On This Day: January 2nd

Today we look back at a memorable FA Cup clash with Leyton Orient in 1999 and also remember former Player and Manager Alan Ball,
Father and mentor to Alan Ball the England International,  who passed away on this day in 1982.

Southport ace Phil raps ‘conned’ ref

That was the headline in the Liverpool Echo on the Monday following the FA Cup Clash with Leyton Orient, on this day in 1999.

Playing in the third round for the first time in 31 years, the Sandgrounders matched their opponents and had chances of their own before a disputed second half penalty turned the game in favour of their Football League opponents.

The Sandgrounders already had to contend with enforced changes with Billy Stewart ruled out and replaced by back-up John Bagnall. With top scorer Brian Ross, and captain Brian Butler both also missing through injury, manager Paul Futcher named himself in the midfield at the age of 42 in order to try and add some more experience.

Liverpool Echo – Saturday 02 January 1999


Stadium: Haig Avenue
Competition: FA Cup / 3
Date: 02/01/1999
Attendance: 4950

Southport Line-Up: John BagnallTim RyanPhil BollandScott GuyettAndy FarleyPhil HornerPaul FutcherAndy GouckDave ThompsonStuart QuinnDavid Gamble,  
Subs: Kevin FormbyLee Furlong (Andy Gouck), John Newman (Stuart Quinn), 
Goals: None 

Liverpool Echo – Monday 04 January 1999

Alan Ball

Real Name: James Alan Ball
Normal Position:Inside Forward
Height: 5′ 8Weight: 10st 8lbs
Born: 23/09/1924(Farnworth, Bolton)
Died: 02/01/1982 (Nicosia, Cyprus)


Bolton Boys Federation; Southport, amr 17 Aug. 1942, pro 5 March 1946; Birmingham City, 20 May 1947; Southport, Jan. 1948; Oldham Athletic, 3 July 195o; Rochdale, 2 Feb. 1952; Ashton United, cs 1952; Oswestry, 1952 (player-manager 1953-55); Borough United, Jan. 1958

An outstanding performer in the Bolton Boys Federation where he scored 64 goals in one season, he was recommended by former Southport Central stalwart Tom Williamson and duly played in a trial match in August 1942. He then heard nothing until, working as an apprentice carpenter, he got a telegram calling him to play at Bolton Wanderers on 12 September 1942 when he was not yet 18. This copper-haired inside-forward, who was with the B.A.O.R., came in for a lot of criticism from supporters but was always a livewire worker and a full 90 minutes player. He was transferred to Birmingham for a big fee shortly after being demobbed from the Army but returned to Haig Avenue, without making the grade at St Andrews, at the same time as Arthur Turner. He was transferred to Oldham Athletic for a fee but had only 7 games for the `Latics and another 5 for Rochdale.

After a number of years in non-League football management he was appointed manager of Halifax Town in 1967. In his first full season in charge `The Shaymen’ won promotion for the first time in their history as Division IV runners-up. His publicity-seeking persona ensured that he was rarely out of the news and he took Preston North End to the Third Division championship in his first season at Deepdale. He maintained Preston’s Second Division status until he was sacked in February 1973.
He was appointed honorary manager at Southport following the dismissal of Jimmy Meadows, but his subsequent comings and goings heralded a particularly unsettling time for the players; they never knew from one day to the next who would be in charge. His very appointment created a boardroom rift which saw the resignation of directors Leon Rapaport, Gordon Gaskell and Arthur Horrocks. After only six weeks Ball disappeared to a coaching job with I. F. Saab in Sweden, leaving the hastily appointed Matt Woods as acting manager. Two brief visits apart, he was not seen again until mid-September (1974); when he returned to Sweden in March 1975 (to coach I. F. Sirius) it was Jimmy Melia who took up the reins.
Despite everything, including criticism from supporters over his defensive style of play, Southport finished 1974-75 in a position of mid-table respectability; but a subsequent furore over his non-return in July almost caused another boardroom split when chairman Tom Robinson, a friend of Ball’s, granted him a two week extension.
The wrangling ended with Alan Ball’s dismissal on July 28th, 1975 after which he returned to Halifax Town; but his second spell was far less successful and culminated in their seeking re-election in 1977.

In January 1982 he was killed in a car accident in Cyprus where he had accepted a short-term coaching post, prior to resuming with Vester Haringer in Sweden.

Southport playing career stats 


Information sourced 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