The following season, clean out of the blue, the club was taken over by the Mayor Cllr T Hampson – a pioneer of the car industry – who had built up the Vulcan Motor & Engineering Company in Crossens. The club was financed by this company on the express condition that it be called Southport Vulcan. A new committee was formed (with Edwin Clayton still at the helm) and the original Limited Company was wound up.
The 1918-19 season was only a month old when a young centre-forward, one William Thomas Roberts, who was employed in the Vulcan on munitions work, arrived on the scene, He was regarded by many as the best centre-forward the club has ever had. He netted twice against Rochdale in his first match and week after week he continued to crack in the goals; during one match at Liverpool he hit the ball with such ferocity that it burst through the netting. He possessed phenomenal ball control and was quite deadly in front of goal. In the December against Port Vale he scored all four goals. Tommy Roberts, who was on Leicester Fosse’s retained list, joined Preston North End in 1919 and remained one of football’s most prolific scorers. By September 1927 he had become the first player after the war to register 200 Football League goals.
These were halcyon days as far as talent was concerned and it was generally conceded that the half-back line of C. Roberts (or Holdsworth), Fay and Abram was the best in the area. The club finished sixth and proved themselves to be one of the best sides in the North of England. There were some brilliant players working in munitions at the Vulcan:Sid Bowser-he afterwards won England International honours while with West Bromwich Albion played at inside-left and his wing partner was the former Preston North End international George Barlow.
Yet despite all the promise on the field, by the summer of 1919 it looked doubtful whether the club would remain in being for very much longer. The Vulcan Company had indicated that they were no longer interested in renewing their patronage. On June 5th, 1919 a meeting was called for the purpose of reorganizing the Football Club and at a further meeting at which the Mayor, Cllr E. Wood, presided on Julv 29th. It was revealed that the Vulcan Motor Company had now relinquished their control: since, however, they had taken over all the assets and liabilities along with the unexpired portion of the lease of the ground Southport were effectively debt free.
The Southport Education Committee took over the lease of the Ash Lane ground and also purchased the stands- They proposed to allow the Football Club to use the ground on alternate Saturdays. Cllr Clayton had safe guarded the club’s interest by registering it in the Central League and entering it for the F.A. Cup.
It was proposed and agreed that the club should be reformed and that it should simply be Southport Football Club. The new committee which was formed comprised Messrs R.T.Bentley, J.H.Preston, H.Watchorn, J.H. Robinson, T.Rimmer, G.H.Collinge and J Winterbottom
Prior to the upheaval, the club had applied for a place in the newly enlarged Second Division of the Football League but again they suffered disappointment gaining only 7 votes. Coventry City(35), West Ham United(32), Rotherham County(28),and South Shields (28) were elected. Realistically the application for election was always doomed to failure since the Football League has never allowed “works” teams in its ranks. The reason that the Vulcan Company suddenly abandoned its interest in Southport Football Club may be explained in part by the fact that Cllr. Hampson. Vulcan’s Chairman and Managing Director, was shortly afterwards imprisoned for twelve months after having been found guilty of fraudulently applying the sum of £22,266.5s 1d. to his own use!
Central League Suspended 1915-1919
Southport competed in the Football League Lancashire Section, Northern Group Principal Competition Group A.
1. Everton FC 30 27 2 1 108:26 56 2. Stoke FC 30 20 3 7 84:36 43 3. Liverpool FC 30 19 4 7 82:33 42 4. Bolton Wanderers FC 30 15 6 9 58:58 36 5. Manchester City FC 30 15 3 12 57:36 33 6. Southport Vulcan FC 30 15 3 12 49:53 33 7. Preston North End FC 30 12 6 12 41:51 30 8. Stockport County FC 30 11 7 12 48:52 29 9. Manchester United FC 30 11 5 14 51:50 27 10. Rochdale FC 30 11 5 14 56:61 27 11. Blackpool FC 30 10 5 15 45:61 25 12. Port Vale FC 30 10 4 16 39:77 24 13. Burnley FC 30 10 3 17 54:76 23 14. Bury FC 30 7 6 17 27:58 20 15. Oldham Athletic AFC 30 7 4 19 39:62 18 16. Blackburn Rovers FC 30 5 4 21 35:83 14
Lancashire Section, Northern Group Subsidiary Competition/Lancashire Senior Cup
For the Subsidiary Competition, the Lancashire League was divided in two with the games played amalgamated at the end of the season to give a composite table.
Southport were placed in Group D
1. Liverpool FC 6 4 2 0 13: 6 10 2. Stockport County FC 6 3 1 2 7: 6 7 3. Southport Vulcan FC 6 2 0 4 9:12 4 4. Everton FC 6 1 1 4 5:10 3