“Big Earl” became a firm favourite with the Southport crowd over 3 spells at the club. He made 262 appearances for the Sandgrounders and chipped in with 10 goals (all of which were during his last spell with the club). I caught up with Earl to ask him about his time with the club
Can you tell us about how you ended up signing for Southport?
I first came to Southport on loan from Burnley FC who wouldn’t let me go to a league club. I ended up having a couple of knee ops & was told I’d struggle to play full time football so was happy to return to sign properly after realising this during trials at Bury & Swansea
Can you remember your debut?
I can’t remember my debut but I remember that time being enjoyable but very tough because we were battling to stay in the Conf. The manager was Mike Walsh
What was your favourite moment in a Southport shirt?
Securing the league title the second time round was was my favourite moment in a Port shirt. I enjoyed it more the 2nd time because I felt like I was one of the leaders of the squad that season. It was physically & mentally one of the toughest times of my life. The battle with Fleetwood made it even more satisfying when we finally won it. All the pain and sacrifice was well worth it
Who were your best friends in the dressing room?
All my career I tried to get to know everyone in the changing rooms and avoid getting in cliques. I’d say I could go for a drink with 90% of the lads I played with at Port (especially Kev Lee) for entertainment but all the lads were top class hence the success. I spent the most time with Sid Pickford & Tony Mc driving up and down that M6 for years so they were/are my closest friends. Two great lads.
What are you most proud of in football?
Non league is very tough so I’m proud to say I’ve won league titles and played in the Conf in a part time team and hold our own. I don’t think people realise how hard it actually is.
Do you have any regrets from your time at the club?
I’ve not really got any real regrets. I suppose if anything I might not have left when I injured my Achilles. I could’ve stayed and hoped to be fit enough to continue playing for Port. But in reality that wasn’t going to happen. It would’ve been impossible to perform to the standards I expect of myself at that level with my knee problems too.
Tell us an interesting story about your time at the club, something people might not have heard before…
There are too many stories to tell but all could end up incriminating someone or myself.
I was once reported to the FA for blocking a refs car in the car park for an hour and telling him how bad he was after losing a home game. I knew it was his car because we got there at the same time before the match. I’m always the last one into the bar after games but when I remembered who I was blocking I took my time even more than usual knowing he wouldn’t want to hang around in the bar. When I got to the bar he asked me to move but I chose to have a drink and one of the wonderful pies. I then started to feel bad so I walked to my car with him where we had an interesting chat about his performance. We got on fine after that but I feel it’s good for officials to face up to what they’ve done. Us players had to do it every week.
That’s the only story can remember that won’t get anyone into trouble.
What are you up to these days?
These days I am a Personal Trainer & manager at a gym. I’m hoping to grow the fitness business in the new year.
Thanks to Earl for taking the time to talk to us.