Between The Wars (1919-45)
Club Chronology 5 of 7

5. Between The Wars (1919-45)


1919/20 – The club was back in the rugby business. Among others Daniel Halsall, Jack Wainwright Senior, Charles E Gibbs and George V Gibbs, reported back for duty. First playing as a junior in 1913 Charles Gibbs became one of the best known players for the club. As a Possible along with JT Walker, a Probable, he played in a Lancashire trial on 21st October. Walker scores four tries. First mention made of annual Christmas match with the Old Terranovans which became a regular fixture until 1938. Dressing accommodation moved from the Royal Hotel to Victoria Baths. Sir James Wallace Paton becomes club president (1919/24). His three sons George, Stanley and Walter all played for the club, 1920/21 – Gibbs and Walker play for Lancashire in various games. Walker was the Southport captain.

The following match Report appeared in the Daily Post 13th December 1920:
SEFTON FAIL AT SOUTHPORT. For the major portion of the game at Victoria Park, where Sefton were the visitors, there was only one team in it. In the first half Sefton were rarely out of their own territory. This was not so much the result of Southport's play as of the inefficacy of Sefton. Scott was the first to get over, but the goal-kick was from an extremely difficult angle, and J. Twynne was not to be blamed for failing. Before the interval, Scott and Guest scored between the posts, and Gifford easily added the extra points. Sefton did better in the second half, Bellamy grounding the ball behind the uprights. Miller, however, placed wide. Irving put Southport further ahead with a drop goal, but Gifford and Twynne failed from tries by Walker and Buck. In all departments Southport were the cleverer side. Result: Southport, 23; Sefton 3.

1921/2 – Walker again plays for Lancashire as does T Gore (T L Garge?) who went on to run a coach firm Gores Tours still well known in the town into the 1970s.

1922/23 – The club regains some of its former strength and in September there were 75 players, 20 holiday members, 9 schoolboys and 176 patrons.

The following match report appeared in The Courier on 27th November 1922:
SEFTON WIN AT SOUTHPORT. The game at Victoria Park, Birkdale, where Sefton were the visitors, resulted in the small total of 9 points forming the aggregate of both sides put together. Of these Sefton obtained 6. Southport fielded a fairly strong fifteen. J. T. Walker, chosen as back, was transferred to the three-quarter line, H. B. Noon and T. L. Smith officiating at back in the first and second halves respectively. Sefton also made several rearrangements. Although facing a stiff breeze and bright sun, Southport were the first to achieve anything definite, J. Broadbent converting a penalty soon after the start. Play then favoured Sefton for a time, Dubourg being conspicuous for good work. Eventually N. W. Hutchings got over for a well deserved try, which was not improved upon, and the same player added three more points from a penalty. There was no scoring in the second half, during which Southport held the upper hand. The passing on either side was of uneven merit, the Southport three-quarters especially alternating between smartness and slackness. They certainly showed two or three admirable efforts, in which the ball was swung from wing to wing without mistake, but more often the handing on was faulty. Sefton also showed varied form. The keenness of the tackling on either side left little scope for delay or inaccuracy. There was not much to choose between the packs, the home side possibly being quicker in getting the ball. Broadbent's penalty against the wind was beautifully taken but other similar chances were missed by both sides.

The following Report on the return match appeared in the Daily Post 12th February 1923:
SOUTHPORT BEAT SEFTON.In the return game at West Derby the visitors won by 1 goal 2 tries (11 points) to 1 goal (5 points). Sefton have had a difficult task to find a winning side since the beginning of the year, but they had hoped to inflict a second defeat on South-port. The only score of the first half came in a curious way, Sefton were pressing, and the ball was kicked over the Southport line. J. Finnigan raced over the line to touch down, the Southport players making no attempt to prevent him scoring, evidently assuming he was offside. Mr. R. W. Cubbin, the old Cheshire County player, awarded the try. H.C.G. Webley kicked a splendid goal. This unlucky reverse put Southport on the attack, but up to the interval they failed to again penetrate the Sefton defence. The visitors outplayed Sefton after the interval, tries being scored by T. Gore (2) and H. B. Noon, C. E. Gibbs converting the latter's try. H. E. Snape led the Sefton forwards well, the weak link in the home side being at three-quarter. Southport's forwards, led by J. Broadbent, played well, Walker and Guest being outstanding players in the three-quarter line. C. A Redhead gave up a good display at scrum half for Sefton, but he was well watched by R. Hayes. Southport deserved to win for their second half rally.

