Another season of turmoil saw Southport part company with Alex Parker after all promotion ambitions had evaporated.
Yet it had begun promisingly with the first 16 games yielding 22 points. However a disastrous spell of five consocutive defeats – four of them at home – beginning with the 3-0 home defeat by Darlington on October 30th and cutminating in the Boston United debacle quashed all Southport’s pretensions United from the Northern, Premier League completely outclassed Southport at Haig Avenue and became only the third non-league club to beat them since they joined the Northern Section in 1921.
Southport ended their bad run with an amazing 4-2 win at promotion-bound Oldham Athletic. Frank Lee made his Southport debut and substitute Alan ,Kelley his League debut, coming on in the second half and scoring within two minutes ! The ‘Latics later gained revenge by winning 4-1 before 6,027, Southport’s biggest crowd of the season, the 8.00 p.m. kick-off greatly benefiting the sizable visiting following.
The ‘Port also scored impressive wins over Newport County (6-1) — after a goalless first half f – Scunthorpe United (5-1) and ,Hartlepool (5-0). Against Scunthorpe Peter Withe, a well-built Speke youth, impressed with his hard running. Injury retarded his progress; subsequently released he was signed midway through 1971-72 by Don McEvoy at Barrow, were he joined Eric Harrison, Amby Clarke and Malcolm Russell. Withe eventually went to South Africa, where he impressed Derek Dougan who signed him for Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Victory at Bournemouth was a notable triumph for the defence who denied the League’s leading scorer, Ted MacDougall, further success. Alan Kelley, who graduated from apprentice to full time professional, scored the lone goal. In February Southport scored two bizarre goals in a 3-2 win over Peterborough United. First Calloway, from 40 yards, lobbed the ball into the goalmouth. Dighton,, too far out and apparently blinded by the floodlights’ glare, only succeeded in punching the ball into the net. In consequence Peterborough now refuse to play evening matches at Haig Avenue. In the second half a Field corner, going out of play, hit the referee standing on the goal-line and Dunleavey centred for Redrobe to score.
Laurie Calloway, acquired from Blackburn, Rovers in exchange for Alex Russell stood out among the new signings. A great driving force full of constructive ability who packed a terrific shot, he joined York City in May, 1971 for £6,000, Which improved the club’s ailing finances. David Turner, ex Everton, quick in the tackle and recovery was another success but his promise faded over the following two seasons.
The forward signings disappointed. Marsh (Liverpool) and Cocks (Chelsea) were freed after one season, joining Runcorn and Great Harwood respectively. Great Harwood also signed utility defender Roger Aindow. Genial John Armstrong, plagued by back trouble, retired from football and for a spell took charge of the club’s Development Association. Armstrong’s deputy Bobby Wraith, signed from Celtic in 1969, was also released. In December Malcolm Russell, a most dependable defender, joined Barrow for £5,000, thereby recouping the £2,500 spent on Preston North End winger Frank Lee. Late on John Hughes came from Blackpool on trial but did not impress. He has since become a prolific goalscorer in non-league football at Bangor City and Altrincham, as Everton are well aware.
Supporters showed dissatisfaction at the club’s inability to return immediately to the Third Division. Average attendances fell from 3,416 in 1969-70 to 2,856 and with cup-tie and transfer income down a £15,171 loss was sustained. In March Norman, Rimmer, for many years a worker for the club resigned his directorship after just ten months.
Alex Parker assembled a promising reserve team under the watchful eye of Alan Spence, who returned as reserve trainer; it was later learned that Parker had established a comprehensive scouting system. A week after the season ended Parker was sacked and the youth policy was abandoned with the appointment later in May of Jimmy Meadows.
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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