Back: 1918 – Southport Vulcan
The Southport Education Committee took over the lease of the Ash Lane ground and also purchased the stands- They proposed to allow the Football Club to use the ground on alternate Saturdays. Cllr Clayton had safe guarded the club’s interest by registering it in the Central League and entering it for the F.A. Cup.
It was proposed and agreed that the club should be reformed and that it should simply be Southport Football Club. The new committee which was formed comprised Messrs R.T.Bentley, J.H.Preston, H.Watchorn, J.H. Robinson, T.Rimmer, G.H.Collinge and J Winterbottom
Prior to the upheaval, the club had applied for a place in the newly enlarged Second Division of the Football League but again they suffered disappointment gaining only 7 votes. Coventry City(35), West Ham United(32), Rotherham County(28),and South Shields (28) were elected. Realistically the application for election was always doomed to failure since the Football League has never allowed “works” teams in its ranks. The reason that the Vulcan Company suddenly abandoned its interest in Southport Football Club may be explained in part by the fact that Cllr. Hampson. Vulcan’s Chairman and Managing Director, was shortly afterwards imprisoned for twelve months after having been found guilty of fraudulently applying the sum of £22,266.5s 1d. to his own use!
Southport’s first peace-time game took place at Oldham on August 30th, 1919
Billy Caulfield scored a hat-trick and Billy Little netted the other goal in a 4-2 win. Early in the season a young inside-forward briefly appeared to partner Billy Semple; some thirty-five years later that same inside-forward now Cllr. Fred Thornley, was to join the Board of Directors.
During the immediate post-war period Southport had no more popular player than centre-forward Tommy Green. One incident involving him was vividly recalled over fifty years later by Gordon Hunt, a young schoolboy at the time.
On November 8th, 1919 Green was sent off shortly before the end of the home game with Bury Reserves for an alleged kick at Watmough. So dissatisfied were the crowd with the referee’s decision that many of them remained outside the ground afterwards loudly protesting about his action. Committee member Harry Watchorn advised them to leave but they stood their ground. It was only when Green himself mounted a nearby cab and asked them for his sake to go away quietly and not create any disturbance that after giving him several loud cheers the crowd finally dispersed. At a meeting under F.A auspices on December 4th Green was fined 40s. and Southport were ordered to pay the referee’s expenses for attending the meeting.
Later the same month the club were involved in further trouble over an F.A. Cup-tie. Exempted until the fourth qualifying round, Southport were drawn at home to South Liverpool and won 1-0.’South’ protested that the home side had fielded an ineligible player, in that Littlejohn had played for Hurst in an earlier qualifying round. An F.A. commission met to consider the protest and held that the game should be replayed at South Liverpool’s ground at the Dingle. Two goals were shared in the replay and the tie went to a third meeting at Anfield where South won 2-0.
LANCASHIRE JUNIOR CUP WINNERS
Southport did not have long to wait before winning their first post-war trophy however. Competing in the Lancashire Junior Cup. they easily accounted for Prescot and Nelson. A huge crowd of over 7000 was attracted to Chorley for the drawn semi-final but in the replay Southport won through by two clear goals.
The final was against Lancaster Town at their Giant Axe ground and Southport won the cup with a Billy Hooper penalty 12 minutes from time after Billy Little had been tripped in the area. Hooper, an experienced campaigner with Grimsby Town and Nottingham Forest signed for Lancaster the following season. More records fell as 6347 paid £340.1s.10d., Southport’s share being £117.
The team which represented the club in the final was: Halsall, Dorward, Yates, Schofield, Marshall, Norton, Hooper, Caulfield, Green, Little and Semple. Shortly afterwards centre-half Jack Marshall was transferred to Preston North End. The season ended with Southport in sixteenth position- disappointing considering they had headed the table at the end of October.
The success of 1919-20 was undoubtedly full-back Wilf Yates, a Southport Trinity product, who was transferred to Preston North End in the close season and later assisted Tranmere Rovers and Crewe Alexandra. Local talent was now seizing its chance with Billy Little, Harry and “Topping” Sinclair, “Salty” Halsall and Billy Glover establishing themselves in the Central League team.
