Southport F.C.

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Coordinates: 53°38′18.62″N 2°58′45.06″W / 53.6385056°N 2.9791833°W / 53.6385056; -2.9791833

Southport F.C.
SouthportFC.png
Full name Southport Football Club
Nickname(s) The Sandgrounders, the Port, the Yellows
Founded 1881; 136 years ago (1881) (as Southport Central)
Ground Haig Avenue, Southport
Ground Capacity 6,008(1,660 seated)
Chairman James Treadwell
Manager Alan Lewer
League National League North
2016–17 National League, 23/24 (relegated)

Southport Football Club is a semi-professional association football club based in Blowick, Southport, Merseyside.[1] They are currently members of the National League North. From 1921 to 1978 they were a Football League club. They play their home matches at Haig Avenue, which has a capacity of 6,008. They are known by their nickname "the Sandgrounders".

History[edit]

Foundation: 1881–1921[edit]

It was on Thursday 12 November 1881 that Southport played its first association football match.

Although association football was played in the town's private schools in the late 1870s the original Southport Football Club began as a rugby team.

Southport Football Club arranged rugby fixtures for 1881–82. After some heavy defeats, the last recorded being on 15 October 1881, the club switched to association football. On 12 November, six of that team lined up when Southport played Bootle 'second' in their first match under Association Rules.

Ralph Rylance did more than anyone to establish association football in the town. He came to Southport from Blackburn having played for the Blackburn Law team, a noted eleven in those days. Performances soon improved with him playing, and Tranmere Rovers were beaten twice whilst the Tradesman of Southport and Liverpool Excelsior were both overcome 7–0.

On 7 October 1882, Southport entertained Liverpool Ramblers in their first ever F.A., or English Challenge Cup tie as the competition was called for years. The game was watched by 300 spectators and resulted in a 1–1 draw.

In the 1884–85 season the club merged with the Southport Athletic Society and the team moved to the Sports Ground, Sussex Road. As football grew in popularity other clubs sprang up in the town. Southport Wanderers, High Park, Churchtown and Southport Old Boys were amongst the most prominent however Southport Football Club was considered to be the town's premier side.

At the Southport Wanderers AGM in June 1886, at which a representative of Southport Football Club was present, they invited Southport to amalgamate following the severance of their connection with the Athletic Society, whose unfortunate connection with the Football Club had resulted in the Society incurring an expenditure on their account of £88–3 shillings. After 5 years existence Southport's first football club folded.

At least six former Southport players and many of their supporters transferred their affiliations to Southport Wanderers. Southport Wanderers moved to a new ground in Scarisbrick New Road for the 1886–87 season. On 28 September 1886, at a General Meeting held in the Mather's Saleroom, it was unanimously resolved that in future the club be called Southport Football Club.

In the summer of 1888, the year the Football League was founded, with the game increasing in popularity, It was felt that a team of stronger calibre should be formed to represent the district. The idea met with favour and the initial meeting called to form such a club took place on 12 June at Scarlett's Rooms, Chapel Street.

At a second meeting, held at the Railway Hotel a week later, Mr. McGowan successfully proposed that the name of the club should be Southport Central Association Football Club.

At the start of the 1905–06 season Central moved to its present home, Haig Avenue, which was then known as Ash Lane. In 1911, the club became founder members of the Central League. In 1918, the club was renamed as Southport Vulcan – having been bought by the Vulcan Motor Company – becoming the first club to take a sponsor's name.

League history: 1921–1978[edit]

In 1921 the club, now named simply Southport, joined the Football League and became a founder member of the Third Division North. In 1931, Southport became the first club from the Third Division North to reach the sixth round (quarter-finals) of the FA Cup, where they lost 9–1 to Everton. A year later the club recorded its record attendance, when 20,010 watched them play Newcastle United in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Having finished in the bottom half of the table at the end of the 1957–58 season, the club dropped into the Fourth Division following the reorganisation of the Third Division North and Third Division South into Third and Fourth Divisions. The club's first promotion came at the end of the 1966–67 season, when they finished as runners-up in the Fourth Division behind Stockport County under the guidance of Billy Bingham, who later went on to manage the Northern Irish national team. They were relegated back to the Fourth Division in 1970, but won promotion again in 1973 when they finished as Fourth Division Champions. Relegation back to the Fourth Division followed the very next season. This heralded a period of decline as crowds dropped – on some occasions into just three figures – and the ground fell into disrepair.

