In fact the Centenary year was a considerable success. John Johnson and assistant Len Traynor assembled the best squad of the early ‘eighties which included the returning Gary Cooper as a prolific scorer alongside Joe Strong, who took the `Player of the Year’ award. In defence, Ray Mawson continued to provide strength at full-back and later in the season Southport gave a first chance to Paul Evans in goal; he was to render invaluable service over the next seven years, clocking up 190 N.P.L. appearances. Mike Ryman and Barry Hedley ran the Youth team, while Geoff Clarke, who had taken over the secretarial duties, proved more reliable than most.
The season began with the September l0th reunion of old players at the Bold Hotel to celebrate the club’s Centenary, an event which occurred to the authors in the course of their researches for the data for this book! A total of 125 former Football League players attended with their wives or girl friends and entertainment was provided by cartoonist Bill Tidy. It was a night those present will never forget as players covering the entire League history of the club were assembled under one roof. As far as can be ascertained it still remains the largest such gathering any Football League club has convened.
Just over a month later, on October 19th, Tom Finney came to open the newly refurbished Social Club under the main stand; it was announced on the night that John Church had agreed to become president of the new Southport F.C. On the playing front matters had improved to the extent that by March the club actually made an application to join the Football Alliance, conditional upon their finishing in the top three places. Though this failed to materialise, a harvest of 46 points from 42 games (in the last season when a victory earned two points rather than three) was substantially better than could have been hoped.
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