Cricket During War-Time

The club closed down for the duration of the First World War in common with all of the other clubs in the district and it was 1919 before activities were again renewed. It was inevitable that when play was resumed it would bring many changes.

Too many of the well loved faces that had adorned the local clubs with such distinction were no longer there; the war having claimed their lives, and in this respect Southport and Birkdale were to feel the loss of Fred Beckett for years to come.

Throughout the war years Trafalgar Road was left unattended at a playing ground for Brighthelmston Girls School, and as a pasture for sheep which meant heavy restorative measures to bring it into playing fitness in 1919. J E Mulgrew kept a watchful eye over the club during the interregnum, and it was therefore fitting that he should be made the first post war Captain.

Unlike the First World War where activities ceased, a number were able to keep operating with one side only until hostilities ceased. It is quite remarkable that despite many difficulties cricket flourished in Trafalgar Road during the trying years of the Second World War. It is inevitable that far reaching changes would result with Players joining the Forces and labour, food and materials being in short supply. This spoke volumes for the spirit of the Competition Clubs and despite all difficulties, most of them kept the flag flying throughout although some were laid aside as the casualties of war.

The intensive enemy bombing of Merseyside struck a cruel blow at New Brighton when the ground and pavilion were blitzed in the late 1940. Another stick of bombs straggled the Birkenhead Park Square to put both clubs out of action for the duration.

Bootle too received a crater in their outfield and were able to resume after a time as did Wallasey. Liverpool handed over their ground to the RAF for cricket, while Northern, dispossessed through Army requisition, kept in being by Hightown sharing their ground with them.

Southport too did not emerge unscathed when in May 1941 a land mine fell close to the railway behind Breeze Road at the back of Harrod Drive, leaving a tremendous crater and blowing out the pavilion windows. Apart from this, the club continued without interruption and had the good fortune to enjoy the services of a number of talented players from Government Departments evacuated from London to Southport, and also from Forces Personnel stationed locally, which enabled two sides to be fielded up to 1942. From 1943 with the increased call-up the Club functioned like the others with one side only.

Despite the many difficulties facing the groundman Tommy McCluskey, with Petrol rationed, Trafalgar Road flourished. It was also thanks to the staunch work of the ladies under the direction of Mrs Elsie Medrington and Mrs Marjorie Alliston who, despite food rationing, that the club were still able to provide teas for players and spectators alike, all of which was tremendous boost to morale.