Disaster struck in 1978, when the club was voted out of the Football League following three consecutive 23rd (out of 24) placed finishes, and was replaced by Wigan Athletic. The voting couldn't have been tighter, as the clubs drew on the first ballot (when many had expected Rochdale to be voted out), but Wigan's superior canvassing ensured that they won the second ballot. Southport was the last club to leave the Football League through the re-election process. Automatic relegation from the Fourth Division was introduced in 1986–87.

Non-League football: from 1978[edit]

After several seasons with South Liverpool, Brian Kettle was appointed manager and was instrumental in one of the most successful periods. Kettle had a difficult task from the off, his first season in charge saw him start with only three players Andy Johnston, Stuart Bimson and club captain Rob Sturgeon.[2] After a poor start to the season which saw the club in the relegation places until mid-October after bringing in several new players such as Ossie Smith, Bob Howard, Steve Whitehall, Steve Holden, Alan McDonald, the returning Ian Baines and for the third time Tony Quinn they finished the season in a very respectable seventh place in the Northern Premier League,albeit 38 points off the champions Colne Dynamoes who were not accepted for promotion and ultimately folded.[3]

For the 1990–91 season, very little changed and was a very exciting season for the club. The free-scoring prowess of Holden and Whitehall saw the club reach 100 league goals in March and four semi-final appearances, losing only one. Ultimately due to the cup runs, the league performance suffered and they only managed to finish 5th in the league.[4] However, there was now renewed optimism in the town.

The 1991–92 season started dreadfully for the club due to the loss of key personnel in the summer. Holden and Whitehall both left within weeks, the latter going for a club record £25,000 to Rochdale.[5] Kettle had to rebuild once again, but it didn't go to plan straightaway. The club were bottom of the table till September, only managing to win their first game at the start of October. After a series of good runs, they managed to claw their way up the table to once again finish seventh.[3]

The 1992–93 season was one of the most important seasons in the clubs recent history. Southport impressively won the league with 96 points and once again scoring 100 goals and tasted success in two more cup competitions and an excellent FA Cup run took them through to the second round proper for the first time since 1968.[3]

In 1998 the club had its first (and only) trip to Wembley, when they lost 1–0 to Cheltenham Town in the final of the FA Trophy. 10,000 Southport fans made the trip to London to see the match.

Southport (in yellow) vs Kidderminster Harriers at Haig Avenue, 22 November 2005.

The club were relegated back to the Northern Premier League at the end of the 2002–03 season. They became founder members of the new Conference North in 2004–05, and were the league's first Champions, earning promotion back to the newly renamed Conference National. In the 2005–06 season, Southport spent much of their time at the bottom of the table, but managed to secure survival with a five-game unbeaten run culminating in a 1–1 away draw with third-placed Grays Athletic on 25 April. The manager at the time, Liam Watson, stated that this feat was more impressive than their title winning accomplishments the season before.

Full time: 2006–2008[edit]

In 2006 the club changed to full-time, with Liam Watson moving to Burscough at the end of the season a new manager in Paul Cook was appointed. This led to a massive overhaul of the squad, with many players unwilling or unable to go full-time. This proved to be a disastrous turn of events. Cook had to assemble a complete squad with just six of the original squad remaining. After a run of poor results, his contract was terminated on 3 January 2007.

The first match after Cook's departure saw Dino Maamria and Steve Whitehall take over as caretaker manager team and they succeeded in leading the team to a 3–1 home win over free-falling Grays, a match which also saw Carl Baker make his 100th appearance in a Southport shirt.

The only other match which saw the Maamria-Whitehall manager team was a 2–1 defeat in the FA Trophy at the hands of Salisbury before Peter Davenport, who had previously had an unbeaten spell as caretaker-manager of the club in 2001, was named as Cook's successor two weeks later.

Davenport's new team, aided with decent signings in the transfer window, started to churn out decent results. This did not last long however, and, due to Southport's ability to concede late goals in most games, the club looked certain to drop down a league, however again doubts were cast as the club won 4 matches on the run, and with two matches left were only two points off safety. However these matches were against play off hopefuls York City and Exeter City. After losing to a Clayton Donaldson penalty against York, the Sandgrounders were relegated the following Tuesday, not even playing a game, after relegation rivals Grays and Halifax both won their games.

The club stayed full-time, looking to bounce straight back up from the Conference North to the top of non-league football.

