George Rankin Everton-Southport


“Fourth member of the Rankin family to play for Everton and, at twenty, this talented full back looks likely to develop into the best.”

Sunday Pictorial August 1951

“It was newcomer, George Rankin from Everton who took the eye most in the home rearguard. He never put a foot wrong throughout, always positioning himself well…”

Southport Visitor, 23rd August 1956

Introduction

G eorge Rankin was born in Liverpool on 29 January 1930. His father was Billy Rankin, the son of Bruce Rankin. Apparently, George preferred cricket to football at first. But, after an unsuccessful Lancashire trial when he was about 15 years of age, he concentrated on football and never lifted a cricket bat again.

Youth Football

George signed for Everton as an amateur at 16 years of age in April 1946, becoming a part-time professional two and a half years later in August 1948. During that time, he played for the Everton Colts and A, B and C teams, winning at least two medals with the B team in the Bootle JOC League - the Warburton Cup and Division 1 league.

George represented England Youth (Under 18) in the 1947-48 season. Firstly, he played in what was then known as the International Youth Championship, a competition involving the four home countries. He did not take part in England's first game on 25th October 1947 against Scotland at Doncaster, a 4-2 victory for the home side. However, he did play at left-back in the two remaining fixtures - against Wales at Wycombe Wanderers' ground on 28th February 1948 (a 4-3 win for England) and against Ireland in Belfast on 15th May (a 2-2 draw).

He also played for England in the inaugural International Youth Tournament, which was the brainchild of Sir Stanley Rous, Secretary of the Football Association from 1934 to 61 and the President of FIFA from 1961 until 1974. The tournament later became the European Youth Championship, and is now organised by UEFA as the UEFA Under-19 Championship, the age level being raised in 2001.

England hosted the inaugural tournament, which involved Austria, Belgium, Eire, Holland, Northern Ireland, Italy and Wales. It was a knockout competition and the matches were played at the grounds of Queens Park Rangers, Crystal Palace, Watford, West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur from 15th to 17th April 1948.

England were the winners, beating Wales (4-0) at Queens Park Rangers' ground in the first round; Belgium (3-1) in the semi-final at Upton Park; and Holland (3-2) in the final at White Hart Lane. George played in all three games.

George also represented the Liverpool County FA Youth side in the National Youth Championship in the 1947-48 season. Liverpool reached the final by beating Lancashire (5-2), Cheshire (10-2), West Riding (8-1), Durham (3-2) and Staffordshire (2-0).

Liverpool lost the first leg of the final against Essex 3-0 on Saturday, 1st May in London; George had to leave the field injured. He was fit again for the second game at Goodison a week later, when a hopeful crowd of nearly 10,000 turned up. Despite taking the lead in the 22nd minute, Liverpool could only manage a 2-2 draw.

George also represented Liverpool Schoolboys whilst at Finch Hall Senior School for Boys where, according to his sister Marjory, he was head boy.

Everton FC

1950-51 Season

George had become a part-time professional with Everton in August 1948, when he was 18 years of age. This enabled him to complete his apprenticeship as a toolmaker in accordance with the wishes of his father. Dave Hickson, who had played with George in the Liverpool County FA Youth team the previous season, signed professional terms at the same time as George.

As a part-time professional, George turned out for Everton's A side in the Liverpool County league, winning runners-up medals in the 1948-49 season in the Challenge Cup and the 1st Division.

His first significant appearance for Everton was in the public trial at Goodison Park on Saturday, 12th August 1950. He appeared for the Whites (the Reserves) against the Blues (the senior side); the Blues winning 4-0. The teams were:

Blues: Burnett; Moore, Saunders; Grant, Falder, Farrell; Buckle, Wainwright, Catterick, Fielding, Eglington.

Whites: O'Neil; Clinton, Rankin; Lindley, Humphreys, Melville; Harris, Donovan, Reid, Hampson, Parker.

Following the trial, George was a regular at left-back for the Reserves in the Central League, missing only one or two games. His big chance came on the 9th December, when he was called into the first team to play against Derby County at Goodison Park. His debut did not turn out as well as he might have hoped. Everton lost 2-1 to Derby before a crowd of 37,757, having missed a penalty, and George's performance was mixed: he was perhaps a bit overawed at the start but improved as the game went on.

George then played eight consecutive games at left-back in the first team, beginning with Huddersfield, away on Saturday, 16th December. Everton's 2-1 win got them off the foot of the table with 14 points from 22 games, one point above Sheffield Wednesday, who had played a game less. Coming into a side that was fighting to get clear of the relegation zone was hardly the best time for George to try to establish himself in the first team, but he put in a more confident performance this time.

Everton claimed a much-needed 3-1 victory over Newcastle at Goodison Park in George's next game on Saturday, 23rd December before 40,000 spectators. They then took three points out of four in back-to-back games against Burnley, with George at left back in both matches. They beat Burnley 1-0 at Goodison Park on Christmas Day, giving the home crowd of 40,000 much to cheer about, and then drew 1-1 at Turf Moor on Boxing Day before another large crowd of more than 38,000.

Their fourth game in seven days, against West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns, on Saturday, 30th December, brought another 1-0 victory.

Everton's nine points from a possible ten saw them climb to 16th in the league of 22 teams. They had 21 points from 26 games, whilst the bottom two, Sheffield and Chelsea each had 17 points, although they had only played 25 and 23 games respectively. George must have been feeling fairly pleased with himself - he was beginning to get positive reviews in the press and his team was climbing away from the danger of relegation.

The third round of the FA Cup was the focus of Everton's attention on Saturday, 6th January. However, they were beaten 2-0 at Boothferry Park by Hull City, but it did mean that they could devote all their efforts to trying to secure their place in the First Division for another season.

George played in the next League game the following Saturday, against Stoke City at Goodison Park. Everton were outplayed, losing 3-0.

Arch-rivals Liverpool were Everton's next opponents in the League, at Anfield. For only the second time in ten post-war games, Everton came out on top, winning 2-0 and pleasing their supporters in the large crowd of almost 49,000. According to the match report, George did all that was asked of him.

George was again included in the team for the next league game against Portsmouth at Fratton Park on 3rd February. Despite a 6-3 defeat, George played well.

Everton got back to their winning ways on Saturday, 17th February, with a 3-0 victory over Chelsea at Goodison Park. Another home victory followed in midweek, on Wednesday 28th February, when they defeated Fulham 1-0. George played a key role in this win, making two goal line clearances.

He played in the next league game against Bolton at Burnden Park on Saturday, 3rd March. Everton were beaten 2-0. Despite that defeat, Everton looked well-placed to avoid relegation. They lay 16th in the table with 27 points from 32 games, whilst Sheffield Wednesday and Aston Villa were in the relegation spots, with 19 points from 31 games and 20 points from 30 games respectively.

On Saturday, 10th March, George turned out in his final game for Everton before being called up the following Thursday for his National Service. The team managed a 0-0 draw against Charlton at Goodison Park. He was far from happy when, seemingly having established himself in Everton's first team, he was then called up for his National Service.

Almost immediately, Everton signed Jock Lindsay, the left-back for Glasgow Rangers for £9500. He took George's place for the next two games - a 3-0 defeat by Manchester United at Old Trafford and a loss to Blackpool at Goodison Park by two goals to nil.

