On this day in 1995, Billy Ayre took charge of his first game as Southport manager.
The sudden announcement that Brian Kettle — the manager through almost six very successful campaigns — had ‘resigned for personal reasons’ less than a month before had come as a great shock to supporters. 1994-95 had been his first year in a full-time capacity, a move intended to smooth the transition to a place in the Football League. The abruptness of his departure fuelled much speculation as to its exact nature; the general consensus was that, despite the official pronouncement, the boot may well have been on the other foot. Kettle himself refused to add any comment to the official statement but to say “I would like to think that I have done a reasonable job at the club. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time there.”
Chairman Charles Clapham had added “It has been a pleasure to work with Brian over the last six years and the club would like to recognise the success he has brought to the club…It is now a case of going forward with Southport Football Club into a new era.”
Stressing publicly that the Sandgrounders’ priority was still a return to League Football, Ayre’s appointment came with a weight of expectation.
STALYBRIDGE CELTIC 1 – 1 SOUTHPORT
Competition: League / Conference
Southport Line-Up: John McKenna, Derek Ward, Dave Fuller, Leroy Dove, Derek Goulding, Martin Clark, Harvey Cunningham, Gary Thomas, Paul Lodge, David Gamble, Steve Haw
Subs: Brian Pritchard, Stephen Ward, Jon Penman (Derek Ward)
Goals: David Gamble