Davenport the pride of Southport

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Some professional footballers drop out of the full-time game and, in the words of the Southport manager, Billy Ayre, "treat non-League football as some sort of gravy train." There are others, though, who cope admirably with the change in their status and set a splendid example, and Southport have one such player in Peter Davenport.

The former England, Nottingham Forest and Manchester United striker joined the GM Vauxhall Conference club just after the start of 1995-96, after a couple of seasons in Scotland. "He'd spent the pre-season period with Scarborough, and he wasn't fully fit when he joined us," Ayre explained last night, "but since he's been fit, and I've put him in the side, he's been exemplary. He has a tremendous will to win, and he works ever so hard."

Davenport is Southport's top scorer this term with eight goals to date, the most recent of which came in last Saturday's outstanding 3-2 win at Kidderminster Harriers. The Haig Avenue club have won five of their last six games - a record which earned Ayre the GMVC Manager of the Month award for November - and have climbed to eighth place in the table.

Southport finished third last season and fourth in '93-94, and Ayre is confident that they can claim an even higher position at the end of this campaign - and maybe even win back the Football League place they lost to Wigan in 1978 - their Haig Avenue ground satisfies League requirements. "We're not keeping too many clean sheets but we're getting plenty of goals, and we've got four other regular scorers as well as Davenport," Ayre, who joined Southport late last season, said. "We're playing with confidence now."