…a Southport captain was born.
Steve ‘Syd’ Pickford
One couldn’t discuss Syd’s time with Southport without mentioning the 2002 FA Cup clash between the Sandgrounders and Notts County at Haig Avenue. His stunning performance on that day will live forever on film thanks to the presence of the Match of the Day cameras and the video of that Pickford-inspired match will hold a place in the video/dvd collection of many a supporter for a long-long time.
Pickford joined the Sandgrounders in the summer of 2002 from Stalybridge Celtic, having previously spent time with Leigh RMI, Doncaster and Glossop. He left an indelible mark on the club and the supporters during what would turn out to be a turbulent four year spell. Naming boxing world champion Ricky Hatton amongst his closest friends it is no surprise that Pickford’s own playing style is that of a battling central midfielder and inspirational captain.
Despite collecting both the players and fans player of the season awards, his first season with the ‘Port was a real mixed bag of success and failure. Within the space of one year Pickford enjoyed the highs of the aforementioned FA Cup giant-killing and the massive lows of the shock relegation on the last day, his second relegation in as many years following Stalybridge’s relegation a year earlier.
Having left Stalybridge to remain in the Conference with former boss Phil Wilson at Southport , upon the Sandgrounders’ exit, he vowed to help his new side return to Non-Leagues top flight, signing a 2 year extension to his contract within months.
Within two years he was celebrating a championship success at Harrogate in 2005 and a brave and successful battle for survival a year later. A casualty of the club’s move to full time football at the start of the 2007/2008 season he had a well paid job away from the game. He begrudgingly elected to join Hyde United his home-town club and was sorely missed at the heart of the Southport midfield during their second season back in the Conference.
There is also the story of a certain shower related habit, but some things are better left un-said.
Player Profile reproduced with Permission from:
The Complete Non-League History of Southport Football Club 1978 – 2008, by Trust in Yellow (Legends Publishing, 2008). ISBN 978-1-906796-01-3