The last wartime football season got underway very much how it had been outlined in the May meeting. The Football League held their annual meeting in London on Monday 23rd July with most of the decisions already taken. The lack of fixtures for the Third Division clubs was sorted out. After they had played out their league games to a finish the extra dates would be filled with further internal league cup competitions.
Clubs were limited to six guest players and this was to be further reduced to three from the start of November.
The Second World War officially came to an end on Sunday 2nd September 1945 in Tokyo Bay where the Japanese surrender was signed. Japan had actually communicated that it would cease fighting on the 15th August. So before the start of the new season the war was over. The wartime restrictions on petrol and travelling were relaxed, whilst food and other rationing carried on as before.
The football authorities would operate under two different rules for this season. Wartime rules for the league matches, but the stricter peace time rules would apply for the FA Cup. Having a two leg FA Cup was not the only unusual thing about this season’s competition. All the cup draws up to and including the fourth round were done on a regional basis to cut down travelling.
Early on Southport gave a great performance against Manchester City’s full first team in the Lancashire Senior Cup and were well worth their 3-2 win – achieved despite Jimmy Gemmell firing over the bar from a penalty kick. There was to be no fairy tale ending, however, as City win the second leg 5-0.
It was soon obvious that Southport’s team was not strong enough and, although the directors had encouraged junior players in the 1944-45 season, few of them were of the requried standard at this level. The transfer of Dennis Grainger to Leeds United upon his demob from the R.A.F. – albeit for a substantial sum – was a disappointment, as he was one of the few players around whom they could have built a successful team. He had previously done well for Leeds as a guest player and Southport had no wish to impede his progress.
Shortly after Grainger’s departure gordon Huny returned from the R.A.F. and was immediately reinstated as secretary. during his five years’ service he had done radar work as a sargeant on ‘Flying Bomb Alley’. When he took over the team was going through a bad patch, the defence having conceded 38 goals in 10 games. Mr Hunt was able to tighten up the rearguard by bringing in some experienced players but, unfortunately, he was unable to effect any real improvement until after Southport had been knocked out of the F.A. Cup.
Although the FA Cup had returned, it had been decided with clubs desperate for revenue that when the league clubs joined the competition in the first round all games would be played over two legs. The novelty did not benefit Southport; on November 17th 1945 they lost 2-1 at home to Oldham and the following week lost the second leg 3-1.
During the latter part of the season the team reached the semi-final of the Football League North Cup, losing over two legs to Chester, The game at Southport was watched by 7152 spectators who paid over £600 which constituted the best receipts since the Doncaster Rovers cup tie in January 1939. The club announced a fifth concecutive profit -a sequence which was not surpassed until 1988-94. A loss would have been shown, however, had Southport not received a four-figure fee for Dennis Grainger and also a sum of £900 from Plymouth Argyle representing the balance of Roy Royston’s transfer fee – outstanding since 1939!
The club now had nearly £1700 in the bank and the indebtedness on the balance sheet was at a new low of £1774.
To cap off a season that saw everyone reaching for and wanting a return to normality, England played a war international in continental Europe itself. England lost 2-1 to France at Stade Colombes, Paris in front of 58,000.
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