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Is Billy Best one of the greatest 12 figures in SUFC history?


  • Total voters
    43
  • Poll closed .

Yorkshire Blue

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I never saw Billy Best play.

What I have seen was the reverence that those who had, hold Billy Best. The mere mention of his name and fans of a certain age go all misty-eyed.

I first noticed this phenomenon in 1993. I knew Stan was good, but I wasn't at that stage sure quite how good he was. We now of course know that Stan is a Southend United Hall of Famer - you voted him the third player into our Hall of Fame - but I decided to ask my old man. The fantastic Southend United: The Official History of the Blues had come out that same year, so I threw out the names of various players I'd read about but never seen play. He kept on saying that yes so-and-so was good, and I kept on saying but was he better than Stan and my father kept on saying not really. The one player he paused on was Billy Best.

In the end he refused to be drawn on which one was better, but it wasn't so much that my Dad rated him in the same bracket as Stanley that caught my attention, it was his reaction to the name Billy Best. He reacted to Billy Best the same way that I now react to a mention of Stanley. Of course we all have our individual favourites, but whenever I've mentioned the name Billy Best to someone who watched Southend in the late 60s and early 70s they have always reacted in the same way.

My theory was borne out a couple of seasons ago. As we all know (although this did seem to catch the club by surprise) 2006 was the club's centenary season, and as part of the extensive celebrations various Southend United legends were welcomed back to Roots Hall. Normally a couple of old boys who still lived in the area would totter out at half-time to a polite ripple of applause, but then there was the game Billy Best was welcomed back. Best got a standing ovation that left shivers down my spine at the warmth of his reception. I reckon even the moaning gits I use to sit near in the West Stand probably stood and applauded him. If ever there was any doubt in my mind about how great a Southend great Billy Best was, that appearance resolved it.

Billy Best joined Southend from Northampton in early 1968. At the time we were languishing in the fourth division, having been relegated 18 months earlier after Alvan Williams lived up to his promise to take Southend out of the third division (what is it with inepitude and managers named Alvin/Alvan?).

Best didn't get off to the best of starts when he failed to score on his debut at Chester. Indeed Southend didn't score in his first three games, but in his 5th start for the club he finally grabbed his first goal in a 2-2 draw at home to Halifax. He went one better in the next game, grabbing a brace at the real St James' Park; and then a hattrick the following game at home to Chester. After the goalless first four games, he finished the season with a run of 14 goals in 16 games but when it mattered a seven match run in April produced just two points and the club finished 6th for the second successive season.

His first full season at the club was a legendary one. His season started slowly with two goals in his first ten league games, until a hattrick against Exeter, but it was the signing of Gary Moore that seemed to transform him. The Shrimpers were drawn at home to Kings Lynn in the FA Cup and the fledgling partnership of Best and Moore hit it off with both scoring hattricks in a 9-0 win. Then in the second round they went one better as Best scored five (including 4 in the final 6 minutes) and Moore four as Brentwood were thrashed 10-1. The press loved it, dubbing the first game the 'Slaughter of the Innocents' and the second 'the Massacre at Roots Hall'. The scoreline and Best's 5 goals remain shared club records. Best further demonstrated his appetite for scoring against non-league clubs when he scored twice against Col Ewe in a 3-1 win at Roots Hall. He went onto hit 20 league goals, 1 in the league cup and an incredible 10 in the FA Cup that season, as the club finished one place down in 7th but scored over 100 goals that season.

In an injury hit 1969/70. Best played just 31 league games, but still netted 23 goals (plus one in the cup) including 4 against Peterborough and yet another hattrick, this time against Scunthorpe. The club struggled though and finished 17th in division 4. The following season they went one place worse and without Best's 19 goals (the club only scored 53 all season) it would no doubt have been a lot worse.

However the next season things seemed to click under manager Arthur Rowley and Southend gained their first ever league promotion. Perhaps fittingly, it was Best who scored the all important goal at Scunthorpe. Best contributed 19 league goals that season and the winner in the FA Cup against Villa. Amongst his hauls were yet more hattricks, against Grimsby and at Reading.

