team mow consisted mainly of experienced former Football League players. Ten players appeared in all six F.A. Cup matches and twenty or more Southern League matches, with Alf Milward being ever-present and becoming the team’s top goal-scorer. The team had three past or present England internationals (goalkeeper Jack Robinson and forwards Alf Milward and Harry Wood), while full-back Peter Meechan had previously played for Scotland. Archie Turner was the only regular player to have been born in Hampshire and was also the only player not to have previously played in The Football League, but he ended the season by achieving the then unique distinction of being called up for England in his first season in first-class football, and also becoming the first Hampshire-born player to represent England.
Goalkeeper Jack Robinson had previously played for Derby County and was the current England international ‘keeper. The full-backs were Peter Durber and Peter Meechan who had previously played for Stoke and Everton respectively. Centre-half Arthur Chadwick had previously played for Burton Swifts and would end the season with two England caps. Either side of him were Scotsmen, Samuel Meston (another former Stoke player) and Bob Petrie, formerly with Sheffield Wednesday. The centre-forward position was contested by Jack Farrell and former West Bromwich Albion and Leicester Fosse player Roddy McLeod. Alongside Archie Turner on the right was Jimmy Yates, previously with Sheffield United and Ardwick, with the two former England internationals, Alf Milward and Harry Wood on the left.
Several of the players were on high wages with Wood on £5 a week and Robinson earning £5 10s with the total wages bill exceeding £60 per week, which with bonuses put the annual total to in excess of £4,000, a total believed to be exceeded by only five or six Football League clubs.
In an interview with the boys’ paper Chums, the club’s “popular secretary and manager, Mr. Arnfield” said:
In the main, [the cause of our success is] our bold forward policy of engaging only tip-top players. No man is good enough for us who isn’t good enough to take his place in any team in England. We shouldn’t dream of engaging a player who wasn’t worthy of inclusion in the Aston Villa eleven, for instance. This is our Standard.
The Southampton team at the start of the season with the Southern League trophy and the silk banner presented to them by the Southern League for winning the championship in three successive seasons. (Standing: E. Arnfield(secretary), W. Dawson (trainer), S. Meston, H. Haynes, A. Chadwick, J. Robinson, D. Greenlees, P. Meechan, P. Durber, E. C. Jarvis (director). Seated: A. Turner, J. Yates, J. Farrell, H. Wood, A. Milward. On floor: R. McLeod, R. Petrie).