Southport signed Neil Prince and Karl Noon from Stalybridge Celtic and Marine respectively. Peter Davenport also brought in goalkeeper Richard Whiteside, midfielder Dave Prout and right back Chris Lever after trials from Oldham. The biggest news in the transfer period for Southport fans however, was the departure of star right winger Carl Baker to Morecambe, for a fee believed to be £50,000.

Southport Football Club announced on Monday 7 April 2008 that manager Peter Davenport and assistant Huw Griffiths left the club with immediate effect. The club placed on record their appreciation for everything they both contributed to Southport Football Club.

Former player Gary Brabin was initially given the job until the end of the season and guided the team into the play-offs only to go out on penalties away at Stalybridge Celtic, however only three days later the club announced their ambitions early by appointing him full-time and thus keeping their full-time playing status for another season at least. However, this appointment turned out to be only an agreement to sign a future contract, and after an approach from Cambridge United, Brabin left Southport to sign as Cambridge manager on 23 June 2008.[6]

Return to part time : from 2008[edit]

Conference North trophy awarded to Southport, 2009–10 season.

On 30 June 2008 the club's official website confirmed that Liam Watson had rejoined Southport as first team manager following his resignation from Burscough.[7]

This change saw the arrival of numerous part-time players, following Watson from Burscough including Conference North top scorer Ciaran Kilheeney, Watson's co-Players of the Year – Adam Flynn and Anthony McMillan, as well former Southport players, Matty McGinn, Earl Davis, Robbie Booth and Steve Daly. Retained players, Michael Powell and Neil Robinson, chose to return to part-time football, whilst Matt Hocking, Neil Prince and club captain, Chris Holland left the club. Kevin Lee and Tony Gray signed new part-time contracts at the start of the season, and thus Southport practically returned fully to a part-time club. During that season Tony Gray and John Doolan departed the club, as well as Craig Noone, who moved to Championship side Plymouth Argyle.

The 2008–09 season saw Southport reach the Conference North play-offs, having finished in fifth place. However, a home defeat, followed by an away draw against Gateshead left Southport to battle for a further season in the Conference North. Only four defeats during 2009–10 saw Southport finally secure the League title following a 3–0 away victory at Eastwood Town on the final Saturday of the season, spurred on by over 700 travelling Sandgrounders. They finished just one point ahead of near neighbours Fleetwood Town. The success of the first team, who also lifted the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy following victory against Clitheroe at the Reebok Stadium, was mirrored by the club's youth team who won both the Lancashire League and Conference North Youth League.

Top Flight of Non-League[edit]

In 2010–11, the first season back in the Conference, Southport finished in the relegation zone of the Conference National, but were reprieved after Rushden & Diamonds were expelled from the league.

The 2011–12 season saw a change of fortune for the club, with the implementation of a new, extended training schedule seeing an upturn in performances and results. On 26 November 2011, a club record of consecutive away victories was broken with the Sandgrounder's 1–0 win at Stockport County, their 8th in succession. Although narrowly missing out on a play off spot, having occupied one of the top five positions for long periods of the season, the 2011–12 season saw the 'Port finish in a very impressive 7th place, the clubs highest league finish in 10 years.

During the 2012–13 season Southport failed to repeat its successful performance in the prior season and finished 5th from bottom, just one place above the relegation zone. On 17 April 2013 it was announced that Watson would be leaving Southport once again, but on more amiable terms resigning, ostensibly, in order to 'take a break from the game'.[8] Soon after, he was appointed manager of AFC Telford[9] who he led to promotion in his first season.[10]

On 15 May 2013, Alan Wright was appointed Southport manager,[11] along with John Hills as his assistant manager.[12] Southport kicked off the 2013–14 season with a 1–0 home win over Luton Town, just the beginning of a good start to the season, Wright managed the team to four straight home wins. However the good form didn't last long, a run of 8 straight defeats away from home saw Wright's side drop to the lower half of the table. A 2–2 draw to Macclesfield ended the losing away run, followed by a 6–2 victory over Marske United in the FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round and a 1–0 win against previously unbeaten table toppers Cambridge United. This looked like a catalyst for a turnaround in fortunes, however Southport lost their next six games, eliminated from both the FA Cup and FA Trophy, and sat in 18th place in the table, Alan Wright left the club on Friday 7 December 2013.[13]

His replacement was named just a day later on Saturday 8 December 2013, as John Coleman, former Accrington Stanley manager, who had previously played for Southport over 25 years earlier.[14] Under Coleman the club escaped relegation, finishing the season in fine form. This spell also led to a change in the club's training schedule, with sessions during the day, rather than evening, unlike a majority of part-time clubs.

