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fbm

Blue tinted optimist⭐
Joined
Oct 28, 2003
Messages
8,741
Location
Cloud cuckoo land
Due to formatting problems the report isn't yet on the front page so here it is



BLUES LAND TITLE IN ESSEX ONE-TWO


The two Essex sides defied all the odds in League One by claiming both automatic promotion spots – with the Super Shrimpers deservedly landing the title. In fact, it was Southend’s second back to back promotion – the other happening in 1989/90 and 1990/91 – and considering there have only ever been about 10 in history surely this must put us into the record books somewhere.

May 6th 2006 was the day that Southend finally delivered the goods in front of their own fans at a packed Roots Hall by getting the win that meant the title was ours regardless, although as results transpired a draw would have been enough. In fact, it was after the Blackpool match when we hit 77 points that I stated that we may have accumulated enough points already because our rivals were slipping up all around us. That prophecy was proved to be correct, although our North Essex neighbours would have landed the title under those circumstances.

In our history, promotions have always been won away from Roots Hall or without us kicking a ball but at long last the players have felt the euphoria of the home stadium absolutely erupting – but they had to wear their away kit to do it!

It could however have been different. The largest crowd of the season – 11387 – had a further 7 spectators on the pitch during a frankly woeful first half performance when only Flahavan, Barrett, Hunt and Goater seemed interested. Gone was the slick passing and movement that had been fairly evident in most games this season, and individuality and carelessness took its place. No scout watching Freddy would have been tempted to make an offer of any description as he failed to find a team-mate with any pass in a very forgettable opening period, although he did sting the keepers hands with a powerful drive near the end of it for our only goal attempt of the half.

At the other end it was only a goal-line clearance from Hunt, the inside of the post and an appalling miss from a laughable McCammon – surely the worst centre forward I have seen here this season - that enabled Blues to go in level.

However, the second half saw Southend much quicker out of the blocks and once the dreaded 46th minute had passed they began to impose their authority on the game. Luke Guttridge hit a low drive that Basso saved very well low to his left, and in doing so suffered an injury to his shoulder that saw him substituted after 65 minutes.

As Blues upped the tempo, Bristol looked like a team that had nothing to play for yet chances for either side were still few and far between. Flahavan tipped a rising free kick from Luke Wiltshire over the bar and Mitchell Cole - a 69th minute replacement for Gower – first sliced wide and then forced substitute keeper Abbey into a fingertip save of his own. Bentley replaced Guttridge on 80 minutes and then 3 minutes later Wayne Gray came on for an emotional Shaun Goater in probably the longest substitution ever as he shook hands with all outfield players - plus the ref!

With this sudden injection of pace came further opportunites and Gray immediately started ruffling a few Robins feathers with his work rate and commitment. News came through that Brentford were winning and Col******r drawing 0-0, so we were still on for the title – but only just. If we had somehow conspired to throw that away by conceding a late goal then the promotion celebrations would have been hugely muted. However, we needn’t have worried. With 3 minutes left, Maher won a strong challenge on the centre circle to set up a 4 versus 3 situation. A short ball to his left saw Gray take the ball into the box and unleash a powerful drive that deflected past Abbey into the net for the first goal in 268 Roots Hall minutes of football.

In the 38 years I have followed Southend I have never heard a goal greeted with such delight, relief and volume. The roof of each stand seemed to lift as fans and players celebrated what was to be the winning goal. Not today would there be last minute dramas or twists. This was the day Southend grew up and finally brought home the bacon – and what a fantastic way to celebrate our centenary season.


RATINGS –

I have expanded each players details to include comments about the season generally as well as the match.


Flahavan – 8 – Yet again he kept us in the game when it mattered and is my choice for the most improved player this season. They say keepers improve with age and this certainly seems to be the case for him. Has been much more consistent and is undoubtedly one of the best outside the top flight.

Jupp – 7 – Much more on the ball in the second half. He has, in my opinion, got better as the season has progressed. I would say however his age may be against him and wonder if he could cut it at Championship level. Possibly a squad player only – that’s if he is here at all.
Wilson – 7 – Solid in the second half but rather worryingly got skinned in the first half by an ancient looking Bristol striker. His performances have been fantastic considering he isn’t a left back and is another person who has continued to improve and deliver at a level higher than had been expected of him. I see his role next season as cover for the full back positions.
Barrett – 8 – Defended doggedly in the first half when most of his team-mates went missing. You want this guy on your side. He will simply never give up and will run through brick walls for the cause and since he stopped carrying ball out from defence his all round game has reverted to the standard that won him league 2 player of the year last year. However, will the Championship be a level too far? I have to say that I fear his lack of pace and height might be caught out next season. I hope to God I’m wrong as he is rapidly turning into one of the best defenders we have ever had down here.
Hunt – 8 – Cleared off the line in the first half to keep the game scoreless and performed very well throughout the match. Has stepped into the breach following the injuries to Sodje and Prior and has been magnificent. Definitely one to retain, and I suspect will be first choice right back next season.

