Southport Central finished the 1908-09 season in thirteenth place but tighter economic management and Billy Watson’s transfer fee considerably reduced the bank overdraft. A novel event at Ash Lane was the Northern Union (Rugby League) match on New Year’s Day, 1909. The game between the Australian Touring Team and Widnes was staged to assist Southport Central’s funds. Record gate receipts of £123 resulted in the club benefitting by £60. The Kangaroos, making their first tour of England won 55-3. Their team had taken a house in Albert Road as its headquarter and conducted their entire tour from there while training at Ash lane. The Mayor, Cllr. J.W. Paton, kicked off and afterwards entertained both teams to dinner at the Prince Of Wales Hotel.
FRED SPINK’S RETIREMENT
Fred Spink, now in his eleventh season, was honoured following the home match with Blackburn Rovers when Committee member George Cranshaw invited the players and Committee to supper at the Shakespeare Hotel. A cheque was presented by the club and a beautiful silver flower stand was presented by Richard Orrell on behalf of the players. Spink, who had been captain for eight years, had been out of the team for some weeks: his arrival was greeted by loud cheering and everybody present sang “For he’s a Jolly Good Fellow”. Responding, Spink said he had hoped to be playing with the club until he was in receipt of his old age pension, a topical reference to a measure which had only recently been introduced by the government.
After he had badly twisted his knee early the following season he was forced to retire: this came after he had received a further benefit cheque of £30 as a result of the match with Blackburn Rovers, when Spink and the legendary Bob Crompton acted as linesmen. Without him, Southport Central’s defence was drastically weakened and they were only saved from relegation by the resignations of Carlisle United and Workington. The financial position worsened considerably, a loss of £200 making a total deficit of £500 by the end of the season.