To the consternation of the fans, Coleman was not retained as manager; instead the Board appointed Martin Foyle formerly the manager of Hereford United.[15] A number of first team players left the club at the end of the season (including several who had been on loan) leaving Foyle with a major rebuilding task for the 2014–15 season. Foyle was dismissed in October 2014 and replaced by Gary Brabin who returned to the club for his second spell as manager.[16] Despite a run in the FA Cup culminating in a spirited third round defeat to Championship side Derby County, Brabin's spell was short lived, accepting an academy role with Everton. Paul Carden, previously assistant to Brabin, became manager and was joined by Alex Russell as assistant manager, son of the club legend of the same name. The club secured Conference survival yet again in 2015, finishing 19th in the league.

Carden's team started the 2015–16 season in poor form, leading to his departure from the club in November 2015, Dino Maamria became Southport's seventh manager since April 2013 shortly after. On 19 March 2016 Andy Bishop was appointed caretaker player/manager of the club after Dino Maamria left the club for family reasons.

On 6 September 2016, Liam Watson was announced as returning to Southport for the third time but in a new capacity. Watson joined the board of directors along with local businessmen Nigel Allen and David Barron. He will take up the newly created role as Operations Director.[17] Steve Burr was announced as the manager of Southport on 8 September 2016 following the departure of Andy Bishop 5 days earlier.

On 30 January 2017 Steve Burr was sacked after a poor run of form and being one point above the drop zone.[18] Andy Preece was appointed Manager on 8 February, their eleventh since April 2013 [19] but another poor run of form saw them slip to the foot of the table in March. On Friday 14 April 2017, Southport relegation to the National League North was confirmed after a 3-0 loss to Dover Athletic.[20]

Seasons[edit]

Year League Level Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Position Leading league scorer Goals FA Cup FA Trophy Average attendance
2003–04 NPL Premier Division 6 44 20 10 14 71 52 +19 70 6th of 23
Transferred
Neil Robinson 14 QR2 R2 809
2004–05 Conference North 6 42 25 9 8 83 45 +38 84 1st of 22
Promoted
Terry Fearns 33 R1 R4 1004
2005–06 Conference National 5 42 10 10 22 36 68 −32 40 18th of 22 Steve Daly 12 R1 R3 1244
2006–07 Conference National 5 46 11 14 21 57 67 −10 47 23rd of 24
Relegated
Carl Baker 11 QR4 R2 1200
2007–08 Conference North 6 42 22 11 9 77 50 +27 77 4th of 22
Lost in PO Semifinal
Tony Gray 19 QR4 R1 1014
2008–09 Conference North 6 42 21 13 8 63 36 +27 76 5th of 22
Lost in PO Semifinal
Ciaran Kilheeney 16 QR3 QF 899
2009–10 Conference North 6 40 25 11 4 91 45 +46 86 1st of 21
Promoted
Steve Daly 18 R1 R1 924
2010–11 Conference National 5 46 11 13 22 56 77 −21 46 21st of 24 Shaun Whalley 8 R1 R1 1152
2011–12 Conference National 5 46 21 13 12 72 69 +3 76 7th of 24 Tony Gray 24 R1 R1 1290
2012–13 Conference National 5 46 14 12 20 72 86 −14 54 20th of 24 Chris Almond 11 QR4 QF 958
2013–14 Conference National 5 46 14 11 21 53 71 −18 53 18th of 24 Danny Hattersley 10 R1 R1 1049
2014–15 Conference National 5 46 13 12 21 47 72 −25 51 19th of 24 Richard Brodie 12 R3 R1 1070
2015–16 National League 5 46 14 13 19 52 65 −13 55 16th of 24 Louis Almond 12 QR4 R2 1133
2016–17 National League 5 24 6 6 12 29 51 -24 24 20th of 24 Jamie Allen 7 R1 R2

Honours[edit]

