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Final Resting Place of Port Legends

Over the past few days we have spent some time at Duke Street Cemetery attempting to locate the memorials for a number of former players.

Ralph Rylance

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Much has been made of R.L. Rylance’s contribution to establishing association football in Southport. He came to Southport from Blackburn in 1881 where he was employed by a firm of solicitors. Before moving he played for the Blackburn Law team.

As early as January 1881 Rylance had designed (GB 1881-7A) an entirely artificial pitch surface. It no longer had anything in common with your average natural grass field and he was not the inventor of astroturf. Even in it’s most primitive form however an artificial grass surface wasn’t to follow for nearly another 50 years. His invention consisted of a concrete, asphalt or wooden plank foundation with a rubber layer applied on top. Depending on the use and the sports grounds the rubber utilised was to be either solid, spongy or moulded. Full detail of the patent can be found here.

For a look in detail at Ralph and his family please visit here


Southport FC Career: 1881 – exact date of retirement not currently known (we will find out!)

Edwin Clayton

Edwin Clayton

A native of Ormskirk, he came to live in Southport in 1893 and immediately showed great interest in a number of sporting activities. He was assistant treasurer of the miniature rifle range and chief organiser of Derby Road Cricket Club, which he captained for five seasons. He helped organise the Southport Athletic Club and assisted in the formation of the Blundell Golf Club; but it was for his work in connection with Southport Football Club that he was best known.

He was appointed Honorary Secretary of Southport Central in April 1908 in succession to Tom Shipley; it was a position he held until 1926.

Together with Alderman Cropper of Chesterfield he was a pioneer of Division III (North) of the Football League and became its first Secretary, holding office until 1935. His driving enthusiasm in its formation ensured that Southport became founder members.

A member of the Lancashire F.A., he enjoyed a national reputation as an Association Football legislator; he was also elected on to the Lancashire Combination executive.

Following the resignation of Jimmy Commins in December 1930 he returned briefly as Southport’s Honorary Secretary until Bert Pelham’s appointment. He served as a director of Southport Football Club from 1926 to 1935 and thereafter was a Life Member of the club. He took an active part in civic affairs and was on Southport Town Council for almost a quarter of a century.

He was the first Chairman of the Flower Show Committee and was appointed a J.P. in August 1927. Edwin Clayton died on January 7th, 1939 aged 70.

Profile reproduced with Permission from:The Sandgrounders: The Complete League History of Southport F. C., by Michael Braham and Geoff Wilde (Palatine Books, 1995). ISBN 978-1-874181-14-9

Jimmy Fay

A professional footballer for over 20 years and aone of the founders of the Player’s Union, of which he was secretary and treasurer from 1929 to 1955.

Born in Southport he was spotted by Oldham Athletic playing local football, spending six years with them before joining Bolton Wanderers for a further ten.

He moved back to his home town club and captained the side when Southport joined the Third division in 1921.

He played in four inter league games at centre half and was once reserve for England.

After retirement he ran a sports outfitting business in Southport before retiring a few years before his death in 1957.

He was appointed a Southport Borough magristrate in 1942 and took a keen interest in all branches of sport. He was a lfie member of Southport & Birkdale Cricket Club and preseident of the Southport and District Table Tennis League.

Southport FC Career: 1918-1923

Harry Schofield

Died of a brain haemorrage shortly before the start of Southport’s first Football League campaign.
He had been working on the football ground at Ash Lane in connection with the improvements being carried out. Some time after arriving at his lodgings in Bath Street he was taken ill. A doctor was called in but he died shortly afterwards.
2 months before he was joint beneficiary in a match played between a team of football “stars” arranged by Jimmy Fay and a team of Southport’s past and present players. It is a coincidence that he was due to receive his share of the receipts in the week of his death

Southport FC Career: 1910-1921

Harry Schofield
Unfortunately ‘Harry’s grave has suffered damage in the years since his burial and the Cross is now lain across top of the base.

William Rigby

Lance Sergeant, 52059, 1/8th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers, (Formerly 34852 Liverpool Regiment)
Last Known Address: 18 Devonshire Road, Southport

Prior to enlisting he was employed by Messrs Heyes Bros, Leicester Street.

William died at a military hospital in Sunderland from wounds received. He was buried with full military honours.

The officiating minister at the funeral was the Rev W E Brook of All Souls, Blowick. A firing party was supplied by the Southport Volunteer League, and the “Last Post” was sounded at the graveside.

Southport FC Career: 58 Appearances 1913-1915 plus war-time appearances

William Rigby

Bob Tasker

Southport FC Career: 1899- 1906



James McWhan

Southport FC Career: 1898-1907

James McWhan


A number of people have been in touch to ask about the restoration of some of the grave sites and memorials found. Whilst it is something we would love to be able to do, we do not currently have the funds anticipated to be required. We will make enquiries as to the correct process to go through and if feasible obtain quotes. We would consider a specific fundraiser subject to interest.

If you know the location of any other final resting places for former Southport players please get in touch

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