Research Update – January 2024

I have now completed the research into the results of Southport Rugby Club for the 1892-93 season which have been added to the results archive (here). The Southport Rugby Club that was formed in 1891 lasted for 2 seasons, and had no links to any club that came before it, so this period of Rugby history research is now complete.

The previously published, and largely accepted narrative/history was that “around this time” the club had “reorganised” in a move to the “Mornington Ground” on Scarisbrick New Road. We now know however that this didn’t happen during either 1891-92 or the 1892-93 season as every home game was played at the Sports Ground on Sussex Road. We know that the Athletic Society did not renew their lease in January 1892 with the Sports Ground due to be sold for housing development, but the Athletic Society continued to use the Sports Ground for at least their June 1893 Sports event. When the new football season comes around at the start of September there is no mention of the Rugby club so appears that the club did not even attempt to start the season, unlike Olympic in their last season who had struggled through a couple of games before giving up. I’ve seen no comment with any reasons for this cessation of activity, although the fundraising dinner at the end of the 1892-93 season was poorly attended suggesting that enthusiasm was waning. As their tenancy at Sussex Road was clearly coming to an end, perhaps a lack of facilities may have been a convenient reason to close up shop.

The “Mornington ground” move remains a mystery for the time being. “The Mornington” hotel on Hoghton Street was a temperance hotel so one possible theory could be that there was a link to the origins of Southport Olympic, which had began as the Church of England Temperance Society playing at Scarisbrick New Road. This however was in 1876, significantly earlier on the rugby timeline and I’ve never seen this ground named in that way anywhere else.

Although I haven’t been focusing in detail on association football during this time, its hard to miss some of the press coverage with it being so expansive in comparison to the Rugby. Helpfully, the Visiter publishes an end of season review which includes a list of results for the first team and reserve string, known as the Southport Central Old Boys, so I have been able to add some previously unknown results to the database. When research does resume in this area, I will add the line-ups wherever they are published.

I’ve been able to test extensively the new database, which is proving very useful for recording the games for these other “standards” of each club (e.g. Reserves, “A”, Youth, etc) and I’m edging closer to the point where I will want to start using this as the primary resource.