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The PL League Boss
Apr 28, 2006
PL Headquarters Hullbridge
Sadly we won't be playing Chelsea but in anticipation I had already written the article for the official programme so perhaps still of interest:


Southend’s first meeting with Chelsea was a 100 years ago in the 1st Round of the Cup (equivalent of 3rd round today)

11th January 1913
Chelsea 5-2 Southend United

The anticipation for the match was high but when the big day arrived the weather was appalling heavy rain all day which put many off going and the gate was very disappointing. Now don't think that these fans were "wimpish" being put off by a bit of rain, conditions were basic. There were two main ways to get to the game, by steam train or charabanc*, an early version of the coach except that usually at this time they would be uncovered, totally open to the elements.

Stamford Bridge was the second biggest ground in the country at the time it had a stand on one side but the rest was open terracing and had a capacity of 100,000. So the majority of fans would have been in the open. So the fans knew they would be out in the pouring rain for hours on end, is it any wonder that many stayed indoors.

The two sides met as members of different leagues. Chelsea were in the Football League, Southend in the Southern League. The Shrimpers were missing their influential captain Heneage Wileman through a broken collar bone, but Chelsea played much of the game with ten men after right-back Walter Bettridge hobbled off. Southend started the game poorly falling behind by two goals but managed to pull one back before half time through Frost. In the second half two very dubious refereeing decisions gave Chelsea two penalties which were both converted by their prolific centre-forward Bob Whittingham (he scored four in all) the other scored by the amateur Vivian Woodward, while Frost scored his second for Southend, resulting in a 5-2 win for Chelsea.

The procedure to become a top class referee at the time was very long winded and was not in the favour of youth, it was said that by the time a referee became fully qualified he was past his retirement age. They were often accused of being unable to keep up with the play due to their age.

When it comes to Cup Goalscoring we always think of 1968-69 as our best season ever with the 9-0 v Kings Lynn, 10-1 v Brentwood etc. but surprisingly that record of 22 scored isn't Southends best as in 1912-13 they scored 24 goals in seven games, the last five of them away, battlling from the preliminary qualifying round through to the first round proper. The first two rounds were at home beating Southend Amateur 5-0 and Walthamstow Grange 6-2 Then the Shrimpers travelled to Leytonstone for another big 5-0 win. The next round was away to Custom House where a close game finished 1-0 to Southend. The Fourth qualifying round saw a 2-1 victory at Clapton, and then a visit to Cardiff City where a 3-0 win set Southend up for the first round against CHELSEA.

However Southend did gain revenge a few years later although it was a reserve match.

London Combination
Thursday 31st December 1925

For the first time the Junior Blues recorded their first victory at Stamford Bridge by the magnificent score of 5-1, and thoroughly deserved it. Ernie Watkins scored four however Watkins and another player were suspended by the club for two weeks for a breach of club rules on New Years Eve. Watkins had a good scoring record for the first team but was unhappy at being dropped presumably he went out celebrating when he shouldn't have and during his suspension he was transferred to Brentford. Southend finished the season in 3rd place in the London Combination behind Spurs and West Ham.

The reserves had previously played in the South Eastern League and the Southern League, the purpose in those days was as now to view possible first team candidates, give youngster a trial, ease players back from injury but also as a source of income. The main aim was to have a game at home every Saturday, first team or reserves and for attractive reserve opposition they could expect gates of 5,000. The problem was that in the Southern League, sides such as Bristol City Reserves, Plymouth Reserves while attractive were expensive in travelling expenses, while non league opposition like Bath, Guidford, Yeovil or Torquay were hardly going to pull the crowds in.

A massive breakthrough happened in 1923 when Southend became the first non London side to join the London Combination, and became the 12th member of the league along with First Division Arsenal, Chelsea, , Tottenham and West Ham and seven other London second or third Division teams. Each team was played twice at home and twice away, only nominal travelling expenses and Eight home games against the big four, with virtually guaranteed 5,000 attendance for each of those games

The moral of this is that we have beaten Chelsea Reserves 5-1 but today we are playing Chelsea first team not reserves OR ARE WE?

I understand that a very young Cricko was at Stamford Bridge and was so outraged at the referees decisions that he hurled his flat cap at the referee like a frisby. He was arrested and let off with a warning that if he ever did this again he would receive a life time ban (which for him would have been a long long time). Hence you will never see Cricko wearing a flat cap these days!

DoDtS (taking the Cricko ageism abuse to a new level).