• Welcome to the ShrimperZone forums.
    You are currently viewing our boards as a guest which only gives you limited access.

    Existing Users:.
    Please log-in using your existing username and password. If you have any problems, please see below.

    New Users:
    Join our free community now and gain access to post topics, communicate privately with other members, respond to polls, upload content and access many other special features. Registration is fast, simple and free. Click here to join.

    Fans from other clubs
    We welcome and appreciate supporters from other clubs who wish to engage in sensible discussion. Please feel free to join as above but understand that this is a moderated site and those who cannot play nicely will be quickly removed.

    Assistance Required
    For help with the registration process or accessing your account, please send a note using the Contact us link in the footer, please include your account name. We can then provide you with a new password and verification to get you on the site.

Xàbia Shrimper

Spanish Shrimpers
Joined
Oct 24, 2003
Messages
13,803
Location
Xàbia, España
“Southend United Football Club needs new energy and direction. With careful financial planning and professional management there is no doubt in our minds that the club is geared for greater things.” So read a statement released by Martin Dawn plc in November 1998 just after they had secured a majority shareholding in the football club. When you look back almost a decade – and with the added benefit of hindsight - you can’t help but sense an overwhelming confidence in those words. However, with the club on its knees awaiting the final killer blow, few people would have shared such composure and faith.

On March 21 2004 manager Steve Tilson and his assistant Paul Brush, now installed permanently in their positions at the helm of the first team, led their team out on the lush turf at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff the final of the much-ridiculed LDV Vans Trophy. Over 20,000 fans packed into the South Stand and turned it into a wall of noise and blue-and-white as they cheered on their heroes against League One side Blackpool. Defender Mark Warren called it “without doubt the greatest day of my life”. There were very few who didn’t share his sentiment. Tears flowed as 35,000 people roared out the National Anthem; at the end of the day the result really didn’t matter; just a few short years ago very few would have predicted this moment. But back then there was confidence when the club needed it most. There was Ron Martin.

One could be in danger of slipping into a sycophantic tale of recovery and success – and there are some who may well consider this as such a story – but it would be very difficult to ignore Ron Martin’s desire for success for the football club, both on and off the pitch. Back in February 2000, the majority shareholder first stepped into the public domain by declaring that “we want to get this club back into the First Division and playing in a new stadium – which is the key to a successful and financially secure future for Southend United.” Of course, when he became involved in the club back in 1998, his ultimate aim may have been to profit from the development of a leisure complex on Fossetts Farm; he is a successful property developer after all, a profession that sends shivers down the spines of football fans everywhere. Yet something was stirring in the former Olympic bobsleigh team-member, something which he acknowledged was rising very quickly to the surface within a few months of taking control of the club. “I was never a massive football fan before we got involved with the Blues,” he admitted in an exclusive interview with the Evening Echo’s Bernie Friend. “But I’ve been bitten by the soccer bug; I love it and attend as many matches as I can home and away.” As he wandered across the pitch in Cardiff over four years later to console his crest-fallen players, you could sense that he was feeling defeat as much as any other fan.

The 2003/04 season finished with Southend in 17th position in League Two, the LDV experience seriously affecting the late showing, and Ron Martin announcing that it was “all systems go” after the B&Q Fossetts Farm enquiry ended in a positive result. Revised plans, he suggested, would be submitted to the council for approval in the summer and he revealed that the original development had to be changed. “Things have moved on from 2000 both in the market and in the lay-out of Fossetts Farm and we recognise that,” he explained. “It will be a similar size stadium but the architecture will be different.” Almost six years had passed since Martin Dawn plc took control promising a new home for the football club. Many obstacles had been flung in the way of progress but now that light at the end of the tunnel was growing a little bigger.

Aside from a few days of chest-thumping over increased admission prices for the new season, things appeared to be coming together both on and off the pitch and fans felt that they could relax and enjoy the long, hot summer of 2004. Betterview Windows were confirmed as the new sponsors of Southend United, agreeing an undisclosed six-figure sum that would no doubt help Steve Tilson begin to build his squad for the new season. A few weeks later the club announced the launch of their own television channel and exiled fans around the world briefly caught their breath at the excitement of seeing their heroes in action on a satellite platform only to learn that the channel would only be broadcast on television screens in and around the ground on match-days. Still, it was a major leap forward in providing a better experience for the fan and a far cry from the dark days when supporters were told to like it or lump it: “go and follow one of the Football League’s 91 other teams.”

