and reproduced by kind permission
As in the previous season Southport began in confident fashion, picking up thirteen points from their first ten games. Alec Gaskell, a product of the Leigh and District League, was a tireless worker at centre-forward who constantly harassed opposing defences and soon attracted the attention of several first division clubs. In October Newcastle United paid out £5,000 for his services; with his departure the outside chance of promotion disappeared and Southport had to be content with a mid-table position. The money received from Gaskell's transfer helped to reduce the bank overdraft which had reached its limit.
Gaskell made only one league appearance at Newcastle and moved on to Mansfield Town the following season. Subsequently he joined Grantham, but returned to league football with Tranmere Rovers before fading into oblivion with a succession of non-league clubs - a disappointing career in view of his considerable early promise.
Gaskell's departure severely weakened the forward line while Billy Dale never fully recovered from a broken leg sustained in training in December. Dale was freed at the end of the season and although he had trials with Accrington Stanley and Crewe Alexandra his old form had deserted him.
In the F.A. Cup Southport beat Carlisle United and thus gained revenge for their Cup defeat three years earlier. They put up a tremendous struggle against Port Vale - eventual semi-finalists — drawing at Haig Avenue and being desperately unlucky to lose 2-0 at Vale Park after enjoying most of the play. The' Port did everything but score, hitting both the bar and the post.
Southport also distinguished themselves in the two Easter fixtures against Port Vale, which both resulted in goalless draws. Their performance was particularly meritorious since reserve full-backs Lomas and Forsyth deputised for the injured Taylor and Reilly and Vale finished champions by an eleven point margin, The Port Vale games attracted the biggest "gates" to Haig Avenue - 12,529 saw the cup-tie and a crowd of W2,328 witnessed the Easter Monday match, while there were over 27000 at Vale Park on Good Friday. On New Year's Day Southport turned in another fine performance, thrashing runners-up Barnsley 5-2.
Hunter and Walsh established themselves as strong wing-halves both in attack and defence, but the deficiencies of the forward line were still apparent even after the signing of the experienced Harry Whitworth from Rochdale.
Wilf Birkett returned from Shrewsbury Town but sadly was forced to quit football in August, 1954, owing to a recurring shoulder injury sustained at Chester on February 13th. He was absorbed on to the -ground staff, taking over from Harry Harrison who gave up the post of second team trainer to go back to his old job as a joiner. Amongst other departures Bob Hacking was freed after six seasons and 181 league appearances and went to Lancaster City, while Colin McLean signed for Crewe Alexandra where he was joined by Harry Whitworth.
In October, 1953, Vice-Chairman Sam Banner, now 80, resigned from the board for reasons of ill-health. He had been appointed a Life Member the previous February in recognition of his long service. Jimmy Green became vice-chairman the following month. Other changes brought George Robertson and Fred Thornley on to the board, whilst Councillor F. A. Fletcher—a recent acquisition—lost his seat after disappearing without trace at 'Christmas, 1953.
At the A.G.M., at which a profit of 21.625-thanks largely to Gaskell's transfer-was reported J. H. Alexander_ a former director, succeeded Major W. H. Stephenson as president. The directors showed concern at the dwindling attendances-gate receipts were down by more than £2,500-but they were to fall still further the following season.
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 If you can provide any further information please contact me