On 30 December 1893 Jack Southworth made Goodison history by becoming the first and only Everton player to score a double hat trick. It came in a 7-1 victory over West Bromwich Albion, described by the Liverpool Daily Courier, with Victorian understatement, ‘exceptionally interesting.’
A crowd of 25,000 braved foggy weather to see the game. Within a minute of kick off they witnessed John Bell put Everton ahead and by half time Everton were leading 4-0 after Southworth had struck his first hat trick of the day. Alex Latta and Bell had combined to give him his first goal, and the second came when Reader, the Albion goalkeeper, failed to hold a shot from Bell. Southworth’s third was an outstanding solo effort. In the second half the goals kept coming. Southworth added his fourth shortly after the break and although Albion battled back, the Everton forward was insatiable. His fifth goal came after Bell had beaten three men to set him up, and he finished the rout after Latta played him through. Southworth’s tally could have been even higher, had Latta not rushed in to finish the forward’s late goal-bound header (for which he was ruled offside).
‘Southworth gave one of his wonderfully good displays,’ reported the Football Echo. ‘There is not the slightest doubt but that the whole of the Everton successes now are traceable to the skilful manipulation of the ball by Southworth. The rest of the team apparently recognises Southworth's grand form and unselfishly afford him every opportunity for displaying it.’
Southworth’s Christmas heroics unquestionably represented the highlight of his Everton career. Born in Blackburn in 1866, he had started his competitive career with Chester City, where he combined playing with work at the local Royalty Theatre. Southworth was a talented musician and formed a double act with his brother James, who was also a footballer. After a spell with Blackburn Olympic, Jack and James Southworth signed for Blackburn Rovers for the inaugural Football League season. Jack, a centre forward, outshone his brother, a left back, but both played in the 1890 FA Cup Final against Sheffield Wednesday, which Rovers won 6-1.
This was James’s final game for Rovers, but his brother, by now an England international, went from strength to strength. In 1891 he won a second FA Cup and over three years Rovers never lost a match with him in the team. His nickname, ‘The luck of the Blue and Whites,’ was fitting and Southworth was considered among the finest players in the league’s early days. A contemporary wrote: ‘His dodging, his neat passing, his speed and general accuracy in shooting won the hearts of the spectators .... He is built for speed, he plays an unselfish game; he's good at tackling and has excellent judgment.’ He finished the 1890/91 season top league scorer with 26 goals from 22 appearances, and added a further 6 in the FA Cup.
Southworth would surely have remained a Blackburn player, but the club were beset by financial problems after the cost of redeveloping Ewood Park had not been covered by a consummate rise in attendances. To avert financial crisis they were forced to sell their star player and in September 1893 Southworth joined Everton for £400. After scoring on his debut against Derby County, the goals kept coming. His six goal haul came just a week after he had scored four times in the 8-1 demolition of Sheffield Wednesday. His haul of 27 goals in 22 matches during the 1893/94 season saw him finish the First Division’s top scorer for a second time.
Southworth began the 1894/95 season in the same scintillating fashion that he had left off the previous year. Nine goals in his first nine matches saw Everton rise to the top of the league. However, a serious leg injury sidelined him in October and without him Everton stumbled, eventually finishing runners up to Sunderland. Scarcely could Southworth have imagined when he turned 28 on October 16, 1894, that he would play his last professional game less than a fortnight later.
Post football, Southworth returned to his pre-Football League career as an entertainer, becoming a professional violinist with Manchester’s Halle Orchestra.