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Mar 10, 2011
Southend-on-Sea, United Kingdom, United Kingdom

[FONT=&quot]Yes! It really was 50 years ago today that the then Southend United manager Ernie Shepherd signed Billy Best from Northampton Town for a modest £3,000 fee. All Blues fans at that particular time were hoping we would be signing a big tall, bustling centre-forward to help the smaller less physical[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]players at the club, which at that time included Andy Smillie & Johnny Baber alongside Phil Chisnall, who was signed at the beginning of that season from Liverpool, as well as tricky left winger John McKinven.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Our fans were equally disappointed when we discovered that our new signing was in fact only 5' 6" tall, no bigger, and in some cases smaller than some current squad members, and in those first few matches our concerns were well founded when Billy failed to score.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]It was however, at the fifth time of asking, that he opened his account, scoring the first goal in a 2-2 draw against Halifax Town at[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Roots Hall, watched by almost 7,000 fans. Billy then went on to score a total of 14 goals in the final 20 matches and although we somehow managed to miss out on promotion, his goal-scoring exploits were good enough for him to be voted Player of the Year at the end of the 1967-68 season, even though he only joined us in January. Over the next five seasons Billy scored over 100 goals in many memorable matches which included a club record 9 hat-tricks. These were league matches against Chester, Exeter City, Aldershot, Scunthorpe United, Peterborough United, Grimsby Town, Reading and a couple in those never to be forgotten F.A.Cup matches against Kings Lynn and Brentwood Town. There is also little doubt to all fans who witnessed many of the matches at that time, just how important our big fellow strikers Gary Moore, Bill Garner and Chris Guthrie were in his quest for goals. Certainly their help has always been acknowledged by Billy himself when he talks so fondly of his time at the club.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]So were you a fan back in the days when Billy Best was playing for Southend United ? Do you remember travelling to the cup matches at Bournemouth, Swindon and Mansfield and the games at Roots Hall against Kings Lynn, Brentwood Town, Weymouth, Dagenham, Aston Villa and Chelsea, as well as the many league games he played for us back then.
When we all look back over the years, has there ever been a better front three players than Billy Best, Gary Moore and Bill Garner who amassed an amazing 225 goals for the club in a little over 500 matches?
Billy Best played 246 (+1 sub) matches for Southend United between January 1968 and April 1973 and scored a total of 123 league and cup goals, and for all of the misty-eyed brigade who, like me, treasure those memories, I think it's fair to say I doubt we will ever see his like again.

:Worthy::Worthy::Worthy: :Worthy: "MANY MANY THANKS FOR ALL THOSE MEMORIES BILLY" :Worthy: :Worthy::Worthy::Worthy: [/FONT]