Gower – 7 – Always available as an outlet, but rarely did anything with it, especially in the first half. He is another who has performed very well this season and now seems to have overcome all his fitness problems but his lack of pace would appear to limit just how far he can progress and if I’m honest I think League one is his level. If he performs to the max next season then he will be good enough, but I’m not sure if he has the capability to do that. Again, I’d love to be wrong.
Maher – 7 – Will want to forget the first half when he was a real passenger. Much better in the second period and set up the goal. Has suppressed his ability to constantly show dissent and the additional space he has had in the middle in this division has made him much more effective. I still think he takes too many corners and free kicks and would like to see it mixed up a lot more.
Guttridge – 6 – Watched all the first half and quite a bit of the second, although to be fair he was much, much better after the break. However, he is frankly a shadow of the player that he was earlier in the season. Next year I’d like to see a lot more of Guttridge in a more creative role where he can hurt the opposition.
Bradbury – 7 – Was solid in the second period without ever really getting that involved. His arrival from Oxford has, in my opinion, turned out to be another masterstroke. Is he worth keeping? Being honest, I’d like to think so but am wondering whether the higher standard and his age might be too much.

Eastwood – 6 – It didn’t really happen today for him but he is still the hottest property in League One. He has delivered the goods again and if we can keep him and he starts banging them in next season we really could be talking about a multi-million pound player here. His game is all about his quick feet and ability to get into the box, which is why I think he will succeed at the highest level. Deservedly the player of the season.
Goater – 8.5 – MOM. He was determined to make his last match ever a winning one and it was a shame he didn’t get an opportunity to score. I have given him the MOM because he showed for the 83 minutes he was on the pitch that this really mattered to him and he was willing to stretch his ageing bones and muscles for our cause one final time. Whilst his on pitch performances this season have not always set the world alight, I don’t think his off the pitch influence at the Hall can be measured. Gray and Eastwood must have benefited from his experience and the profile of the club has been elevated to a higher level. At times he has shown touches and moves that have simply oozed Premier$hite class and will be missed. Shaun, you are a credit to the game, your country and yourself. We salute you.

SUBS

Cole – 8 – Has been most effective recently when coming on late and again gave Bristol different issues to deal with. Could have had a goal or two as well. Considering how little he has actually been on the pitch this season he has chipped in with a few assists but I must be honest and say I have been disappointed by someone who promises so much. The talent is clearly there – but he needs to toughen up and work on his fitness, which are 2 areas that will otherwise mean he will struggle to make it as a pro. It’s not all about what you can do with a ball. With luck we’ll see what he can really do next season.
Bentley – 6 – Didn’t get much chance to impress but I confess he has been another disappointment this season. Last year I felt he was a pivotal player yet this season he has been more of a bit part player and hasn’t taken his chances when they have come to him. His fitness and stamina is not in question but having come into the professional game so late I have doubts as to whether he is Championship quality.
Gray – 8 – What can you say? On for 7 minutes and scores the goal that wins us the title. How fitting that he should score both the first goal of the season (that actually gave us all some hope in what was otherwise a bit of a lesson by Port Vale) and the last that caps another memorable season under Tilly and Brush. He has played in the Championship (and scored goals) before with Wimbledon and has the asset which I think we will need aplenty next year – pace. For that reason alone I’d retain him.


Referee Mr Stroud and assistants – Well, he could have let the game flow a bit and whilst he didn’t make any rash howlers, there were lots of little decisions that were made which to be honest were unnecessary and killed the game. 5.


Other players – seasons comments.