However, George, now based at Blandford in Dorset, was released by the Army to take his place for Everton in their next League game, against Spurs at White Hart Lane on 31st March. He could not prevent Everton's third defeat in a row, by a 3-0 scoreline. George was injured when he was hit on the side of his face by the heavy ball, but was able to resume after treatment.

He played in the next three games, the first of which was a 1-1 draw against Wolves at Goodison Park on 7th April, when Everton scored their first goal for seven games. In the next fixture, Everton lost 4-0 to Sunderland at Roker Park; this was followed by a 2-1 defeat by Aston Villa at Goodison Park on 21st April. From looking a fairly safe bet to avoid the drop just over a month earlier, Everton were now next to bottom of the league with two games left. They had 30 points from 40 games, whilst Chelsea were bottom with 26 points from 39 games and Sheffield Wednesday were immediately above Everton with a better goal average, having played the same number of games.

Everton had to win their two remaining games, both of which were away from home, to have any chance of avoiding relegation. George was not given the chance to help them stay up as he was dropped for both matches and replaced by Jock Lindsay, the recent signing from Glasgow Rangers.

In their penultimate game, Everton went some way to saving themselves with a 1-0 win over Derby County. The final game on Saturday, 5th May, was against one of their fellow-strugglers, Sheffield Wednesday when Everton suffered their heaviest defeat of the season, a 6-0 thrashing. The result doomed Everton to relegation to the Second Division, but the win was not enough to save Sheffield Wednesday from the drop. Chelsea scraped home with the same number of points as the two relegated clubs, but a superior goal average.

It was a season of ups and downs for George. He had played 19 League and Cup games for the first team. He started off with some average performances, but then settled down and received some excellent reviews, only to be dropped for the last two games of the season and see his team relegated to Division Two. However, he could still be well-pleased with himself. He had just turned 21 years of age and he had broken into the first team whilst still a part-time professional, training in the evenings. It would remain to be seen, however, just how much his football career would be interrupted by his National Service.

1951-52 Season

George appeared in only two first team games that season. The first occasion was away to Swansea on Saturday, 10th November, when he came in for Lindsay, who was suffering from a pulled muscle and had failed a fitness test on the Friday morning. Everton won 2-0 and George made no mistakes.

His second game was on 22nd March 1952 against Bury at Gigg Lane, when Lindsay was down with flu. Everton lost 1-0.

At the beginning of the season, Everton's manager Cliff Britton's told the Board that, in his opinion, the team was not good enough to win promotion back to the First Division. Unfortunately, that assessment proved to be correct. Everton finished in seventh place with 44 points, nine and seven points behind Sheffield Wednesday and Cardiff City respectively, the two promoted sides.

Despite his National Service, George still managed to play for the Reserves in more than half of the Central League fixtures . They finished runners-up in the Central League behind Wolves.

George played against Liverpool in a strong Everton team in the Liverpool Senior Cup Final at Goodison Park on Tuesday, 29th April. Everton lost to an 89th minute goal before a crowd of 44,000. The teams were:

Everton: O'Neill; Moore, Rankin; Farrell, Jones, Lello; McNamara, Fielding, Hickson, Parker, Eglington.

Liverpool: Ashcroft, Williams, Lambert; Heyden, W. H. Jones, Brierley; Payne, Baron, Stubbins, Smith, J. M. Jones.

George also represented the Army that season. One of their games was an annual fixture against Everton at Aldershot. The Army team, which consisted entirely of young players with Football League experience, was:

Anderson (Leicester); Banks (Bolton), Rankin (Everton); Glen (Aberdeen), Twentyman (Carlisle), Fenton (Blackpool); Jackson (Leyton), Taylor (Barnsley), Smith (Chelsea), Cameron (QPR), Parry (Derby).

Despite being called up for his National Service towards the end of the previous season, George would probably have expected to play more than two first team games. It was not to be as Jock Lindsay had made the left back position his own. Perhaps, representing the Army was some consolation!

At the beginning of that season, Jack Peart took "a peep into the future" in his article in an August 1951 edition of the Sunday Pictorial. Reviewing the careers of 12 players who had broken into their club's first team the year before, Peart wrote the following of George: "Fourth member of the Rankin family to play for Everton and, at twenty, this talented full back looks likely to develop into the best. Grandfather Bruce was a winger, father Bill and uncle George were backs." Others included in the list of 12 future stars were Jeff Whitefoot and Mark Jones of Manchester United, Bobby Robson of Fulham and Peter Broadbent of Wolves.

1952-53 Season

George started off the season in the Reserves. The side took seven points from a possible ten in their first five games, including a victory over a Manchester United Reserve team that contained a number of players who would later become household names - Ray Wood, Bill Foulkes, Jackie Blanchflower, Dennis Viollet and David Pegg - as a result of the Munich air disaster in February 1958. David Pegg was among the twenty-three United players and other passengers who died in the accident; Wood, Foulkes, Blanchflower and Viollet all survived.

George's first appearance that season for the full Everton team was against Doncaster at Goodison Park on 27th September. He replaced Lindsay who had failed a fitness test. Everton won 7-1.

Lindsay was still unfit the following Saturday, so George kept his place against Swansea away from home. With three minutes of the game to go, Everton were down 2-1. However, centre-forward, Dave Hickson, secured a welcome draw with a well-taken goal.

George returned to the Reserves on Saturday, 11th October against Bury Reserves at Gigg Lane, as Lindsay was fit again. The Reserves beat Bury 3-1, but George had to leave the field for some minutes with a head injury.

On Wednesday, 22nd October, George turned out against Everton for the Army's Western Command side at Goodison Park. Everton won 3-0. The teams were:

Everton: Leyland; Clinton, Anderton; Donovan, Woods, Melville; Hampson, Farrell, Hickson, Cummins, Buckle.

Western Command: Webster (Derby County); Banks (Bolton Wanderers), Rankin (Everton); Newman (Birmingham), Twentyman (Carlisle), Clayton (Blackburn Rovers); Bevans (Stoke City), Cameron (QPR), Meadows (Manchester City), Hodgkisson (WBA), Nutt (Coventry City).

George returned to the first team on Saturday, 8th November, as Lindsay was unfit once more. Everton were lying in ninth place in the Second Division with 15 points from 14 games and were hopeful of improving their position. The game, played at Goodison Park before almost 40,000 spectators, looked to be heading for a goalless draw, when Rotherham deservedly secured a victory with a goal six minutes from time. According to the match report in the Liverpool, George "had a bad day".

Despite his "bad day", George played the following Saturday in a 1-0 defeat by Plymouth Argyle at Home Park. Everton could have drawn, but full-back Tommy Clinton missed a penalty. George had a much better game that Saturday.

Lindsay was still injured the following week, so George retained his place against Leeds United at Goodison Park on 22nd November. In the first half, Williams, the Leeds left winger, was carried off on a stretcher following a tackle by Everton's right-back Clinton, with what proved to be a broken leg. The score at that time was 2-2 and, as replacements were not allowed in those days, Leeds had to carry on with ten men. However, Everton failed to take advantage of their numerical superiority in the second half, the game ending in a draw.

As Lindsay was fit the following week, George was consigned to the Reserve team once again.

On Wednesday, 3rd December, George represented the Army's Western Command against the Northern Command in the Inter-Command final. The teams were:

Western Command: Webster (Derby); Banks (Bolton), Rankin (Everton); Newman (Birmingham), Twentyman (Carlisle), Clayton (Blackburn); Len Allchurch (Swansea), Cameron (QPR), Meadows (Manchester City), Simpson (Huddersfield), Nutt (Coventry City).

