The following Article was published in the Southport Visiter in Feb 2016. It is credited to “Trust In Yellow” and was used in the build up to the successful reunion event held at the club’s Grandstand Bar on 12th February.
Season 1965-66 is regarded as one of the greatest in Southport’s history.
In their first campaign under the management of Billy Bingham, the Sandgrounders reached the fifth round of the FA Cup, claiming some magnificent wins along the way.
When Bingham arrived at Haig Avenue in the summer of 1965, Southport were described as being “in need of a miracle.”
After number of difficult seasons, the club was struggling financially, crowds were down and the team was languishing at the bottom of the old Fourth Division.
All of that was to change following the arrival of Bingham who, aged 34 and in his first managerial post, had an immediate impact on the club.
Bingham had enjoyed a fine playing career, representing, among others, Everton, Sunderland and Port Vale.
After rebuilding the Southport squad during the early part of the season, it was the FA Cup run which got the team noticed.
It all began in rather unremarkable fashion, Alex Russell scoring twice to secure a comfortable 2-0 home win against Forth Division strugglers Halifax Town in the first round.
And from then on, things started to get interesting, beginning with a dramatic 3-3 draw in the second round at home to Stockport County. Having come from 2-0 down to level thanks to a brace from Ron Smith, Southport took the lead through Alan Spence, only for the visitors to rescue a controversial late draw.
In the replay at Edgeley Park, played in atrocious conditions on a mudbath of a pitch, the Sandgrounders won 2-0. Debutant Les Barratt stole the headlines with what was described as “a goal of a lifetime,” before Spence, the club’s all-time leading goalscorer who netted five times during the cup run, made sure of the win.
Next up was Ipswich Town, who had won the Football League four years earlier under the management of Alf Ramsey, who by now was preparing England for World Cup glory.
An inspired performance from Ipswich goalkeeper Ken Hancock meant the original tie at Haig Avenue finished goalless, setting up the most thrilling replay at Portman Road.
Despite taking the lead through Spence, Southport found themselves trailing 2-1 with seven minutes to go.
Spence again drew the Sandgrounders level and, just as extra time was looming, along came Colin Alty to score the winner with only seconds remaining.
The victory set up another match against Second Division opposition in Cardiff City, who were soundly beaten 2-0 at Haig Avenue thanks to first-half goals from Spence and Smith.
A crowd of 14,230 at Haig Avenue watched on that day and, by now, the press were taking notice of this team which had come from nowhere the previous season. The Sandgrounders had risen to national prominence.
Unfortunately, the cup run came to an end at Hull City, who would end the season as Third Division champions.
It was a disappointing way to exit given the extraordinary journey to get there, but Hull were a very formidable team at the time.
Southport lost 2-0 in front of a crowd of almost 40,000 at Boothferry Park.
Although the cup adventure had come to an end, this was, in many ways, only the beginning for Bingham’s Southport. He led the Sandgrounders to promotion to what is now League One the next season, before Everton visited Haig Avenue in the cup the following year.
Bingham went on to manage Plymouth Argyle and Everton before leading Northern Ireland to the World Cup finals in 1982 and 1988.
The mid-1960s remain a golden period for Southport, ensuring Bingham and his players will always hold legendary status at the club.