On 15th July 1903 the committee of Southport Central received an intimation that their ground in Scarisbrick New Road, which they had used for the previous 12 seasons, will be no longer available and that they must immediately commence the removal of the grandstand. It was understood that the land was to be used for building purposes although Central were prepared to pay £10,000 for its purchase. It was the start of a period of uncertainty surrounding the ground that would last for some time.
The Lancashire Evening Post reported on Saturday 18th July 1903
SOUTHPORT CENTRAL’S PREDICAMENT- The ground Scarisbrick New-road used by the Central F.C. is to requisitioned for building purpose by the Scarisbriok Trustees. A little while ago the Ormskirk and Southport Agricultural Society and the club executive approached the trustees with view to purchasing the ground for the two bodies, or leasing it for a period of years. In this they have been unsuccessful, though strong effort is likely to be made secure a reconsideration of the decision. Unless Central can secure the use the ground until Easter it is likely that the club will have to disband for at least a season, they will be unable to remove from present quarters and complete arrangements for the use of, say, the Athletic Ground before September. As it hardly likely that building operations could started now and continued during the winter till Easter, the executive are hoping that they will have grace till this day. On such an understanding the club could continue, said Mr. Robinson, the chairman, yesterday. Several prominent clubs have lately been approaching Southport for players.
In August 1903 the Southport Guardian reported that
“The question of the ground continues to cause some anxiety, but it seems probable that there will be no interference of the present pitch for some time – how long remains to be seen. Still it cannot be expected but that some unrest should be caused by the expressed intention of the Scarisbrick Trustees to utilise the land for building purposes in the not far distant future; and in such a case the respite granted is something for which to be grateful.”
One month later the Southport Guardian clarified the matter further.
“The Trustees have taken plenty of time to consider the matter, and it was only a day or two ago that a letter was received stating that the club might have use of the present ground until next Easter. This is taken to mean the end of the season, but as the use of any other plot of ground for football purposes solely is not to be granted, it seems probably that the Blowick Athletic Ground will be the venue next year – if there is any desire for such an arrangement.”
With the Lancashire League defunct, Southport were admitted to the Lancashire Combination ‘B’ Division for 1903-04 season. Continuing the successful form of the previous season Southport won the Championship by one point from Earlestown and in a Challenge match against Everton Reserves Champions of the ‘A’ Division they drew 1-1 at Goodison Park.
In the F.A.Cup Central were involved in an exciting game at Accrington. Goalkeeper Jim Garvey gave a brilliant display as Stanley bombarded the Southport goal, Ben Rickerby scoring the game’s only goal for Central. A Veteran oysterman Stephen Danhay of Anchor Street was one of 300 Southport supporters who made the trip. He suffered a seizure and was removed to a neighbouring cottage and was later conveyed to Southport where he died the same night. In his only interval of consciousness he murmured “Did they score?”
In the Lancashire Senior Cup Central reached the final overcoming Bury (the holders) 6-1, St. Helens Town 1-0 and Preston North End 3-2. In the final at Deepdale two goals fom Lionel Watson, formerly of Southport settled the issue in Blackburn Rovers favour.
Probably the season’s most bizarre incident occured when referee McQueen blew the ‘final whistle’ seven minutes early against Stockport County. Many supporters left the ground but others ran onto the field to explain the mistake to the referee who immediately restarted the game and played another seven minutes. There was no further scoring Southport winning 1-0.
The problems with the ground rumbled on and at the AGM held on Thursday July 14th 1904, those present discovered just how serious the ground issue was when it was reported that the club had been given notice to quit Scarisbrick New Road at Christmas, and only with the consent of the Trustees were they allowed to finish the season at the ground.
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