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is Freddy Eastwood one of the greatest 12 players in SUFC history?


  • Total voters
    156
  • Poll closed .

Yorkshire Blue

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Oct 27, 2003
Messages
35,220
Location
London
With Freddy there's only one place to start: has there ever been a better debut?

I very much doubt it, and I include fiction in that. Scoring after just 7.7 seconds of your professional debut against the top of the table team before going onto complete your hattrick is the type of story that even Roy of the Rovers, a comic featuring a fish playing in goal, would have rejected as being unbelievable.

But that is precisely what Freddy Eastwood did. And what's more it didn't stop there. He scored 24 goals in a season that didn't start - either for Freddy - or in all honesty for the club - until mid-October. His goals fired Southend into the LDV Final at the Millennium Stadium (naturally it was Freddy who got the all important goal in the semi-final against Bristol Rovers), his goals fired Southend into the promotion hunt - including in 7 consecutive matches as the race hotted up. It was his goal that revived hope of automatic promotion at Grimsby, and when that didn't work it was his goal - the only one of 180 minutes of nervous football - that got us past Northampton in the play-off semis, and then Lincoln at the Millennium Stadium although it's Duncan Jupp's goal everyone remembers (set up by Freddy of course) it was actually Freddy's goal, once more, that broke the deadlock and got us into League One.

But that wasn't even Freddy's finest season. The following year he fired 25 goals: memorably tearing apart Yeovil as a sub and grabbing a brace; the only goal against Forest as we won 8 in a row; the hat-trick at Bristol City on his birthday that even the Bristol fans applauded; somehow rolling the ball in from near the corner flag against Hartlepool; the last minute winner at Blackpool; that hat-trick in an astonishing game at Chesterfield; the opening goal in the title decider against Col Ewe as we sensationally destroyed them in the first half hour. In the dozen games leading to promotion, his scored a dozen goals, including the two at Swansea that secured promotion with exquisite finishes having turned the defence inside out. In a team which must be considered one of Southend's finest, a team that contained many great players - Hall of Famer Spencer Prior, the sparkling footwork and incisive passing of Marky Gower, the dominating Efe Sodje, the experience of Shaun Goater - there was one player who starred and was head and shoulders above the rest: Freddy Eastwood.

He was less prolific the following season in the Championship with "just" 16 goals - a total still only topped at that level in Southend history by Stan Collymore and Brett Angell - as he reportedly suffered with a back injury. Everyone seemed convinced this back injury was down to him having to carry extra weight - his critics suggested this was from his head that had got too big, his fans said it was from carrying the team. What seemed to happen is that teams cottoned onto the fact that Plan A was to give Freddy the ball 30 yards out and watch him kink past 2 men and bang it in the top corner from 25 yards. To the extent we had a Plan B to counter it, it was to give Freddy the ball 35 yards out and watch him try and jink past 3 men and bang it in the bottom corner from 30 yards. Because whilst Freddy was prolific, it wasn't just the number of goals that made him stand out, but his quicksilver feet that would buy him the yard needed to get the shot in and give him the power to beat the keeper from distance.

The surprise with Freddy wasn't that he went onto play international football - naturally scoring on his debut - but that he didn't go further. After he became the second most expensive player in Southend history (£1.5m), his career seemed to fizzle out. Southend fans knew what he was capable, and not just at League One and Two level. He outshone Rooney and Ronaldo as Southend knocked out the holders and that season's Premier$hite champions and Champions League semi-finalists, with a moment that a few of you may remember www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFysv6je59M

"You're just a fat Freddy Eastwood" fans chanted at England's best player - a compliment in comparing him to Eastwood that wouldn't have been extended to many England players. Whilst relegation was a disappointment, would you really swap another year or two of Championship football for that night against Man U? That's what football is about. Years of regret and disappointment were washed away with a moment that will live long with those that were there. Freddy, thank you.

Freddy Eastwood
Southend United 2004-07
Total Appearances 135 (108 plus 9 sub league, 6 FA Cup, 4+1 League Cup, 4+2 LDV)
Goals 65 (54 league, 3 FA Cup, 4 League Cup, 4 LDV)
Promotions 2 (2004-05, 2005-06)
Relegations 1 (2006-07)

League Cup Quarter-finalist: 1 (2006-07)
Post-war record for most consecutive games scored in: 7 (2004-05)
 
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