Northern Command: Middleton (Newcastle); Barnard (Middlesbrough), Cameron (Dumbarton); Rawlings (WBA), Porteous (Hull City), Fenton (Blackpool); Kay (Barnsley), Wood (Barnsley), Anderson (Scottish amateur international), Waldock (Coventry City), Frear (Huddersfield).

Western Command won 4-1. They had scored three goals by the interval, then decided to rest on their laurels and allowed the North to come into the game.

George did not appear again for the Everton first team until 21st February, when Everton's opponents at Goodison Park were Swansea City. Despite attacking for 80 percent of the game, Everton just could not score and the game ended 0-0. Tempers flared towards the end when Cummins, Everton's inside-right, and Thomas of Swansea became involved in a wresting match leaving the referee with no choice but to send both of them to the dressing room.

George completed his National Service in March and immediately signed as a full-time professional. He took his place at left-back in the first team in a 3-3 draw against Fulham on Wednesday, 25th March, at Goodison Park. Both teams wore black armbands in memory of Queen Mary, who had died the previous day.

He kept his place for the game on Saturday, 28th March, away to Rotherham. The game ended 2-2 and he was praised for his defensive play in the press report.

George was not selected for the two Easter games against Huddersfield, but was included in the team against Leeds United at Elland Road on Saturday, 11th April. Everton lost 2-0.

George played in Everton's final game of the season on Saturday, 25th April against Birmingham City at St Andrews. Everton were leading 2-1 at one stage, but ended up losing 4-2 in a game full of incident.

Five days later, Everton announced that they were retaining 30 full-time professionals, including George.

Everton finished 16th in the League. Sheffield United were champions and promoted with Huddersfield Town.

1953-54 Season

George, a keen golfer, was one of 13 Everton players participating in the North West Regional competition of the Professional Footballers' Golf Championship on Monday, 10th August at the Old Links, St Anne's, near Blackpool. Altogether, 82 competitors took part and those returning the 14 best gross scores went through to the final. George was not among them.

Everton's first three games of the season were away from home against Nottingham Forrest, Luton Town and Hull City. With two draws and a home victory against Hull on Tuesday, 25th August, Everton had taken six points from a possible eight. Not a bad start!

The next game was at Goodison Park against Oldham Athletic, promoted from the Third Division, on Saturday, 29th August. Because of an injury to one of Everton's defenders, George was called upon to fill in at left-back in what proved to be his only first team appearance of the season.

After 52 minutes, Oldham went in front through a goal scored by Adams, the Oldham right-winger, although George should never have allowed him to get in a shot. However, he later made amends with two goal-line clearances. Everton eventually emerged as 3-1 winners. George was relegated to the Reserves after the Oldham game.

That October, Everton accepted a £2000 bid from Torquay United for the transfer of George but he refused to move.

By the end of April, Everton Reserves just needed one point from their final two games to secure the Central League Championship. They did it with a game to spare, managing a 1-1 draw against the Manchester United Reserves on 24th April.

The first team was promoted to the First Division as runners-up, losing out as champions to Leicester on goal average, and beating Blackburn Rovers to second place by a single point. Local rivals Liverpool were relegated to the Second Division.

George was among the 21 players used by Everton in their fight for promotion, but he would have been very disappointed to have played only the one game.

At the beginning of May, Everton announced their retained list of 24 full-time professionals and six part-time professionals. George was among the full-time players.

George, along with several other players, was awarded a benefit payment in recognition of his loyalty, having spent five years at the Club. The maximum benefit payable was £750; George was awarded £600.

1954-55 Season

Having won the Central League Championship the previous season, Everton Reserves played in the annual match between the Central League champions and a Central League representative side at Goodison Park on Wednesday, 22nd September 1954. Everton Reserves were playing great football and had made a strong start to the season. The teams selected for the challenge match were:

Everton Reserves: Leyland, Tansey, Rankin; Grant, Woods, Melville; Gibson, Potts, Saunders, Lewis, Buckle.

Central League representative side: Dwyer (Wolves); Bourne (Stoke), Batty (Newcastle Utd); Gibson (Manchester Utd), Mattinson (PNE), Crowe (Aston Villa); Stephenson (Burnley), McAnearney (Sheffield Wednesday), Carter (WBA), Stevens (Bolton), Acourt (Liverpool).

Ever since the inauguration of the match between a Central League representative XI and the Central League champions, it had always been won by the title holders. That season's game was an exception. Everton were beaten by a solitary goal scored by inside forward McAnearney a minute from the interval.

Everton got off to a flying start on their return to the First Division. After four games, they were top of the League, equal with Sunderland, and lost only two of their first nine matches.

Meanwhile, George was a regular at left-back in the Reserves. On Saturday, 6th November, however, he was called into the senior side for the game against Portsmouth at Fratton Park as Everton had released four first team players to play for Eire against Norway that same day. They paid the penalty for releasing these players, losing 5-0.

George did not have a good first half. He was unable to cope with the speed of the Portsmouth winger Harris and was certainly at fault for the first goal when he held off tackling Harris, allowing him to cross for Gordon to score with a brilliant header. He improved after the interval but still found Harris a handful.

Everton were still a commendable 7th in the League at this point of the season.

George was unfit for some of November at least, because it was reported at the meeting of the Board of Directors on 30th November that he was to have an X-ray for a pain in his thigh. A week later, the Board were informed on 7th December that he was still unfit.

However, George returned to the first team on New Year's Day 1955 against Preston North End at Deepdale because the first-choice left-back Donovan had pulled a groin muscle against Wolves over the Christmas period. Although the final score was 0-0, it was an entertaining game and, according to the press report, George played very well against the Preston legend Tom Finney, forcing him to leave his wing to find some freedom.

The following Saturday saw Everton take on Southend United in the Third Round of the FA Cup at Goodison Park. George kept his place for this game as Donovan had still not recovered from his injury. The crowd of more than 53,000 must have wondered if the match would go ahead as there was thick fog over the ground half-an-hour before kick-off. Fortunately, a light breeze dispelled the fog before the start, though conditions were dull and the visibility was still not good.

Southend surprised everyone by taking the lead in three minutes through an own goal by full-back Moore. Seven minutes later, their outside-left, Bainbridge, pulled a muscle and was a passenger for the rest of the game. Playing with virtually ten men, Southend could not keep Everton at bay for 80 minutes and eventually lost 3-1. George had a good game.

Following the cup victory, Everton's next League game was against Burnley at Goodison Park. The team was unchanged, so George appeared for the first team for the third consecutive week. Goodison was covered with two inches of snow and the ground was hard underneath, but the referee had no hesitation in pronouncing the pitch fit for play. Despite the treacherous conditions, Everton went ahead in the 7th minute. However, Burnley were back on level terms early in the second-half when centre-half Jones was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box and Burnley scored from the resulting spot kick. There were no further goals in the game. George played confidently despite the difficult conditions.

George was selected to play in an unchanged team at Leicester the following Saturday, but the game was postponed because of the weather. Altogether, 26 games were postponed.

The fourth round FA cup-tie between Everton and Liverpool at Goodison Park on 29th January was an all-ticket affair with a limit of 72,000 spectators. The teams were:

Everton: O'Neill; Moore, Rankin; Farrell, Jones, Lello; Wainwright, Fielding, Hickson, Potts, Eglington.

