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Is Stan Collymore one of the greatest 12 figures in SUFC history?

  • Total voters
  • Poll closed .

Yorkshire Blue

Super Moderator
Staff member
Oct 27, 2003
The next man up for election to the Southend United Hall of Fame is Stanley Victor Collymore.

I think Stan might be the first man to divide opinion sufficiently to have a few no votes. After all, longevity is one of the criteria and Stan only graced a Southend shirt thirty-three times and scored only eighteen goals. When trying to decide on the best dozen or so players in a club's history, to pick a striker who only scored 18 goals for the club, who never actually appeared in a team photo might seem a little odd.

However for those of us privileged enough to have seen most of those 33 games that doesn't seem odd at all. Stan will be the only player in the Hall of Fame that I don't have to look up the stats for, so ingrained they are in my memory: 30 league games, 15 goals, 3 FA Cup games 3 goals. If push came to shove, I could probably not just name who those goals were against, but describe them as well. What makes it easy is that almost all of the descriptions would begin "Stan picked up the ball outside the area, beat a couple of men and..."

It all started one dreary Saturday afternoon in November, on a soggy Roots Hall pitch. If we weren't bottom, we must have been second bottom and that would have only been because of the goals of Ian Benjamin. But just days earlier we'd sold club legend (and potential Hall of Famer - if you haven't already nominated, add your nomination to this thread http://www.shrimperzone.com/vb/showpost.php?p=858480&postcount=72) and top-scorer Benji to rivals Luton for a desultory sum. Off the pitch the fans were protesting against Vic Jobson (no nominations to the Hall of Fame as yet) and the resultant boycott meant that just three thousand, the lowest in years, turned up to see us play Notts County. I'm sure I must have seen the news of us signing Stan on loan on teletext, yet when his name was read out over the tannoy I was one of those many whose reflex response was "who?". Even the news that two "promising" youth team players, Steve Brown and Scott Ashenden (no nominations yet either) were going to be making their home debuts provided little cause for optimism. The glory days under Dave Webb, who'd left a mere 6 months previously seemed a world away and we were on a fast-track to relegation. Having fought so hard for that historic promotion two years earlier and set the division alight in our first year in the second tier, the dream was about to be extinguished and we didn't even look like going down with a fight.

Ninety minutes later we'd gone from pessimism to elation. We'd discovered a world beater and it wasn't Scott Ashenden. Notts County weren't all that, and whilst a 3-0 win was resounding, what had electrified all who had been there to see it was the performance of Stan. To say that he'd scored two goals wouldn't tell the whole story, as he'd run them ragged and should have had at least a hattrick in a virtuoso display of pace and power. Indeed with two goals (a powerful shot into the roof of the net after they'd failed to clear a free-kick and im powering through the middle before rifling in a shot from 20 yards), he'd missed a few chances including one where he'd picked the ball up on the half way line, galloped through the mud and struck a sweet shot agonisingly against the post from 25 yards. If one of the criteria is impacts, this was an impact.

The next few games he showed signs of mortality, failing to get on the scoresheet and win games single-handedly, and the pattern for the rest of the Murphy era became clear: ten men behind the ball (I'd describe our system as being one that combined a flat back four with a sweeper, an anchorman and two wing-backs, then maybe a defensive midfielder and finally Stan up top alone) and we'd just knock it long for Stan to try and win and then take on an entire defence on his own. The amazing thing was that it worked often enough for us to prevent us getting cut adrift at the bottom as Stan scored a further brace against Barnsley, inspired a hit and run win away at Bristol Rovers and a surprise 4-0 win at home v Birmingham. The trouble was in between were the games when we failed to get the ball to Stan and lost tamely.

Then there was the cup. Stan had a rare ability to rocket the ball with either foot and one such blast from the edge of the area that was too hot for Kasey Keller to handle was the only goal of the game between Southend and Millwall at Roots Hall. The fourth round saw us sent up to Huddersfield, a division lower but a game I think few of us thought we'd get anything out of. Stan had other ideas and from 1-0 down we found ourselves in the fifth round of the cup thanks to two outstanding individuals goals. How goal no.7 (Stanley's second), when he collected a throw on the half-way line, turned and ran at the defence before curling it into the corner from 25 yards wasn't Match of the Day's Goal of the Month was a travesty and clearly sowed the seeds for later TV vote-riggers like Ant and Dec. Those goals equalled a club record by putting us in the 5th round of the FA Cup - a feat we've still to surpass, and had it not been for a controversial disallowed goal at Hillsborough....

Back in the league it was following a familiar pattern: if Stan scored we'd get something out of the game, if not we'd be lucky to escape with a draw. And if Stan scored, it was normally something special. Like his goal in a 3-0 home win v Brentford in which Stan scored a trademark goal running from the half way, jinking past one defender and then before you knew it, he'd jinked past the keeper as well and was tapping it into an empty net. The there was his goal against Millwall live on ITV. Stan picked up the ball and just ran at the defence, depositing future England centre-half Colin Cooper on his arse, fooling another defender and finishing coolly. Wow, just wow. Colin Cooper wasn't the only future England defender he made to look stupid, his smooth turn against Newcastle beat Steve Howey all ends up and won a penalty for Andy Sussex to earn us a point.

