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is Mark Gower one of the greatest 12 or so figures in SUFC history?


  • Total voters
    130
  • Poll closed .

Yorkshire Blue

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Next up for SZ's Southend United Hall of Fame ballot is mercurial midfielder Mark Gower.

Mark Gower will need at least 90% of the votes and at least 30 votes must be cast. You, the SZ voters must decide if Marky Gower made a substantial impact, displayed greatness and left a legacy that he deserves to be listed alongside Southend legends of the calibre of Chris Powell, Sid Bloomfield, Stanley Victor Collymore, Ron Pountney, Oliver Trigg, Frank Gill, Billy Best, Dave Webb, Alan Moody and Freddy Eastwood Sr. Remember the bar is high: stalwarts of the calibre of David Crown, Ricky Otto, Paul Sansome, Dave Smith, Paul Clark and Ian Benjamin have not been deemed to meet this exacting standard (at least not yet; their time may still come).


Mark Gower was good enough as a kid to have played for England at school boy and youth level and as he progressed through the ranks at Lilleshall he was marked as one to watch. He was part of the Spurs youth set up and was given a debut by David Pleat for the Spurs first team in the League Cup against a Brentford side featuring fleeting Shrimpers Ijah Anderson, Chris Coyne and Kevin Rapley. Alas, injury struck and after a loan spell at Motherwell (scoring against Rangers on his debut), Gower found himself out of favour with a manager who didn't want to back the kids in George Graham. A hasty move to Barnet in January 2001 backfired when he found himself supplying Tony Richards. Unsurprisingly with such a donkey up front, Barnet were relegated to the conference. Here Gower rebuilt his career and after two seasons of impressing there (and winning England semi-pro honours) he showed enough to convince Steve Wignall to make him the centre-piece of the Wignall revolution with Ron agreeing to hand over £25,000 (our biggest fee for a couple of seasons) to Barnet to land him.

Gower impressed immediately, scoring twice on debut against Cheltenham. Unfortunately for Gower though it was out of the fire into the frying pan as he went from having to play with Tony Richards to having to work with Dr*we Bro*ghton. With the ****ing useless donkey Bro*ghton destroying any attacking momentum with his off-sides and clumsy elbows the season was spluttering until Ron fired Wignall for lacking passion in his eyes. In came Dave Webb and then Steve Tilson as successive and successful caretakers and with the talentless lump Bro*ghton largely banished to the sub bench and no longer impeding our attacking play, soon the sight of Gower on the left wing checking back onto his right foot to curl one into the far corner become a joyfully frequent sight. He scored in the FA Cup draw with Canvey and he popped up again to score at Swansea in that incredible 3-2 win at when he was one of the three players (and an assistant manager) to have been sent off.

The arrival of the cultured midfielder energised Kevin Maher. Like Gower, Maher had come through the Spurs youth set-up and all of a sudden here was someone on Maher's wavelength (Maher had been a couple of years ahead of Gower, who in turn was a couple of years older than Stuart Thurgood in the Spurs youth teams). When once Maher's square passes had us going nowhere, now there was a point to them. Maher would play it square to Gower on the left-wing, who was always open and always willing to receive the ball, and Gower would then ping a crossfield pass to spread play or play it short and move and be ready to receive the ball again and an attack would build. With the Maher-Gower axis in midfield, the Blues went storming onto the JPT final, establishing our credentials as the one team in Essex and in the League ensuring we finished above the drop zone with Gower scoring 9, often net-bursting, goals in 53 appearances.

The next season was even better for the Shrimpers. It didn't start that way as painful lessons about not picking that ****ing useless donkey Dr*we Bro*ghton were forgotten, but once he was removed thinks started to pick up, especially when we signed a young unproven forward from non-league football who thrived on Gower's intelligent passes. The previous season's JPT success in reaching the national final was repeated (Gower's winner at the Memorial Stadium in the first leg of the semi-final being all important) as not having reached a major final in 96 years we promptly reached one in consecutive years but this time there was more with a play-off triumph, albeit that having faded down the stretch and had Nicky Nicalau preferred, Gower's role in the final was as sub to see out the final minute of extra time in extra time.

And if that was good, the following season was even greater as the Shrimpers romped to the League One title ahead of our in-bred neighbours (going 3-0 up inside half an hour at their ground in the title decider and doing the equivalent of getting down on your hands and knees to head the ball in, by letting Che Wilson score the third - being a particular highlight) in possibly our greatest ever season. Here Gower again played an integral role featuring in 34 league matches (and a further 6 as sub), scoring 6 as the Blues didn't just triumph but do so in great style playing the best football we've been fortunate enough to watch.

Up a division the following season Gower thrived with the extra space and time on the ball. The season will always be remembered for the exchange he had with sadly departed Ldnfatso beating Man U - in which Gower played a full part - but Gower had arguably his best season in a Southend shirt scoring 10 in 51 league and cup appearances and only missing three games for being sent off for a factually correct statement directed at St*ve B*nnett after B*nnett had already wrongly sent off Maher in a feisty Essex derby.

Back in League One, Gower guided us to the play-offs scoring 9 times in 40 league starts and 2 sub appearances, as part of probably the greatest ever Southend midfield with Nicky Bailey, Kevin Maher and Alan McCormack, but the Blues fell short in the play-offs and Gower's last ever appearance for the club was not a fitting one in the 5-1 play-off defeat at Doncaster.

