and reproduced by kind permission
For the only time in League history, Southport finished last in their division—the 92nd team in the league—with a paltry 26 points.
Trevor Hitchen's return as manager in June 1958 was no surprise; speculation had been rife ever since Hitchen had piloted VVigan to their shock Cup win the previous November. At the A.G.M. he promised shareholders eleven fighters capable of lasting the full ninety minutes; he was confident of producing results to arouse enthusiasm in the town; but fitness could not compensate for lack of ability and financial restrictions inevitably limited his chances.
For two months the home results exceeded all expectations, but it soon became obvious that Southport lacked the strength to collect points on tour; particularly dfsappointing were two key newcomers to the attack-Gordon Davies and Bobby Cunliffe.
Despite an opening 5-1 defeat at Watford-last visited in 19O5-the 'Port remained undefeated at home until the return fixture in December; yet they lost every away match until January, when Haydon Barker's fifteenth second goal secured a 1-1 draw at Hartlepools.
Shortly afterwards Southport signed Wally 'Fielding, veteran schemer of the Everton attack, as player-manager; -Hitchen nobly continued as his assistant. The following Saturday, January 24th, Southport-reinforced by Fielding and little Jackie Grant, his Everton team-mate signed from Rochdale-best Gillingham 2-1; but this was Southport's solitary win between November and April, in 29 consecutive league matches. The twenty-three away games finally yielded four points and not a single victory.
Fundamentally, Southport lacked punch in attack. Nine players were tried in the problem centre-forward position, Stocky fair-haired Roy Smith cost £300 from Wigan Athletic but, without adequate support, failed to adapt to league football. Released in March, he joined Morecambe; in June, aged 22, Smith tragically lost his life in a mining accident. Another centre-forward, 25-year-old Albert Stokes from Scunthorpe, scored one of the most bizarre goals seen at Haig Avenue when he harassed Walsall goalkeeper Woodward sufficiently to prevent him turning to make a clearance. After several seconds he dropped the ball ahd Stokes darted round him to prod it into the net !
Outside-right Jimmy McDermott was one of the few front-line successes. Originally retained for 1959-60, he reluctantly accepted a transfer to Wigan Athletic. David Kerr, who occasionally displayed finesse at inside-forward, later joined Third Lanark.
In defence, Roger Darvell, a commanding centre-half, was possibly Hitchen's best signing and gave seven years' faithful service. Skipper Tommy Kinloch, a tremendous driving force at wing-half, was not retained and joined Wigan Rovers. Burly and uncompromising full-back Bill Dodd was also tried at centre-forward, but was transfer-listed and later signed for Bangor.
In the Cup third division Halifax Town outplayed Southport and won 2-0, With Cup receipts only £301, league takings down £2,500 and a net £3,000 paid in transfer fees, the club suffered a record loss of £7,746, raising the total deficit over £27,000. George Robertson succeeded Fred Thornley as chairman, and, with finances at a low ebb, a survival appeal was launched.
Hitchen's youth policy produced just one class player—full-back Terry Leath, whose first-team debut came in the final league game. The "A" team was out of its depth in the Lancashire League Division I; the "B" team played in the Southport and District League.
In September Harry Beadles, Welsh international and leading goal-scorer each season between 1926 and 1929, -died. The following month, director and president Dick Rimmer passed away.
At the Football League A.G.M. South-port were re-elected but the voting was uncomfortably close. Only seven of the ten players retained actually re-signed. Part-time professional full-back Allan Parkinson. signed in March 1953 as an amateur from Leyland Motors, refused the terms offered and departed, following his April benefit match against a Burnley XI. Wally Fielding faced considerable rebuilding over the close 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