Prior – His organisational abilities have been excellent and these have been missed of late. One more year on, can he cut it again at the next level up? The jury’s out – but still a Southend legend.
Edwards – One year too far for Eagle, and has probably played his last game for the club but can also be afforded legendary status.
Sodje – How we have missed him! Providing he recovers from his injury he will be a monster asset next year and was yet another inspired signing.
Pettefer – Last years Mr Ever-Present became this years Mr Unlucky. Injury prevented him taking part in many early season games and when his chance came against Blackpool away he was injured after 5 minutes and that was that really. Can’t see him being retained.
Griemink – Just 4 appearances and another injury prone player. I can’t see him being offered another deal and I would say his career is in doubt.
Lawson – An unbelievable first season but he now has to build on this, otherwise I can see him becoming a bit of a Trevor Fitzpatrick type character. Bulk up, toughen up, and go for it.
Campbell-Ryce – Now we’ve got him I think we’ll see the best from him. This lad has real talent and with a good pre-season under his belt (and some tolerance from the fickle fans) he could really blossom.
Smith – A fit Jay Smith would be the first name down on the teamsheet. Sadly I think his injuries have taken their toll and doubt we’ll see him again.

The rest – Ademeno, Nash, Moussa and Wright, have all made cameo appearances but not enough to comment on. But the fact that they have come through is encouraging. Let’s hope we see more of them next season.


So there we are for another campaign. Promotion hasn’t yet sunk in and I doubt it will until the new fixtures are published. Next year we will face many more challenges but will have the element of surprise on our side. Teams like Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday and Derby will not relish the prospect of coming to Fortress Roots Hall and will not know exactly what to expect. I suspect we will be written off from the start, much as we were this year, so we must make sure we get behind the team and act as the 12th man. If we all pull together in the same direction, on and off the pitch, then who knows what we can achieve?

I’ve enjoyed writing the reports and hope you’ve enjoyed reading them. Roll on July and the pre-season friendlies!
 

shrimperman

Manager
Joined
Apr 22, 2005
Messages
1,915
Location
Rayleigh
Good stuff fbm, agree with all your comments, particulary regarding Barrett. That bloke deserves to be playing for us next year and I hope he does but I am concerned he may struggle - time will tell
 

Shrimp in a Kilt

Guest
sad.gif


The last fbm view and ratings of the season... Now I know it's summer. Excellent as usual, fbm, thanks!

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sufcintheprem

This is a modified caption
Joined
Mar 26, 2004
Messages
10,185
Location
Putney
[b said:
Quote[/b] (OlvisIII @ May 09 2006,22:53)]Looking forward to the World Cup reviews FBM.
biggrin.gif


I agree about Eastwood although would have mentioned the time when he outrageously flicked it between feet to try and get through two Bristol City players oly to hit it slightly too hard when a third defender had almost been played out of the game. That was magical and almost turned the match for us out of absolutely nothing.

However much money we get or don't get for him, it'll be a sad day when you don't get to watch that every week.

Nice report. I think it's one of my favourite of yours although don't know whether that's because of the use of the word 'champions'.
 

fbm

Blue tinted optimist⭐
Joined
Oct 28, 2003
Messages
8,741
Location
Cloud cuckoo land
[b said:
Quote[/b] (sufcintheprem @ May 09 2006,22:58)]
[b said:
Quote[/b] (OlvisIII @ May 09 2006,22:53)]Looking forward to the World Cup reviews FBM.
biggrin.gif


I agree about Eastwood although would have mentioned the time when he outrageously flicked it between feet to try and get through two Bristol City players oly to hit it slightly too hard when a  third defender had almost been played out of the game.  That was magical and almost turned the match for us out of absolutely nothing.

However much money we get or don't get for him, it'll be a sad day when you don't get to watch that every week.

Nice report.  I think it's one of my favourite of yours although don't know whether that's because of the use of the word 'champions'.
I don't remember Eastwood doing that... when was it?

And yes, the word "Champions" gives it a unique feel, doesn't it?
 

KrustyTheKray

President
Joined
Feb 2, 2004
Messages
3,166
Location
Wickford
Superb review of the match fbm!

You ever thought of applying for a job at The League Paper?

Looking forward to your world cup match reviews!
 

andrew_sthnd

Coach
Joined
Apr 17, 2005
Messages
682
what a superb report again. have really enjoyed reading them throughout the season. as others ha ve said i believe it is a better read due to the fact that the word 'champions' applys to US!!!!
biggrin.gif
 

gilbo

Coach
Joined
Sep 27, 2005
Messages
624
Location
Hampshire
great read, as always.

just one comment, and not aimed at you, i understand your reasons for the MoM. but everyone who reports on the game. WHY THE HELL WAS HUNT NOT MAN OF THE MATCH?!?!?!?!?!!!?!?!?!??!

If it wasn't for him we would have been 2 nil down in the first half. He played so well, so much better than Barrett. But in all the papers he was getting 4 and 5!!!!! Sometimes I wonder is they just take an 8 sided dice and roll it to get the players numbers some times!!!!
 
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