January 25, 1966 will always be remembered as one of the greatest nights in the history of Southport FC.
50 years ago today, under the floodlights at Portman Road, Ipswich, the Sandgrounders achieved one of their finest results of all time with a notable giant-killing in an FA Cup third round replay.
The cup run of season 1965-66 has a special place in Southport folklore, and the victory away at Ipswich Town is a defining part of that story.
As cup wins go, they do not come any more dramatic. After a goalless draw in the original tie at Haig Avenue in front of a crowd of more than 9,000, the teams met again three days later at Portman Road.
Scoring a first-half opener before squaring the match at 2-2 after Ipswich had fought back, Alan Spence found the target twice for the Sandgrounders that night.
But just when a draw had looked certain and with extra time beckoning, along came Colin Alty, who claimed the headlines with a dramatic last-minute winner.
The local lad of the team, Alty spent six years at Haig Avenue and, half a century on, that night at Portman Road still brings back special memories.
“There were a lot of people there from Southport that day and it still gets mentioned to me even now,” says Alty.
“People come up to me and say they remember me scoring that goal at Ipswich. It’s amazing how many people still mention it.
“Ipswich were a good team with a good reputation. They had won the Football League a couple of seasons earlier and had played in Europe before they got relegated.
“The game was incredible. We went in at half-time 1-0 ahead and I remember Arthur Peat telling us to keep it tight as we came out for the second half. Not long after, we found ourselves 2-1 down.
“It stayed like that until about ten minutes from the end when Spenny scored an absolute screamer which almost broke the net. I don’t think he’d ever hit one from that far out before and it flew into the top corner.
“That got it back to 2-2 and Ipswich just went. In the last ten minutes we were all over them and they were struggling. We hit woodwork and then we got the winner.
“Terry McDonald put the cross over, Spenny flicked it on at the near post and I was there at the far post to head it in off the crossbar. There must have been about six seconds to go.
“Everyone went mad and there were people coming onto the pitch. They are fantastic memories.”
The third round win at Ipswich was the fifth of Southport’s seven matches in that memorable cup run. They had also claimed an impressive victory to beat Stockport on a replay in the previous round but this was the result that started to get Bingham’s team noticed.
“It could have actually been all over in the home game because Spenny hit the post in the last minute but we went on to win the replay,” Alty adds.
“After the game the champagne was flowing, which we were getting used to by that stage.
“We then went into the pub by the ground and when we walked in everyone there started signing Irish Eyes Are Smiling because of Bingy. It was brilliant.”
Having started out with Preston North End, Alty had joined Southport at the start of the previous season, and says the arrival of Bingham changed the landcaspe at Haig Avenue.
“We were a fit team, Bingy brought new ideas to the club in terms of the training and it worked,” says Alty, who was moved from full-back to centre-forward under the new manager.
“When Bingy came in we were at a different place every day. We would be on the beach, at Princes Park, Southport baths, running along the Promenade and then playing five-a-side. Everything was different.
“He got everybody moving and everyone training. These days every team concentrates on fitness regimes but back then it was new.”
Bingham’s methods quickly brought Southport success, and after victory at Ipswich thanks to the last-gasp winner from Alty, the Sandgrounders’ cup journey continued.
“By now things were fairly buzzing at Haig Avenue,” explains The Sandgrounders: The Complete League History of Southport FC. “The press were beginning to take notice of this team which had come from nowhere the previous season and its youthful, ambitious manager.
“Bingham handled the publicity aspect well and kept the club’s name to the forefront. The draw was again kind and Cardiff were destined to make the trip north.”
For Southport, another chapter was about to be written, but for Bingham’s team and Alty, in particular, this was the night that dreams came true.
*With special thanks to Colin Alty, Steve Beverley, and Geoff Wilde and Michael Braham, The Sandgrounders: The Complete League History of Southport FC
* Bingham’s Boys: The Heroes of ’66, an event hosted by Trust in Yellow celebrating 50 years since Southport’s historic FA Cup run, takes place in the Grandstand Bar on Saturday February 13 at 5.30pm.
Trust in Yellow is celebrating 50 years since one of Southport’s greatest ever seasons.
In 1965-66, the Southport team managed by Billy Bingham reached the FA Cup fifth round, including famous wins against Stockport County, Ipswich Town and Cardiff City.
To celebrate half a century since then, the Trust is holding a special event on Saturday February 13 after the home match against Braintree Town.
The Trust is currently looking for help from fans to tell the story from that season.
Do you have any programmes, newspaper cuttings or photographs from that FA Cup run?
If so, the Trust would like to hear from you. Please e-mail email@example.com with anything you would like to share from that season.
The Trust is looking for items to use in a number of features planned in the lead-up to the event, at the event itself and for the matchday programme for the game against Braintree.
The Trust is also looking for fans to share their memories from that season. Were you part of the crowd of over 14,000 which saw the win over Cardiff at Haig Avenue? Did you travel to either of the replays against Stockport or Ipswich, or even the defeat at Hull City in front of almost 40,000 people? What do you remember about that Southport team?
The Trust is looking to use memories from fans to publish at the event on February 13 and in the programme, so please let us know what you remember about that glorious season.
Again, the e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
So whether it is programmes, press cuttings, photographs or memories, the Trust would be delighted to hear from you. Please get in contact as soon as possible to help with us with the planning.
It is 50 years since one of the most memorable seasons in Southport's history.
Under the management of the legendary Billy Bingham, the Sandgrounders reached the fifth round of the FA Cup, including famous wins over Stockport County, Ipswich Town and Cardiff City.
To mark half a century since then, Trust in Yellow is delighted to be hosting a very special event with the players who made it all possible.
Bingham’s Boys: The Heroes of ’66, will take place in the Grandstand Bar on Saturday February 13, after Southport’s home match against Braintree Town.
This date is special because it is 50 years and a day after a crowd of over 14,000 crammed into Haig Avenue to see Bingham’s Sandgrounders beat Cardiff 2-0 in the fourth round.
The event will start at 5.30pm and the former players will speak to supporters about what it was like to be part of such an important season in the club’s history.
Further details of the event will be announced shortly.
Among the players present will be Colin Alty, the scorer of a dramatic late winner against Ipswich at Portman Road, Ron Smith and Alan Spence, who both scored in the win over Cardiff, Alex Russell, Tony Beanland plus others.
It remains Southport’s best FA Cup run since 1931, and the majority of the players from that campaign also won promotion with the Sandgrounders to what is now League One the following season, before playing against Everton in the cup a year later.
It is an event not to miss, so please make a note of the date as we celebrate the anniversary of a special moment in the club’s history.
Due to a lack of bookings there will be no supporters' coach to Bromley.
The FA Trophy tie at Dover is on January 16th. The fare is £29 for Trust members, £22 for junior members and £34 for non-members. We are waiting for confirmation from the coach company but it will have an early morning departure time.
A decision will be made on Saturday as to whether it is viable to run this coach so please book now if interested.