• Welcome to the ShrimperZone forums.
    You are currently viewing our boards as a guest which only gives you limited access.

    Existing Users:.
    Please log-in using your existing username and password. If you have any problems, please see below.

    New Users:
    Join our free community now and gain access to post topics, communicate privately with other members, respond to polls, upload content and access many other special features. Registration is fast, simple and free. Click here to join.

    Fans from other clubs
    We welcome and appreciate supporters from other clubs who wish to engage in sensible discussion. Please feel free to join as above but understand that this is a moderated site and those who cannot play nicely will be quickly removed.

    Assistance Required
    For help with the registration process or accessing your account, please send a note using the Contact us link in the footer, please include your account name. We can then provide you with a new password and verification to get you on the site.


Blue tinted optimist
Oct 28, 2003
Cloud cuckoo land
As our club becomes the centre of league 2 attention yet again in one of the most bizarre stories ever (club appoints new manager but allows old one to manage us 2 weeks later in a cup final) I have been thinking about the game, the situation and my feelings exactly when I saw the news that Sturrock had gone.

Supporting Southend is probably no different to supporting many other lower league clubs, but as fans all over the country have to dig deeper in their pockets to support and follow their team, the expectation for instant success becomes ever higher.

SUFC was formed in 1906 and the club achieved it's first promotion in 1971-72. Ignoring the wartime years, that's 65 years without a promotion or relegation season (although technically there was a relegation when Division 3 lost its regionalisation and we were founder members of Division 4). Teams had players numbered 1 to 11, just one sub and you pretty much knew from one week to the next who was playing. Clubs were fined for fielding an under strength team and so the top clubs like Leeds, Liverpool and Arsenal used to play in excess of 60 games per season.

The "big" transfers started in the 1980's and that's when the players started to get a bigger slice of the pie. Ever since then, footballers wages have continually spiralled upwards and the fans have had to pay more and more in admission fees and subscription TV in order to watch the national game.

Since 1971-72, Southend have been had 6 further promotions and 7 relegations. There are very few players that stay with clubs beyond 2 or 3 seasons with the same club and the fans demand instant success with expectations that run very high. Managers lose their jobs with incredible regularity and it seems to get worse every year as Chairmen press the panic button in an attempt to galvanise the team into action with a new managerial face; that man brings his own backroom staff in, usually from other clubs, who then invariably lose their helmsman, usually at at time when they are doing well (remember Barry Fry and Birmingham?) which in itself creates another vacancy at another club... and the whole thing starts again.

I feel incredibly sorry for Sturrock but then, in the cold light of day, our home form has been abysmal. Only York and Aldershot, who at the time of writing occupy the bottom 2 places in League 2, have dropped more points at home than we have. In fact, of all our relegation seasons, only in our Championship relegation season and one other have we dropped more points at home than we have in this one (bearing in mind we have 3 games left).

Even last year, with one of our highest ever points totals, the fans weren't pleased as the home form was unentertaining. I must admit, I was one of them, but as the the prospect of promotion went from being nailed on, then almost certain, through to probable, then possible and ending in unlikely, I was willing to stomach it. This year some of our play has been sublime, especially when everyone was fit. But as our injury table creaks under the weight of the sheer number of players out of action we have been forced to field reserve and loanees who frankly aren't up to the job.

Sturrock has recently said that most of the players we have are only used to playing 25 games a season; it begs the question "Why did we sign them then?" After all, we know the season is 46 games long plus cups.

And so to our fans, many of whom would have sacked Sturrock ages ago and after most home games this season. I'll wager that not many of us would last 5 minutes in the football business. On this score, credit to Ron Martin for giving Sturrock every chance to turn it around. After the Port Vale win (knowing what we know now, was he really ill that day I wonder?), Sturrock had a golden opportunity to propel us back into the race for the automatics with 3 home games in 8 days against 3 of the bottom 6 sides in the league.

As we now know, those three games, featuring three completely different line ups, delivered three almost identical carbon copy performances, the only credit being one point against Torquay.

The decision to offer Sturrock the chance to lead the team out at Wembley is a nice touch and unusually sentimental in this dog-eat-dog industry. But the more I read the club statement, the more I think RM is right on this one.

As for Phil Brown - well, in our history, our biggest disappointments have come from when we have had our highest expectations; the appointments of Bobby Moore, Ronnie Whelan, Peter Taylor and Alvin Martin provided high profile (and in the case of Moore and Whelan, legendary) names that were popular choices at first but under who the club contrived to play some of the worst football ever seen at the Hall. Conversely, Steve Thompson (who?) Steve Tilson (popular caretaker but certainly not management material and who turned out to be the most successful SUFC manager ever) and Barry Fry (loudmouth wideboy) got us playing the best stuff ever.

It's the same with the players. Our biggest heroes are those who have come with no expectations at all - Collymore (Palace reserve), Eastwood (1st time) and Powell (Aldershot reject), but when we are genuinely excited by a signing because they have an excellent track record or have cost us money (Marsh, Paynter, Freedman, Eastwood 2nd time) they usually disappoint.

There are exceptions of course. Dave Webb was a reasonably high profile manager and we have signed decent players for decent money that have been good club servants - Keith Jones and Brett Angell for instance - whilst the managerial appointments of Peter Morris, Dick Bate and Colin Murphy carried no expectations either and still didn't live up to them.

So, for me, I will firmly get behind the new Guvnor and who knows, maybe we still can just sneak into the play offs and win the JPT. If he turns out to be a disappointing pile of cack, I think we can rely on Ron to wield the axe again, whereas if he is a successful manager then we'll all be happy, won't we?

Actually, no we probably won't. Some Southend fans are never happy and probably won't ever be until the club eventually goes the way of the pear and they can say "Told you so!".