- Southport F.C.
Football club infobox
clubname = Southport
fullname = Southport Football Club
nickname = The Sandgrounders
founded = 1881 (as Southport Central)
Haig Avenue Southport
capacity = 6,008
chairman = flagicon|England Charlie Clapham
manager = flagicon|England Liam Watson
season = 2007–08
Conference North, 4th
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Southport Football Club are an English football club, based in
Southport, Merseyside. [http://www.napit.co.uk/viewus/infobank/football/conference/southport.php] They are currently in the Conference North, and play their home matches at Haig Avenue, which has a capacity of 6008 (1,884 seated, 4,124 standing). They are known by their nickname "The Sandgrounders".
The club was founded in 1881, and played at the Sussex Road Sportsground & Scarisbrick New Road. At the start of the 1905/6 season, the club 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
In 1921 the club joined
The Football Leaguebecame 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 1957/8 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 1966/7 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 were voted out of the Football League following three consecutive 23rd (out of 24) placed finishes, and were 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.
Non-league football: from 1978
The club dropped into the
Northern Premier League, where they remained until finishing as Champions in the 1992/3 season, and were promoted to the Football Conference. 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 Londonto see the match.
The club were relegated back to the Northern Premier League at the end of the 2002/3 season. They became founder members of the new
Conference Northin 2004/5, and were the league's first Champions, earning promotion back to the newly-renamed Conference National. In the 2005/6 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 25th 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
In 2006 the club changed to full time, with Liam Watson deciding in January he was 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 the
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 2 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 Donaldsonpenalty 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 Blue Square 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 Bakerto Morecambe FC, for a fee believed to be £50,000.
Southport Football Club announced on Monday
April 7 2008that 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.
Gary Brabinwas 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 3 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 UnitedBrabin left Southport to sign as Cambridge manager on 23 June 2008. [cite news|url=http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/cn%5Fsport%5Fcamb%5Futd/DisplayArticle.asp?ID=325189 | title=Brabin takes the reins | publisher= Cambridge News| date=2008-06-23 | accessdate=2008-06-23]
Return to Part Time : From 2008
On 30th of June 2008 Southport FC's official website confirmed that Liam Watson had rejoined Southport as first team manager following his resignation from Burscough.
This change saw the arrival of numerous part time Burscough players, including Blue Square 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.
Notable players and managers
Lee Ashcroft- played for Grimsby Town and West Brom amongst others.
Billy Ayre- former manager of Blackpool and Cardiff City amongst others
Billy Bingham- manager of Northern Irish national team and Everton
* Luther Blissett - England international and
* Peter Davenport - England international and Manchester United player.
* Hughie Fisher - winner of an
FA Cupwinner's medal with Southampton in 1976
Jimmy Melia- led Brighton & Hove Albion to the 1983 FA Cup Final
Jimmy Meadows- England international
Stan Mortensen- England international and FA Cup winner with Blackpool in 1953
Andy Mutch- England B international
Alex Parker- Scotland international and League winner with Everton in 1962-63
*Bill Perry - England international and scored the winning goal for Blackpool in the famous 1953 FA Cup Final, "The Matthews Final"
Cyril Robinson- also part of the Blackpool team in the 1953 FA Cup Final
* Mark Wright - England international and Liverpool player
Carl Baker- England C International & current Stockport County Midfielder
Craig Noone- Current Plymouth midfielder
* [http://www.southportfc.tv/ Southportfc.tv :: Official Club Website]
* [http://www.portchat.net/ Port Chat: A forum for Southport fans]
* [http://www.southportfcstats.co.uk/ALL%20SEASONS%20DETAILS.htm Full Record of Southport's League Positions]
* [http://www.southportfcstats.co.uk Southport F.C. Statistics website]
* [http://www.trustinyellow.com Trust In Yellow, Independent Supporters Trust]
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