Liverpool: Rudham; Lambert, Moran; Saunders, Hughes, Twentyman; Jackson, Anderson, Liddell, Evans, Acourt.

Liverpool, in the Second Division and without an away win for about a year, were unexpected, but worthy, winners by four goals to nil. According to the match report in the Liverpool Echo, Liverpool's outside-right "had a splendid day against the uncertain Rankin". Liverpool did not progress any further in the Cup, losing 2-0 at home to Huddersfield Town on 19th February.

A short video of the match

Short snippet with George Rankin

Donovan returned to Everton's first team against Chelsea at Goodison Park on 5th February. Everton restored some normality to their season, drawing 1-1 and went on to finish a respectable 11th in their first season back in Division One.

George played in just over half of the remaining Reserve games following the Liverpool Cup-tie. However, the side did not win its second successive Central League title; Manchester United Reserves were the champions. At the end of the season, George was only offered, and accepted, a part-time contract.

1955-56 Season

George was a regular at left-back in the Reserves, but was called into the first team against Birmingham City at Goodison Park on Tuesday, 27th December, replacing the injured Tansey. Birmingham had beaten Everton the previous day at St Andrews by six goals to two, so the fans feared another heavy defeat. Everton, however, excelled themselves with a 5-1 victory.

George kept his place for the next match, against Luton away, on New Year's Eve as Tansey had still not recovered from his calf injury. On an extremely muddy pitch, Everton were leading 2-0 at half-time but allowed Luton to score twice after the interval to gain a 2-2 draw.

This proved to be George's final first team game for Everton, but he continued to play regularly at left-back for the Reserves.

He was placed on the transfer list and signed for Southport FC in August for a fee of £500 as a part-time professional. In his time at Everton, George had made 36 League and three FA Cup appearances for the Club. He had not lived up to expectations, following his selection for England Youth and the start to his Everton career proper in the 1950-51 season when he made 19 first team appearances.

Jock Lindsay, who had been signed from Rangers in 1951 and had kept George out of the first team, was also placed on the transfer list. He was considered to be one of the best full-backs in the League, but had never managed to regain his place in the senior side following his broken leg two years' earlier. He had made 117 senior appearances.

George at Southport FC

1956-57 Season

Southport was in the Northern Section of the Third Division when George joined in the summer of 1956, and had just finished in fifth place, nine points behind the leaders, in a record breaking season. The club was looking to build on that success.

In the first league game of the season, on Saturday, 18th August, Southport faced Bradford City away from home. There were two newcomers in the Southport team - George at left-back and Bert Mitchell at outside left, who had been signed from Middlesbrough. The Southport team was:

Minshull; Parkinson, Rankin; Hunter, Taylor, Charlton; Miles, Gryba, Bromilow, McDermott, Mitchell.

Two goals by Bradford within a space of three minutes midway through the second half dashed Southport's hopes of any points, having fought back from a goal down after 14 minutes. George had an excellent game, being praised in the local press for his anticipation and positioning.

For their first home game, against Scunthorpe on Tuesday, 21st August, close-season signing Cliff Birkett from Manchester United replaced Gryba at inside right. Southport were twice in the lead but Scunthorpe equalised on both occasions to earn a point. George was the star man in the home defence and never put a foot wrong throughout the game.

Southport lost their next two games by one goal to nil - at home to Stockport County, their first home defeat for almost 12 months, and then away to Scunthorpe. One point from four games was not the sort of start envisaged by the club and its supporters.

Things improved, however, on Saturday, 1st September when they gained their first win of the season with a 2-1 victory at Carlisle.

Despite the encouragement offered by that win at Carlisle, Southport suffered heavy defeats in their next three games. On Tuesday evening, 4th September, they lost 6-1 at home to Hartlepool United. Four days later, Southport raced into a 3-1 lead against Accrington Stanley, only for the defence then to concede four goals to give Accrington a 5-3 win. The return fixture with Hartlepool United on Monday evening, 10th September, saw Hartlepool complete the double over Southport by five goals to two. Hartlepool's second goal was a tragedy for George; he tried to pass the ball back to goalkeeper Minshull, only to see the ball roll past the goalkeeper into the net.

So, after conceding 16 goals in three games in six days, it was perhaps surprising that there were only two changes in defence for the next game, away to Tranmere Rovers, on Saturday, 15th September. Out went right-back Parkinson and left-half Charlton. The team was:

Minshull; Forsyth, Rankin; Hunter, Taylor, Walsh; Lawrenson, McDermott, Gryba, McIlvenney, Mitchell.

Southport gained a welcome point from a 1-1 draw. George had a hand in the Southport goal when he started a four-man move which ended with Gryba heading into the net.

On Tuesday, 18th September, Southport gained another point, drawing 1-1 at home against Mansfield Town. The home game against York on Saturday, 22nd September, saw the third 1-1 draw in succession. George made a goal line clearance to save Southport from defeat.

After their run of three draws, Southport lost 2-1 at Oldham the following Saturday. With minutes of the game to go, it looked as if Southport were going to secure their fourth 1-1 draw in a row but, in the 86th minute, a shot from one of the Oldham forwards hit George and deflected into the net.

A 1-0 home defeat to Rochdale on Saturday, 6th October, meant that Southport were the only team in the Football League without a home win. The following Saturday they slumped to their ninth defeat of the season, against Halifax. With only six points from 14 games, Southport were bracketed with Chester, Tranmere and Crewe at the foot of the table.

George suffered an Achilles tendon injury in the Halifax game and had not recovered for the home game against Wrexham on Saturday, 20th October, thereby losing his ever-present record. The match ended 1-1.

However, he regained his left-back spot for the away game against Hull City the following Saturday, having recovered from his injury. A 2-1 defeat consigned Southport to third from bottom on goal average, only a point above Crewe, who were at the foot of the table.

Luck was against Southport in their goalless draw at home against Barrow on Saturday, 3rd November. They had a goal disallowed for offside after 65 minutes and two opportunities were cleared off the line with the goalkeeper beaten. Southport's problem was a failure in front of goal; they had only scored seven goals in nine games.

Southport continued to struggle, losing their next five games, scoring only two goals and conceding 12 in the process. George played in all of those games. On Christmas Day, however, they managed to gain a point in a drab goalless draw away to Crewe. The return game with Crewe on Boxing Day was postponed because of a heavy snowfall.

Southport's last chance in 1956 to gain their first home win of the season was against Carlisle on Saturday, 29th December. Their only victory of the season had been at Carlisle almost four months earlier, and they had failed to win any of the 18 League games since. The team was:

Richardson; Parkinson, Rankin; Hunter, Lomas, Charlton; Miles, Evans, Bromilow, McIlvenney, McDermott.

Bromilow had only got back from his 13,000 mile round trip to Australia, where he had played for the Great Britain football team in the Olympics. His return to the team made all the difference for he had a hand in three of the goals scored by Southport in their 4-1 win. Southport had been the only club in the Football League without a home win.

George was dropped for the New Year's Day game at Haig Avenue against Bradford, in which Southport romped home 5-1 for their second home victory of the season. This brought their goals tally for two games to nine, after scoring only nine in their previous 15 games. It also meant five points from the previous three games as against five in the last 14. Certainly a change in fortune!

George returned to the first team for the next League game away to Accrington Stanley on Saturday, 12th January. Southport lost 4-2 in atrocious conditions - after only a few minutes the pitch was a sea of mud. George had an "uncomfortable afternoon" against Accrington's right-winger, Scott, according to the match report.

