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The PL League Boss
Apr 28, 2006
PL Headquarters Hullbridge
I know all my historical stuff isn't everyone's cup of tea so I've tried something different, a FICTIONAL story on the background of historical fact. Any similarity between the characters in the story and Shrimperzoners is entirely intentional, only the names have been changed to protect the guilty. No offence to anyone all in fun.

If this goes down well I could do more.



It was 1922, Southend United were just two years into the Football League but at the end of the previous season had to apply for re-election and were lucky to survive. Yet at the start of the coming season there seemed be a different atmosphere at the Kursaal ground, a new spirit, the erstwhile pessimism had given place to a feeling of optimism. If ever the United had a good manager, they had one in Mr. E.L. Birnie. He was a quiet conscientious and shrewd man with an inborn capacity to judge the merits of a footballer. Though he was not be immune from mistakes, everyone was convinced that in him we have a man who will produce goods. The fortunes of a club, are in the hands of its manager as executive officer and team builder and it is because United have secured the right man for the position that one could confidently predict for the club a successful season. The opening match of the season saw Southend win 2-0 at Newport but few if any Southend enthusiasts would have had the opportunity to see the match, but they eagerly awaited the return fixture the following Saturday the 2nd September 1922.

Albert Crickson like most City workers had to work till 1 o’clock on a Saturday morning. He worked some ten minutes walk away from the “Woodin Shades” Public House opposite Liverpool Street Station, yet every Saturday he miraculously was inside the Pub just before five minutes past one. He ordered a pint of draft Bass and a hot meal and turning to the landlady said “have you seen Frank today Roxy”. “Don’t you be so forward and personal young Mr Crickson” replied the offended Landlady “no he hasn’t been in today yet”. Albert, put in his place sat at a table and waited for his pal. His meal came, was consumed, another pint of Bass ordered and still no friend. Southend United were playing Newport at the Kursaal with a 3.30 kick-off so time was short. They had to be on the 2.00 L.N.E.R. train which would not get into Southend (Victoria) till just after three and then either a tram or a mad dash to the Kursaal ground to get in on time.

It was twenty to two before a very flustered Frank McNasty arrived in the Woodin Shades, He was about to order Luncheon when Albert shouted out to him “Have you seen the time Frank? You haven’t got time for a hot meal just grab a snack”. Begrudgedly he obliged but moaning he said “You can’t expect a working man to go without a hot meal at lunchtime”. The food was barely eaten, the glasses barely downed before it was time to catch the train.

Albert and Frank, going at a pace that wasn’t comfortable for either of them, made for the far compartment as it would be easiest when arriving at Southend, when a door opened and someone shouted “come on the train is about to leave” The duo jumped into the compartment, which had six seats either side and already nine of them were occupied. Four were city gents reading their papers in each corner, obviously disturbed by the outcry, three were trippers, a man, a woman and a child apparently going to the seafront for the day, the other two were acquaintances of Albert. “Frank, this is Mr Smithers and Mr Peters” said Albert with acknowledgements all round to the annoyance of the city gents. At which Mr Peters shouted at the top of his voice “Play up United” at which his friends, apologising to the city gents and persuaded him to keep his voice down.

The talk soon turned to the Blues new centre forward Billy Goodwin, who had been signed from Manchester United and considered quite a coup. The failings of the previous season was largely down to the lack of goals scored, but new signing Goodwin had impressed in the practise match, Blues v Stripes and had scored the opening goal at Newport. “What’s the weather forecast for today, Smithers?” asked Samuel Peters “Predominately dry but deficient in the amount of sunshine for the time of the year” replied Lee Smithers. Optimism for the coming match was high and before they knew it they were pulling into Southend L.N.E.R. station.

“Tram or walk?” asked Frank “You sometimes have to wait ten minutes for a beach tram, once I had to wait fifteen, or you could get the Southchurch tram to Chase Road and then cross the bridge and walk to the Woodgrange Road entrance” responded Samuel Peters. They decided on the latter, the tram soon came and as they made their way to the Kursaal they could tell by the number of people making a similar trek it looked like it would be a good attendance. They reached the ground paid their shilling admission and took up their usual position on the uncovered embankment behind the goal with barely five minutes to kick-off.

The spectators at the North West end of the ground had been accused of making a sorry display of themselves, being biased and disrespectful towards the visiting players. They were reported to have made comments such as “lay them out Southend” and were seen to have much pleasure when an accident to a visiting player happened. It was to this part of the ground that the quartet made their way. They joined some more pals already in the ground. Percy Marshall who was said to be something “big” in travel and another only known as Michael who was a bit of an expert on the rules of the game and would have probably made a good referee but of course he was far too young. There were three young ladies, Kristabel Fogg, Tinkabel Smyth and Anabel Moyet who would often sing or hum during matches, football related songs or anything else that came into their heads. One had the voice of an angel, one the voice of a schoolgirl, one the voice of a frog with constipation, however as they always sang in unison there was no knowing which voice belonged to which lady. They were know as “the three Belles” but no-one dared to say that to their faces. Then there was curly haired Arthur Barratt who was convinced that one of his relatives had played for Southend over 250 times and if not one would certainly do so in the future, much to the amusement of Ferdinand Eastwood who said “and one my relatives has or will score more than fifty goals for the United ha ha!” Standing behind them was Stanley Collyless who said “I don’t know anything about that, but I’ll tell you one thing. This club will rise to higher level, this club will play at this new Wembley ground and win, and there will be a man who will start as an enthusiast, then become a player, and then a manager, who will lead this club to great glories and beat top sides such as Manchester United” There was little that could be said after this Nostradamus type prophecy.

Hope your enjoyed it the second part "Official match thread" will follow in a day or so.......