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Blue tinted optimist⭐
Oct 28, 2003
Cloud cuckoo land

Years ago, when Southend were regularly plumbing the depths of the division now known as league 2, I used to get some funny looks when people found out I was a season ticket holder at Roots Hall.  “What on earth for?” they used to quip, “Surely you must play ‘Spot the Crowd’ down there?”

“Ah, yes,” I used to respond, “but if we ever draw Manchester United in the cup I’m guaranteed a ticket”.

Tonight saw the first occurrence of that event in the clubs centenary year.  In yet another record breaking season, which has seen us not win for a record number of league matches and reach the 4th round of the competition now known as the Carling Cup for a record 1st time, we extend that record by reaching the quarter finals of one of the major domestic cup competitions for the first time.  Not only that, we beat the biggest club side in the world and current Carling Cup holders to do it.

It is nights like this that make it all worthwhile.

Oh to be the supporter of a small club.  The expectation on big clubs must be so great that the embarrassment and despair they feel at results like tonights must be devastating.  They must be feeling a far bigger low than anything we have ever felt or even likely to feel.  Oh the shame – a team containing 8 internationals and 2 of the greatest forwards in the world simply could not hack it at little old Roots Hall against a side that has the worst defensive record in the Championship and who were considering officially changing their name to “Southend nil”.

Sir Alex Ferguson was warmly received in a pre-match presentation to commemorate his 20 years in charge at the Red Devils, which is a tremendous achievement in this modern game.  But in truth this was little more than the handshake a prize fighter might give his opponent before dumping him on the seat of his pants.  Sir Alex made a monumental tactical error, and he paid for it big time.

His intentions were clear; a stronger squad would be sent down in order to avoid the near embarrassment suffered at Gresty Road in the last round, and to most of us that spelt trouble.  Fellow supporters were readily talking about 5 and 6 goal drubbings, even perhaps a record home defeat.  On entering the ground, I was informed that Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo were in the starting line up.  Sir Alex had set his stall out – kill the game off with the big guns and obviously substitute them at some point to put the kids on to play the game out.

You can’t blame him for thinking it should be enough. Rooney’s weekly wage alone would pay our entire squad for a month and we do ship goals for fun.  He has had us watched for the last 3 matches where we have scored 2, conceded 8 and got precisely 0 points out of 9.  But Sir Alex reckoned without the Southend spirit and the Roots Hall Roar.

Should have been a doddle.   However, it turned out to be a big mistake.  He accidentally selected Mickey Rooney and Ronald MacDonald, who huffed and puffed and were poor impressions of their highly paid footballing cousins. When that didn't work, he had nothing on the bench left to try and change things around.  As I say - big mistake and it's bye bye Man U.

I won’t bother with a match report as such because we all saw it, either at the ground or on the box.  In fact, the entire footballing world saw it and this has put Southend on the soccer map far more than our LDV final appearances, the play off final victory or even winning the league one title added together.  The next time you go on holiday to some distant shore, the mention of SUFC will always bring the recollection of the day we beat Manchester United, in the same way as Col******r are remembered for the time they beat Leeds in the early 1970’s.  Make no mistake, this result will send shockwaves around the world and will rank as a massive upset.  I think we are now officially the only team to have a 100% record against Manchester United.

But more to the point, it should give the players the confidence they need to kick start their league campaign.  Prior to the Cardiff match – our last live TV appearance – we had a healthy respect from the rest of the division.  It is my firm belief that the performance against the Welshmen highlighted every shortcoming and failing in our side, which has been ruthlessly exploited since.  Tonight, teams in the Championship and across the football world will be viewing Southend United through different eyes and perhaps with a revised battle plan.  My only concern is the sheer physical effort expended by the players and I hope they have recovered by the weekend.  Sadly, the injuries to Hunt and Hooper means that we only have 14 fit professionals now, but we must now get a couple of loanees, surely.  We can’t afford any more absence through injury or suspension.

The spine of the side was solid this evening.  It is difficult to see how Flahavan and Sodje could have possibly improved on their performance, whilst the return of JCR showed us exactly what we have missed.  Sure, some of the crossing was poor and he often tried one step over too many, but he remains in my opinion one of the few players we have who can provide anything like Championship quality.  Frequently he was there, winning the second ball, which is where we have woefully fallen short of late.  He was always an outlet although almost blotted his copybook in first half injury time by giving possession away and the visitors nearly made us pay.  But we can forget that now, as tonight we had the luck that seems to have deserted us in the league.

