Many supporters will know that Southport’s record attendance was the 20,010 that watched the FA Cup 4th Round replay against Newcastle on the 26/01/1932 but what is the highest attendance that Southport have ever played in front of?
The answer can be found on the 29th of January 1927 when over 51,000 fans were at Anfield to see Southport of Division Three North take on Liverpool of Division One (the equivalent of the Premier League today) in another FA Cup 4th Round tie. This is the story of that FA Cup journey of 1926/7.
It all started with a home game against fellow Division Three North side Tranmere Rovers on the 27th of November 1926 when 7,000 spectators came to Haig Avenue and saw a 1-1 draw. Goalless at half-time, Tranmere took the lead through Marquis just after the hour mark, Southport missing a great chance to equalise shortly after when Jack Allen missed a penalty. It was George Sapsford who saved the day, equalising with ten minutes to go and so earning a replay at Tranmere the following Thursday.
Over 5,000 were at the replay and in an entertaining game Southport took the lead on the stroke of half time through Harry Beadles. Midway through the second-half George Jones doubled Southport’s lead and despite a goal from Littlehales ten minutes from time Southport comfortably held on.
The reward for beating Tranmere was a home game against Northern League amateur side Crook Town who had beaten Workington of the North – Eastern League in the previous round. Southport went into the game as favourites but Crook, unbeaten all season before this game, gave a good account of themselves. In a physical encounter, ex Sheffield Wednesday man Albert Bradley scored twice to give Southport a 2-0 win and a place in the third round.
The fourth-round draw saw cup fever starting to grip the town as, in a tie that captured the imagination of the public, Southport were drawn at home to Blackburn Rovers of Division One. Over 11,000 people turned up at Haig Avenue to witness the David v Goliath tie and it went the way of the underdog as Southport pulled off a genuine cup shock by winning 2-0 thanks to goals from Tommy White and Harry Beadles. It could have been worse for Blackburn as Harry Marshall had a goal disallowed late-on.
The 4th Round draw saw Southport fans in dreamland as they were drawn away at neighbours Liverpool in what was, at the time, a Lancashire Derby. Could Southport travel to Anfield and take the scalp of another First Division side? Sadly, the answer was no but on the 29th of January 1927 in front of a crowd of 51,620 – with takings of £3,200 – Southport did their large travelling contingent proud despite going down by 3 goals to 1. At half-time Southport were still in the game, trailing just 1-0, but a goal five minutes into the second half put Liverpool in control and the home side made the game safe when they got a third in the 85th minute. Tommy White scored a consolation for Southport on the stroke of full-time.
The Southport line-up was: Billy (Salty) Halsall, Ted Glover, Jack Allen, Tommy (Topping) Sinclair, John Newnes, Jimmy Bimson, George Jones, Harry Marshall, Albert Bradley, George Sapsford and Tommy White.
Some papers reported the attendance as being 51,600 which is reflected in the illustration by George Green (below)