In the 1884-85 season the club merged with the Southport Athletic Society. The team moved to the Sports Ground, Sussex Road, and training took place at the Circus Field, Eastbank Street, every Tuesday evening. Also it was unanimously decided to change their red jerseys for red and white striped flannel shirts.
As football grew in popularity other clubs sprang up in the town. Southport Wanderers, High Park, Churchtown and Southport Old Boys were amongst the most prominent. However Southport Football Club was considered to be the town’s premier side. In 1884 the Charity Cup was launched. Eleven local teams entered with the proceeds, £18 in the first year, going towards the Infirmary. Southport confirmed their premier spot by defeating Crescent 5-0 in the final at the Sports Ground.
The club’s most notable success to date was their 1-0 victory over Preston North End in the Lancashire Challenge Cup in 1884. Although North End only sent their reserve side Southport caused something of a sensation and it was said that the Preston players were ashamed to go home after such a disgrace. Dalby scored the goal just four minutes from time.
The County selectors were present at that game and singled out Squire Platt, the Southport goalkeeper, to represent Lancashire against Hallamshire at Sheffield the following month, Lancashire winning 4-3. Platt also appeared for Liverpool and District when they played North Wales at Wrexham.