1923/24 – The following match report appeared in the Liverpool Daily Post on 24th December 1923:
SEFTON DRAW WITH SOUTHPORT. What might have been one of Sefton's most attractive matches of the season was spoiled by the weather. Notwithstanding this, the play was good, the result being a draw of 3 points each. Sefton had a following wind in the first half, but were unable to score until, following a line-out, Jones secured the ball and carried it over the line. Finnigan took the kick and had hard luck, the ball hitting the crossbar. Southport met with a much sterner defence in the second half, for the Sefton forwards, ably led by Stephens and Jones, attacked well. Howlett, however, scored an equalising try for the visitors, which was not converted. All the home forwards were good, Stephens and Jones standing out, while Bradshaw, Redhead, and Finnigan played well. Southport held a slight advantage in their three-quarter line, but the conditions were against them. Result :-Sefton 3 pts., Southport 3 pts.

The following Report on the return match appeared in the Daily Post 14th January 1924
SEFTON WIN AT SOUTHPORT. The ground at Victoria Park was heavy after the snow, and a high standard of play could not be expected. The only score was a try by Bradshaw for Sefton after fifteen minutes, Finnigan took the kick but was beaten by the conditions. He made a gallant effort, but Gibbs stopped with his hand the ball in its flight. Sefton who had been the more aggressive, continued to exert pressure, and Pennell, for Southport, again proved his worth as a resourceful full-back.There was, on the whole, nothing much to choose between the teams, whose handling was indifferent as much through the state of the ball as anything else. Both sets of forwards showed promising initiative but finished badly. For Southport W.L. Smith, C.E. Gibbs, Houghton, and Guest were as prominent as any, while for Sefton W.H. Prentice, White, and Wickes were noteworthy.

1924/25 – Around 1000 people turned up at Victoria Park on 20th September to watch the first match of the season against Blackburn. Later this month at a general meeting it was decided to transfer £88 from the investment account to ‘The New Ground Fund’.

The match report appeared in the Liverpool Daily Post on 24th December 1923:
SOUTHPORT WIN AT SEFTON.Southport, a very much improved team, and, like their opponents, fielding a changed side, Easily beat Sefton at Sefton by 32 pts. to nil. The game was very one-sided, and the margin was not a fair reflex of the play, for Southport overwhelmed the Liverpool side and should have won by a greater number of points. Had it not been for the fine defensive work of Hemingway, Sefton's defeat would have been more pronounced.Only on half a dozen occasions Sefton were allowed in the Southport half in the first half, but on those few occasions they never looked likely scorers, Southport were superior in all positions, their three-quarters, Noon, R. Gore, and Biggs being much too quick for the home lot, and their forwards pushed much better than Sefton. Although the game was so one-sided, it had its interesting parts, chief of which was the combination of the Southport left wing, from which most of the tries came. Tries were scored by T. Gore (2), Kendall (5), Wilson (1), and converted by T. Gore (2) and Warrington (2). Result :-Southport 30 pts., Sefton nil.

The following Report on the return match appeared in the Daily Post 16th February 1925
SEFTON'S ERROR AT SOUTHPORT.An interesting and amusing feature of the match at Victoria Park, Birkdale, between Southport and Sefton was the fact that the visitors played sixteen men throughout the first half. It appears that on their arrival Sefton thought they were a man short, and a Southport second team player consented to a request to assist them. The fact that they were actually at full strength was not definitely discovered until the interval, when the Southport man withdrew .Once more the ground was in a bad condition, and the exchanges developed into a forward game. In the first half the defences on either side prevailed, but in the second half Noon obtained a try which he converted, and Kendall twice got over, but was only successful in one instance in improving upon his effort. The home full back, Cockill, had little or nothing to do, the three-quarters handled well and as far possible conquered the conditions, but speedy movement was greatly handicapped by the mud. The forwards played hard, but packed very loosely; there were too many wing forwards. The Sefton wing three-quarters ran well but were effectively held. The forwards gained advantages through the defects of the home pack in generalship. Result: Southport 13 points, Sefton 0.

