Cessnock Hornets legend Michael 'Pom' Southworth dies aged 71

LEGEND: Michael Southworth came to Cessnock from England in 1972 and became part of the great British influx into Coalfields football.
LEGEND: Michael Southworth came to Cessnock from England in 1972 and became part of the great British influx into Coalfields football.

Aberdare's Michael Southworth has been remembered as a beloved family man and the "best signing Cessnock Hornets have ever made".

The 71-year-old died on July 4, after a long and courageous battle with cancer.

Perhaps better known as 'Pom', Southworth came to Cessnock from England as a 21-year-old in 1972 to play football and became part of the great British influx into Coalfields football.

He was playing for Clitheroe in Lancashire when he saw an ad in a British newspaper calling for players to move to Australia and play for Cessnock.

Southworth played for the Hornets from 1972, scoring Cessnock's lone goal in a 3-1 grand final defeat against Mayfield in his first season.

He then spent a few years playing in Tasmania, before returning to again play for Cessnock. His final year in 1986, when he player-coached the side, was celebrated with a major premiership.

He later out of retirement in 1993 at age 43 to help the club out and played in the youth grand final loss as well as the first grade grand final victory.

Southworth also played two games for Northern NSW in 1974-1975.

Close friend and fellow Hornet David 'Skip' O'Hearn said as a player Southworth was considered a dangerous goal threat and a very calm and composed footballer.

Southworth became a life member of the Hornets in the 1980s and was club president for four years from 2014.

FULL CIRCLE: Michael Southworth became president of the Cessnock Hornets in 2014, a position he held for four years.

FULL CIRCLE: Michael Southworth became president of the Cessnock Hornets in 2014, a position he held for four years.

He played 230 games for the club, scored 78 goals, achieved two minor premierships and won two grand finals.

He was also the mastermind behind the club's successful summer seven-a-side competition, which ran for 21 years until it was affected by COVID-19.

"A lot of the success that Cessnock has had recently is owed to the fact that Michael kicked off that tournament which gave the club the funds to go and chase success," O'Hearn said.

Southworth put a lot of work into the Cessnock club, particularly around ground maintenance. O'Hearn said he often trimmed upwards of 600 metres of fence line each fortnight to make the place look tidy.

"Michael always used to say 'thank you linesmen, thank you ball boys' at the end of every day's soccer," he said.

"On behalf of myself, my family, Cessnock Hornets FC and its members, I'd like to say thank you Pom, without a doubt the best signing Cessnock Hornets ever made."

Michael Southworth is survived by wife Lorraine, children Michael, Stephen and Sophie, grandchildren Brylee, Nataliah and Tallon and recent great-grandchild Jaxton. His funeral was held on Friday.

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