In the end it wasn't enough to save Colin Murphy, the signing of Stan seemed to be the one thing he did right in a turbulent 9 months. Murphy, or at least the Southend faithful, were put out of our misery on April Fool's Day and in his place came the exact opposite to the pseudo-intellectual Murphy. Barry "Judas" Fry was one of the lads, a ****ney geezer who'd walk over broken glass to manage Southend - at least until a whiff of Karen Brady's perfume had him scuttling up the M40 and attempting a Brummie twang. The team was immediately transformed. From the negative football of Murphy it was all out attack under Fry. His first game was up at Sunderland. Southend scored 4, with Stanley, of course amongst those on the scoresheet. That was as many as we'd scored in our previous seven away games.

Confidence flowed through the veins and the next game we thrashed the Hamster scum 1-0. For the first time since Stan signed we managed to win without him getting on the scoresheet, but inevitably it was Stan who set it all up, making a mug of Steve Potts down the left before crossing it in for Brettie Angell who could hardly miss, for one of the sweetest moments of being a Southend fan.

If it couldn't get better from a team point of view,it did from an individual perspective. In a must win game at home against fellow strugglers Bristol Rovers, Stan produced two sublime moments of magic: first collecting the ball with his back to goal, then turning his man and rifling it into the near post: if the first was all precision, the second was just pace and power, shrugging off the centre-half on the half-way line and driving at goal, turning his man and smacking it into the back of the net from 25 yards. Safety was suddenly within our grasp. Despite Stan netting the only goal v Grimsby, it all came down to the final game of the season against Luton. Stan didn't score, although he ran Luton ragged but a sumptuous volley from Andy Sussex after a Stan cross was only half cleared and a Brett Angell header was enough for us to secure survival. As the final whistle went, fans poured onto the pitch and whilst Barry Fry's flat cap might have been pinched, it was Stan everyone headed to.

We all knew it was Stan's last game for the club. Scouts had been flocking to Roots Hall since the word had got out about his feats. For our younger fans, think Freddy Eastwood, only taller, stronger and quicker - six feet four inches tall, with the power to match, Stan somehow combined this with electric pace, an assured balance and an ability to score from outside of the area with either foot. Maybe other Southend players have been quicker, but surely none have used their pace so devastatingly. It was clear he belonged at a higher level. I still think he could have done a job for England that season and there are stories that an underfire Graham Taylor contemplated it but backed out when he realised what the media response to picking a 2nd division player with 20 games under his belt. Instead at the end of the season moved onto Forest for a club record £2m, which after adds on rose to an astonishing £3.65million. If you want to talk about legacies, that is a legacy and a half that paid for everything from the new Boots and Laces training ground, the refurbishment and conversion to all-seater of Roots Hall, the exciting team of the following season including the likes of Ricky Otto (later sold for £0.8m) future premier$hite players like Mooney, Lee (stop laughing) and Hunt and even if you are inclined to believe the rumours a lot of work at Vic Jobson's house.

At Forest he inspired them to not just promotion but then the following season to 3rd (the last time a team outside of the free spending Man U, Liverpool, Newcastle, Arsenal, Leeds and Chelsea achieved such a feat). From there he went to Anfield and England but for various reasons his career never quite hit the heights again, although that isn't to say he had good times - scoring the winner in the greatest premier$hite game ever is quote a career highlight. Maybe the fact that he never fulfilled his potential (100 caps and 60 goals should have been the minimum his talent warranted - he was seriously that good) makes him all the more special to us, because at Southend he did perform. He may not have graced the Roots Hall turf for long, but he provided enough memories to last a life time*.

My own favourite Stan moment is against Birmingham. Sir Chrissy Powell, who of course has already been voted into the Hall of Fame, was trying to run the ball out by the cornerflag in front of the North Bank and at least prevent a corner. Through the magic of the wiggle he managed to turn his man and instead of letting the ball run out, he played it to Stan who'd come short. Stan must have been almost level with the edge of his own D, his back to goal, but when Stan got the ball people stood up because they expected. Stan turned and ran at Birmingham, he feinted left and powered through the middle, a little touch here and there to wrong foot opponents and he kept going and running until he was 25 yards out. In the end there was no fairy tale ending because he put his shot two yards wide of the post, but the point of this little tale is how many players can get a crowd (and the hairs on the back of my neck) standing when they pick up the ball with their back to goal in their own D? That my friends is special and that is why Stanley is up for the Hall of Fame.

*Copyright John Adams, from the eclectic Collymore Collection - an essential for any Blues fan. It contains memorable footage such as an occasion when "you thought he [Stan] could keep it in, even if he couldn't" as Stan flicks on a ball by the halfway line and chases it unsuccessfully as it goes out for a throw-in.