1926 – King George V grammar school opened, the only school in the town to teach rugby from which a thriving Old Georgians rugby club evolved.

1926/27 – The last season at Victoria Park. Under the captaincy of George Paton the last game ended in a 14-8 defeat to Birkenhead Park. The club acquired a new ground at Waterloo Road, Hillside, ground which was first used by the First XV on 26th March because the game against Preston Grasshoppers couldn't br played at Victoria Park because it was under water.
Match Report from the Southport Visiter Tuesday 29th March 1927

Southport Win at Hillside

On Saturday Southport were at home to Preston Grasshoppers at Hillside. This was the first occasion on which the First XV have used this ground since it was acquired by the Club some little time ago. A worse, or better day - according to the point of view – could not have been selected for the experiment, for it is questionable whether there has been a heavier downpour this season than that on Saturday, when the game was played in a deluge. One important fact at any rate, was revealed, namely, that the ground was conditions at Hillside are superior to those at Victoria Park, where the fixture between the “B” teams had to be cancelled owing to the ground being under water. Fortunately, however, it is not always raining at Southport, and as there are other things to be considered if the club is to retain the interest and support of the local public, the committee would be well advised to weigh all the pros and cons before deciding on Hillside for future home matches if they had any thought of doing so.

The absence of W.B. Carter rendered a rearrangement necessary in the Southport XV. T. Mason went to scrum half and the latter’s place at right centre three-quarters was filled by R.W. Jackson. The teams were –
Southport.- H. Cockhill (capt), C.O. Brigg, R.W. Jackson, I. Calder, F.A.R. James, T. Mason, H.R. Noon, G.C. Paton, H. Kouyoumdjian, E. J. Downs, C.H. Scott, E.R. Berry, W.S. Ellis, E.R. Smith, J. Pilling.
Preston Grasshoppers.- J.W. Wilson, R.H. Wiseman, W.D. Bruce, P.E. Jeffrey, L. Barton, R. Burgess, D.J. Davies, R.P. Rigg, C. Hartley, J.L. Holland, H. Newton, E. Walmsley, J.D. Green, G.C. Wilson, H.J.H. Wiseman.

During the earlier stages of the game, owing to the late arrival of Jackson, Southport had one man short. During this period the visitors pressed somewhat vigorously, but the home team put up a stubborn defence and the ‘Hoppers were unable to gain any advantage. The subsequent play was of a very haphazard character, kick and rush tactics being largely adopted by both sides. A fine run by Noon and Calder ended in the former crossing the line for Southport. He also successfully took the kick. A scrum in the home “25” followed, but Mason was quick on the ball and had no difficulty in clearing. A further attack by the ‘Hoppers was repulsed, and for a while play was confined to mid-field. Eventually Southport broke away and from a cross-kick by Calder, James got possession and scored well out for Southport. At half-time the latter were leading by eight points to nil.

In the second half the contest was continued with much keenness, but both sides were considerably handicapped by the weather and wretched state of the ground and a good deal of footwork was necessary. Pilling obtained another try, which was not converted, for Southport. Rigg, Burgess, and Wiseman were prominent for the visitors, who strove hard to the end, but their efforts proved unavailing.

Southport 11pts Preston Grasshoppers nil

Despite the impressive 11-0 win, the club continued to play at the old ground for some time. In the meantime under the chairmanship of Dr. A W Limont the club spent £1500 on the pavilion and ground, all monies raised by the efforts of members and friends at jumble sales, dances, etc. The Pavilion was previously a wooden hutted ward at the closed fever hospital in Moss Lane purchased for £35, the final price escalating to around £1000! This included the cost of dismantling and transporting it to Hillside, improvements to conform with town planning requirements, the laying on of public services to Waterloo Road (Lynton Road had not yet been built), bathing facilities, a fireplace in the common room (now the bar), enclosure of the ground, and the railing off and leveling of the pitch. The job was done by the Park’s superintendent using labour from the pool of unemployed. Most were without any skill and had none of today’s mechanical equipment to help them.

1927/28 – Three Southport players represent Cumberland, captain T M Mason, W Hodgson and R Dalzell.


