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Thank you Steve, for the best 6 years of my Southend supporting life.

A Century United

Firewalking for HD
Jan 26, 2007
My football club has changed, and I feel sort of empty today. For decades I supported Southend, and people would say "Who?" or "Southampton...?" or (most painfully) "Why???". And I dreamed of the day when I could casually mention my slightly strange affiliation, and people would nod, and look impressed, and discuss our latest triumph knowledgeably with me. And I knew it would never happen. When we lost to Aylesbury in the cup, Kingstonian in the cup, when we had barely over a thousand watching a league match at Roots Hall - it hurt, it hurt badly. But it was our lot in life. Even when the false dawn of our first daliance with Division Two came, and we did have some triumphs and excitement (beating West Ham, anyone?) we were just playing at the big time, with home crowds of Colchesteresque numbers.

Then Steve Tilson was made manager and something was different - but what? I still don't exactly know. But different indeed. Supporting my team was exciting, meaningful. Suddenly we were special, and I loved it, I bloody loved it. Avoiding relegation to the Conference? No problem. Missing out on promotion on the last day of the season? Don't worry, we'll just win the play-offs then, on our third trip to Cardiff in 18 months. Survive in League One? We'll do a bit better than that, just watch. And the fans turned up in their thousands, because suddenly everyone could see we were a little bit special, our fan of a manager was special, our fans were special.

Then the Championship, and the bubble burst - only it didn't, really. Yes, we went back down again, but with our heads high, Manchester United's scalp dangling from our belt, knowing that we had only been beaten by Spurs by an offside goal, with Tilly and Brush clutching extended contracts, and our fans kept coming. Now when I said "Southend" people knew! Even when the success just eluded us, people were praising us - the support at Donnie had other fans open-mouthed, and I still get goose bumps when I watch the Chelsea videos and hear "Yelllloooows, yellloooows" followed by that incredible roar as Clarkey powered the ball home. Money just can't buy those feelings. And we were still a family club, our manager one of us, and one of the longest serving in the Leagues. Anything was possible.

And now, today, that seems already a fading memory. We have rejoined the ranks of ordinary clubs. We have sacked, in a shameful, backdoor way, just like ordinary clubs do, the best manager we have ever had. We have brought in a journeyman manager, albeit a talented one, to whom our club is just another job, who will be off at the sniff of a better prospect. We may prosper under him, or we may not, only time will tell. He may bring in good players, or they may flop - but I doubt if many of them will ever attain the legendary status of Bentley, or Jupp, or Eastwood, or Barratt, or Maher, or Goater, or even Che Wilson, Macca, Tes "The Cat" Bramble, Drew Broughton. It truly is the end of the most wonderful time to be a Shrimper.

And it hurts, but today I have a feeling that we're not special anymore.