After suffering, and only just surviving, the indignity of a third successive re-election application, Southport firmly resolved to improve their performance. Wally Fielding built up an attractive team – blending youth and experience — but left before the season commenced to become assistant-trainer at Luton Town. Lem Newcomb took over as team manager; Lem had been a most cultured wing-half before the war and more recently had coached the “A” team in an honorary capacity.
Before departing, Fielding had made several notable signings. New captain Jack Hannaway, an experienced ‘wing-half with Manchester City and latterly Gillingham, completed the forceful mid-field trio of Hannaway, Darvell and Rutherford, which added considerable authority to the defence. Albert Harris, ex-Tranmere Rovers goalkeeper, performed so well that he remained ever-present, keeping former Welsh International Keith Jones in the reserves. .Young full-backs Alan Bentham and Bryan Griffiths showed great premise. Up front outside-right Eric Jones arrived from Doncaster Rovers and inside-left Ken Booth from Workington, but it was Liverpool’s 18-year-old Reg Blore at centre-forward who, together with Jimmy Blain — signed the previous March from Everton, attracted most attention.
Southport made their best start in 29 years, winning their first two games, and soon established a reputation for consistently good football. Only 18 players appeared in league matches – the fewest ever called on by Southport in a full season. In October, Peter Harrison netted 30 seconds from time to secure a thrilling 4-3 win at league-leaders Peterborough United. In December, Southport’s massive 5-1 win at Hartlepools equalled their then biggest away win,. The subsequent return game with Peterborough provided a superb exhibition of football. Although Harrison missed a penalty, Southport led 3-1 with seven minutes left: then, unsettled by a Bentham own goal, they allowed the ‘Posh to equalise, thus failing to become the only side, to complete the “double” over Peterborough.
The three Easter defeats were very disappointing, despite Bentham’s freak goal against Gillingham at Haig Avenue; he scored from just inside the visitors’ half, goalkeeper Simpson badly misjudging his free-kick.
Blore excelled in Southport’s 7-2 F.A. Cup win over Cheshire League Macclesfield Town. His hat-trick was Southport’s first since George Bromilow scored five against Ashton United five years earlier. In the second round Southport – drawn, away for the first time since 1954 – were fortunate to finish all square at Bangor, Hannaway equalising ten minutes from time with a spectacular 35-yard shot. In the replay, ex-Southport forward Ray Gryba shot Bangor ahead but Jones and Blain each scored inside a minute and Blare’s second-half goal prevented any upset. At Stockport in the third round Reg Blore gave Southport an early lead, but County retaliated to win 3-1 to the dismay of the 1.800 strong Southport contingent.
In February ,Lem Newcomb expended £500 on 20-year-old John Fielding from Wigan Athletic. a clever inside-forward and former Everton junior. ‘He immediately replaced Ken Booth and his thoughtful passing and prompting contributed enormously to Southport’s enterprising approach.
The Reserves — relegated for the first time to the Lancashire Combination Division 2 —won promotion immediately, finishing fifth, but qualifying as the second non-Combination reserve team. Their record was:- P. 34. W.21. D. 5. L. 8. G.F. 86. G.A. 50. Points 47.
At the end of the season Southport were involved in a tremendous controversy over the release of Peter Harrison Many people, including the local Trades Council, threatened to boycott matches f he were not retained; eventually the management reconsidered their decision, and Harrison stayed on!
John Church became Chairman in the close season, following the resignation of director Bob Howard who was ‘next in line’, vice-chairman Cyril Hodkinson having died in January. As Chairman of the General Improvements Fund Committee, Hodkinson had considerably augmented the Club’s finances. After five successive losses a profit of £2,612 provided a pleasant surprise in a season without transfer income. Despite finishihg a modest 14th, Southport could face the future with renewed confidence.
Season Summary reproduced with Permission from: The Sandgrounder (Southport FC Matchday Programme) Article Series. Southport through the seasons. The League History of Southport FC, Compiled by Michael P. Braham and Geoffrey S. Wilde
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FINAL TABLE LANCASHIRE COMBINATION (DIVISION 2) '60-'61 ======================================================= 1. Chorley II 34-54 (120-56) 24 6 4 2. Morecambe II 34-50 (92-46) 21 8 5 3. Padiham 34-48 (94-55) 21 6 7 Promoted 4. Wigan Athletic II 34-47 (105-47) 22 3 9 left 5. Southport II 34-47 (86-50) 21 5 8 Promoted 6. South Liverpool 34-46 (116-60) 21 4 9 7. Northern Nomads 34-38 (91-80) 16 6 12 8. Netherfield II 34-37 (89-81) 16 5 13 9. St.Helens Town 34-35 (69-67) 15 5 14 10. Glossop 34-31 (64-86) 13 5 16 11. Nelson II 34-29 (55-78) 13 3 18 12. Leyland Motors 34-27 (66-86) 10 7 17 Promoted 13. Cromptons Recreation 34-26 (67-93) 10 6 18 14. Horwich RMI II 34-26 (67-106) 10 6 18 15. Prescot Cables II 34-24 (66-74) 10 4 20 16. Great Harwood 34-21 (56-104) 8 5 21 17. Rolls Royce 34-13 (50-117) 6 1 27 18. Lancaster City II 34-13 (44-111) 4 5 25
Source: The Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation.Author Dinant Abbink