Crowd favourite Kevin Lynch regards the day Southport won the Conference North title at Harrogate Town as a moment he will always treasure.
The Southport squad of 2005 return to the Merseyrail Community Stadium on Sunday to celebrate ten years since that epic championship victory in an event organised by Trust in Yellow.
Lynch, a summer signing ahead of the title-winning campaign, joined Southport towards the end of his career, but went on to play an influential part in the Sandgrounders’ success.
“Winning the league was an unbelievable feeling and to win the Conference North in its first year means we will always be remembered,” said Lynch, speaking to the Trust ahead of Sunday’s reunion.
“It was such a proud moment in my football career. I joined Southport because I wanted to win things and I felt Southport were club that matched my ambition. Because of how I am, I felt that once I was playing I could play a massive part in the club’s success.
“There are many treasured moments I have from the 2005 season. My time at Southport began with scoring in a friendly against Everton and I got some other important goals.
“The fans singing my name was very special, but the game at Harrogate is the one that stands out because of the magnitude of the game. We went there knowing that, if we won, we would win the league.
“The build-up of traveling to the game, winning by the scoreline we did and then celebrations afterwards with the fans, chairman and players was such a great feeling and one that I will treasure.”
With the championship in the balance until the final day of the season, Southport were pushed all the way in the title race by Droylsden.
As well as an unbreakable team spirit, one of the defining features of that Southport squad was the special relationship with supporters, and few players typified the link with the fans more than Lynch.
“I would like to thank the fans for how good they were with me,” he added. “This is one of the great memories I have of the club. The fans are the heartbeat of any club and Southport fans are up there with the best so I would like to thank them for the support they gave me.
“On the pitch, the key players for us were Steve Dickinson in goal, and Mr Versatile and Mr Consistent, Sid Pickford. Farrell Kilbane was as mad as cheese but a rock at centre-half. Terry Fearns scored so many of our goals and he should have made it as a professional.
“There was also Carl Baker's trickery but there were other great players as well, like Steve Daly, Chris Price, Earl Davis and Neil Fitzhenry. One of the things that does stand out is the great team spirit we had.
“The joker of the dressing room would have to be Sid, who was a great lad even if he is from Manchester! I also remember Faz getting a cold shower before every game, coming in and soaking the changing rooms which could be annoying sometimes!”
Since hanging up his boots, Lynch has forged a successful coaching career. Having started out as manager of Marine, he joined former Southport manager Paul Cook on the coaching staff at Chesterfield, where he won promotion to League One.
“I left Southport to join Droyslden who I helped win the Conference North again, then I went on the play for Marine,” Lynch said.
“I became Marine manager in 2009 and I was in charge there for four years before I was head-hunted by Chesterfield to join their backroom staff as first-team coach. There, I helped them to win League Two, reach the final of the Football League Trophy at Wembley and then secure a play-off semi- final in League One.
“Due to the success, Portsmouth approached Chesterfield to take the management staff but I couldn't commit to leaving my family to move down there, so I am now at Blackburn Rovers’ academy.
“I’m looking to get back into the Football League and I think I’ve been quite fortunate to have a successful coaching career that matches my playing career, so long may it continue.”
The reunion for the 2005 title-winning team takes place on Sunday - and Trust in Yellow wants you to be there.
Although the event in the Grandstand Bar has sold out, the day starts with a match at the Merseyrail Community Stadium between the squad of 2005 and a team of supporters, kick-off 2pm. Entry into the match is just £2 and the Trust is urging supporters to get down to welcome home the heroes of ten years ago.
There are also features with other players - Farrell Kilbane, Earl Davis, Terry Fearns, Jimmy Williams, Neil Robinson, plus manager Liam Watson - in a special 32-page souvenir programme produced for the reunion which looks back at the title-winning campaign. The programme is on sale on Sunday for £3.