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Matt the Shrimp

aka Harry Potter
Oct 27, 2003
Lewisham, London
Some random burblings for you:

*Our win against Wycombe was the first time we had won 3 games on the bounce for... well, for absolutely ages.  Can anyone remember when was the last time we did that?  And, before you ask, no - this isn't a quiz.  I don't know when it was!

*The unusual feature about all 3 games in that little winning streak was that we won each game 1-0 - that most un-Southend-like of socrelines.  Indeed, including Tuesday's game, our last 4 outings have resulted in a 1-0 scoreline - very odd.

*Had a chat with Napster at half-time on Boxing Day, and made him chuckle by the fact that I was watching Falkirk v. Aidrie in Scottish League Div 1.  Actually, it was a pretty enjoyable day (albeit rather chilly), and not a bad advert for Scottish football.  That said, "The Falkirk Stadium" (sic) is, perhaps, the weirdest ground I've ever seen.  Weird because, basically, it has one side to it.  Yep, just the one.  It has one fabulous stand, that would not look out of place in the SPL (nor would it be out of place in the Championship, south of the border).  It has conference facilities, is a wonderful brick and glass construction, and it looks really modern and smart.  That stand probably holds just under 4,000.

...And that's it.  Two sides of the ground are completely empty - they have hoardings up and fields behind them; although one of those sides does have some steel girders sticking out of the ground.  There is then an away end, which is a stand of about 6 rows, seating at most 750, covered by a tarpaulin.

I found myself in this away end with the "Diamonds" fans, and was entertained by what was happening on & off the pitch.  The best chant was, by far, the one which (for us) starts:

<span style='color:blue'>"Oh for Southend,
is wonderful..."

The Shrimpers' version is reasonably amusing, talking as it does of tits, fannies and United.  All very good, of course.  But it doesn't hold a candle to the Scottish version, as sung by the Airdire fans, the self-deprecation of which had me in stitches:

<span style='color:red'>"Oh Air-d-rie!
Is wonderful!
Oh Air-d-rie is wonderful...
It's full ae drugs, whores and Buckfast...
Oh Air-d-rie is wonderful!"

Incidentally, if you're wondering what Buckfast is (and I was in the dark until a short while ago), then wonder no further:

Airdrie's liquor of choice: Buckfast

As for the game itself, I was hugely impressed by Airdrie's determination to play the ball on the deck at all times (and their passing was certainly crisper and neater than anything you'll see at our level); although that passing ethos was, at least once, at the expense of pragmatism... instead of hoofing it out of defence, the Airdrie right back slipped on the touchline trying to play the ball out of defence, and essentially gifted Falkirk their goal.

Indeed, for divisional leaders, Falkirk were deeply unimpressive - other than the fact that they were incredibly solid in defence, lead by the 6'7" John Henry... who, oddly enough, was not beaten in the air all afternoon.  Russell Latapy, the former Hibs player and now Falkirk's midfield general, was a big disappointment.

Two names to look out for, incidentally, were both on the Airdrie teamsheet.  If Tilly wants a left winger, he should be getting on an Easyjet flight up to Scotland sharpish to see Airdrie's Willie McLaren.  The 20 year-old terrorised the Falkirk defence all afternoon; and would, in the right formation, have surely set a front man up on at least half a dozen occasions.  The Scottish press called Airdrie's formation a 4-3-3, but I'd beg to differ... it was more like a 4-4-1-1, with McLaren wide left, and trying to set up the 39 year-old veteran Owen Coyle, who had a very quiet afternoon - not helped by the fact, supposedly, that he was recovering from a bout of the 'flu.

The other man to watch out for is the Airdrie player who played "in the hole" for Airdire, a 22 year-old called Alan Gow.  I'm not sure he'd fit in to Southend's formation right now; but he's certainly a name to conjure with.  His biggest downfall appears, at the moment, to be a complete absence of pace.  If he can work on that, however, then he looks a big talent - a sublime touch, great vision, always seems to have loads of time & space... basically a young, Scottish Teddy Sheringham.

My girlfriend's Dad (with whom I went to the game) reckons that McLaren could be prised away from Airdrie for £100K max.  When you think that (by all accounts) Craig Levein at Leicester has got his eyes very closely on the pair of them, you'd have to reckon on McLaren being a fantastic investment, especially if he could be snared for less than £100K.

Right, enough random witterings from me... hope you all had a great Christmas, and here's to the Shrimpers getting back to winning ways against Rushden (whom I think will prove a much tougher proposition than they did in September...)