Southport FC originated from a failed rugby club which, after several heavy defeats, changed codes in 1881 under the guidance of Ralph L. Rylance. Their first tentative steps were uphill battles, for even footballs had to be purchased in Blackburn since there were none to be bought in the seaside town. A ground was obtained in Scarisbrick New Road. The early years consisted mostly of friendly matches with the occasional cup game to add some spice to the proceedings. In 1884 a move was made to the Athletic Ground in Sussex Road. For all their efforts, the “Stripes”, as they were once known, were little more than a humble town team. By 1888 they had merged with Southport Wanderers to become Southport Central.
The Club joined the Lancashire League and in 1894-95 they reached the first round proper of the F. A. Cup before losing 0-3 to Everton before a record 5,000 crowd. The 1905/6 season saw Southport Central move to their present ground in Ash Lane, later renamed Haig Avenue in honour of the First World War Field Marshal. Having become founder members of the Central League in 1911, Southport Central were taken over in 1918 by the Vulcan Motor Company and played for one year as Southport Vulcan. Following reformation they became Southport F.C., their Honorary Secretary Mr Edwin Clayton becoming heavily involved in the establishment of Football League Division III (North) in 1921.
‘The Sandgrounders’ is the historical name applied to anyone born in Southport, being a town built entirely on sand. In point of fact this nickname is seldom used at matches. The more usual rallying cry has always been ‘Come on the Port’.
The Southport club wore various strips in their early days, not all of which were reported in the contemporary press. It is known that in 1904 the strip was one of white shirts and blue shorts but around two years on it had changed to one of red and white hooped shirts with white shorts. Red then remained the predominant colour until well into the Football League era; certainly by 1915 the shirts had become all red, though the shorts were still white. The mid-1920s saw the arrival of black and white stripes with black shorts for almost a quarter of a century. It was the strip Southport wore when they became the first Division III (North) side to reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup in 1930-31.
Southport celebrated one of their many re-elections with green and white hoops in 1947, a kit donated by then Director Bill Paulden, also a Celtic fan, only to return to the familiar black and white stripes from the previous years. The mid-1950’s saw the introduction of old gold shirts with a black trim which made way for an all old gold kit in 1965, also worn when Southport were promoted from Division IV as runners-up to Stockport County in 1967. By the turn of the Seventies blue collars had been added to the shirts, smartly completed by blue shorts, the kit used when Southport won the Championship of Division IV in 1972-73, this season being the only occasion when all four divisional champions have ever come from the same county, in this case Lancashire.
The blue shorts were to stay, so were the trimmings, but the old gold was replaced by the now familiar yellow. These colours stayed until the club lost its League status in 1978. Since then a variety of yellow shirts have been worn, latterly trending back towards the original golden shade, but with increasing degrees of pattern introduced.
The distinctive badge that adorns Southport’s shirts used to be the property of the old County Borough of Southport, granted in 1923. They wouldn’t let the club use it at any time. Only when the Corporation was abolished under local government reorganisation in 1974 did it become available and the club began to use it from that moment on, though not on the shirts for a dozen years or so. The device is based on a former unauthorized coat, which contained a lifeboat instead of the lymphad, which now proudly sails on the waves of the sea in the shield. The present representation was designed by local resident Dr Craven – one of the two men who originally won Southport its County Borough status – which accounts for the Rod of Aesculapius, the symbol of doctors in the crest, and also for the cross-crosslets, which were derived from the arms of Dr. Craven’s family.