In 1900-01 Central ran neck and neck with Stalybridge Rovers but were defeated 2-1 on Easter Monday by the Rovers in front of a record Scarisbrick New Road of 6000. That was one of only two defeats during the season and Central finished second on goal average. The regular side was, Topping, Spink (who was constantly urged to sign for Preston North End), Smith, Sinclair, Tasker, Tattersall, Atherton, Shadbolt, Long, Watson and Halsall. The team was kept together with a minimum of injuries. Jack Sinclair moved from inside-forward to succeed Walter Cunliffe. Bob Tasker, formerly of Preston North End, came in at centre-half for Herbert Hallows who had signed for Manchester City. Lollie Halsall, after two years with Preston, returned to the left wing and his partner, Lionel Watson, who played for junior club Laurel Rovers twelve months previously, made such a good impression that he joined Blackburn Rovers the following season.
Meanwhile the Lancashire league had been reduced to a mere eleven clubs in mid-season by the resignation of Rochdale Town, the rugby league counter attraction and the fact that their ground was three miles from the town being contributory factors for the club’s demise.
There was some dissatisfaction expressed that the Lancashire League was practically played out and supporters looked for something better. Highlights of the season were the 3-1 win over Manchester City in a benefit match for Tom Smith and the captain Jimmy Tattersall and the 5 th Qualifying round Cup-ties with Darwen which Central lost 2-0 after a replay. One unpleasant incident took place at the conclusion of the last league match of the season at Haydock when a spectator hurled a brick at the referee as he left the ground which narrowly missed him and Fred Spink but caught one of the spectators above the eye inflicting a nasty gash which bled profusely.
When it became known in February 1901 that there was a proposal to amalgamate the Football League with the Southern League and thus regionalise the Second Division Central decided to aim for a better class of football. They could do so with confidence.
Due to economics by the Committee and the cultivation of local talent they had succeeded in clearing off the previous season’s deficit and wiped £50 of the stand account leaving only a debt of £65 and the old Guarantors account of £70 outstanding.
The Committee held a public meeting at the Temperance Institute to test public opinion on the advisability of making an application to the Second Division and the members voted overwhelmingly in favour. In a circular to all football league clubs, the club stressed that Southport was easily accessible by rail and all clubs with the exceptionof Woolwich and possibly Middlesborough could complete the journey in one day. The Club was “an old and established one being the only one to have been connected with the Lancashire League from its commencement to the present date.” Their ground was “one of the finest in Lancashire with plenty of accommodation, dressing rooms on the ground and every convenience provided for football teams.”
The proposed regional Second Division did not materialize and preston North End’s resolution to increase the Second Division by four clubs was defeated. Central were disappointed at the result receiving only five votes. The successful clubs were Burton Swifts(23), Bristol City(23), Stockport County(21) and Doncaster Rovers(16). Stalybridge Rovers(7), Walsall(7) Crewe Alexandra(5) and darwen(0) were unsuccessful.
At the club’s A.G.M. in August, William Platt was elected auditor. Mr. Platt a playing member of the old Southport Association Club, continued in that position until his death in 1938.
AGM Held at the temperance institute, Southport on 8th August 1901.
41 games were played, 26 won,6 drawn and 9 lost. goals scored 92, against 45.
Balance sheet showed income to be £1,121 16s 2d., gates amounting to £764 5s 7d. After expenditure the balance remaining in the bank £22 16s 6d.
Sir George Pilkington re-elected president.
Central, runners-up in the, Lancashire League once again in 1902, had three hard F.A. Cup-ties against Blackpood drawing home and away 0-0 but prevailing 2-1 at Deepdale There followed three dour struggles against Darwen who finally won 1-0 at Bolton.
Central were weakened when Arthur Kelly received a nasty cut over the eye which had to be stitched by the club surgeon, Dr. Hall, and prevented him from appearing for the remainder of the game.
In October, Southport created a Lancashire League and club record 11-0 win over Bacup Borough. During the season Warrington disbanded and their record was expunged but not before Central had beaten them 4-0 at Scarisbrick New Road after paying their expenses to secure their presence.
The semi-final of the Chorley Rawcliffe Charity Cup was reached in 1902 before Stalybridge Rovers defeated Central 2-1. In an earlier Cup-tie in the competition a demonstration took place at the final whistle against the referee who had disallowed a Cooper goal for offside. A crowd of between 300 and 400 made a dash for the dressing tent which the referee reached in safety, Some constables kept guard at the entrance with the crowd maintaining its menacing attitude. The Committee tried to disperse the crowd. At 6.15 fully an hour after the game the referee guarded by constables and in the company of the Chairman, Mr. Robinson, was escorted to the tram. Outside the ground some dirt and a few stones were thrown, one of which struck Mr. Robinson’s hat. Fortunately, no one was hurt.
After being one of the original members of the Lancashire League, Southport Central won the Championship at their 14th attempt. Their success came in what proved to be the last season of the League. Southport suffered only three defeats and won the Championship with five points to spare. They also won the Chorley Rawcliffe Charity Cup, defeating Stalybridge Rovers 1-0 in the final. Southport showed complete superiority when they gained a 3-0 win in a Champions v The Rest match.
On Monday 26th January 1903, at a meeting of the Southport Central Football Club Committee, instructions were given for the issuing of a subjoined circular: – “It is the wish of the committee to make application for admission into the Second Division of the Football League, but as the question of securing enough support is the chief item, it was decided to circularise the members, supporters, and tradespeople generally as to what guarantee or promise they would give if such application was successful. It is calculated that an increase of £500 on the present income would be required to run a successful team” (Reported in Lancashire Evening Post on Wednesday 28th January 1903)
Edwin Trounson pleaded Southport Central’s case for admission to the Second Division He claimed that the ground was one of the best adapted for football in the country. The grandstand held 2000 and about 20,000 more could view the game in comfort. They could call on an 80,000 population and the town was easily accessible from all over the country. A circular sent to the league clubs stated that Southport had been in existence for a “lengthy and honourable period. “The pitch had been described by a prominent o Football league referee as the best in Lancashire The financial position was sound” being free from debt.” lt was stressed that the town was reputed to be the wealthiest in Lancashire and the population was only used to the association game but it was all in vain.
Southport were one of eight clubs to apply. Doncaste Rrovers, Stockport County and Burnley sought re-election. The voting went Bradford City 30, Stockport County 20, Burnley19, Doncaster Rovers 14, Crewe Alexandra 7, West Hartlepool 7, Southport Central 4 and Wellington 1 . The result made bitter reading for club officials.
On May 26th, 1903 the championship medals were presented at a dinner held at Hayes Restaurant Chapel Street . The dinner was marred by the seasons only disappointment which had taken place the previous day. Councillors lsaac Smith and Edwin Trounson went to London to put the club’s case in their second bid for membership of the Second Division of the football league with plenty of confidence. Despite many promises of support some clubs evidently changed their minds for they received only four votes. Only one other Lancashire Club supported their application.
The annual Balance Sheet of the Southport Central Football Club showed that the credit balance in May 1902 was £75 and that on May 20th 1903 it had falled by £13 to £62. The amount received in subscriptions was £124 , gate receipts realised £888 and the stand receipts £107 while from cup ties away the club received £84. The total income was £1357. The expenses included wages at £633 and £118 for railway fares and travelling expenses handed to visiting teams