Quarter of a Century

It seems hard to believe, but in just a few weeks’ time it’s going to be 25 years since Southport made it all the way to Wembley in the FA Trophy, an occasion that anyone present will never forget. Here’s a look back at the road to Wembley.

10/01/1998 – FA Trophy Round 1 v Winsford United (Unibond Premier League)

It all started at home to Winsford United. Southport – seventh in the Vauxhall Conference (the equivalent of today’s National League) – were favourites but Winsford would be no pushovers as they were flying high in the Unibond Premier League, just one Division below Southport. There was no giant-killing however and Southport ran out convincing winners.

Southport 3        Butler, Ross, Gamble

Winsford United 0

H/T 1-0

Southport: Stewart, Ryan, Horner, Bolland, Farley, Formby, Thompson, Kielty, Butler, Whittaker, Ross

Subs: Gamble, Jones, Mitten

Attendance: 996

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31/01/1998 – FA Trophy Round 2 v Yeading (Ryman League Premier Division)

Next up were Yeading who had pulled off one of the shocks of the 1st Round by beating high-flying Vauxhall Conference side Yeovil in a replay. Four goals from Andy Whittaker saw Southport safely through to the third round however against opponents from one step below. This was Southport’s biggest away win in 25 years.

Yeading 0 

Southport 6        Whittaker (4), Ross, Kielty

H/T 0-1

Southport: Stewart, Horner, Farley, Futcher, Ryan, Gamble, Thompson, Butler, Kielty, Whittaker, Ross

Subs: Mitten, Bolland, Jones

Attendance 342

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21/02/1998 – FA Trophy 3 v Altrincham (Unibond Premier League)

Round 3 saw Southport away again, this time to local rivals Altrincham who had been relegated from the Vauxhall Conference the previous season. A tough encounter was expected, but backed by a large travelling contingent, a dominant first-half performance saw Southport go into the break with a 2-0 lead and that was how it stayed. Southport were into the Quarter Finals!

Altrincham 0 

Southport 2 Ross, Bolland

H/T 0-2

Southport: Stewart, Futcher, Bolland, Horner, Farley, Thompson, Butler, Kielty, Formby, Whittaker, Ross

Subs: Jones, Gamble, Mitten

Attendance: 1,196

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14/03/1998 – FA Trophy Quarter Final v Grantham (Dr Marten’s Midland League)

Despite being two divisions below Southport, Grantham Town gave Southport their hardest FA Trophy game so far. Top of the Dr Martens Midlands League (which they went on to win) and roared on by the biggest quarter-final attendance of the day, this game was a nail-biter. Goalless at half-time, Southport took the lead in the 59th minute through Brian Ross but disaster struck on 80 minutes when Grantham were awarded a penalty and Phil Horner was sent off for handball. The penalty was scored but despite being a man down Southport survived the final ten minutes to earn a replay at Haig Avenue three days later.

Grantham Town 1      Harbottle (pen)

Southport 1        Ross

H/T 0-0

Southport: Stewart, Farley, Futcher, Ryan, Bolland, Horner, Butler, Gamble, Thompson, Morris, Ross

Subs: Formby, Kielty, Mitten

Attendance: 3,695

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17/03/1998 – FA Trophy Quarter Final Replay v Grantham (Dr Marten’s Midland League)

This was the biggest match at Haig Avenue in many years and Southport controlled it from start to finish, a corner count of 18 – 3 in their favour showing their dominance. Brian Ross maintained his record of scoring in every round and Southport were on their way to the semi-final.

Southport 3        Ross (3)

Grantham 1        King

H/T 1-0

Southport: Stewart, Horner, Farley, Futcher, Ryan, Butler, Kielty, Thompson, Gamble, Morris, Ross

Subs: Formby, Jones, Mitten

Attendance: 1,707

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28/03/1998 – FA Trophy Semi-Final 1st Leg v Slough Town (Vauxhall Conference)

With Andy Whittaker missing through injury and Phil Horner and Phil Bolland both suspended this was never going to be an easy tie against fellow conference side Slough Town. However, roared on again by the travelling fans, Southport were superb and brought a deserved lead back to Haig Avenue for the second-leg.

Slough Town 0

Southport 1        Morris

H/T 0-0

Southport: Stewart, Farley, Futcher, Ryan, Formby, Gamble, Butler, Kielty, Thompson, Morris, Ross

Subs: Clarke, Morgan, Mitten

Attendance: 2,106

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05/04/1998 – FA Trophy Semi-Final 2nd Leg v Slough Town (Vauxhall Conference)

A spectacular first-half strike from Slough’s Danny Bailey threatened to derail Southport’s Wembley dream but step forward Kevin Formby who’s 68th minute equaliser sent nearly 5,000 fans into ecstasy. Southport were going to Wembley!

Southport 1        Formby

Slough Town 1   Bailey

H/T 0-1

Southport: Stewart, Farley, Ryan, Futcher, Horner, Gamble, Formby, Thompson, Butler, Morris, Ross

Subs: Bolland, Kielty, Bagnall

Attendance: 4,895

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17/05/1998 – FA Trophy Final v Cheltenham Town (Vauxhall Conference)

Despite the result this was a day to remember for the 10,000 Southport fans that made the journey to Wembley. With more possession and a corner count of 6 to 1 in their favour Southport did everything but score and sadly fell to a goal scored ten minutes from time.

Southport 0

Cheltenham Town 1        Eaton

H/T 0-0

Southport: Stewart, Farley, Futcher, Ryan, Horner, Kielty, Formby, Gamble, Butler, Thompson, Ross

Subs: Mitten, Whittaker, Bolland

Attendance 26,837