and reproduced by kind permission
Another disappointing season saw Southport finish in 20th place, without a win in their last 17 league games. Yet they 'began in tremendous fashion; the first six games yielded nine points, including five cut of six away from home; but at Haig Avenue Southport rarely shone, winning only five league games (the fewest ever) whilst conceding a record 45 goals.
Southport started out wfth 18 professionals, the pick of the new signings being the versatile Colin Alty. A Sandgrounder, Alty had been wfth Willie Cunningham at Preston and later, under Billy Bingham s guidance, developed into a most dependable and valued team-member. Sammy Taylor at outside-left never reproduced the form he had shown at Carlisle. Stan Hepton and Ronnie Cairns from Rochdale seldon impressed although Cairns did score several vital goals; only Alex Russell, with 1t,, surpassed him.
The F.A. Cup brought out the best in Southport. After annihilating Wearside Leaguers Annfield Plain, Southport won a thrilling battle at Wrexham after trailing 2-1 at half-time. When Willie Cunningham was carried off with a dislocated shoulder Southport's hopes evaporated, but he returned on the right wing and they fought back brilliantly to win 3-2.
In the third round Southport — drawn away to First Division leaders Leeds United - faced an outsize last minute problem with forwards Taylor and Hepton both injured. The selection of part-time professional Eric Davies, a real Lancashire Combination stalwart, at centre-forward astonished everybody. Eric, a product of Southport Trinity, with one previous league appearance three years earlier, played creditably shadowing Jack Charlton. Southport performed heroically, actually taking control for a spell in the second half, and confined Leeds to one goal until the last ten minutes, when they conceded two more. The consolation was a £2,800 share from the 31,297 gate, which helped to pay the wage bid for several weeks.
The club's fortunes were running low. Attendances stagnated around the 2,000 mark, six times falling below and only twice exceeding 4.000. The week after the Leeds cup-tie a crowd of 1,685 -about as many as had followed the 'Port to Leeds — saw Southport score twice in the last four minutes to defeat Newport County 5-3. That was to be their last league win; the failings of the bottom four clubs ensured they just scrambled clear of making a ninth application for re-admission.
For the first time since 1947-48 Southport reached the final of the Lancashire Senior Cup. After overcoming Barrow 3-1, Blackpool 2-0 and Liverpool 3-0, they lost 2-0 to Burnley at Turf Moor, In the League Cup they were defeated 1-0 in the first round replay at Carlisle.
Late in the season came two major shocks when first manager Willie Cunningham and then trainer Jack Tait were sacked. Tait, one of the few Football League trainers never to have played league football — he played for amateurs Bishop Auckland, had been at Haig Avenue since 1958.
Southport lost £3,172 on the season. During the year Richard Marshall resigned
from the board and, on his retirement from practice, Hon. Medical Officer Dr.
R. Haddock was made a life member after more than forty years' association with
the club. There was the usual end of season clear-out and amongst those freed
was Albert Harris, goalkeeper for five years, who signed for Kirkby Town as player-manager;
Jack Tait joined him there. Roger Darvell, a fine clubman who had made 256 league
appearances in seven seasons, went to Banbury Spencer. Ronnie Cairns moved to
Wigan Athletic and club captain Joe Wallace went to Caernarvon.
With interest waning fast, no money to buy new players and the manager and trainer sacked.
Southport needed a miracle to survive. In June the board advertised the position of trainer-coach and Billy Bingham, having been prompted by his wife, applied. Southport's miracle worker had arrived.
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