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1940/41 Season Summary

Newsprint became scarce and after 1939-40 programmes were reduced to a single sheet. Despite the escalation of the war the local pressmen — and in particular Len Peet (“The Scout’ of the Southport Journal) — published a constant stream of football news which was eagerly lapped up by the increasing number of servicemen. Amongst these now was Secretary-Manager Gordon Hunt, who signed up with the R.A.F. in September 1940. In no time at all Bert Pelham returned as Honorary Manager, reinforcing the distinctly ‘early thirties’ atmosphere at Haig Avenue.

Rigid economy was practised by the directors in an effort to keep the flag flying as attendances dropped below the Soo mark. With the Southport players on only £1 a week, the club was one of the few to pay less than the maximum wage of thirty shillings. On January 7th, 1941, without any discussion, the Town Council passed a resolution that the Town Clerk be instructed to communicate with the club with reference to the arrears of rent owing in respect of the ground. The following month the Council agreed to write off £45 on the understanding that the other £45 would be paid immediately.

It was revealed hereabouts that the Southport directors were digging into their own pockets for a fixed weekly contribution to enable the club to continue. The dire situation was summed up by Sam Banner when he said ‘We want to carry
on although there is no income for us out of this wartime football. Some day this war is going to end and real football will be back again. If we can carry on during the war period we shall automatically retain our place in the Northern Section when the normal football programme resumes’.

The most impressive performance of 1940-41 came when, having disposed of Crewe Alexandra 10-4 on aggregate in the preliminary round, Southport surprised Liverpool by winning 3-2 at Anfield in the first leg of a League War Cup tie. They progressed to the next round by drawing the second leg, only to go out to Everton. The following month Southport welcomed back Harry Lowe into their ranks after an absence of more than ten years, when they played Bolton Wanderers. It was on this occasion that the Southport Journal reported that Harry Harrison was far too good for the 15 1/2-year-old Nat Lofthouse, the Wanderers’ centre-forward.

Travelling to games presented its own problems. As it was not possible to hire a coach in Southport, Billy Semple and Reuben Hilton often used to catch the train to Preston where they met up with the Southport players, many of whom were stationed at nearby Blackpool. On one such occasion, when visiting Rochdale, Billy Semple experienced probably the Most harassing day of his twenty-eight years with the club to date. When the coach driver had difficulty in locating the ground, a young passer-by called Woods was asked for directions and then invited on board in case he was required to play! When Spotland was reached, they found that three players had not turned up. Fortunately Southport also had a supporter with them in Tony Oldfield,- time well-known in motor racing circles; whilst the twelfth man was automatically drafted in, Semple had no alternative but to ask Oldfield and Woods to cbmplete the team. It was hardly surprising that Southport were beaten by ten clear goals!

On a happier note, the club also recorded their biggest win in years when they defeated Stockport County 8—o. Billy Hullett, a guest player who was officially on Manchester United’s books, netted five goals and finished the season as top scorer with nineteen goals from only thirteen games. He was followed by Frank Curran, recently released from Army service to undertake vital war work, with eleven. It was subsequently reported that there had been a loss of km overall but optimism was expressed by club officials, who pointed out that the fixtures for 1941-42 would bring many of the best-known Lancashire clubs to Haig Avenue and thus add new interest to the football played.

As an example of the efforts put in by supporters during these hard times, Ralph and Annie Carr held weekly Workers’ Club dances at St John’s Hall in Wright Street, giving pleasure to hundreds and putting much needed money into the coffers of the club.

Reproduced with Permission from:
The Sandgrounders: The Complete League History of Southport F. C., by Michael Braham and Geoff Wilde (Palatine Books, 1995). ISBN 978-1-874181-14-9

North Regional Championship 

NB: ranking according to goal average

 1. Preston North End FC	29 18  7  4  81-37  2.189 
 2. Chesterfield Town FC	35 20  6  9  76-40  1.900 
 3. Manchester City FC        	35 18 10  7 104-55  1.891 
 4. Barnsley FC            	30 18  4  8  86-49  1.755 
 5. Everton FC               	34 19  7  8  85-51  1.667 
 6. Blackpool FC         	20 13  3  4  56-34  1.647 
 7. Halifax Town AFC       	30 10 13  7  64-51  1.255 
 8. Manchester United FC	35 14  8 13  80-65  1.231 
 9. Lincoln City FC        	27 13  7  7  65-53  1.226 
10. Newcastle United FC 	23 12  0 11  49-41  1.195 
11. Huddersfield Town AFC	33 11  6 16  69-58  1.190 
12. Middlesbrough FC      	27 16  1 10  84-71  1.183 
13. New Brighton FC         	26 15  1 10  97-82  1.183 
14. Burnley FC              	35 17  7 11  62-53  1.170 
15. Leeds United AFC       	30 13  8  9  62-54  1.148 
16. Liverpool FC         	37 15  6 16  91-82  1.110 
17. Wrexham AFC         	29 15  5  9  78-71  1.099 
18. Chester FC                  35 14  6 15  94-89  1.056 
19. Doncaster Rovers FC 	32 15  7 10  77-74  1.041 
20. Oldham Athletic AFC 	37 17  4 16  78-77  1.013 
21. Grimsby Town FC       	27 12  2 13  60-63  0.952 
22. Bradford Park Avenue AFC	31  9  7 15  64-74  0.865 
23. Rotherham United FC 	29 12  5 12  48-57  0.842 
24. Blackburn Rovers FC 	32  9 10 13  49-60  0.817 
25. Bury FC                	38 10  9 19  80-100 0.800 
26. Bolton Wanderers FC 	16  6  2  8  31-40  0.775 
27. Tranmere Rovers AFC 	25  9  5 11  67-90  0.744 
28. Sheffield United FC 	25  6  6 13  44-60  0.733 
29. Bradford City AFC       	29  8  3 18  72-99  0.727 
30. Rochdale FC           	32 12  5 15  64-92  0.696 
31. Southport FC        	28  7  2 19  61-88  0.693 
32. York City FC          	25  7  4 14  49-71  0.690 
33. Hull City AFC        	23  8  3 12  44-67  0.657 
34. Sheffield Wednesday FC	30  9  6 15  50-78  0.641 
35. Stockport County FC 	29  9  5 15  54-93  0.581 
36. Crewe Alexandra FC  	24  2  3 19  32-84  0.381

Source:
The Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation.Author Dinant Abbink

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