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Memory Lane Pubey's trip down memory lane


I don’t know why, I guess I’m just getting old, but yesterday I had a real sense of nostalgia. I spent the evening thumbing through our wedding album with Mrs Pubey, a regular pastime, and my eye was drawn to a family who have been ‘family friends’ all my life. They were Auntie Ruth and Uncle Richard, but they weren’t relatives. They’re my parents best friends for over thirty years, and regularly babysat me and my younger brother and sister. I remember when my sister was born and they looked after my brother and I. I was really pleased to see them at the wedding as it’d been a few years since I’d last seen them.


Anyway, what dawned on me was that Uncle Richard had taken me to one of my first Southend games. He was an exiled Swindon fan in Southend. They lived on North Road, just by The Nelson. We would often stay at their house as my Mum and Dad worked long shifts as the hospital and their house was near-by, and I remember being at their house when Southend were playing. I’d see people walking past the lounge window, and hear them singing and shouting and cheering. I could hear the noise of the fans from the stadium, loud cheers and gasps. I remember one evening the bright floodlights illuminating the cold fog, and thinking they looked like UFO’s.
I was 10 years old. It was a cold but sunny December Saturday , and I remember leaving their house at 2.30 (I checked my Swatch Watch where the middle part could push out from the strap). We joined the crowd of people heading to the ground. Richard showed me the tickets he had his coat pocket. Unfortunately I rummaged through my box of ticket stubs and couldn’t find this particular one. I’ll probably find it used as a bookmark, or in a video box, or maybe in the bottom of my big box of Lego that is in my mum and dad’s loft.


As we walked to the ground, I remember feeling really small as the crowd got bigger along Victoria Avenue. There were other kids my age, and they were wrapped up in their blue and white scarves and gloves. I added these to my wish list for Santa.


“Watch your legs” said Richard as I shuffled through the stiff turnstile, but it was a split second too late and the back of my legs got thwacked. It still happens to this day. I remember him buying a programme from a young lad, and rolling it up and putting it in the back pocket of his jeans. I was annoyed that I was wearing cords and didn’t have back pockets.


This wasn’t my first Southend game, but I remember vividly the sense when you emerge from the concourse and see the bright green pitch below. You feel the electricity as hundreds of fans fill the stands. I was fascinated with the groundsmen, preparing the goal ends with forks. We found our seats, East Stand Blacks near to the South Stand. We’re quite low down, and I remember Richard repeatedly asking me to sit back a little as I craned my neck to see the play. In the second half I remember Ricky Otto, in what turned out to be one of his last Southend games I think. I remember him looking up at the crowd and grinning, he would show the defender the ball before knocking it past him and sprinting down the line. He’d try and shoot from just in front of where we were sat! I thought he was the coolest footballer ever, and added dreadlocks to my wish list for Santa.


I remember looking at the programme and trying to work out the names of each player on the pitch. I tried to understand the fans around me, talking excitedly about formations and players and rumours.


We won the match 2-0, with Roger Willis and Andy “The Eagle” Edwards scoring. To be honest I don’t remember the goals. I remember the crowd, the cheering, the rapport between players and fans. The team were mid-table, but a win is a win and suddenly we’re going to win the league! The fans streamed out of the ground and we were swept away in the tide. We reached Richard’s house and I could smell tea was nearly ready. I remember kneeling on the sofa and peering through the net curtains at all the fans heading back to their cars and walking past the window. I remember dads with their sons and daughters on their shoulders, and thinking that I would make sure I’d take my children to watch Southend.


I still look forward to the day when I can keep that promise, but in the mean time I have two little cousins (11 and 8) who I’m going to take to see their first game. I hope that something sticks in their memory like it did in mine. That sometime in the future they’ll look back on an ordinary game which for some reason felt extraordinary. That Blair Sturrock will stick out like Ricky Otto, and that we’ll continue to bring up generations of young Southend fans who get bitten by the Southend bug. I don’t know why I felt the urge to write this down, let alone post it, but perhaps the memory will drift off again and I won’t think about it for another 15 years… perhaps it will just blur back into this part of me that’s “Southend”, and is the reason why I still love following the team and travelling to watch games. Being exiled means I don’t get to see them much, but it’s these memories that have imprinted SUFC somewhere inside of me and mean I’ll always be proud to call myself a Southend fan.
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