Defeat at Accrington meant that the fight to avoid re-election to the Third Division, Northern Section was down to four teams - Chester, Tranmere, Southport and Crewe. Southport still had to entertain all their companions in distress, so it was essential that they collected all the points at stake in those vital games.

The first of those critical games was against Tranmere on Saturday, 19th January, which Southport won 1-0 as a result of a penalty in the 52nd minute. George missed this game having been dropped to the Reserves.

George continued in the Reserves for the next two Saturdays, when Southport suffered two very heavy defeats away from home: 6-0 at Chesterfield and 9-1 at York.

George was recalled to the first team for the match against Oldham Athletic at Haig Avenue on Saturday, 9th February - not at left-back but at left-half. The team was:

Minshull; Forsyth, Hunter; Gryba, Taylor, Rankin; Miles, Prescott, Bromilow, McIlvenney, McDermott.

Southport won 2-0 and while victory maintained Southport's unbeaten home record for 1957, it was not enough to get them away from next to bottom place in the League.

George had sustained a knock against Oldham and failed a late fitness test on the morning of the away game against Rochdale on Saturday, 16th February. His place at left-half was taken by Charlton. The game ended in a 6-1 win for Rochdale, a crushing blow for Southport's hopes of escaping re-election.

In the meantime, Southport announced their biggest signing in their history - Stan Mortenson, a former England international, and still remembered for his Cup-Final hat-trick for Blackpool against Bolton in 1953. He joined Southport from Hull City.

Southport made wholesale changes for the home game against Halifax Town on 23rd February, including Mortenson's debut and the recall of George. The match was played in appalling conditions, with rain, sleet and snow throughout. Halifax had won five successive matches so, in the circumstances, Southport were probably relieved to get a point from their 1-1 draw.

Southport's next game, away against Wrexham, was their second successive 1-1 draw. Mortenson scored his first goal for Southport with a header to earn them a valuable point. George was at left-back.

On Saturday, 9th March, Southport, with George again at left-back, beat Hull 1-0 on a muddy pitch.

The following Saturday, Southport created a club record for the season when they extended their unbeaten run to four consecutive games with a 1-1 draw at Barrow. George played in the left-back position. Southport were now out of the re-election places, third from bottom and three points ahead of Tranmere Rovers, the team immediately below them.

Southport, unbeaten at home since 15th December, faced Darlington at Haig Avenue on Saturday, 23rd March. A 1-0 win, through Mortenson's first goal at home, extended their unbeaten run at home to seven games - six wins and a draw. It also gave them a seven-point lead over Tranmere Rovers, which looked sufficient to prevent them having to apply for re-election.

Southport entertained Chesterfield at Haig Avenue the following Tuesday when Chesterfield were lucky to get a point in a scoreless draw. George saved a certain goal when he cleared off the line with goalkeeper Richardson beaten.

Southport achieved their first away win and the double over Bradford the following Saturday with a 3-2 victory. It was Southport's seventh game without a defeat since the signing of Mortenson. George was adjudged to have been the better of the Southport full backs by the match reporter.

On Saturday, 6th April, Southport failed to extend their unbeaten run to eight games when they lost 3-2 to Gateshead at Haig Avenue. Despite the defeat, they were outside the two re-election places, but with seven league games and two cup-ties in the next 16 days, it was going to be a tough fight.

Workington became the seventh team to complete the double over Southport when they won 2-0 at Workington on Saturday, 13th April.

Southport's Easter programme began the following Friday with a 1-1 draw at home with Chester. Then, the following day, Saturday, 20th April, they beat promotion hopefuls Derby County 3-2 in an exciting struggle at Haig Avenue. They were then beaten 2-0 by Chester in their final Easter game on the Monday. Those three points from the three Easter games meant that Southport could not now be overtaken by either Tranmere or Crewe, who would both have to apply for re-election to the Northern Section of the Third Division.

Southport's final home game of the season, against Crewe Alexandra, on Wednesday, 24th April, proved to be a great disappointment. Crewe scored the only goal of the game in the third minute and, in losing the game, Southport allowed Crewe Alexandra to register their first away win of the season.

Derby County beat Southport 2-0 on the last Saturday of the season to clinch the League championship before a crowd of almost 26,000. Then, on Monday, 30th April, Southport ended the season on a happy note by beating Mansfield 2-1 to earn their third away win of the season.

The final placings at the foot of the table were Crewe 21 points, Tranmere 27, Southport 32 and Chester 33. Although Southport had avoided re-election, there were still some disappointing aspects to the season. Their goals against - 94 - was the highest in the club's history, beating the old record of 92 set in 1925-26, and their gates were the second lowest in the Football League.

In terms of Cup games, Southport went out of the FA Cup in the first round. Following a scoreless draw at home against York City on Saturday, 17th November 1956, before a crowd of 5,560, they were beaten 2-1 in the replay at York four days later. George played in both games.

Southport reached the semi-final of the Lancashire Senior Cup, but were beaten 1-0 by Burnley at Turf Moor on Wednesday, 17th April, during a period when they were required to play nine games in 16 days. George was at left-back.

However, they proved to be more successful in the Liverpool Senior Cup, which was contested by Everton, Liverpool, Southport and Tranmere Rovers. In the semi-final on Monday, 15th April, Southport beat Liverpool 3-2 at Haig Avenue before a paltry crowd of 2,272. George was at left-back.

Twice Southport went in front, only for Liverpool to draw level and when they were ahead for the third time in the 82nd minute, they had to fight to hold on to their lead. Gryba, a former Liverpool player, who was made captain for the game, scored two of Southport's goals, while Mortenson got the other.

The final, against Everton, was played at Anfield on Saturday 11th May. Eight of the side fielded by Everton were first team regulars. The teams were:

Southport: Richardson; Parkinson, Rankin; Hunter, Taylor, Charlton; McDermott, McIlvenney, Bromilow, Mortenson, Mitchell.

Everton: Dunlop; Donovan, Sutherland; Birch, Sanders, Rea; J Harris, Gauld, Hood, Haughey, Eglington.

Southport were by no means disgraced in a game that ended 2-1 in Everton's favour. Mortenson opened the scoring in the 4th minute for Southport when he headed the ball into the net from a McDermott corner, and then Donovan headed a Bromilow shot off the line, with Dunlop beaten, to prevent a certain second goal for Southport. Everton equalised from the penalty spot in the 38th minute, after Parkinson had brought down Eglington. Donovan was the scorer. Everton's winner was scored in the 65th minute by Rea.

George was one of the retained players for the following season.

1957-58 Season

During the close season, Stan Mortenson was appointed as first team "supervisor" with responsibility for coaching, practice policy and tactics.

There was some surprise expressed in the local press when Southport disclosed at the end of July that George was to be played at wing half. He had only previously played once for the first team in that position, against Oldham.

Southport lost their first league game of the season 1-0 at Barrow; the full-backs were Dodd and McCredie. George was at left-half in the Reserves.

George was not selected for the first team for the next four games, in which Southport lost to Workington twice and Bury once; their sole victory was 2-1 at home to Oldham. Only three players from the previous season were in the team - goalkeeper Minshull, centre-half Taylor and Mortenson. During that time, George was at left-half for the Reserves.