Honours No. Years
League
Football League Division Four Champions 1 1972–73
Football League Division Four Runners Up 1 1966–67
Conference North Champions 2 2004–05, 2009–10
Northern Premier League Champions 1 1992–93
Cups
Football League Third Division North Cup Winners 1 1937–38
FA Trophy Runners-Up 1 1997–98
Lancashire Senior Cup Winners 1 1904–05
Lancashire Junior Cup Winners 8 1919–20, 1992–93, 1996–97, 1997–98, 2000–01, 2005–06, 2007–08, 2009–10
Liverpool Senior Cup Winners 11 1930–31, 1931–32, 1943–43, 1962–63, 1974–75, 1990–91, 1992–93, 1998–99, 2011–12
Northern Premier League Challenge Cup Winners 1 1990–91

Trust in Yellow[edit]

Trust in Yellow is the Supporters' Trust of the club. It was formed on 26 April 2006 by a set of supporters who were unhappy with the lack of communication between the club and its fans in an effort to get more involved and have a bigger say in the running of the club. T.I.Y. is a member of Supporters' Direct, a body funded by Sport England.

Players[edit]

As of 31 January 2017.[citation needed]

Current squad[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
-- England DF Ross White
-- England DF Curtis Jones
No. Position Player
-- England MF Liam Hynes
-- England FW Kaiman Anderson

Club Officials[edit]

Current managerial team[edit]

Position Name
Head of Development England Mark Wright
First Team Manager England Alan Lewer
First Team Coach England John Durnin
Goalkeeper Coach England Phil Priestley
Physio England Luke McCall
Head of Professional Development England Cameron Foster

Managerial history[edit]

Board of directors[edit]

Position Name
Chairman England James Treadwell
Director England Adrian Shandley
Director England Haydn Preece

Former players currently playing in the Football League[edit]

Other notable former players and managers[edit]

The following individuals played international football as well as playing for or managing Southport.

Further reading[edit]

  • The Sandgrounders: The Complete League History of Southport F. C., by Michael Braham and Geoff Wilde (Palatine Books, 1995). ISBN 978-1-874181-14-9
  • The Complete Non-League History of Southport Football Club 1978–2008, by Trust in Yellow (Legends Publishing, 2008). ISBN 978-1-906796-01-3

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Club Information". Southport F.C. Retrieved 25 October 2016. 
  2. ^ "1989/90 Season Summary". Port Online. Retrieved 19 May 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c Michael Braham and Geoff Wilde (1995). The Sandgrounders: The Complete League History of Southport F. C. Palatine Books. ISBN 978-1-874181-14-9. 
  4. ^ "1990/91 Season Summary". Port Online. Retrieved 19 May 2013. 
  5. ^ "Steve Whitehall profile". Port Online. Retrieved 19 May 2013. 
  6. ^ "Brabin takes the reins". Cambridge News. 23 June 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  7. ^ "Liam Watson named as new Southport FC boss after stepping down from Burscough". Southport Visiter. 30 June 2008. Archived from the original on 8 October 2008. 
  8. ^ "Southport manager Liam Watson to leave at end of season". BBC Sport. Retrieved 17 April 2013. 
  9. ^ "Southport boss Liam Watson linked with vacancy". BBC Sport. 18 April 2013. Retrieved 3 March 2015. 
  10. ^ "AFC Telford United promoted to Conference Premier". BBC Sport. 28 April 2014. Retrieved 3 March 2015. 
  11. ^ "Alan Wright: Southport name ex-Aston Villa defender as new boss". BBC Sport. Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  12. ^ "Alan Wright is the new Southport Manager". Southport F.C. Retrieved 15 May 2013. I am bringing in John Hills as my number two. 
  13. ^ "Alan Wright leaves club by mutual consent". BBC Sport. 6 December 2013. Retrieved 3 March 2015. 
  14. ^ "John Coleman named manager after Alan Wright departs". BBC Sport. 7 December 2013. Retrieved 3 March 2015. 
  15. ^ "Martin Foyle replaces John Coleman as manager". BBC Sport. 5 May 2014. Retrieved 3 March 2015. 
  16. ^ "Southport appoint Gary Brabin as manager after Martin Foyle exit". BBC Sport. 6 October 2014. Retrieved 3 March 2015. 
  17. ^ "Three New Board Members Join SFC". Southport FC Official Site. Retrieved 6 September 2016. 
  18. ^ Southport Sack Andy Bishop
  19. ^ Andy Bishop Appointed Manager
  20. ^ "Southport Relegated To National League North". Southport FC. 14 April 2017. Retrieved 14 April 2017. 

External links[edit]