Reginald Slack was the secretary, captain and treasurer of Southport Olympic
Died: January 1930
Using the Cemetery Map.
The original Rugby club stopped playing in 1879. By this time however, a number of other clubs had already been formed, one of which came from the Church of England Temperance Society Cricket Club in 1876 who played at Scarisbrick New Road. A year later they changed their name and became the first Southport Olympic Rugby club.
Olympic started out in competition to the original club and grew to be a far bigger organisation before effectively taking over as the towns big Rugby club.
Slack was a member of the Liverpool Corn trade and a resident of Sefton Street, which became the defacto headquarters of Olympic when it became a one man show off the field in its later years.
He was a playing member of the club for many years and a fierce defender of the sport, often writing letters to the Southport Visiter and Guardian to defend his club and its players.
We know that after the end of his involvement in rugby he became a pigeon fancier and progressed to become the president of the National Homing Union, a position he held until shortly before his death in 1930.
As Association Football became more popular the Rugby game in the town began to suffer and the first Southport Olympic closed up shop in 1889.
There were 2 failed attempts to start Rugby again before it eventually took hold again in 1906.
In 1891 we had a 2-year spell with a new Southport Rugby Club, with Slack once again involved.
This first venture stopped when the RFU refused to recognise professionalism and allow the payment of players. The majority of the working-class clubs in the North of England broke away from the RFU and formed the Northern Union, which many years later became Rugby League. Southport didn’t – we can only speculate why, but with so many public and private schools in the town, I very much suspect it was a class thing, but consequently they found themselves with nobody left to play. Who knows, if they had perhaps they could be in the Super League with Wigan Warriors at St Helens today.
After 6 years of nothing, in 1899, Birkdale Rugby Club was formed, playing at Victoria Park. They were moderately successful, but they only lasted until 1903.
In 1906, another new club was started and it this time it took on the old name of Olympic in honour of the old club, and it also took its colours, Black, Red and Amber. But to tie it all together, it also took on Victoria Park, the former home of Birkdale.
It stayed playing under that name until 1913 when it dropped Olympic and became Southport Rugby Club, that still plays today on Waterloo Road, a ground they moved to in 1927.
Now, in terms of assuming other clubs name, let’s pick up the Football story again.
Perhaps indirectly, Reginald Slack is likely to have played a part in the formation of another local association football club Southport Wanderers, which sprang up out of the original Olympic club in the summer of 1884.
Around this time there was a large focus on sporting events being arranged to raise funds for the local infirmary and Southport Olympic the rugby club had answered the call of Southport Football Club on more than one occasion to play a charity game of association football.
In the summer of 1884 Southport Olympic decided that their members would like both a Rugby and Association section of the club for the forthcoming season and Wanderers were the association spin off.
We’ll hear more about Wanderers and what happened next on our next stop.