1929/30 – The move to Hillside was completed.

1932 – Bobby Scott makes his first appearance for the club while still a schoolboy.

1934/35 –Under the captaincy of George White, and then Doug Grant, the team hit top form and had the very fine record of nineteen victories against thirteen defeats, with one drawn, and a score of 323 points to 258. On 3rd November the club recorded its first win over the Waterloo First XV for 21 years. With only 14 men they hung on to win by a solitary try from an up and coming young player, Jim Nicholl, destined to play a big part in Southport’s future.

1935/36 – The 200 capacity grandstand was opened. It cost £231. The Southport Visitor publishes a photograph of club members playing snooker with Manchester City players on 8th February. At the end of the season the team has recorded 19 victories. On the last Saturday of April Southport are narrowly beaten by holders and Middlesex Sevens winners Sale in the final of the Manchester seven-a-sides. On 23rd May Old Georgians amalgamate with Southport bolstering the clubs playing strength. During the season Bobby Scott was chosen as the county reserve in the scrum-half position.

1936/37 – A match between a Southport club side and a scratch Old Georgians side, including many club members, is established a traditional annual Christmas fixture for many years to come.. The Visiter reports that Mayor (Councillor H. W. Barber), who is an ardent “rugger” enthusiast, faced trial by camera when he kicked off in the annual game between Southport and Old Terranovans. The Mayor is an official, and a strong supporter, of the Southport Club, and rarely misses a home game. A number of pretty nurses from the Infirmary were also on the ground, but their presence was not really a precautionary measure – it was only a friendly match! However, they took a collection for the Infirmary funds which realized £5. The Liverpool Post reports that Southport Rugby does not yet claim to among the Lancashire seniors, but in some respects it is far in advance of many of the leading clubs of the North. So excellent a programme with its club notes, fixtures, and record of result, with, of course, the teams for the days match, might well encourage emulation by some of the seniors of Merseyside. Southport broke all their previous seasons’ records when they Beat Heaton Moor 17-6 to register their twentieth win the concluding game. The team won twenty games, lost nine and drew one, scoring 450 points against 235. A quire extraordinary performance is that of M. M. Pennell one of the centre three-quarters, who though playing nearly all his football for Liverpool University, scored 15 tries and dropped a goal on the few occasions which he has been able to help his club during vacation. B. High a wing three-quarter has also scored 15 tries, while J.Nichol kicked 42 goals.

1937/38 – Motor coach transport introduced for all teams for all away matches. S V Perry from KGV as to land seven England caps. Twenty-year-old Jim Nicholl elected captain of the First XV – the then youngest ever. According to Bobby Scott, Southport became one of the best sides in Lancashire and Cheshire. Lancashire and Cumberland choose Waterloo Road as the venue for their county championship clash on 27th November, the red rose side winning 26-3. However, as Southport was not a licenced club the magistrates granted a temporary licence to James Dolan, licensee of the Crown Hotel, from 2 to 5pm for the occasion. The clubs annual Rugger dance is reported the Visiter as ‘The talk of the town for many weeks’.

Early 1940s

1939/45 – World War Two intervenes and stops all club activities. The government requisitioned the ground and pavilion and there is no record of the club playing rugby during this period. Twenty seven members lose their lives, including six first XV players.

M G Cockshot
C E Evans
K Foster
D Halsall
E W Heaton
B High
G N Higham
F Hollings
L Jenkinson
D Kerr
A E Law
R E Lord
R K R Mason I N G McCondach
J M McDonald
D W McEwen
F M Pennell
A F Riddlesworth
K C Rigby
J Roberts
J Shirm
J Sutton
A Vickers
T Wainwright
G White
H Whitehead
L Youngman

Timothy Wainwright who was in the First XV for eight years up to 1938 was killed while serving in the RAF. His family had been tied up with the club since 1906 including his father, also called Timothy, who played for the First XV up until 1913, and his brother Jack who played between 1934 and 1948 as well as being a club vice-president, chairman of the ground, match and selection committees, chairman of the club, and from 1949 a referee. His son Jack Timothy was a schoolboy member between 1969 and 1971 and uncles John and Arthur Robinson also played, John holding a First XV place between 1908 and 1913, Arthur played for the Thirds between 1929 and 1932.