George was eventually called into the senior side on Wednesday, 11th September at left-half to face Bradford City at Haig Avenue. The team was:

Minshull; Parkinson, McCredie; McCallum, Taylor, Rankin; McKenna, Mortenson, Bromilow, Alexander, McDermott.

Southport lost 2-0, their fifth defeat in six games and were bottom of the league with just two points, having made a worse start than the previous season when they only just escaped re-election.

For the home game against Accrington Stanley on Saturday, 14th September, George was moved to his usual position of left-back. Three times Accrington took the lead and each time Southport fought back to level matters, showing a fighting quality that had been missing from the earlier games and scoring as many goals as they had in the previous six games. George looked much more assured than when he played at left-half.

George retained his place in the team beaten 2-0 by Bradford City at Bradford the following Wednesday, and was again in the senior team at Chester on the Saturday. Southport picked up their first away point of the season in a 1-1 draw. With Southport 1-0 down, George conceded a penalty when he brought down Foulkes, Chester's former Welsh international. Jepson, the Wrexham centre-forward, tried to place the spot kick to the left of goalkeeper Richardson, who moved sharply across his goal to save. Mortenson equalised for Southport in the 82nd minute.

Southport were at home for the next two games and won both, defeating Carlisle 2-0 and Chesterfield 5-2. George gave an accomplished performance in the latter fixture.

On Tuesday, 1st October, Southport had the chance to complete their first double of the season and extend their unbeaten run to four games. Instead, they suffered their heaviest defeat of the season when Carlisle beat them 4-0 at Brunton Park.

The next game was a local derby against Tranmere at Prenton Park on Saturday afternoon, 5th October. Two of George's former Everton colleagues - Tommy Eglington and Peter Farrell - were in Tranmere's side. Southport lost 2-1, a scoreline that did not reflect Tranmere's superiority. In the second-half, George prevented Southport from going further behind when he headed off the line. He came out with honours even against tricky and speedy winger Davies. Southport were now in 23rd position, only a point better off than Crewe, who were bottom.

George was at left-back for Southport's 2-1 home win over Stockport County the following Saturday; it was their third successive home win and perhaps raised the hopes of the players and supporters for a successful run. However, Southport lost their next six games up until 30th November - 2-1 at Gateshead; 3-0 to Darlington at Haig Avenue; 1-0 away to Scunthorpe; 3-1 and 2-0 at home to Wrexham and Rochdale respectively; and 4-1 away to Halifax. George played in all of those games.

On Thursday, 5th December, the Southport Visitor announced that Stan Mortenson had been relieved of his duties as Southport's coach and team supervisor at his own request and that he would concentrate on playing. Gordon Hunt, secretary-manager from 1937, who had been concentrating on administration duties, was to take full charge of the playing and training side, with the directors selecting the team for the most part.

George missed the defeat by Liverpool in the Lancashire Senior Cup on 7th December as he was suffering from flu. He did not play again for the first team until 15th February 1958, missing nine first team matches in which Southport won two, drew three and lost four games and found themselves in one of the two re-election spots.

During that time, George featured in the Reserves and, on two occasions, his younger brother Billy played alongside him on the left wing.

George's return to the first team for the home game against Tranmere Rovers on Saturday, 15th February, did not change Southport's fortune. They lost 3-0. For the away game against Rochdale the following Saturday, George moved over to right back replacing the injured Taylor, with McCredie coming in at left-back . Rochdale won 2-0. According to the match report, George and McCredie put in creditable performances, with George the steadier of the two.

The Haig Avenue crowd saw a rare Southport win on Saturday, 1st March when they beat Gateshead 1-0. It was their first win since Boxing Day and only their second clean sheet of the year. George, who was still at right back, hardly put a foot wrong and was one of the best Southport defenders.

With four inches of snow on the pitch, the away game against Darlington on Saturday, 8th March, was postponed. Scunthorpe, the league leaders, came to Haig Avenue the following Saturday, winning 2-1. The postponed game at Darlington was played on Wednesday, 19th March, and Southport gained a rare away victory by two goals to one. George returned to his usual position of left-back against Darlington.

On the Saturday, Southport not only gained their second away victory in three days by beating Stockport County 2-1, but their third win in the last four games. The defence, with George again at left-back, looked much sounder than it had done for a long time.

Crewe Alexandra, with the joint worst away record in the Football League and bottom of the Northern Section table, were the visitors to Haig Avenue on Saturday, 29th March. Southport recorded their third successive win, by two goals to nil.

Two days later, Southport won again, when they beat Mansfield Town 4-1 at Haig Avenue, with George continuing at left-back. That victory meant five wins from six games and gave Southport hope that they could escape the two re-election places.

However, the Easter programme was a disaster for them. They lost all three games, including defeats home and away to York City and a defeat at the hands of Mansfield. They also failed to find the net in 270 minutes of play. George played at left-back in all three games.

Crewe Alexandra were firmly rooted at the bottom of the league with only 17 points from 41 games. Next was Southport with 27 points from the same number of games, four points behind Bradford, but with a game in hand.

On Saturday, 12th April, Southport suffered their fourth successive defeat without scoring a goal against Halifax. The midweek 0-0 draw away to Chesterfield was Southport's fifth successive match without a goal but, at least, it broke the bad run of defeats after they had promised so much in March. George played in both games.

To keep their faint hopes alive, Southport had to win their last three games and, at the same time, Bradford would have to lose their last two. But, it was not to be. Southport were beaten 1-0 away to Wrexham. After 35 minutes play, George allowed the ball to roll out of play thinking it was going to be a goal kick. However, the referee awarded a corner from which Wrexham scored the only goal of the game. In any case, Bradford won at Rochdale so a victory for Southport would not have prevented them from having to apply for re-election. Southport lost their last two games, 3-2 away to Crewe and 2-1 at home to Hull. George was at left back in both games.

As in the previous season, the Liverpool Senior Cup was Southport's most successful competition. On Saturday, 26th April, they beat Tranmere Rovers 2-1 at Prenton Park in the semi-final, although the winning goal only came two minutes from time.

In the final at Haig Avenue, on Saturday, 10th May, Southport and Everton drew 0-0 after extra time in heavy rain, and so both clubs were joint holders of the Cup. The teams were:

Southport - Richardson, Dodd, Rankin, Kinloch, Taylor, A. Parkinson; McDermott, Gryba, Bromilow, Barker, A. Lee.

Everton - Dunlop; Saunders, Tansey; King, Labone, Meagan; J. Harris, Thomas, Hickson, Ashworth, B. Harris.

In the first round of the FA Cup, Southport. were drawn against Wigan Athletic, a non-league side. Wigan had five former Southport players on their books, including their player-manager Trevor Hitchen. Before the game, Stan Mortenson, Southport's coach, said, "If we can't beat a Lancashire Combination side we don't deserve to be in the Cup." The match was played on Saturday, 16th November, watched by Southport's biggest crowd for some time - 14,170. Southport lost 2-1 to a side that played in the same league as their reserve team. The Southport team was:

Minshull; A Parkinson, Rankin; Dunne, Taylor, McCredie; McKenna, Mortenson, Bromilow, Gryba, Phoenix.

George was one of eleven players retained by Southport for the following season.

1958-59 Season

New National Third and Fourth Divisions came into operation that season. The top eleven clubs in the Northern and Southern Sections, together with the two clubs relegated from the Second Division formed the Third Division, with the bottom 12 clubs from the two Sections comprising the new Fourth Division. A promotion system of four up from the Fourth Division and four down from the Third was to operate. Southport were in the newly formed Fourth Division.

