Programme Editor Rob Urwin tells his story of the 2004/05 championship season:-
You somehow got the feeling after our first match against Vauxhall Motors it
could be our year, 1-0 down, down to 10 men and a penalty against us. Dicko
saves it and we go on to win 2-1 with Terry Fearns notching the first of what
would be a club goal scoring record 33 goals.
I think the away game at Barrow summed up the season for me, we had an excellent following for a midweek game, everyone was behind the team and the performance was superb. We should have beaten Hinckley in our next match when the most ridiculous decision of the season ruled out a perfectly legitimate goal and the match finished 0-0. The wheels then fell off against Ashton United and we lost 2-1, it's strange but if you look at our eight defeats in this season two came against relegated clubs.
By the end of September we were 5th having been beaten at home by a very impressive Kettering team on the back of defeats at Alfreton and Gainsborough and we all felt it may have to be the play offs.
The season kick started at Droylsden with a superb 3-1 win and we all thoroughly enjoyed this victory!
An excellent 3-1 FA Cup win over previously unbeaten Hyde saw us draw Hereford at home in the 1st round proper, a game that would test our credentials against a top Conference team. We lost 3-1 and in all honesty were simply outclassed on the day against a very impressive Hereford team. In the Trophy we had beaten Gateshead after a replay and Kings Lynn (a 4hour journey for a regionalised game this one) before going out 1-0 at the eventual finalists Hucknall Town after a 2-2 draw at Haig Avenue. I groaned when we equalised in the second minute of injury time as it meant we were getting well behind with our league fixtures. In fact we only played one league game in the whole of November.
We went top on Boxing Day after the 2-0 win over Stalybridge. The return match on New Years day at Bower Fold which we won 5-3 has to go down as one of the most amazing games you have ever seen. How it finished I do not know, the pitch was underwater and most other matches in the region were being abandoned but somehow it ran the full 90 minutes.
By the time we got round to playing our next match we were down to 2nd but had games in hand on the leaders Kettering who we played next. Win and we would be within 2 points with 3 games in hand lose and we were 5 behind, it was a must not lose game. An excellent following took to the roads and made the journey to Rockingham Road with more than a little trepidation. What a game it turned out to be, the 5-0 win was easily the best performance of the season to date and for the first time I started to believe we were in with a chance of winning the league.
The 2-1 win over Gainsborough in the next home game saw us score the winner in the 2nd minute of added time to go back to the top. We went on to comfortably beat Worcester 3-1 before Droylsden came and were conquered 3-0 which we all thought would put them out of the title race, how wrong we all were.
The next game was easy, an away match at the leagues whipping boys, Bradford (Park Avenue). Oh dear, everything went wrong and we were hammered 3-1 and in all honesty it could have been 6 or 7. The gloom set in, we were still top but could this be the game that would cost us the league, we followed this up with a dour 0-0 against an incredibly boring Lancaster City team and I was starting to get jittery. A 3-1 home win against a poor Alfreton side and a very lucky 2-1 win at Worksop raised the spirits and we were back on track.
However, two consecutive 0-0's at home followed by a 3-2 reverse at home to Harrogate really saw the panic button being pressed. By this time Droylsden and Nuneaton had started making a surge up the table and were clearly emerging as the main challengers.
A comfortable 3-0 win at Ashton followed by a 2-1 win against Moor Green and an excellent 3-0 win at Vauxhall Motors saw us maintain top spot but the pack were closing.
Next up was Redditch. A poor ground and a poor pitch but after 70 minutes we were 2-0 up and cruising. We lost 3-2 with the winner coming in the 88th minute. We went down to 2nd place with Droylsden taking over at the top for the first time.
It was a midweek trek to Hucknall next. After 30 minutes we were 2-0 up and cruising, by half time it was 2-2. History had repeated itself but this time we were playing well and I felt that at half time we could still win this one. Carl Baker's super free kick which the keeper said "he didn't see until it hit the back of the net" put us 3-2 up and then a wonder strike from the goal machine that is Fearns made it 4-2 we were back on top.
The next home game was Hinckley and the 3-2 scoreline flattered Hinckley in a game we dominated from start to finish.
It was then Hucknall again, this time at home. Poor old Hucknall had had to play 9 games in 18 days because of their Trophy exploits but they came and put up a good fight. All ears were on the score at Worcester where Droylsden were playing and when the half time score of Worcester 1 Droylsden 0 was announced we were feeling pretty good however we were only 0-0 so work to be done. At the moment we scored, through Terry Fearns who in doing so broke the club goalscoring record, Droylsden equalised. Ten or so minutes later we heard Worcester had scored to go 2-1 up. The roar that greeted the news that they had scored again to make it 3-1 made the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. It was back in our hands. If Droylsden didn't win at Hucknall, on the Wednesday night the title was ours.
Several Southport fans including myself went to Hucknall. I know that is a bit odd but you had to! Hucknall missed an open goal after 40 seconds and were playing well but at half time it was 1-0 to The Bloods. Up until the 70th minute I thought they might do it but they ran out of steam and Droylsden won 4-0.
It all went down to the final day of the season but the good thing was it was in our hands, however, Droylsden had a home banker against Worksop and we were at Harrogate who needed a win to qualify for the play offs. It looked bleak on paper. Nuneaton had kept on winning but needed to win 15-0 on the last day of the season so they were out of it.
The build up to the game was great, the club had given everyone a £5 voucher for Harrogate which saw us get in for half price and coaches were laid on for £10. The highest ever following for a league game (I think it just about beats Marine in 1992/93) took to the roads. The away support all season had been magnificent but this was incredible and easily surpassed expectations.
By half time we were leading 3-0 and Worksop were beating Droylsden 1-0, it was dreamland! After 67 minutes it was 5-0 and Worksop were winning 3-0, the title was ours! The celebrations at the end of the match reminded me of Emley in 1992/93. These days come around so infrequently for a small club that you have to make the most of them.
An excellent finish to certainly the most exciting season I can remember in my 33 years as a fan. How would we do back in a much changed and more professional Conference?
Source: The Complete Non-League History of Southport Football Club 1978 - 2008, by Trust in Yellow (Legends Publishing, 2008). ISBN 978-1-906796-01-3