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The PL League Boss
Apr 28, 2006
PL Headquarters Hullbridge
The bill best story

As mark of respect for Bill Bests 70th birthday I thought would recall my memories of his first few games.

In 1967-68 Southend started seven games unbeaten and were top of the table at this stage, by the new year we had fluctuated between 1st and sixth, but when Bill signed in late January we were again top having only lost four games. The defence had the stability of players like Trevor Roberts, Tony Bentley, Graham Birks and Eddie May. Goals were coming from the likes of Phil Chisnall and John Mckinven but Sammy Macmillan at centre forward had not settled in and what we lacked was a tall frontman to secure promotion.

I remember being in school getting quite excited with my mates with the news that we had signed a new forward and on the Saturday zoomed off to Chester on the Youth Section coach for Bill's debut. He was a shock. He was not the tall targetman we had been crying out for but a smallish forward, nippy granted but not what we needed. A drab game ended 0-0 and we dropped to second in the table.

The next match was away at Newport midweek (I missed this match) we lost 2-0 and dropped to third, but the next match was at home to York, who were third from bottom, we were unbeaten at home having won nine and drawn four. An easy win surely? A chance for Bill to impress the home crowd? No we lost 1-0 and dropped to sixth in the table our lowest position in the league so far. The 9,000 fans were not at all happy, Best was the wrong type of player to have signed was the general opinion.

The following Saturday was an overnight coach trip to 18th placed Rochdale, a John McKinven goal earned us 1-0 win and took us back to third place but four games without a goal was not an impressive start for young Bill.

The breakthrough came the following week when Bill scored our opening goal in a 2-2 home draw with ninth placed Halifax, but this was little consolation as our promotion push was faltering with just one win in the last five games and we were now in fourth place.

The following Saturday and yet another overnight coach trip to Exeter but we saw Bill score both goals in a 2-0 win which took us up to third, and then the following Friday night 9,500 fans saw a 5-1 demolition of Chester will Bill grabbing a hat-trick, the other goals from Andy Smillie and Joe Ashworth saw us move up to second and the crowd going home ecstatic about the Blues and about Best. Bill had arrived.

How fickle fans are, doom and gloom after four games, joy after seven, but Bill had scored six goals in seven appearances or more important six in his last three.

So to the older fans do you remember this time? (come on Mick put the record straight) To those that are too young I hope you enjoy this little reminisce about a true Legend.

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