In early June, Trevor Hitchen was appointed as Southport's manager. He had signed for Southport as a player on 31st December 1948 for a four-figure fee and, in seven and a half seasons with the club, he made 275 first team appearances. Sometime afterwards he joined Wigan Athletic as player-manager and was manager and captain of the Wigan side that had knocked Southport out of the FA Cup the previous November.

George did not appear for the first team until 9th September. One of the selected players failed to turn up before the kick off against Bradford at Haig Avenue so George was called in from the Reserves. The team was:

Richardson; Lawless, Rankin; Kinloch, Darvell, Morgans; McDermott, Kerr, Dodd, Barker, Cunliffe.

Southport secured their second victory of the season with a 1-0 win. They fielded the same team in the away game against Torquay the following Saturday, when they were unlucky to be beaten 1-0. Poor finishing lost them the game.

In the next game on Monday, 15th September, Bradford gained revenge for their defeat of the previous week when they won 3-0 and inflicted a fifth successive away defeat on Southport.

Southport gained their third home success of the season on the Saturday with a 3-0 win over Crewe Alexandra. George faced another former Everton player, McNamara, and, at the end of the ninety minutes, honours were about even according to the match report. It was the first time Southport had scored more than once in a game that season.

In their next game, against Port Vale at Haig Avenue on Tuesday evening, 23rd September, Southport came from two goals down to secure a draw. The match reporter for the Southport Visitor considered George to be one of the best defenders on view.

Southport had made their worst start away from home since the War, losing their first five games. Results did not improve in their next two away games, in which they were beaten 3-1 by Northampton Town on Saturday, 27th September, and 4-1 by Port Vale two days later. George played at left-back in both games.

At home, however, they maintained their unbeaten record with 3-0 and 2-0 victories over Workington and Darlington respectively. In between those two Saturday games, they travelled to London on Wednesday morning, 8th October, where they were beaten 1-0 by Crystal Palace in an evening game watched by almost 14,000 spectators.

On Saturday, 18th October, Southport lost 5-1 away to Walsall, their ninth away defeat of the season. Of the 28 goals conceded by Southport, 25 of them had been in those nine away games.

However, the following Saturday, Southport preserved their unbeaten home record with a 2-1 win over Millwall. Millwall's outside right, Broadfoot, was apparently one of the fastest wingers seen at Southport that season, but he seldom got the better of George.

Southport lost 3-2 away to Aldershot the following Saturday and, then, a week later, scored a last-minute equaliser against bottom-placed Gateshead to maintain their unbeaten home record. The draw saw Southport in 20th position, just one place above the danger zone and only one point better off than the club immediately below.

On Saturday, 22nd November, Southport entertained Barrow, two places above them. A penalty save by goalkeeper Richardson earned them a point in a 0-0 draw.

A 5-0 defeat at Carlisle the following Saturday, equalled a 30-year old record for Southport - 11 consecutive away defeats. In the second-half, Carlisle's fourth goal game from the penalty spot when George was adjudged to have brought down Carlisle's right winger in the box.

Exeter and Southport were the only two teams in the Fourth Division unbeaten at home and they met on Saturday, 13th December, at Exeter. Southport looked as if they might grab a 1-1 draw but two late goals from Exeter saw them lose their first twelve away games - an unwanted club record. They were now second from bottom in the league.

Southport's lost their unbeaten home record to Watford, 3-0 winners on Saturday, 20th December. George did not play as he had not recovered from a knock that he received in midweek training. He also missed the Christmas Day and Boxing Day games against Shrewsbury, which Southport lost 1-0 and 6-2 respectively.

George recovered from his injury in time to feature in the New Year's Day game at home against Crystal Palace. Palace won 2-0, consigning Southport to bottom place in the league.

George had played 18 successive first team games before he was forced to miss the Watford and Shrewsbury games. He broke down again during the Crystal Palace match and then missed a further four games.

Southport were undefeated whilst George was out injured, with three wins and a draw. The drawn game was against Hartlepool United and ended a run of 15 away games without a point.

During George's absence, Southport also appointed a new player-manager - Wally Fielding from Everton. Trevor Hitchen, manager since the start of the season, agreed to become Fielding's assistant.

George finally resumed in the first team at left-back on Saturday, 14th February against Northampton Town at Haig Avenue. Southport lost 2-1 to a last minute goal.

Since joining Southport, George had been a part-time professional, but in the week before the Northampton game, he signed a full-time professional contract.

The defeat by Northampton Town started a run of 16 games to the end of the season without a win - five draws and eleven defeats, including defeats in the final six games. George appeared in all of those matches. Southport finished bottom of the league and had to apply for re-election.

Southport fared no better in their Cup games that season. On Saturday, 15th November 1958, they were knocked out of the FA Cup in the first round at Haig Avenue by Halifax Town, who scored twice through errors by goalkeeper Richardson. George was at left-back.

A few weeks before they had lost 1-0 away to Barrow in the first round of the Lancashire Senior Cup and, in March the following year, Everton beat them 3-2 at Haig Avenue in the semi-final of the Liverpool Senior Cup. George played in both those games.

Season 1959-60

Southport were re-elected to the Fourth Division. Their first game of the new season was on Saturday, 22nd August, at home to Rochdale, who had been relegated from the Third Division. The Southport team was:

Richardson; Ashe, Rankin; Clayton, Darvell, Robinson; Taylor, Moss, Green, Reeson, Harris.

Rochdale were two goals up with 30 minutes to go but Southport fought back to level the scores to gain a point.

Their midweek away game at Workington ended in a 1-1 draw. And then, on Saturday, 29th August, they lost 1-0 at Gateshead. The winning goal came when George decided to pass back to goalkeeper Richardson, only to send the ball over the keeper's head into the net.

Another defensive blunder cost Southport a point in their next game. With four minutes to go in the home match against Workington on Tuesday 1st September, Southport were leading, but goalkeeper Richardson failed to hold a shot and Workington were presented with the easiest of chances to equalise. George was later forced to kick off the line with Richardson well beaten.

Following Richardson's poor performance, Southport signed a new goalkeeper - 26 year old Arthur Barnard from Stockport County. Two weeks later, Richardson left the club to join Wigan Athletic, after making 103 appearances for Southport.

Unfortunately, in his first game, an error by Barnard allowed Darlington to score the only goal of the game in the 57th minute and inflict Southport's first home defeat of the season.

A 4-0 loss at Torquay in midweek sent Southport to the bottom of the table with only three points out of a possible 12.

On Saturday, 12th September, they visited Aldershot, who had a 100% home record, so Southport did well to earn a 0-0 draw. It was their first clean sheet of the season but, unfortunately, the attack failed to find the net for the third game running.

Southport lost their home game to Torquay the following Tuesday but, on Saturday, 19th September, they deservedly beat Barrow 1-0 at Haig Avenue to record their first win for 27 games. George had a good game and almost scored in the second-half when he hit a fierce drive inches wide of the post.

Following their victory over Barrow, Southport then suffered two heavy defeats within three days, 5-0 by Doncaster and 4-1 by Gillingham. The Southport Visitor reported that George was only one of three Southport players who turned in a good performance against Gillingham.

On Saturday, 3rd October, Southport beat Crystal Palace 3-1 at Haig Avenue and then, two nights later, were within three minutes of wrecking Millwall's unbeaten record and ending their own run of 34 away games without a win, only to concede a second goal to Millwall, which earned them a draw.

