That Other Blackpool Team - South Shore FC.
Blackpool celebrated their 125th birthday on 26th July with a friendly game against Chorley FC the Seasiders first ever opponents in 1887. On Sunday 5th August Everton will be the next visitors to Bloomfield Road for Keith Southern's testimonial.
125 years ago in the very week that the re-formed Blackpool Football Club was meeting at the Stanley Arms to announce that George McVittie would be the club captain, Billy Caffrey would be the vice-captain, and Messrs J Parker and J batty would fill similar roles with the reserve side, that other Blackpool team - South Shore FC (eventually to amalgamate with its superior neighbour) was being also being entertained by Everton.
It was Everton’s opening game of the 1887/88 season and, as the rare programme reveals, the advertising space on the single sheet had not by that time been sold. But, in typical Victorian style, the teams were nicely set out for all the fans to see.
In the South Shore team for the Everton game was a player who had already played for the ill-fated Blackpool side: goalkeeper William Langley was an early goalkeeper for Blackpool way back in 1877. After his stint with South shore he re-joined Blackpool in 1892/93 and played for the reserve side although he did make one or two first team appearances when the legendary ‘Lal’ Wright was indisposed. And of the remainder of the side Bob Walsh, who had joined South Shore when it was formed in 1879 and was later to be captain, ended his career with a number of games for Blackpool in the 1890/91 season when the club was still in the Lancashire League.
Harold ‘Gyp’ Cookson likewise played for Blackpool in their Lancashire League days but, contrary to what Roy Calley writes in his Blackpool A Complete record 1887-1992 he did not play League football for the club [the Cookson potted biography in the Calley book is a mixture of details relating to ‘Gyp’ Cookson and a later player, signed from Bristol City, Walter Cookson – and it is the latter that played League football for the club] Cookson and Elston who played in this Everton game only remained at South shore for the rest of August for by September both had been signed by Burslem port vale. Their stay in the potteries did, however, only last one season as the both returned to their roots for the 1888/89 season.
As for the left back McCaffrey, he was quite a character. With registrations for clubs not quite water-tight in Victorian times as it is today. McCaffrey, also known as Caffrey, had agreed to Blackpool for the 1887/88 season and, as noted above, he was originally named as vice-captain of the first team. In the event he reneged on the deal and returned to South Shore to play for the other Blackpool team who it was reported had offered “pecuniary advantages” to him!
One further well-known name in the South Shore side is the A Parkinson who was a programme change as he moved from inside left to left half. He is none other than Sir Lindsay A Parkinson and even later became president, and a major benefactor, of the club. Back in 1887 he was known as Albie (Albert) Parkinson and was reputedly a very good footballer who was offered professional terms by Blackburn Rovers. He chose, however, to remain on the Fylde.
As for the game itself, South Shore won 2-1 in front of an Anfield crowd of 6000. The Everton side contained five new players, Cassidy and Murray from Motherwell, Watson from Glasgow Thistle, Lewis from Church Stretton and Taylor from Blackburn Olympic.
The ground had been improved “by the erection of a large wooden inclined platform at the Oakfield Road end” and this increased the capacity by 1,000. The spectators were treated to an entertaining game with Langley in the South Shore goal, “by his magnificent play undoubtedly saving the match”. For Everton, Cassidy, Farmer and Watson “played prettily throughout” but it was Sharp who gave South Shore the lead in the first half. Before half-time, Hacking increased the visitors’ lead and Everton were lucky to go into the break only two goals behind as just before the whistle, Elston struck the crossbar.
After near misses by Fleming and Murray, Watson reduced the arrears and from then until the final whistle “South Shore had wholly to act on the defensive”. Langley came to the rescue on a number of occasions and Cookson and Elston were regularly called upon to help out the hard-pressed defence. They succeeded and at the close the score remained 2-1 to South Shore, a home defeat for a side destined to be one of the original 12 members of the Football league in the following season.