Born: 1858 (Southport)
Died: 22/11/1938 (Southport)
Using the Cemetery Map
Section J (Behind John and Eliza Fernley)
The winter of 1878/79 was one of the harshest winters on record. For a prolonged period between December and February there was no outdoor sport at all. It just wasn’t possible.
Who’s heard of the Central England Temperature?
Most years the mean Central England Temperature for the year is around 10 degrees and even in the coldest of years, 2010 being an example where there were significant periods of snow, this will only dip to around 8 or 9.
In 1963, when the sea famously froze in Southport, the average temperature was 8.5 degrees centigrade.
To put it into context, the Central England Temperate in 1878/79 was around 7 degrees. There hasn’t been a single year as cold since!
The one sport that could carry on was Curling, and William Platt was also a part of the Curling team, along with Joseph Allured and George Pilkington.
But I didn’t bring you here to talk about Curling, so why did I mention the winter and why are we stood with William Platt?….
Well, Pilkington’s original Southport Football Club didn’t re-emerge from the winter shut down.
For the start of the 1879/80 season Southport Wasps effectively took over, dropping the Wasps part of their name, and moving into the home vacated by the original club at Manchester Road.
By this time there had been so much building work that access to the ground could now only be gained from Roe Lane, and Southport Football Club number two wore Red, White and Blue.
Honorary secretary and treasurer of this Southport Football Club number 2 in 1879/80 was William Platt.
In the days before managers, the secretary and captains of clubs were quite powerful and therefore as Secretary he is likely to have played a key part in making that happen.
However, this club only lasted one further season before stopping themselves, leaving the town without a club at all for the 1880/81 season.
Around this time a man called Thomas Burnett returned to live in Southport. He had been a prominent cricketer in the town prior to getting a job just outside of Wrexham. Whilst he was there he had got involved with the Wynnstay Cricket Club and also with an association club called Ruabon. He was selected to play for North Wales representative squad and then subsequently selected for Wales in their first ever international association football match, against Scotland. England fans won’t thank me for saying this but Scotland were the real pioneers of association football. Whilst the English were playing a dribbling game with a formation of 1-1-8, it was the Scots who pioneered the passing and running game with the 2-2-6 tactics. Burnett saw the beauty of it first hand.
When he returned home to Southport he got involved with William Platt and a number of others to attempt to form another Football Club.
William Platt was appointed captain of Southport Football Club number 3 for the 1881/82 season. there were much fewer differences between Rugby and Association football and for the first 3 games this club played under the Rugby rules. On 8th October however Burnett took a scratch team over to Burscough to see if his idea to switch to association football could work.
It did, and they made the permanent switch on 12th November 1881 when Bootle (2nd) came to Southport and played about 200 yards from where you’re standing, in the plot enclosed by Southbank Road, Ash Street and Scarisbrick New Road.
This club therefore became the first Association football club in the town, with William Platt still a member of the team.
He remained involved with football finance up until his death at the age of 80, having taken on the position of honorary auditor of Southport Central – a different club again, that we will learn about a little later on.
A keen and successful sportsman all his life, we’ve already mentioned curling where he became the secretary of the club and competed across the country, but one of his earliest achievements was on a penny-farthing cycle when he was just 18, winning a trophy in a race at Crewe.
Player and captain for the town’s lacrosse club, he also swam and dived, played tennis and won several prizes in rowing and canoeing.
At the age of 40 he took up golf and became the captain of the Blundell Golf Club in 1910. He later became part of the council of the Hesketh Golf Club. Son of Wiganer James Platt, who, although originally a coal merchant and general dealer, was the town’s first auctioneer and later chartered accountant, William entered the family business himself when he was a teen and took an active part until shortly before his death