In his final season, his only at the club in division 3, he struggled to find the net scoring just 11 goals, but helped the club to a respectable 14th position in the third division.

In the end Best finished with a remarkable 123 goals, second only to Roy Hollis. With 106 of those goals in the league, Best and Hollis are the only two to have notched triple figures for the club in the league, and their 15 goals in the FA Cup (Best's in just 12 games) remains another joint record. No-one has scored more hattricks.

Roy Hollis might have scored more and others might have had a better scoring record or played at a higher level, but has there ever been a more popular goalscorer than Billy Best?

Billy Best
Southend United 1968-1973
Total Appearances 246+1 (League 225+1, FA Cup 12, League Cup 9)
Total Goals 123 (League 106, FA Cup 15, League Cup 2)
Promotions: 1 (1971/72).
Relegations: 0
 

Yorkshire Blue

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774668
 

SUFC_Al

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When my dad was a teenager Billy Best was his hero and still is his favourite SUFC player ever. One of the best forwards he's seen at the Hall. I don't disagree with my dad on much and from what he's told me about Best, it has to be a yes from me.
 
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HudsonNo1

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Obviously i never saw Best play, but everything ive ever heard about the man is positive and good. For me the record speaks for itself, and no metter what division it was in, he did it all for Southend United. A Yes from me
 

THE SEVENTIES NORTH BANK

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A big yes from me. My favourite player when I was a kid. He was a real goal poacher who didn't need many chances to score.
Probably the best striker I have ever seen in a one on one with the goalkeeper as he could hit a sixpence either side or would brilliantly lob the goalie and he would then acknowledge the North Bank that really loved him.
 
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I'm one of the misty eyed brigade here and I've said it often enough on here that Billy Best is my all times Blues favourite. His overall goal scoring record of a goal every other game says it all. He, with Gary Moore also hold a unique record that they are the only two players to score hat tricks for the same club in consecutive rounds of the FA Cup.

He was a member of a team that included Eddie Clayton, Phil Chisnall & Chico Hamilton in 1968/69 which remains one of my favourite seasons when we scored goals for fun under the auspices of Ernie Shepherd.

Apart from Gary Moore he formed a great partnership with Bill Garner which propelled us to our first ever promotion in 1971/72.

As the chant at the time ent.

He's here, He's there,
He's every ****ing where,
Billy Best, Billy Best.

An absolute must for the Hall of Fame IMO.
 

OldBlueLady

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Absolutely definitely assuredly YES! I was fortunate enough to catch the tail end of his time, and the partnership with Bill Garner, at a time when we were scoring for fun. My dad had enthused about him for a couple of years, and really it's down to him that I started coming along to see what all the fuss was about. Team photo from that era, Billy's front row, 2nd from left - and yes, the strip always did look like Chelski's to me!

southendunited.jpg
 
Last edited:

BLUEBLOOD

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YB mentioned in his opening gambit how the name Billy Best makes older fans go misty eyed in a way the name Stanley Victor Collymore has much the same effect on people of my generation .. my dad is one of these older types, a veteran of over 60 years (Christ mate you'd have served less years for killing 20 people !!) who still raves about Best to this day and was thrilled to bits when David Goody arranged a meeting when we were away to Northampton last season.

We all have our heroes .. BLUEBLOOD Junior = Freddy Eastwood BLUEBLOOD = Stan Collymore BLUEBLOOD Senior = Billy Best
 

yogi bear up the cagire

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YES! Probably biased because Billy Best was the epoch when I watched the blues on a consistent basis. Remember the King Lynn and Brentford matches, believe I still have the programme for the latter.
 

Firestorm

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Fastest ever Hattrick against Brentwood IIRC

**edit Until James Hayter, three times in two minutes and 20 seconds, in 2004**

**2nd edit The fastest hat-trick in English football was scored by 'Jock' Dodds of Blackpool in 1943. It took him just two and a half minutes against Tranmere Rovers**

Change that to Fastest FA Cup hattrick...

