In 1911-12, for only the second time in the club’s history, Southport Central reached the first round proper of the F.A Cup. Home victories over Padiham, Rossendale United and Colne and a 1-0 win at Heywood(after a 1-1 draw at Ash Lane) had already brought Frome Town to Southport. The secretary of the Frome club caused some amusement by writing to Edwin Clayton to ask if accommodation could be obtained in the village! A crowd which numbered 3566 responded by shouting “Play up Villagers!” and Southport duly obliged by winning 4-1.
Reading, members of the Southern League, provided the opposition in the firs round proper. This time Southport turned down an offered £125 guarantee to take the game to Berkshire. For the cup-ties the ground admission had to be raised according to F.A rules from 4d. to 6d. and the stand charges were increased from 6d. to a shilling. Although the Southport players refrained from their ordinary work during the week preceding the cup-tie and went into extra training, their efforts were unrewarded. With the scoresheet blank after half an hour’s play Eddie Mosscrop shot straight at the Reading goalkeeper from the penalty spot: the chance had gone and Southport were beaten by two clear goals before a crowd of between 5 and 6000 who paid £174 13s 1d.
There were those in the crowd who never forgave Mosscrop for that miss.
The following season he was not invited along for pre-season trials by the club and was persuaded instead by his old Blowick Wesleyan colleague Billy Watson to attend Burnley’s trial matches where he shone and was duly signed up. He was subsequently twice capped by England in 1914 and in later life was Headmaster of Birkdale Council School in Bury Road for a number of years.
Another Southport product to make his mark around this time was centre-half Teddy Lightfoot, who had joined Tottenham Hotspur the previous summer. During the Edwardian period Southport was widely considered to be a footballing nursery for larger clubs. Besides the aforementioned Eddie Holdsworth and Billy Watson other local successes in League football were half-backs Lol Abram, not long transferred from Stockport County to Hearts, and Jimmy Fay at Oldham Athletic, who was originally with Southport Working Lads Club.
On December 16th, 1911 Southport Central suffered a record League defeat when Burnley Reserves thrashed them 12-3. Jack Flynn, son of the Birkdale stationmaster was the unfortunate goalkeeper on the day.
With the following season in mind, Central paraded four new signings on Good Friday 1912, one of whom, outside-left Billy Semple, had just been secured from Haslingden. Few would have predicted the monumental significance of this signing at the time. Later the same month Torn Dorward was signed from Arbroath Dorward himself gave splendid service to the club, as indeed did right-half Harry Schofield, signed some time earlier after excelling for Walkden in an F.A. Cup-tie against Southport.
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