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1968/69 Season Summary

With no new players signed to beat the March 16th transfer deadline, many supporters felt that Southp

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ort, despite having one of the best home records in the country would have an uphill struggle to avoid relegation — particularly as the professional staff numbered only fourteen, including two goalkeepers; but, starting with a 5-0 win over Shrewsbury Town on March 17th, Southport lost only two of their last fifteen games, collecting 19 points en route. Their away form improved and a run of 9 matches in which only one goal was conceded enabled them to climb rapidly up the table to finish in 8th position —52nd in the Football League — their highest placing ever.

An appalling start saw Southport lose their first four league games, yet no visitors repented Brighton and Hove Albion’s victory in the opening mach at Haig Avenue as Southport equalled their league record of only one home defeat. The highlight was a splendid 5-0 win over Stockport County; the return game at Edgeley Park, which County won 3-0 appeared on Granada television.

For the first time in the club’s league history no close season signings were made, although the staff of fifteen was augmented in mid-August by the arrival of Malcolm Russell, a strong and determined defender from Halifax Town. Despite initial criticism at Fred Molyneux’s transfer to Plymouth Argyle in September for £6,750, Russell ably filled the gap.

Don McEvoy reversed the team’s recent defensive complex and they played some attractive football. George Andrews and Terry Harkin led the attack; Andrews excelled and became recognised as one of the best headers of the ball outside the First Division. Harkin, despite winning his second Northern Ireland cap and scoring twice in a World Cup qualifying match against Turkey, became unsettled by crowd criticism and was transferred to Shrewsbury Town for £9.000 Alex Russell returned to form and showed marksmanship as well as scheming prowess with 13 goals.

After a victorious League Cup replay at Barrow Southport entertained Newcastle United and were unlucky to lose a sterling encounter. At Tranmere an Alan Spence goal brought a first round F.A. Cup victory – amazingly still Southport’s most recent win in the competition! Andrews’ equaliser at Belle Vue was annulled by Fourth Division Doncaster Rovers’ late winner in the second round. This disappointment was immediately followed by a superlative 4-0 win at Plymouth Argyle, managed by Billy Bingham; during this match John Armstrong broke a finger and, with Brian Reeves suspended, Geoff !Hickson was signed from Crewe Alexandra on a month’s trial.

Just before Christmas Alan Spence — with 108 first-team goals undoubtedly Southport’s best post-war free-transfer forward – departed to Oldham Athletic for a nominal fee. At the season’s close Brian Reeves, a cool and highly competent goalkeeper, retired from the game although he later occasionally assisted Formby as did full-back Eric Curwen, also released. Stuart Shaw, whose talents were not always appreciated by Southport supporters but, on his day, 3 devastating winger, was freed and joined Port Vale.

A profit of £4,773 was realised, thanks to £10,000 net transfer income. During the year Fred Thornley, Arthur Briscoe and Jack Clough ceased to be directors. Mr. Thornley became a Life Member and Mr. Clough was elected President. Dr. Robert Haddock, for many years the club’s Honorary Medical Officer and latterly a Life Member, passed away, whilst Len Peet, Deputy Editor of the “Southport Visiter” – better known as “The Scout” — whose associations with the club went back 35 years, died in January. A conscientious and scrupulous reporter with an encyclopaedic memory, he was sadly missed in the Press Box.

Southport achieved a Northern Floodlight League double, winning the Championship and again defeating Wigan Athletic — 5-3 on aggregate – in the two-legged final. The ever-reliable Arthur Peat deservedly became “Player of the Year”, securing 73% of the votes cast.

Season Summary reproduced with Permission from:
The Sandgrounder (Southport FC Matchday Programme) Article Series. Southport through the seasons. The League History of Southport FC, Compiled by Michael P. Braham and Geoffrey S. Wilde

Pos Team P W D L F A GA Pts
1 Watford 46 27 10 9 74 34 2.176 64
2 Swindon Town 46 27 10 9 71 35 2.029 64
3 Luton Town 46 25 11 10 74 38 1.947 61
4 Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic 46 21 9 16 60 45 1.333 51
5 Plymouth Argyle 46 17 15 14 53 49 1.082 49
6 Torquay United 46 18 12 16 54 46 1.174 48
7 Tranmere Rovers 46 19 10 17 70 68 1.029 48
8 Southport 46 17 13 16 71 64 1.109 47
9 Stockport County 46 16 14 16 67 68 0.985 46
10 Barnsley 46 16 14 16 58 63 0.921 46
11 Rotherham United 46 16 13 17 56 50 1.120 45
12 Brighton & Hove Albion 46 16 13 17 72 65 1.108 45
13 Walsall 46 14 16 16 50 49 1.020 44
14 Reading 46 15 13 18 67 66 1.015 43
15 Mansfield Town 46 16 11 19 58 62 0.935 43
16 Bristol Rovers 46 16 11 19 63 71 0.887 43
17 Shrewsbury Town 46 16 11 19 51 67 0.761 43
18 Orient 46 14 14 18 51 58 0.879 42
19 Barrow 46 17 8 21 56 75 0.747 42
20 Gillingham 46 13 15 18 54 63 0.857 41
21 Northampton Town 46 14 12 20 54 61 0.885 40
22 Hartlepool 46 10 19 17 40 70 0.571 39
23 Crewe Alexandra 46 13 9 24 52 76 0.684 35
24 Oldham Athletic 46 13 9 24 50 83 0.602 35

Source:
Wikipedia the free encyclopedia and reproduced under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License

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