Some 18 year old scored 3 in 90 seconds in the Highland league in the 60's !!
 
Last edited:

fredheim_holm

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I'm hoping he gets in, but not voting myself, due to not knowing quite enough to justify a yes. I'm half tempted just to vote him in due to his fantastic surname.
 

Rayleigh boy

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he was undisputable the star of the team - an an expert finisher - who seemed to save his goal for in front off the north bank -

he was the player who gave you the edge cos if you could get him in he would bury it ... no-one could understand why he was let go.

i went to both the brentwood and kings lyn games and they turned into turkey shoots -
but in those days non-league teams were often quite amateur- ish and i don't recall either game being much fun ..

the memory plays tricks but was it Garner and Best and Terry Johnson - and did a kiddie from Rochford called Taylor get a few games that season ...???
 
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Billy Best was before my time but like YB, I rely on my old man for a verdict, and the man with the pint of John Smith's - he say yes. His goal scoring record speaks for itself, but then so does that of Roy Hollis. I don't recall Roy getting many mentions in the nomination threads, but surely the club's all-time leading scorer is worthy of consideration?
 

Not In Mohave Shrimper

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I too never saw Billy Best play, hell i wasn't even born when he did play for us. Now I've abstained from voting from a couple of players I never saw play before, but this time I'm voting. Like YB says the reverance older fans hold him in swings it and I remember the below event too, along with Shaun Goater's retirement it's one of those moments that sent a shiver down my spine too. Not too mention a 1 in 2 goalscoring record, phenomenal, got to go in.

My theory was borne out a couple of seasons ago. As we all know (although this did seem to catch the club by surprise) 2006 was the club's centenary season, and as part of the extensive celebrations various Southend United legends were welcomed back to Roots Hall. Normally a couple of old boys who still lived in the area would totter out at half-time to a polite ripple of applause, but then there was the game Billy Best was welcomed back. Best got a standing ovation that left shivers down my spine at the warmth of his reception. I reckon even the moaning gits I use to sit near in the West Stand probably stood and applauded him. If ever there was any doubt in my mind about how great a Southend great Billy Best was, that appearance resolved it.

And as if there was any doubt, that's a top notch 'tasche too.

 

BLUEBLOOD

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Fastest ever Hattrick against Brentwood IIRC

**edit Until James Hayter, three times in two minutes and 20 seconds, in 2004**

**2nd edit The fastest hat-trick in English football was scored by 'Jock' Dodds of Blackpool in 1943. It took him just two and a half minutes against Tranmere Rovers**

Change that to Fastest FA Cup hattrick...

Some 18 year old scored 3 in 90 seconds in the Highland league in the 60's !!

Fastest ever 4 bagger FS ??
 

Uncle Leo

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I'm in a similar boat to YB here. Billy Best was well before my time, but his was always the first name to be mentioned when I asked Dad who his favourite Southend players were.

Legend is a much overused word* with players like Tes Bramble being afforded legendary status. But in the context of Southend United Football Club, Billy Best is undoubtedly a legend and an absolute lock for the Hall of Fame.









*This phrase, in turn, is a much overused cliché
 

Yorkshire Blue

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Billy Best was before my time but like YB, I rely on my old man for a verdict, and the man with the pint of John Smith's - he say yes. His goal scoring record speaks for itself, but then so does that of Roy Hollis. I don't recall Roy getting many mentions in the nomination threads, but surely the club's all-time leading scorer is worthy of consideration?

I don't think there are too many fans about who will have seen Hollis play, if they have I'd love to hear about him. What I've read about Hollis is that he was an ungainly player and far from a fans favourite.
 

Billy Bests boot laces

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My name say's it all. At that time there were 4 players with the surname Best playing in the football league. Clyde at west ham, David who was ipswich's goalkeeper, our King Billy and another guy called George who played for man utd.
 
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