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Is David Webb one of the greatest 12 figures in SUFC history?


  • Total voters
    60
  • Poll closed .

Yorkshire Blue

Super Moderator⭐
Staff member
Joined
Oct 27, 2003
Messages
35,960
Location
London
For 84 years Southend was a team that bounced around the lower divisions.

The opening words of the official club history are: "Other teams dreamt of Wembley, some hankered for the first division championship or a place in Europe - but Southend only ever wanted second division status."

We'd flirted with it on a couple of occasions. Back in the old division three (south) days when only the top team went up, we'd finished third in 1931/32 under Ted Birnie, just two wins back from eventual champions Fulham and were left to rue a disastrous spell of 10 defeats in 13 games over the winter period. Under Harry Warren we again went close finishing third in 1949/50, seven points behind Notts County and level on points (but behind on goal average) with Northampton.

There was a fourth place in 1955/56, a fifth in 1930/31 and a handful of 7th placed finishes. But we never actually won promotion and whilst it might have appeared in sight a few times, it remained a distant dream. When regionalisation was abolished towards the end of the 50s, we were one of just six founder clubs to be ever present in the third division south. In the third of four tiers, we fared little better, a couple of 8th place finishes and the 1980-81 division 4 championship team got as high as seventh the following season, but for the most part we were a yo-yo club maybe dreaming of the second division but mainly bouncing between the third and the fourth.

That all changed under one man: David Webb.

Few would have thought that Dave Webb would be up the Hall of Fame when in March 1987, just nine months into his Southend managerial career, he left after a row with chairman Vic Jobson. At the time Southend were well set for promotion from the 4th division, a job caretaker manager Paul Clark completed, but it was Webby's second spell that makes him stand out as a Southend legend.

Webb was officially replaced by Dick Bate, a disastrous appointment that lasted ten games. This time Paul Clark was appointed and Clark did well enough to beat top flight Derby in the league cup and stay up, but with Southend struggling the following season, Webby patched up his differences with Jobson and returned as general manager and quickly took over the reigns from Clarky.

Webby was unable to save the Blues from relegation that season, but he did gave debuts to some promising youngsters: Spencer Prior, Justin Edinburgh and Andy Edwards from the youth team; and a certain Steve Tilson who was signed from the local non-league scene. A final day win against Chester, courtesy of Prior's first professional goal, looked to have saved them until news filtered through that an own goal had given Blackpool the win that kept them up at Southend's expense.

With hindsight, the drop was the best thing that could have happened to the club, as it allowed Webb to rebuild completely and for the team to build up confidence and a winning habit.

Life back in division 4 started well as the Shrimpers won eight and drew one of their first ten league games, but it was in the cup that caught everyone's imagination, soon to be non-league again Col Ewe were easily dispatched in the first round, to set up a glamour tie against Tottenham, boasting England stars Lineker and Gascoigne. Southend lost the first leg 1-0, but gave Spurs a massive fright in the return leg at Roots Hall. Southend won 3-2, but cruelly went out on away goals, and we were left ruing our luck in a pulsating game in which David Crown had hit the post late on.

Slowly Dave Webb was assembling a fantastic, exciting, young team. Webby had inherited ever-present keeper, Paul Sansome; midfield dynamo Peter Butler; midfield hardman Dave Martin; and top-scorer Dave Crown and he set about adding to them. Guy Butters was added on loan after Spencer Prior had broken his leg, up until then the young Prior had been an ever-present. Then in March the experienced Ian Benjamin was added on a free transfer from Exeter; young right-back Dean Austin was picked up from St Albans for a bargain £10,000; and Ooh Andy Ansah was signed on a free from Brentford. With another youngster from the youth team, Paul Smith, Webby was placing his faith in the kids, with five teenagers in the side. They repaid his faith with four wins from the final six games, including relegating Col Ewe to the conference and climaxing with a 2-1 win at Peterborough on the final day of the season to clinch third place and promotion.

This was only the beginning. Over the summer Southend lost top-scorer David Crown to Gillingham on a longer deal. Fans, who had grown accustomed to a short stay in division three probably expected the worse. However Webby had different ideas, signing Stockport's prolific Brett Angell for £100,000 and future hall of famer Chris Powell from Palace on a free. Suddenly the team had taken shape: Sammy in goal, Austin and Powell at full-back, Paul Clark alongside Prior and later Pat Scully. In midfield Butler and Martin, out wide Ansah and Tilson. Up front were Angell and Benjamin.

