In September 1915 football was completely reorganized. To save unnecessary travel it was decided to run various sections for different areas of the country. With Blackburn Rovers suspending operations altogether, Southport were called upon to join the Lancashire Section of the Football League which also included Stoke City, Port Vale and Stockport County. There first game was against Blackpool on September 4th. Southport winning 2-0. Later on that month over 5000 spectators, including 2000 soldiers billeted in the town plus a large number of wounded soldiers admitted free watched Southport Central beat Everton whilst a then ground record 6100 paid £131 when Manchester City visited Ash Lane in October. The highest gate receipts of the previous season had been a mere £37 .
The team which began the 1915-16 season was Drabble, Dorward, Holbern, Holdsworth, Fay, Abram, Rigby, Caulfield, Stringfellow, Garner and Semple. Southport were regularly able to field at least six players with First Division experience. Ted Lightfoot came back from Tottenham-he was stationed at Fulwood Barracks often playing at centre forward from which position he scored 4 out of f goals against Preston North End at Deepdale on October 30 th 1915. Sadly he was one of a number of wartime fatalities being killed in action in July 1918
Perseus writing in the Lancashire Daily Post paid the following tribute ‘Edward Lightfoot was a splendid footballer but, more than that, he was a good sportsman and a player who respected both himself and his opponents. He has joined a noble company who will leave a big void in football”
Other football wartime fatalities included Gunner Jack Waring, who had played for Chorley and Burnley as well as Southport Central and Sapper William Sinclair-one of Jack Sinclair’s four footballing brothers-was killed in action in France.
From one week to the next it aas impossible to predict the composition of the team owing to certain players going into the Army and others coming home on leave. Even the great Charlie Buchan, who was in the Coldstream Guards, made a fleeting appearance in mid-season: he was to have held a recruitment rally immediately after the game but heavy, rain left him with no crowd to address!
The team was seriously weakened in March 1916 when Billy Semple joined The 17 th Battalion and Lol Abram the 13th of the Kings ( Liverpool) Regiment, though Abram, based in Oswestry continued to turn out whenever available.
Southport finished the season ninth in the Lancashire section and following the passing of the Compulsory Service Act and the consequent dispersal of many guest players, bottom of the supplementary competition which was run to ensure a full season’s programme. In this latter they managed only one win and a draw in the ten games.
Central League Suspended 1915-1919
Southport Competed in the Football League Lancashire Section, Northern Group Principal Competition.
|1||Manchester City FC||26||16||3||7||61||35||35|
|5||Oldham Athletic AFC||25||13||3||9||52||44||29|
|7||Stockport County FC||26||13||3||10||47||43||29|
|9||Southport Central FC||26||9||6||11||41||41||24|
|11||Manchester United FC||26||7||8||11||41||51||22|
|12||Bolton Wanderers FC||26||9||3||14||48||65||21|
|14||Preston North End FC||26||4||2||20||23||67||10|
Lancashire Section, Northern Group Subsidiary Competition
For the Subsidiary Competition, the Lancashire League was divided in two with the games played amalgamated at the end of the season to give a composite table.
Southport were placed in Group B
|3||Preston North End FC||10||4||2||4||22||19||10|
|4||Bolton Wanderers FC||10||4||1||5||16||22||9|
|6||Southport Central FC||10||1||1||8||12||28||3|