The first season of the Football League began in September, 1888. Preston North End won the first championship that year without losing a single match and acquired the name the "Invincibles". Blackburn Rovers finished in 4th place, 14 points behind Preston.
At the beginning of the 1889-90 season Tom Mitchell, the club secretary, recruited four top players from Scotland: Tom Brandon, Johnny Forbes, George Dewar and Harry Campbell. These players joined local men, James Southworth, Jack Southworth, James Forrest, Herbie Arthur, Billy Townley, Nathan Walton, Joseph Lofthouse and John Horne.
In the 1889-90 season Blackburn Rovers finished in 3rd place, six points behind Preston North End. They did even better in the FA Cup. On the way to the final they beat Sunderland (4-2), Grimsby Town (3-0), Bootle (7-0) and Wolverhampton Wanderers (1-0).
Blackburn Rovers were odds-on favourites to win the cup against Sheffield Wednesday, who played in the Football Alliance league. James Southworth played left-back in the Blackburn side that won the game 6-1.
Southworth, who left Blackburn Rovers in 1889 played 21 games for the club.
James Southworth died in 1940.