Like the previous season, we started on fire. This time it was five straight wins, including a dramatic and spectacular late, late, late winner from John Cornwall against Preston. From that start, Southend never dropped out of the promotion positions. If an 8-0 defeat at Palace was demoralising, Southend made up for it by equalling a club record by beating Aldershot 10-1 in the Leyland Daf. In the next round they had Torquay and goalless after 55 minutes, Southend's young side won 7-0, yes that's seven and the vidiprinter had to spell out the score once more.

Just before Christmas, Southend faced a real test of our credentials, when second place Grimsby visited Roots Hall, but in front of a heaving crowd, Steve Tilson (whatever became of him?) scored a sublime goal and Southend ran out comfortable 2-0 winners to open up a lead.

As the end of the season neared, the nerves set in. Southend started dropping points. Our first chance of sealing promotion came against Cambridge at the end of April in front of a packed Roots Hall and a nervy affair saw our only 0-0 of the season. That left three games left. The first of them was at Gigg Lane against Bury and you don't need me to tell you what happened in the biggest game in Southend's history. In the end we didn't win the title we deserved, but whilst it would have been nice, unlike 2005/06 that wasn't what mattered.

That win secured Southend's first ever promotion to the second tier and Webby's exciting young team wasn't stopping there. With Brett Angell scoring for fun, Southend were right in the hunt. Southend were going to places like Derby County, Watford, Sunderland and winning. At home we were thrashing the likes of moneybags Blackburn and Glenn Hoddle's Swindon. Nothing sums it up better than January 1st 1992 when we hosted Newcastle. Southend ran out 4-0 winners to go top of the second division. It didn't last long, only three hours, but what a three hours.

Come February injuries started to hit. Brett Angell and Spencer Prior missed the same three games in a row and we lost all three. Off the field Webb and Jobson's relationship was deteriorating again. Webb announced he wasn't going to renew his contract and would leave in the summer and the season fizzled out.

In the end we finished 12th, which is still our highest ever finish, the 34th best team in the country. Not bad for little ol' Southend.

Once Webb left it took a further five seasons before we finally lost the division two status that he'd helped give us. Webb's legacy lived on. Of the squad he assembled, no less than eight players went onto play Premier$hite football. And that doesn't include the likes of Andy Ansah and Steve Tilson, who were amongst Southend's brightest stars but never quite got the move their talents and performances deserved. The likes of Austin (£375,000), Prior (£250,000), Powell (£800,000) and Angell (£500,000) however were all sold to top flight teams and their substantial transfer fees helped subsidise our stay in the second tier.

Webb's work at Southend was however still not done. With Southend struggling with debt, he returned again in 2000, to rescue Southend from the drudgery of the Alan Little years. Webb managed to successfully trim the burdensome wage bill to a manageable level, whilst still improving performance to guide Southend to their first top half finish since a certain D. Webb was last manager. His eye for a bargain had not diminished as he signed yet another future premier$hite player (and future million pound man) in Leon Cort. He also signed Tes Bramble and Mark Rawle, but you aren't going to strike gold every time. The following season with concerns about his health and things not panning out as well as he had originally hoped, he stood down to make way for Rob Newman.

In many ways we should be grateful for just Webb III. At the time our finances were spiralling out of control and without Dave Webb's skills to firstly cut the costs and secondly replace them without endangering our football league status, we might not have had a club to still support.

But Webby was still not done. He returned for one brief - and dare one say final - hurrah when the passionless Steve Wignall was sacked. He stepped in and steadied the ship. His first game back was a LDV 1st round game against Swansea, which we won, to set us on our way to our first ever cup final. He took charge of just three more games, just enough to avoid a potentially huge banana skin against Canvey in the cup and his final moment as manager was watching Jay Smith's last minute winner in the Canvey replay in front of the TV cameras, just the finale that his efforts deserved.

The man he handed over to, fittingly, was a man signed by Webby and who played his best football under Webby. He won his first game 4-0 and the rest is as they say, history.

Webb I - PL 37 - W 20, L 10, D 7
Webb II - Pl 181 - W 79, L 63, D 39
Webb III - Pl 59 - W 21, L 20, D 18
Webb IV - Pl 4 - W 2, L 1, D 1

Promotions: 1986/87 (most of), 1989/90, 1990/91
Relegations: 1988/89 (part)

With basically three promotions to be weighed against half a relegation, the only manager who could challenge Webb's record is his protege, Steve Tilson. About the only thing we could hold against Webb was that he walked out on us so often, but with each of his four spells at the club producing a winning record and his signings making the club over £2m profit in the transfer market, for arguably Southend's greatest ever season(s) and for finally bringing second division football to Roots Hall surely Dave Webb belongs in the Southend hall of fame.
 

Silencer

Director
Joined
Jan 12, 2009
Messages
2,349
Location
Southchurch Village
What a cracking write up....

