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The PL League Boss
Apr 28, 2006
PL Headquarters Hullbridge


This is the third short review of the newly published Book “My life as a Shrimper” The story of my personal journey supporting Southend United.

We had been relegated after six years in the second tier but if we thought life would be easy we were mistaken, and a second relegation followed, and seven years of doom followed in the basement division, especially in the early days highlights were few but one match which stands out for me is:

Rotherham Away 2-2 1998-99
A good journey there, noisy away crowd but not great in numbers, and in all honesty as the game progressed it wasn't a great advert for football or Southend United and my daughter looked suitably unimpressed. Events then took over, 0-1 down, then 0-2 down then a player sent off it was turning into a nightmare for me, with a look on my daughters face which seemed to say "Why do you spend all your time and money watching this for?" Then with 10 men we pulled a goal back, and then, amazingly got the equaliser. Rotherham fans were silenced, the chant of "we only need ten men" rang out time and time again. As the game finished with a 2-2 draw I felt proud of the team and the fans, who had both ridden out the storm, and I looked at my daughter (who had enjoyed it as much as me when we came back into it) and she seemed to have a "now I understand" look on her face.

During this bleak time I moved back to Essex and somehow managed to avoid family weddings in the Midlands with convenient away games in the area, but it was not until a legend returned that hope returned.

Blackpool Away 2-2 2000-01
As we pulled into the Blackpool's car park it was teeming down with rain, but as it was quite early we decided to head off for a pub. We went through what seemed like a maze of back streets to find a dubious looking pub but we didn't have the time or inclination to look further. As we entered an enormous chant of "David Webbs Yellow Army" went up, it was absolutely full of Shrimpers, the atmosphere was brilliant although the locals couldn't understand why we had so many there and who is this David Webb anyway?

Sadly the Webby glory days couldn’t be repeated and returned to doom and gloom and we were at our lowest ebb under Steve Wignall, A new manager appeared another local hero although there were teething problems

Scarborough Away 0-1 FACup 2003-04
We arrived at Roots hall lunchtime for the coaches with loads already there mostly buying up the contents of the club shop. The eight coaches were soon headed northwards for the arranged meet at Doncaster services. When we arrived there the police escorts were already waiting for us to convoy us into Scarborough. After a short break the convoy set off Police bikes at the front more at the back and others stopping traffic at roundabouts to ensure our smooth passage. The driver put on the local radio station and it appeared that we were the local news. They were giving a running commentary on our progress, they had a link through to one of our coaches, were interviewing a couple of fans, and the lads on the back seats were giving them a song or two. People were coming out their houses to look and wave at us as we zoomed by it made us feel like royalty, most strange but quite enjoyable.

Despite this early set back Tilly guided us from a desperate position staring the conference in the face to league survival and our first ever national final at the Millennium Stadium:

Blackpool Away 0-2 (Mill. Stadium)
We arrived at Cardiff and the train emptied, as we shuffled along the platform to the exit "Sea sea Siderers" chants sprung up everywhere. It was a Sunday and an early kick off so there was only the choice of three trains. As we went into the centre of Cardiff there were Southend fans everywhere, the city was basically split into two for the opposing sides with Southend pubs in one area and Blackpool in the other, but it was a Sunday and an early kick off and the pubs weren't open. After wandering around for a bit we eventually joined the huge queue waiting for the pub to open. It was a huge pub an ex music hall theatre I believe. Police on horses controlling the queue. Eventually the doors open and a huge rush to get inside, as we made our way upstairs on the assumption that it wouldn't be as crowded, but it was. When we eventually got served we bought three rounds in one go to save going back. Having drunk them we were eager to get inside the stadium, as we came out everybody seemed to be wearing blue and heading in the same direction, past numerous souvenir sellers to the Millennium Stadium

The occasion was saddened for me as a good friend died a couple of days later, and this was to lead to some memorial away games which were anything but sad, but these . . . . .

are stories for another day, in another preview.
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