1891 – Southport Rugby Club


A meeting was held last evening at 39, Chapel-street, with the object of forming, if possible, a Rugby football club for Southport. There was a good attendance, presided over by Mr. Thomas Lace. Statements were made which showed that a club comprised strictly of amateur players could be formed. A resolution was proposed and adopted that a club should be formed, having the title, “The Southport Rugby Football Club”. A committee of 14 was elected to undertake the detailed working out of the rules, &c., and promised of support amounting to a google sum were received in the room. Another meeting will be held in a fortnight to receive the report of the committee and to transact other business. Mr. R.Slack as appointed secretary, pro tem.”

(Southport Visiter, 26th February 1891)

“The local footballers who have taken up the promotion of a Rugby football club for Southport are pressing it forward with zealous enthusiasm. A practice game will take place on the field in Scarisbrick New-road, commencing at half-past three. The homesters hope that a goodly number of footballers will take part in the practice, in order to train for a match which is being arranged for Good Friday against a strong team of old Rugby players, including such well known men as Jos. Melross, Wal. Rimmer, R.E.Dickenson, and T.Holder”

(Southport Visiter, 21st March 1891)



The new rugby club played their first formal game yesterday afternoon, Walter Rimmer getting together a very fair team of old players to oppose the present players, and such an excellent selection he had made that his team were only beaten by their want of a goal kicker. The “Present”, having won the toss, played with the wind, and quickly found their way into their opponents’ ground. Webster, however, grassed Learoyd just as he was becoming dangerous, and from the consequent scrimmage a pass was made to Alf. Spinks, who made headway before trandserring to Walter Rimmer. This player, however, was brought fown by Gray before he had got into his stride. Several severe scrimmages now occured, and from one of these Kellett passed to Scott, who in tuern passed to Bennett, enabling this player to obtain a try behind the posts. A neat goal was registered. Almost immediately after the re-start Bennett again scored, this time receiving assistance from his captain, Learoyd, and Summers. Again a goal was kicked. The old players, nothing daunted by the second reverse, played up manfully, Yates, Mason, and the brothers Spink, by united action, getting well into the “Presents'” “25”, and had they not passed forward a try would have rewarded their efforts. Even play followed for some time, when after a brilliant display ong a third try scored to the homesters, and like the previous tries was quickly transferred into a goal. Half-time was now called, and with the “Present” leading by three goals and two minors to nil. After a short interval, which was badly needed, the pace having been very fast, Walter Rimmer restarted, and the visitors quickly pressed their opponents, and scored in a very difficult position, but the attempt at goal, although a good one, failed. Some beautiful passing was now shown by the home team, and but for the resolute tackling of Spinks and Rimmer the score must have been increased. A long kick by Webster was followed up by Alf. Spinks, and that player scored behind the posts but no goal was placed. The Past were now having rather the best of the game, their number telling, and from a wide pass Webster scored, but for the third time the place kicking was at fault. A couple of minors having been registered by the visiters, a most pleasant game ended in a win for the “Present” by three goals and two minors to three tries and four minors. There was a very large attendance of spectators, many old Olympic followers being present, heartily congratulating the officials on their successful efforts to again establish a Rugby team in the town. It will be pleasing to Rugby players generally to hear that several influential gentlemen are rendering assistance to the new club, they being thoroughly sick of professionalism. An excellent list of fixtures is being arranged for next season.”

(Southport Visiter, 28th March 1891)

Members of the Lancashire County Football Club in 1891 include: Aspull, Askam, Barrow-n-Furness, Blackley Rangers, Blackley, Boothstown, Rangers, Broughton, Broughton Rangers, Bury, Broughton Park, Crompton, Failsworth, Free Wanderers, Leigh, Liverpool, Liverpool Old Boys, Lancaster, Manchester, Manchester Rangers, Morecambe, Mossley, Oldham, Owen’s College, Pendleton, Radcliffe, Rochdale Hornets, Rochdale St Clements, Salford, Stalybridge, St Helens, St Helens Recreation, South East Lancashire (Rugby Union), Southport, Swinton, Tottington, Tuebrook, Tyldesley, Ulverston, Walkden, Warrington, Werneth, West Lancashire (Rugby Union), Widnes, Wigan.

The new club played home games at the Sports Ground on Sussex Road for the 1891-92 season. The ground was sold for housing development around this time and their landlords, the Southport Athletic Society, relocated on the site of the current Meols Cop High School after the Athletic Sports event in June 1893.

The club limped through two seasons before the storm over professionalism arrived in the form of demand for payment for broken time, shaking the county to its foundations. Many clubs who Southport had regularly played resigned from the Rugby Union, and joined the Northern Union which later became known as the Rugby League

A full set of results from the 1891-92 & 1892-93 Season can be found here:

These were difficult days for the game as a whole in Lancashire and issues included difficulties about insurance payments made, questions about movement of players from club to club, complaints about financial losses due to non-fulfillment of fixtures, and frivolous requests for permission to pay players. Due to professionalism the club has difficulty in arranging matches against purely amateur teams.

At the end of the 1891-92 season it was reported in the Southport Visiter (7th May) that in its first year Southport Rugby club had won 13 games, 9 were lost and 2 were drawn.

In it’s second year, 1892-93, 21 Games were played, from which 15 were lost and 8 were won.

Southport Visiter, 27th May 1893

When the new football season began in September 1893, there was no sign of Southport Rugby Football Club.

Next: Birkdale Rugby Club