The 1882-83 season was preceded by an exhibition match between the two famous Blackburn Clubs – the Rovers and Witton – at the Athletic Society’s Sports. This match created considerable interest and encouraged by this, Southport joined both the Lancashire and English Football Associations and entered the Football Association, Lancashire and Liverpool and District Challenge Cups.
In goal for Blackburn that day was Herbie Arthur, who would later go on to represent Southport Central.
At the club’s A.G.M. in September, held at the Bold Arms Hotel, Charles Scarisbrick was re-elected President, W. J. Connell, Treasurer and Ralph Rylance was elected Captain. A full list of fixtures was arranged with teams such as Bootle, Everton, Wirral, Liverpool Rovers, Birkenhead and Bolton Olympic.
The competitive element of the cup-ties aroused most interest. On 7th October, Southport entertained Liverpool Ramblers in their first ever F.A., or English Challenge Cup tie as the competition was called for years. This game was watched by 300 spectators including many women supporters and resulted in a 1-1 draw, Ambler scoring for Southport following a neat pass from Arthur Dalby. In the replay, Southport were weakened by the non-arrival of one of their best forwards and goalkeeper, Platt, missed the train.
“The Reds” had to play two substitutes and because of the re-organisation lost 4-0. In the Lancashire Challenge cup, after easily accounting for Stacksteads, 4-0, Southport, now playing the six forward game lost 5-4 in a thriller at Rishton.
The rules of the game were somewhat different at that time. The game was rough with little combined play. Penalties were as yet unknown and the charging of goalkeepers was not only permissable but relished with delight by the forwards. The players boots were of the ordinary every day variety and spikes in place of studs were not uncommon.
Games were often spoilt by colour clashes. When Southport visited Birkenhead Association they were placed at a disadvantage with the home side, who also wore scarlet shirts and the ground was covered with long grass- on other occasions home games were interrupted when the ball was kicked into adjoining gardens and the players had to argue with irate householders.