In May 1920 the question of the formation of a Third Division of the Football League with Northern and Southern sections was considered at a meeting in Sheffield and it was decided to proceed with the proposal. The Northern clubs unanimously carried a resolution that the formation of a Third Division was in the best interests of football, pledging themselves to everything in their power to facilitate its adoption: but the following month it was announced that, subject to obtaining the consent of the F.A. a Third Division of the Football League would be formed for 1920-21 with such division being composed entirely of clubs from the Southern League. The clubs in the proposed Northern Section did not commend themselves to the Management Committee as being suitable and it was agreed that the matter would be further considered the following season.
The Northern clubs convened a meeting at the Grand Hotel, Manchester on June 3 rd 1920 and passed the following resolution: “That those present do all they possibly can do to press forward with the programme for the 1921-22 season” A committee was elected with Southport’s own Edwin Clayton as its Secretary. A Northern Section of the Football League Division III now appeared a real possibility, but would Southport be admitted?
The 1920-21 season was completely overshadowed by the club’s attempt to gain admission to the proposed Third Division North. Secretary Edwin Clayton played a large part in its formation but the voting could not have been much closer.
At a special meeting of the Football League held at the Connaught Rooms, London on March 7th 1921 Southport were one of twenty-eight applicants for the proposed Northern Section. After the First and Second Division clubs agreed to the formation of the section on the recommendation of the Football League Management Committee it was proposed that fourteen clubs be elected en bloc. This was passed unanimously. Thus Accrington Stanley, Ashington, Barrow, Chesterfield, Crewe Alexandra, Darlington, Durham City, Hartlepools United, Lincoln City, Nelson, Rochdale, Tranmere Rovers, Walsall and Wrexham were accepted. A ballot was then taken to admit four more and those who received the most votes were Wigan Borough with 34 and Halifax Town, Stalybridge Celtic and Southport with 25 votes each. For the record, the unsuccessful clubs were Castleford Town(18), Rotherham Town(13), Blyth Spartans(9), Gainsborough Trinity(8), Doncaster Rovers(6), West Stanley(6) Wakefield City(6), Lancaster Town(3), Scunthorpe(3) and South Liverpool (1). The Division was made up to twenty clubs by the inclusion of Stockport County who dropped down from the Second Division and Grimsby Town who were transferred over from the Southern Section.
Mr Clayton who represented the Southport club together with committee member Walter Parkinson, could take satisfaction from the fact that thirteen years after first proposing a Third Division his ambition had been realized. On a later occasion he was presented with an inscribed gold watch on behalf of the clubs in appreciation of his efforts.
Southport ’s last season in the Central League saw them finish in eighteenth position with 32 points from their 42 games. The most impressive feature of 1920-21 on the field was the Billy Semple, Tom Dorward and Harry Schofield benefit match in April which attracted a new record crowd of 7000 to the Haig Avenue enclosure, Ash Lane having recently been renamed in recognition of Earl Douglas Haig, who had been made a Freeman of the Borough the previous year.
On April 4th 1921, at a wildly enthusiastic public meeting at the Temperance Institute Assembly Rooms, with hundreds of supporters unable to gain admission the club once again became a Limited Liability Company with a share capital of £4000 divided into 8000 ten shilling shares. The qualification for directorship was then only twenty shares and the members of the first board were Richard T. Bentley (Chairman), Fred Lawlor, Walter Parkinson M.B.E, Fred Read, Fred W.Hyde, John W. Robinson, Sam H. Banner, Arthur E.Hindley, Henry Watchorn and John H. Preston. The club issued a prospectus explaining that it was being formed to promote “Football, cycling, cricket, trotting, tennis, bowls, pedestrian tournaments, athletic sports, fetes and galas” The new Southport Football Club was thus launched and after forty years of courageous and determined endeavour, the town was at last firmly on the football map.
Read more of the Southport story through our season by season summaries starting with 1921/22.