Out of contract, after 5 memorable seasons, Gower moved on a free to Championship Swansea. In his third season, having moving into central midfield, he helped the Swans triumph in the Championship play-offs, meaning he got to grace the Premiership. And grace it he did. At one stage he'd provided the most assists in any top flight league in Europe.

Mark Gower
Southend United 2003-08
Total Appearances 243 (190+15 as sub League, 14 FA Cup, 8 League Cup and 16 Other)
Goals 41 (35 League, 3 FA Cup, 1 League Cup and 2 Other)
Promotions: 2 (2004-05; 2005-06)
Titles: 1 (2005-06)
Play-offs: 2 (2004-05 Winners; 2007-08 semi-finalists)
JPT Finals: 2 (2003-04; 2004-05)
League Cup Quarter-finalist: 1 (2006-07)
 

Pubey

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So if Gower gets voted in, we can't have both Maher AND Barrett?
 

Yorkshire Blue

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So if Gower gets voted in, we can't have both Maher AND Barrett?

It's a soft-cap rather than a hard cap.

But Eastwood and Prior are already in from that side and some might think it's unlikely that nearly half of the greatest figures (don't forget Tilly as well) in Southend's history are all from the same side so I'd suggest voters should think carefully.
 

manor15

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Now this is a tough one. One of the most important players we've had in the last 20 years. But top 12 ever? Going to have to think this one over.
 

Yorkshire Blue

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Now this is a tough one. One of the most important players we've had in the last 20 years. But top 12 ever? Going to have to think this one over.

Yep, I'm on the fence with this one. It's tricky.

He had an incredible 5 seasons with us
Season 1: JPT final
Season 2: Win League Two play-off finals (and another JPT final)
Season 3: Win League One Championship
Season 4: knock-out Man U and reach quarter-finals of League Cup
Season 5: League One play-offs

I don't think anyone can match that for producing a memorable season every year they were with us for that length of time and in my memory he's one of the key figures in those campaigns - but he wasn't always in the side and we won games without him - he didn't feature in that 4-1 win v Yeovil for example, which surprised me as when we played sublime football I expected him to be front and centre.

This is a tough one.
 

Yorkshire Blue

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Whats the current HOF list YB?

Chris Powell with 100% of the vote and a poll of 66 votes in favour
Sid Bloomfield with a 97.73% of the vote, polling 43 to 1
Stanley Collymore with 94.44% of the vote, 102 to 6
Ron Pountney, at the 2nd attempt, with 91.07% and 51 to 5 (only 22 votes in favour on 1st poll)
Oliver Trigg with 100% of the vote, polling 47 votes
Frank Gill with 94.29% and 33 to 2
Billy Best with 97.78% and 44 to 1
David Webb with 98.44% and 63 to 1
Alan Moody with 98.31% and 58 to 1
Spencer Prior with 91.53% and 54 to 5
Freddy Eastwood with 95.63% and 153 to 7

Those who haven't made it (at least yet)

David Crown, 51.61%, 32 to 30
Ricky Otto, 51.61%, 48 to 45
Paul Sansome, 78%, 39 to 11
Dave Smith, 89.74%, 35 to 4
Paul Clark, 89.69%, 87 to 10
Ian Benjamin 77.78%, 49:14
 

Uncle Leo

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Oof, this really is tricky.

Must admit, I had totally forgotten about him barely playing in the Lincoln game.

A definite starter in my personal all-time XI, but given the exacting standards of this HOF...I'm leaning towards no but will sleep on it!
 

WESTY_SUFC

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For me personally it has to be a 'yes' but is that fair because some other of these legends were before my time?
 

OldBlueLady

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Really tough - but nice to see this pop up again YB. Just edged to the "no", asked myself "Have I ever classed him as a Southend legend in speech or written word?" Answer was no, therefore, he doesn't quite make the grade.

When you look at the struggle we had to get Ronnie Pountney in and failing to get Paul Clark in, then I am comfortable with my decision.

Of the current crop, we will also have Lenny to consider in a few years too.
 

BILLERICAY BLUE

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Have a guess....
Great player, but not quite legendary status, so a no from me I'm afraid.

Great write up though YB, and as OBL said good to see this back again. :thumbsup:
 

RHB

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If Clarky isn't deemed to be a legend then Gower surely isn't. Despite being a great player and certainly one of our top 10 of this century

I mulled this over yesterday, especially on the Clarky point, and also on David Crown as well. So I've now joined the 'No' camp even though he was a very fine player.
 

TTS

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Can't see how this is a no really.

The guy was complete class and how many players from the Hall have gone to also hold their head high in the premier league as well ?!?

Whenever he had the ball at his feet, you sensed something would happen, he created so much , either for himself when he cut in, or for others with his superb vision. He was also one of the top players for us in the Championship season and never looked out of place.

For me, it's a resounding yes
 

TTS

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Sorry, YB I also meant to say, a superb thread and opening post.

Excellent
 

Uncle Leo

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Can't see how this is a no really.

The guy was complete class and how many players from the Hall have gone to also hold their head high in the premier league as well ?!?

Whenever he had the ball at his feet, you sensed something would happen, he created so much , either for himself when he cut in, or for others with his superb vision. He was also one of the top players for us in the Championship season and never looked out of place.

For me, it's a resounding yes

I can't imagine many or any of the 'no' votes will have been an easy decision. Certainly not for me.

But YB has (rightly) set a very high bar here. As others say, if Paul Clark isn't in, others are going to have to do really well!
 
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