“If someone doesn’t perform in their job, why should they be paid in full?!” Ron Martin was adamant that Southend United should not have to pay Steve Wignall a penny more after the former manager decided to sue the football club for non-payment of money owed. The club opted to counter-sue Wignall, claiming that he was not diligent enough with his signings and could not motivate the team, which had slipped towards the relegation zone. Ron Martin was not a man to be trifled with. His calm, relaxed manner hid a vicious business streak that would serve the football club well in the next few years. A couple of weeks of intense negotiation appeared to produce a settlement: “Southend United and Steve Wignall are pleased to confirm that settlement of their dispute has now been concluded on satisfactory and amicable terms,” Martin explained. “The details of the settlement will remain confidential and no further statement will be made by either party.” Six months later and the issue was back in the news. “I am growing more and more frustrated with club chairmen who abuse their managers,” complained John Barnwell, chief executive of the League Managers Association. The LMA had just confirmed that Southend United had failed to pay the last instalment of the agreed settlement plan, thought to be around £4,000, and that they would start legal proceedings against the club. Late payment of money due; a familiar story in 2004 after the club was fined by the Football League for late payment of gate receipts to Colchester United after their epic LDV Vans Trophy Area Final that saw the Shrimpers through to Cardiff. Did that suggest that finances were still a major problem?

Despite the arrival of several new faces such as Wimbledon’s Wayne Gray, local lad Adam Barrett from Bristol Rovers, Dutch keeper Bart Griemink and former player Andy Edwards, the 2004/05 season started badly and by the end of August Southend United were rock-bottom, 24th in League Two and 92nd in the Football League. And there was still no sign of the elusive stadium plans. The feel-good factor generated over the summer was slipping away as quickly as the IT equipment that was disappearing through broken windows as Roots Hall was targeted by thieves for fifth time in a month.

Yet skipper Kevin Maher refused to be drawn into any thoughts of relegation so early in the season. “Of course we are all disappointed at the way things have gone so far but we need to stick together keep working and believe things will get better,” he urged. “We’re not a bad team and I’m sure things will turn around quite soon."

“We started the season with hopes of making the play-offs and we still have them.”

Part VI to follow …
 

Mr Gilbo

Manager
Joined
Jan 23, 2007
Messages
1,317
MORE MORE I WANT MORE!!!

great read! i had kinda forgotten most of this.
 

Jay_Shrimper

Mummy's Little Soldier
Joined
Jan 7, 2007
Messages
2,643
I've read all the parts up to this one this morning XS, but havn't replied..Didn't want to re-bump them.

You have done an excellent job, well written and clear and easy to understand posts.

These kinds of posts are quality for me, only becoming a fan of late. I was watching the blues last season some matches, but I've been much more involved in chat and listened to all the matches and just feel more like a supporter this season.

Some of the stuff you have posted, I didn't have a clue about. You always learn something new everyday.

Thankyou XS, I can't wait for VI. :)
 

BILLERICAY BLUE

RoseTinted Brigade Member⭐
Joined
Oct 28, 2003
Messages
11,997
Location
Have a guess....
“We started the season with hopes of making the play-offs and we still have them.”


Play-offs pah!!, conference more like :mad:
 

MilkeySUFC

Manager⭐
Joined
Oct 25, 2003
Messages
1,627
Location
Creepy Crawley
This really is great stuff, Mike. I've been a supporter since the early eighties, and went through these worries as fearful of the future as anyone but there's so much I'd forgotten. Spectacular read.

(Have I missed part VI?)
 

sufcintheprem

This is a modified caption
Joined
Mar 26, 2004
Messages
10,185
Location
Putney
Rainy season hits Xabia*








*(tried to put the accent on but some crazy shortcut seems to redirect me!)

Seriously though, good read. Particularly well structured.
 

Xàbia Shrimper

Spanish Shrimpers
Joined
Oct 24, 2003
Messages
13,803
Location
Xàbia, España
I'm writing an extended version at the moment! The forum only lets me post 10,000 characters at a time so I have to create abridged versions of each chapter. It's just amazing how far we have come in less than ten years; from virtual financial ruin to the very verge of a new 22,000 capacity stadium; amazing! It's a great little project for me.

What I think would be good is to add some personal memories from fans so if anyone wants to send me anything, please do so.

;)
 
Top