There were two important acquisitions to Southport Central’s staff during the 1897-98 Season. In September T. G. Shipley became Secretary. He had been the founder of Southport Royal in 1894. In 1895 he helped found the Southport and District League. He stayed with Central for eleven years as secretary. His nine predecessors had only nine years service between them.
In March Fred Spink was signed from Clitheroe and during a career with Central which spanned 13 years he gained the reputation of being one of the best backs in Lancashire.
He had several offers to assist league clubs but preferred to remain at Southport where his coolness and resource where his outstanding characteristics. On Christmas Day 1899 he missed the train from Parbold and rather than not play he walked all the way to the ground in time for kick-off.
Central at this time fielded a settled combination, Tom Abram in goal proved to be a most consistent performer and gave five years service. Smith and Spink were generally acknowledged to be the best pair of full-backs in the league, with Cunliffe, Herbert Hallows and Tattersall at half-back and a forward line of Charles Hallows, Lang, Lawson, Sinclair and Wilmington. Central’s players continued to be in demand. Bolton Wanderers offered £120 for Jack Sinclair but Central refused to part under £200, whilst negotiations with Sheffield United for Tom Wilmington were broken-off when the price offered fell below Central’s valuation.
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