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DoDTS

The PL League Boss⭐
Joined
Apr 28, 2006
Messages
9,213
Location
PL Headquarters Hullbridge
I wrote the following article which appeared in the Crewe programme on Wednesday, and knowing that many don't buy a programme thought I would post it here. May be of intrerest to some of you, but despite being historical in content its still very relevent to now.

DoDtS


SOUTHEND STADIUM

The move to the Stadium in 1934 seemed to raise few eyebrows at the time the spectators just turned up at the new location probably more optimistic about the new manager Mr David Jack than the new facilities. The spectators at the Kursaal ground had been kept happy with covered accommodation for the “bob” supporter and big terraces close to the pitch behind the goals. The move to the Stadium had been instrumented for financial reasons and perhaps the board understood more about money than they did about spectators.

The basic admission at the Stadium was still a shilling (a bob) when it opened and this was for the open terracing and for most of the east stand, the central part being a reserved enclosure with admission at 1s 6d (7½p). In 1937 this area was extended so that the “bob” supporters only had the very end sections of the stand and unless they got there early they would be out in the open. A huge backlash followed with supporters annoyed that even if they were out in the open they were so far from the pitch that they needed a telescope to see the match.

Various “hare brained” schemes to provide portable terracing behind the goals inevitably all came to nothing and as time progressed despondent supporters found themselves in an atmosphere-less ground with a distant view of the ground.

In 1950 . the first step towards building their own stadium was taken when a trust deed to provide a ground for Southend United was signed. To launch the fund in fine style the Supporters Club made a donation of £10,000. The supporters Club continued to raise funds, they were also called on to clear the site in preparation, and later to build the perimeter walls (along with help from some of the players).

The building of Roots Hall had been a massive undertaking and not without problems. The financial burden which seemed the first huge obstacle had been overcome thanks to the Supporters Club. The logistics and timescales seemed all to point to a long drawn out building period and the very idea of a Football only Stadium had caused boardroom resignations. Yet as time went by the focussed approach of the Board took over and in a short period the ground had been erected. The driving force for the new arena had always been to get the spectators close to the field of play, yet even at the last hurdle there was backtracking suggesting the facilities at the Stadium weren’t that bad but by this time there was no turning back. For most clubs the post-war “boom” years had ended, and Millwall claimed that Southend were the “bravest club in the country” for attempting such a bold move. In reality the club saw the move to a new ground as paramount to the clubs future success They had achieved the aim, the new ground was built and Third Division football would commence there from Season 1955-56.

It was a big step forward, a huge opportunity to move up to a higher level, but it was dependent on two factors, improved gates and promotion to a higher Division, and it was important that these two factors happened quickly. The sceptics had been quick to point out that you can build the best ground in the country but with a losing team the terraces will remain empty. The club had made a couple of useful signings to boost the team but how that would work out remained to be seen, as would the spectators reaction to their new Stadium.


The first three years were relatively successful but the elusive move up to the second Division was not achieved hence nearly sixty years later Southend United find themselves in exactly the same situation as they did then.
 
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