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1971/72 Season Summary

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and reproduced by kind permission

In a season which promised much but ended in disappointment, Southport finished in seventh place with 50 points. Again November was the turning-point; topping the table at the start, ‘Southport took only one point from three league matches and suffered an F.A. Cup defeat at home to Workington.

When Jimmy Meadows, who had previously guided Stockport County to the Fourth Division championship, took over managerial duties in June, he inherited but seven players and faced the task of signing half a new team. Always a firm believer in experience Meadows signed John McPhee from Barnsley to skipper the side. The hard-tackling and courageous McPhee had given eight years excellent service at Blackpool and now converted to “sweeper”, materially assisted Chris Dunleavey’s development at centre-half. Defender George Sharpies (ex-Blackburn Rovers), Alan Taylor the Blackpool goalkeeper and Barry ‘Hartle an orthodox .winger from Oldham Athletic were his other seasoned captures.

The ‘Port won their first four home league games 4-0, 4-1, 4-0 and 4-2 and played some excellent football. During this spell Stoke City visited Haig Avenue in a League Cup second round tie; Stoke prevailed 2-1 and subsequently won the Cup, but Southport performed magnificently before a crowd of 10,223, only the woodwork denying them a replay; ex-Preston striker Norman Lloyd, making his home debut, was the unlucky player. Stoke were quick to acknowledge their good fortune in surviving.

In October, Southport completed their biggest transfer deal ever when they sold Tony Field to Blackburn ‘Rovers and obtained Freddie Goodwin in part exchange. The deal totalled £21,000, Southport netting £16,000. “Flipper’, who had cost £4.000 ‘in March. 1968. subsequently scored prolifically for Rovers before joining Sheffield United for £75,000 in March 1974.

With Field’s departure, goats became scarce and Southport’s promotion hopes faded. notwithstanding the return of Jim Fryatt, secured from Oldham Athletic for £4,000, Southport’s indifferent away form let them down; only 15 away points were collected although the 25 goals conceded were the fewest on tour since Southport joined the Football League. The last away success came at Grimsby on October 23rd; the remaining 16 away games yielded only eight points, although of the 11 defeats, 10 were by a single goal margin. A sequence of injuries-Redrobe was out for three months exacerbated the team’s misfortunes and with Fryatt taking 13 games to register his first goal the forward line suffered.

More optimistically, Peter Gregson proved a competent deputy when Taylor was injured in training, Mick Moore showed some neat touehes, midfield man Mick Hartland from Barrow shone occasionally and full-back Bobby Sibbald from York City repeatedly gave wholehearted displays. The nucleas of a championship-winning side was there.

Outside-left Hartle, who began brightly and at Easter netted his first ever hat-trick in 15 seasons faded after Christmas and was one of five players freed at the season’s end. The big shock was the release of Arthur Feat after 11 years and a record 401 league appearances—a splendid model of consistency. He and Alan Kelley joined Crewe Alexandra. Injury perverted Fred Goodwin doing himself justice and he signed for Port Vale, whilst George Sharpies also departed.
In addition, part-time trainer-coach Alan (Spence left to manage Skelmersdale United, second-team trainer Kenny Spencer having left for Burscough ‘in October to assume a similar appointment. On a sad note, Keith Pring, who broke a leg at Brentford in August, 1970, retired from game, although he subsequently served Southport R.U.F.C. as fly-half with much distinction.

In July 1971, the board was strengthened when Arthur Horrocks, for many years Chairman of Wigan Athletic, was co-opted. The profit of £1,024 resulted entirely from the transfers of Field and Calloway which realised £22,000. With gates averaging 3,254, the club were losing £400 per week. Worse befell Barrow-the only club Southport had met every season since joining the League—they failed to gain re-election.

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

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