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Memory Lane Final Episode; Review of Southend's Season and the National Scene 1946-47

DoDTS

The PL League Boss
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I know that historical stuff isn’t for everyone but for those that do hopefully this will be a little bit different. A complete review of Season 1946-47 (researched from the Southend Standards of the day) in weekly instalments every Thursday. That’s 72 years ago few will have actual memories but this was Southend and Southend United that our parents and grandparents knew. Pease feel free to add comments:

1946-47 Southend United getting back to Normal

Episode 1:

The second World War finished in 1945 but that didn’t mean that the soldiers serving overseas jumped on the next train home, or that those that been working away or evacuated couldn’t just pick up where they left off. For those returning to Southend many didn’t know if their house had been bombed to the ground, vandalised or what state it would be in. For those who had good jobs before the war but had been on army pay for the last few years returned to debt and to add insult found rates bills unpaid for the last 5 years. Southend had a population of 150,000 before the war but with fear that Southend would be an invasion point it was dropped to 50,000, the authorities doing everything they could to move people out

It had been hoped that football would be reinstated for 1945-46 but this was not possible and a hastily put together Leagues were formed but as in the War years they were little more than friendless.

Preparation for the Season

At the thirty fifth annual general meeting of the shareholders of the club Mr. C. Nevill Newitt, chairman of the Directors made a prophecy of a boom year in gate receipts at Southend United matches. He stated “The gate receipts of the past season of £13,758 14s 11d were very satisfactory although they were 55 or 60 per cent less than pre-war. However the wages account of £3,649 was very small and the profit had greatly been built up by the fact that they had paid less wages. The players working on a match basis had gone a long way towards helping the club to make a profit We have a playing staff which is much smaller than that usually run by this club. We are keeping it to a minimum and with it keeping our expenses to a minimum”.. A claim against the War Department for loss and damage to the Company’s property whilst the ground was requisitioned has not been settled and is not included in the balance sheet.

Season ticket sales supported this view but some still had pre-war season tickets. In the year that war broke out existing season ticket holders had the option of using them to watch war football matches or defer till the first full season after the war which was 1946-47. These supporters had to inform the manager whether they wished their old seat to be retained.

Supporters were as always dedicated as the Southend Standard reported in June 1946 ‘One Leigh family will be going to Southend United matches next season and it will cost them one hundred pounds. Reason: There are twenty members in the family, eighteen of them having the same surname and they have all applied for season tickets at £5 each. A cheque for £100 will be handed to Mr. Harry Warren today’.

It was stated that as greyhound racing takes place at the Stadium each Wednesday it will be necessary for the United to play mid-week games on Thursdays. They have no option in accordance with the terms of their tenancy, however to give shop assistants and those whose half-day is on a Wednesday an opportunity to see the games the kick off has been made as late as possible. No mid week games will start before 6 p.m. and there will be two games starting at 6.15 p.m. A combination game in October will start at 5.30 p.m. The directors have done everything within their power to consider those who can only watch matches midweek and the decision is the best in the circumstances. Harry Warren has applied to the Corporation and local bus companies for special transport to the Stadium on match days in the coming season

Local News

The housing committee recently formed at Ashingdon with a view to urging the Rochford Rural council to requisition more houses has quickly gone into action and last weekend installed two families in Army huts which have been unoccupied at South Fambridge for some time. Homeless families who moved into former Army huts on a disused searchlight site at South Fambridge two weeks ago are without water. Inadequately housed persons on Canvey Island took over the hutment quarters of the abandoned Artillery camp. The government gave permission for squatters rights at 6 a.m. and within an hour these unfortunate persons who had lived under most distressing conditions were trekking with push-carts, perambulators and wheeled boxes all filled with some kind of household goods from which to secure a foothold. Another Canvey resident has entered derelict property adjoining the village hall.

A dozen local families have been moved into large timber constructed huts at Belfairs on a former A.A. gun-site which has not been occupied by the Army for the past year. The “squatters” are nearly all ex-service men and their families, although one hut is occupied by an Eastwood couple who are in their sixties. Most of them have been on the local authority waiting list for homes for months past, and seeing no hope in their queues for houses or flats moved into the huts in desperation. They recognize that the huts are not exactly the ideal home but in almost every case they are better than the conditions in which the “squatters” have been living recently.

Pre- Season

The United players reported for training on Tuesday July 30th.

Episode 2 Next Thursday - Meet the players
 
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