Rewriting History

Whilst the information we present on this website is correct to the best of our knowledge, we continue to research the early years of our club, and therefore we make no apologies that we make occasional corrections when a discovery is made that challenges previously accepted fact.

We find ourselves today in a position where not only are we having to make such a correction but it is to something that was once so accepted that it is written into almost every biographical history ever written about the club (including “the book”), in that “after some heavy defeats – the last recorded being on October 15th when Wavertree prevailed by two tries, seven touchdowns and one disputed try to nil – the club took a step not unknown at that time and switched to Association Football”.

The club did switch to Association Football, but it was not after a game against Wavertree on 15th October.

We can confirm that we have now found evidence in two newspapers that at least one further Rugby game was played, two weeks later on 29th October, at Southport (presumably Manchester Road/Roe Lane), against Bootle.
Michael Braham made the discovery in the Southport News dated Saturday 5th November and it has been corroborated today by my own discovery in The Liverpool Daily Post from Tuesday 1st November. The result was not, we believe, reported in the Southport Visiter.

Southport turned out a team two men short and lost by one goal, eight tries and eleven minor points. It makes no change to the narrative that there were a series of heavy defeats, this one appears even heavier than that previously noted against Wavertree. What this suggests however is that the idea to try association football may perhaps have been given to them by their opponents, based on their inability to raise a full side for this scheduled fixture, with their own second string being offered as suitable opponents for the newcomers three weeks later.

Liverpool Daily Post – Tuesday 01 November 1881

The line-up that day was: W. Platt; A.J. Ross, H.M Smith, Hodson (Backs); Richardson, Gregson (three quarter backs); S. Platt, Buggins, J.G. Howard, F. Jackson, Hill, T.B. Burnett, P. Edwards (Forwards). Buggins is a name that we have not seen anywhere previously, so he may have been a “borrowed man”, done in order to ensure that a game could even go ahead.

As a former Welsh International footballer, Thomas Blundell Burnett will not have needed much persuading to switch codes, and he went on to captain the side for their first outing. He was one of six players to turn out against Bootle ‘Second’ on Saturday 12th November 1881 for the clubs first Association Match, namely S. Platt, J.G. Howard, P. Edwards, F. Jackson, T.B. Burnett (Captain) and somewhat surprisingly W. Platt, who was not only the named captain of Southport Football Club for 1881 but also a former Hon Secretary from at least as far back as 1879 and perhaps even earlier.
The secretarial duties for the new association club were instead given to Thomas Burnett who was a Public Accountant and Auditor, Estate Agent and Insurance Agent by trade, operating out of offices at 179 Lord Street.