Southport lost their next away game to Stockport by the only goal, when a draw would have been a fairer result. According to the Southport visitor, both full-backs did well with George clearing off the line with goalkeeper Barnard beaten.

Southport recorded their third successive home win on Saturday, 17th October, when they beat Exeter 3-2. However, George had a difficult time against his opposing winger, who played a significant part in both of Exeter's goals.

After a 2-1 away defeat at Watford on Saturday, 24th October, Southport beat Oldham 1-0 at Haig Avenue the following weekend to record their fourth straight home win. The win moved Southport out of the four re-election places.

The following Saturday, Southport, still without an away win, visited Carlisle, who were in fourth place. After the first 16 games of the season, George was one of six ever-presents in the side. For the third consecutive away game, all against clubs in the top half of the table, Southport were beaten by an odd goal.

Southport suffered their heaviest defeat for two and a half years when league-leaders Walsall defeated them 8-0 on the 21st November, conceding five goals in the last 18 minutes.

Without a win in November, Southport badly needed the two points they gained by beating Hartlepool United 2-1 for their fifth successive home league win. They followed this with another home victory, this time against Chester by three goals to one. George faced a 17 year old winger against Chester, who changed wings after finding George's experience too much for him.

Southport's next opponents, Rochdale, had not been beaten in their last 12 home games, whilst Southport had the worst away record in the four divisions. So, they were desperately unlucky to lose 1-0 as a result of an own goal and a lack of punch in attack. According to the match reporter, George put in one of his best performances, was easily Southport's best defender and played Rochdale's right winger out of the game.

Boxing Day was the last chance Southport had of winning their first away game of 1959 but it was not to be, losing 3-0 to Bradford. The return match at Haig Avenue on Monday, 28th December ended in a 1-1 draw. Left-winger Harrison scored for Southport after ten minutes, whilst Bradford equalised two minutes before the interval. Five minutes from the end, Harrison missed a penalty to deny Southport their seventh successive home league win.

Southport were now back in the re-election places, fourth from bottom, on the same number of points as Doncaster Rovers, the team immediately above them, but with an inferior goal average.

Southport's first game of 1960 was at home to Gateshead on Saturday, 2nd January. George had broken a foot in the Bradford game, so lost his ever-present record. A 67th minute goal for Southport was enough to secure both points and move them to fifth from bottom in the league.

George also missed the next three games, all defeats, as a result of his injury before returning to the first team at left-back for the away game against Barrow on Saturday, 6th February. Despite scoring their first away goal since 24th October, Southport lost 3-1.

The following Saturday, Southport ended their run of four successive defeats by gaining a point with a 1-1 draw at home against Gillingham.

The surprise result of the day on Saturday, 20th February, was Southport's 2-2 draw at promotion seeking Crystal Palace. Southport went in at the interval with a 2-0 lead, but Palace scored in the 66th and 74th minutes to level the scores. George prevented Palace scoring a third goal when he cleared off the line with Barnard beaten.

In their next game, Southport recorded their biggest win of the season when they beat Stockport County 3-0 at Haig Avenue. They then gained a point from each of their next two games, both of which ended 1-1. The first was away to Exeter and the second at home to Watford. For the second time in recent games, George saved a point when he cleared the ball of the line against Watford.

On Wednesday, 16th March, Southport were well and truly beaten 5-1 by Crewe Alexandra away from home. However, the following Saturday, 19th March, was a day to remember in the history of Southport Football Club. The club ended a two-year and 47 game run without an away victory, when they defeated Oldham by a goal to nil at Boundary Park. It was also their first double of the season. The Southport team against Oldham was:

Barnard; Ashe, Rankin; Rutherford, Darvell, Grant; Taylor, Moss, Jepson, Blain, Harrison.

Their home game against Carlisle on Saturday, 26th March, ended 1-1, but should have been a Southport victory as their forwards missed several easy chances.

They suffered heavy defeats in their next three games - 4-1 away to Notts County; 4-1 in their first home defeat since 23rd January to league leaders Walsall; and 4-0 away to Northampton Town.

Along with several of his colleagues, George lost his place following the defeat against Northampton. He was recalled to the first team for the home game against Millwall on Monday evening, 25th April, which Southport won 1-0, ending Millwall's promotion chances.

George played in the last two games of the season - a 2-2 draw away to Chester and a 1-1 draw at home to Doncaster Rovers. He had made 39 league and six Cup appearances during the season.

The two draws meant that Southport finished in 21st place in the league and would have to seek re-election.

In the first round of the FA Cup, Southport were drawn at home for the fifth successive time. Their opponents on 14th November 1959 were Workington Town. After a 2-2 draw at Haig Avenue, Southport lost the replay on Wednesday evening, 18th November, by three goals to nil. Southport's team was:

Barnard; Rutherford, Rankin; Grant, Darvell, Robinson; Taylor, Moss, Parker, Fielding, Harrison.

Southport also went out of the Lancashire Senior Cup in the first round, this time after two replays. They drew 1-1 with Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park in October. The replay at Haig Avenue on Tuesday, 24th November, also ended in a 1-1 draw, after extra time. George almost won the game for Southport in extra time when his shot struck the bar. Southport won the toss to stage the second replay at Haig Avenue on Tuesday, 1st December, but were deservedly beaten 4-0. George also played in the second replay.

A week later, they were knocked out of the only other cup competition in which they had an interest, the Liverpool Senior Cup. Tranmere Rovers beat them 1-0 at Prenton Park. George faced his former colleague Tommy Eglington and, according to the match report, honours were just about even by the end of the game.

George was placed on the open-to-transfer list at the end of the season. Two supporters expressed surprise at this in letters to the Southport Visitor, pointing out that he had given great service to the Club and would be very difficult to replace.

George had completed four season with Southport, making 144 league and 6 FA cup appearances. Maybe his entitlement to a benefit the following season had something to do with Southport's decision to release him.

George was working as a draughtsman for a Southport firm and joined Borough United in the Welsh League, later moving to Dolgellau also of the Welsh League. At this stage, George was going through a difficult period, according to his brother Billy. He was having a stressful time at work where he was experiencing "some bullying", he and his wife had bought a busy newsagents in Liverpool, and his marriage was going through a bad patch. It all got too much for him and he suffered a breakdown on his way to play for Dolgellau one Saturday and did not know where he was. He was admitted to Ormskirk Hospital and remained there for six weeks or so. He was never the same after that. His marriage failed, he lost his job and his football career was finished.

Life after Football

George had been a keen golfer during his football career, playing in a number of the Professional Footballers' Golf Championships over the years. His last appearance was in the 1959 competition when he was among the fifteen players who qualified from the north-west for the final held in London. He did not win the competition but Wally Burnett, who had been at Everton with George, thought that George would have been a better golfer than a footballer.

After his football career was finished, George found solace in his golf. He was a member of Hesketh Golf Club, near Southport, for many years and won numerous trophies there.

He also started work again as a toolmaker for Delco Electronics in Liverpool. Having taken early retirement from Delco, he died unexpectedly at the age of 59 years, on 22nd September 1989, in Fazakerley Hospital from a blood clot, following a hip replacement operation.

Former team-mates and family all described George as a quiet man. He must have also been quite a modest man. His brother, Billy, who had played with him several times for Southport Reserves, did not know that George had played for England Youth until he was interviewed about George for this website in 2008.