Special mention for the fans, who were magnificent throughout.  The Manchester stars didn’t fancy it, were not up for it and were made to pay accordingly.

So now, bring on Preston and Plymouth in the league.  The Blues are staying up – lets get ready to rumble!


Flahavan – 9 – As I say, it is hard to see how he could have improved on this performance.  What a perfect response to probably his worst game for the club at Wolves last Saturday.  Most of United’s goal attempts were either at a nice height or straight at him (and that is not intended to detract from him in any way), but his first half save from Ronaldo was top class.  

Hunt – 6 – Went off injured early on before he could get into the game.
Hammell – 7 – Stood up well against Ronaldo and showed the visitors how to take a corner, both of which we nearly scored from.
Prior – 8 – Belied his age and put in a masterful performance.
Sodje – 9.5 – MOM – What a fantastic performance and nearly rewarded with a goal in the last minute.  He is so important to us and was simply phenomenal.  The only way he could have bettered this would have been to have scored.  A fitting way to start this report by using the words on the front of his bandana.

Gower – 8 – Always available, lack of pace against Premiership opponents showed at times, but did really well on the whole.
Maher – 8 – Good performance but wasted a golden opportunity to make it 2-0 with just a few minutes to go.  Otherwise did as well, if not better, than could be expected.
Clarke  - 6.5 - If there was a weak link it was probably him.  His distribution was generally poor, but he did win some crucial challenges and tackles, and he was always in their face.  It was his harrying that stopped them having time to settle and he deserves praise for that.
Campbell-Ryce – 9 – Has hopefully silenced his critics with an all action show and has demonstrated he can live with the best.  Still areas he needs to work on but generally provides more positives than we have when he doesn’t play.

Hooper – 7 – Ran his socks off, seen on crutches later, looks bad.  Did well against their defence otherwise.
Eastwood – 8.5 – Scored a goal worthy of winning any game but could have shown a little more composure at the end when the two defenders collided and fell over.


Francis – 8 – Came in for Hunt and did brilliantly.
Lawson – 6.5 – Came on in the final stages but struggled to pick up the pace of the game.

THE REF – Ulriah Rennie – 8 - sheer class.  Strange decision to book Darryl but otherwise was spot on.

The Crowd -10 - Well done with everyone playing their part. Continue it on Saturday.


Oct 25, 2003
[b said:
Quote[/b] (fbm @ Nov. 08 2006,00:23)]Oh the shame – a team containing 8 internationals
Great report as usual. Fairly irrelevant I know, but I think they had 10 internationals on the pitch to start, with only Jones not a full cap.

Mind you we had 3 international out there!

Matt the Shrimp

aka Harry Potter
Oct 27, 2003
Lewisham, London
fbm... can I give you 11 out of 10 for that report?

Magnificent. All of our players were heroes tonight... but Jamal, Freddy, Darryl, Spinner and above all Efe were huge. Leviathans.

We are good enough to stay up. Let's start collecting those points we need.


Groyne Strain

Oct 24, 2003
The Crane
I might be biased but: -

We won 1-0.

Flavs - 10.
Hunt - 10.
Hammell - 10.
Prior - 10.
Sodje - 11.75 (10 + VAT)
Gower - 10.
Maher - 10.
Clarke - 10.
Campbell-Ryce - 10.
Hooper - 10.
Eastwood - 10.

Francis - 10.
Lawson - 10.

Rennie - 0.  Added on at least 45 minutes too much time in the second half and at least 18 in the first.  Signs of a middle-aged Guinness spread appearing.

Southend - 10.
Man ure - unamarked as I wasn't aware they'd turned up.

Can't argue with that.


Good report FBM I would however have given Clarke a rating of 8. It was his best performance for the club by a mile!!!


Life President
Apr 7, 2005
Totall agree with report. Flahavan did great, but Sodje stood out by a mile. He was immense. To be honest the defence as a whole were superb, Prior was also excellent. Now if only we could defend like that in the league!

Clarke really only the weak link, gave the ball away nearly every time he got it but did chip in with some decent challenges.

* ORM *

Emma Bunton's No. 1 stalker, Adam Barretts No. 1 f
Nov 7, 2003
Flying the flag for SUFC in Sai Kung, Hong Kong
Can't argue too much with the ratings - In Clarke's defence a) he is (allegedly) a centre-half and b) he finished the match as one of the strongest players when one or two were hanging on, not that there's any shame in that. Personally I think Maher was awesome but I might be slightly biased.

adam barratt is the best

sodje isthe main man he is scared of nobody