Goose bumps were present when you summed it up with one paragraph:


The man he handed over to, fittingly, was a man signed by Webby and who played his best football under Webby.
 

Perth Bambi

Pinocchio
Joined
Jan 31, 2004
Messages
2,245
Location
Leeds
I would give it to him just for signing Tes but there you go.

I can't believe it was 9 years ago that he came back for the third time. Only seems like yesterday.
 

SUFC_Al

Metal Monday Dude
Joined
Feb 26, 2004
Messages
7,901
Location
In Britain's best town to retire to!
Absolutely yes.

Yorkshire Blue said:
Suddenly the team had taken shape: Sammy in goal, Austin and Powell at full-back, Paul Clark alongside Prior and later Pat Scully. In midfield Butler and Martin, out wide Ansah and Tilson. Up front were Angell and Benjamin

That side will be forever etched in to my memory.
 

choggy

Coach
Joined
Dec 10, 2006
Messages
561
Location
London
Absolutely a legend. I would still place him above Tilson as our best manager, not only for rhe workl he did on the pich but off it was well in temrs of the work he put in stabiling the clun in later years

Webby's game tactics were simple...tall centre-backs (well, ok Paul Clarke wasn't tall but he more than made up for this in terms of fercity), attacking full-backs, a m tigerish midfields, wingers that ran with the ball and a target man up front. And it worked.

Off the field, well...he took a club that were losiing un unsustainable amount of monry, restructured the whole club, got rid of the deadeood and propably ensured our survival. He made some tough decisions, they were all right ones.

I can't think of any person who deserves to be in the Hall of Fame more than him in the 25-odd years I've followed Southend

@Yorkshire Blue - Fantastic write-up
 

OldBlueLady

Junior Blues Coordinator⭐
Joined
Dec 27, 2007
Messages
47,926
Location
Benfleet
Assuredly yes, probably the best of the profiles you've done so far as well YB - great stuff.
 

manor15

Super Moderator⭐
Staff member
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Aug 13, 2008
Messages
8,288
Without a doubt a Southend legend, I think his last game in charge for us was as a caretaker in the 3-2 win at canvey
 

davewebbsbrain

Webby⭐
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Eastwood
Suddenly the team had taken shape: Sammy in goal, Austin and Powell at full-back, Paul Clark alongside Prior and later Pat Scully. In midfield Butler and Martin, out wide Ansah and Tilson. Up front were Angell and Benjamin.

I agree wholheartedly with this. This is the team that comes to the forefront of my mind, the team that IS Southend United. If my mind wanders back to latter days, this is the team I remember!

Dave Webb 110% gets my vote!!!
 

Not In Mohave Shrimper

formerly Drastic™
Joined
Jan 10, 2008
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A cast iron Hall of Famer for me.

In charge when I first started following the Blues when we hit the dizzy heights of the old Second Division. I still go misty eyed whenever the players in his team are mentioned, the likes of Sansome, Powell, Prior, Ansah, Benji, Angell and the rest. To have been here for four spells is remarkable and shows the love he had for the club, to me he is to Southend what Clough is to Forest. That may be overstating it but, I don't care that's how I think of him.
 

Yorkshire Blue

Super Moderator⭐
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Oct 27, 2003
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I thought Gary bennett hit the post against Spurs.

Nah, Gary Bennett scored twice and it was Crowny who hit the post. Dave Martin apparently scored the first, but at the time I didn't have a clue, I just saw a whole load of bodies go for the ball and the ball ending up in the back of the net.

Bloody hell, that was almost 20 years ago:O

Someone should get some highlights of that game up on youtube.

The thing I thought you were going to pick up on was the LDV being the second round as I think we might have had a bye first round.
 

Napster

The Horse with no Name⭐
Joined
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Messages
35,330
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The wilds of Kent
Nah, Gary Bennett scored twice and it was Crowny who hit the post. Dave Martin apparently scored the first, but at the time I didn't have a clue, I just saw a whole load of bodies go for the ball and the ball ending up in the back of the net.

Bloody hell, that was almost 20 years ago:O

Someone should get some highlights of that game up on youtube.

The thing I thought you were going to pick up on was the LDV being the second round as I think we might have had a bye first round.

I've got it on VHS, if anyone wants to borrow it and do the necessary...
 

A Century United

Firewalking for HD
Joined
Jan 26, 2007
Messages
10,004
Nope, he left us too many times after petty rows with Jobbo!;)

Jobbo didn't do petty rows. Heard DW being interviewed on 5 live after his caretaker spell at Chelsea (when they really, really should have given him the job full time - morons!) and he was asked if he had found it hard working for Bates:

"Hell no, you should try working with Vic Jobson!"

Absolute legend.
 
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