Southport Football Club were among the last Football League Clubs to have floodlights installed in January 1962. They were first used on 9th January when over 10000 were present for an FA Cup clash with Shrewsbury Town.
SOUTHPORT 1 – 3 SHREWSBURY TOWN
Stadium: Haig Avenue
Competition: FA Cup / 3
The following is taken from an article written by Michael Braham, first published in the Southport Visiter: “It was not until the club’s Annual General Meeting in July 1960 that the idea of floodlights were approved. A collection at the meeting raised £23 from shareholders which the Directors topped up to £50. Fundraising got underway when a floodlighting appeal was launched by the Southport FC General Improvements Committee initially under the Chairmanship of Director, Bob Howard. The amounts donated were regularly updated in the Southport Visiter.
This particular 12 year old gave his 2/6d pocket money to the appeal and many others did likewise. Regular bingo sessions were held at Tom’s Tea House on Lord Street.
Prior to the installation of floodlights early midweek fixtures would kick off at times between 5.45pm and 6.30 pm with supporters have to bolt down their teas or take them to their place of work in order to get there for the start. Mid-winter Saturday afternoon games kicked-off at 2.25 or 2.30pm.
The Floodlighting Appeal Fund set regular targets and having raised £1,000 by the end of April 1961 they considered a number of schemes but were limited in their choice because of the space available on the ground. After inspecting the floodlights on a number of football and Rugby League grounds in Lancashire the directors and officials decided that the one most suitable for Haig Avenue was at Chorley.
After watching a match under their lights and speaking afterwards to the players who took part in the game all were agreed that the lights were most satisfactory.
In early May 1961 a firm order was placed for the lights to be installed at a cost of £6,000. By the time of the Public trial games game in August the ground had been transformed by the erection of 84-foot pylons. By mid October 1961 48 lamps were in place and fundraising intensified with Southport FC Chairman John Church holding a money-raising event at his Lulworth Road home which realised £250 which included a £10 from my Dad. The Floodlight Club was also opened in the town centre with a view to raising money for the Southport Football Club although it soon lost sight of its original purpose.
It was intended that Southport‘s home Lancashire Senior Cup tie against Manchester United would mark the opening of the floodlights on January 16, 1962. However owing to the postponement of the FA Cup Third Round tie against Shrewsbury Town it became the inaugural game for the club’s new floodlights on January 9.
How well I remember the sight of the switching on of the lights and the thunderous applause which greeted it shortly before the kick-off. The game attracted a crowd of 10,810 who paid then record receipts of £1,767 with Shrewsbury winning 3-1 [Editor: Eric Jones scored a late consolation in front of what had been the biggest gate since the Wigan Athletic FA Cup tie in 1957].
At this game and other early floodlit fixtures half of the lights were switched off at half-time to save electricity – an example of Secretary Gordon Hunt’s effort to conserve the club’s coffers. It was only when it was pointed out that any economy would be outweighed by the surge in electricity in switching the lights back on as the players came back onto the pitch did this practice cease!
Gerry Troy, now Chairman of the General Improvements Fund, and the rest of the Committee could feel justifiably proud of their achievement of making floodlit football a reality.”
A Visit to Leeds
“Our opponents must be pretty confident” said Southport player-manager Willie Cunningham on the eve of the Sandgrounder’s FA Cup tie away to First Division challengers Leeds United, “they’ve watched out last three home games and we have been playing a load of rubbish”
Even if Cunningham was pessimistic, it took all of Leeds individual quality to overcome the Sandgrounders and Leeds manager Don Revie was full of praise for his Fourth Division opponents. “We must give Southport full credit” he said acknowledging that the 3-0 scoreline was flattering.
Southport had a spell of second half dominance belying their position in the football pyrmaid with Cairns and Dagger coming close to scoring and Harris (goalkeeper) and Darvell (centre half) keeping Johnson the young Leeds centre forward firmly in check. Beanland at left half also made some timely interventions. Ultimately Harris had no chance with any of the goals. After going 1-0 up after 20 minutes the Sandgrounders kept Bremner and co. at bay until the closing stages.
LEEDS UNITED 3 – 0 SOUTHPORT
Competition: FA Cup / 3
With Credit to the definitive history of Leeds United website:
Jack Charlton recalls: “When the names of our opponents came out of the little black bag we gave a whoop of joy, for we were due to meet Fourth Division team Southport at Elland Road. Thirty one thousand people paid £8,905 for the privilege of seeing Leeds waltz into the next round of the FA Cup by notching a cricket score victory over our gallant little rivals who had no chance – or so everybody thought. But, in fact, our Cup conquest turned out to be rather an inauspicious affair … indeed, not until the last ten minutes could we safely say that we were in the draw for the next round.”
Heavy overnight rain made the Elland Road pitch a quagmire, and Leeds were forced to field Greenhoff, Cooper and Johnson as deputies for Giles, Bell and Peacock, all out injured.
Leeds had much the better of the first half, although they had only Greenhoff’s 26th minute goal, a glorious left-footed drive from the right hand corner of the penalty area, to show for their dominance. They could not find a second until near the end, as Southport battled manfully. Albert Johanneson netted a simple effort in the 81st minute after good work on the right by Greenhoff and Reaney, and Johnson knocked home Cooper’s centre at the death to give the score a flattering look.
Billy Bremner (twice) and Bobby Collins had struck the woodwork, and a couple of goals had been chalked out for offside, but United had made heavy weather of the game, trying to be too clever and precise on the difficult surface. But the victory had never been in question and 3-0 was a comfortable result in the end.
Charlton: “One writer said later: ‘There was not much sign of the big crowds to come, nor of the unforgettable thrills in store.’ He was dead right there. True, we had had enough chances to sew up the game earlier than we did. But it was Southport, plucky, near-bottom-of-the-Fourth Division Southport, who got the sympathetic cheers at the end.