Today is a day to look back at a couple record-setters.
Firstly “the enigmatic” David Gamble, who is Southport’s all-time non-league appearance holder, made his debut in 1991.
Renowned for his deadly left foot, he was a real dead ball specialist. Free kick, corner or penalty, Gamble was the man, and cries of “Get Gamble On” are still regularly heard to this day when a referee indicates a free kick anywhere near striking distance of the goal.
Top scorer during the club’s first season in the Conference, with 15 from midfield, he cemented himself as a real fan favourite and left such an impression that fans are even known to have named their goldfish and pets “Gambo”.
The following season he finished top scorer again, this time jointly with Steve Haw, and began to attract serious attention of the League scouts. Cable Television channel Wire TV’s live coverage of the Conference during the 1994/95 caught Gambo at his finest. In the two live games in which Southport featured, he scored a wonderful curling free kick from 25 yards in a 4-0 victory against Halifax, and later in the year a spectacular long distance drive away at Runcorn.
Had Gamble been more of a consistent performer there is no doubt that Southport would have struggled to hold onto him. An immensely talented player Gamble forged a fierce reputation on the Non-League circuit. As with many a flair player he was often a frustrating player to watch but the spark that he was capable of producing was so special that he made himself irreplaceable.
Record Home Attendance
The early thirties saw Southport establish themselves as cup specialists. Having disposed of Barnsley in the third round of the FA Cup in 1931, they were drawn away to Newcastle United on 23rd January. A very creditable 1-1 draw at St James’ Park brought the Tynesiders back to Haig Avenue for a replay.
Speaking before the first game Bert Pelham said “We are anxious to get into the match. We will give Newcastle a fight”, and that they did!
“No one seemed to find any hope for Southport. They were just going to enjoy a match at home and then sink their cup concern. Which was all wrong, as they can be very illuminating in this eliminating process” commented the Liverpool Echo.
Played in brilliant January sunshine, the result was a repeat of the first attempt, even the goalscorers were the same. However the game would go down in history as it set the all time home attendance record, 20,010. Amongst them was even the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Alderman J.C. Cross
The game itself proved to be quite dramatic. After winning the toss, seeking whatever advantage they could find, the Sandgrounders asked their visitors to play into the low sun at kick off. Newcastle however took the lead when Boyd beat the offside trap on 17 minutes.
Liverpool Echo”What is the secret of this mystic Southport power? They were outplayed, outrun, outgeneralled, and broken in belief if not in spirit for the space of 45 minutes. One could not visualise them even fighting back, or even having a chance. Yet Southport got into one of those rousing cycles by which they become a team possessed. In such moods youcan not stop Southport. They become a force. “
As the game wore on the contest began to even out with chances falling to both sides, but with the Sandgrounders on the verge of creditable defeat, six minutes from time Cowen latched onto a headed pass by Dobson. Newcastle goalkeeper McInroy got a hand to the ball but failed to make the save.
Southport nearly stole the tie in the final minute when Waterston set up Allen for a lobbed header. McInroy redemmed his earlier blunder by tipping the ball over the bar to take the game into extra-time.
Whilst Port had the upper hand heading into extra time the game remained tied to set up a second replay at Sheffield Wednesday.
The Liverpool Echo commented “Newcastle United are still in the Cup by kind permission of the Southport Football Club, who are now renowned as men fit to race for a Grand National, so great is their staying power”
SOUTHPORT 1 – 1 NEWCASTLE UNITED
Stadium: Haig Avenue
Competition: FA Cup / 4R
The less said about the scoreline in the second replay at Sheffield the better as the Sandgrounders lost heavily (0-9!)