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Kenny

Thailand Shrimper
Joined
Oct 28, 2003
Messages
3,582
Location
Bangkok
Wow, as the hangover has lifted it has finally sunk in that we bloody did it!

Although I always followed the Blues fortunes since childhood I didn't really see many games, even when I started work at 17. I actually started to goto to every home game from the middle of 98/99 onwards so it's weird now when I think back to those dark days and all the false starts we've had since then.

Our seven season stay in the doldrums started on that hot day in Scarbro' and I seem to recall Julian Hails scored a cracking goal as we went on to win 2-1. After a mixed start to the season Alvin splashed the cash, spending over 100k to raid Man City for the services of Barry Conlon and Dave Morley. Despite scoring on his debut at Brighton (who were playing at Gillingham back then) he only went on to score another 6 goals for the Shrimpers. As the season wore on we slowly started to sink deeper and deeper. The relegation battle this season was contested by Scarbro and Carlisle, The Blues huffed and puffed to a 1-0 defeat of Scarbro and then the unthinkable happened with the Blues losing 1-0 at home to Carlisle. Even Alvin throwing on Dominic Iorfa for the last 20 minutes couldn't save us in that one! At his point in history Kevin Maher was much maligned as a backwards and sideways passing player who was fodder for the boo-boys (not much different from today!). We had two home games against Brighton (3-0) and Swansea (2-0) where it looked like we were picking up again. Alas, results turned and Alvin was eventually removed following a 1-0 defeat at home to Hull (who also used to be Division 3 strugglers) Along came Alan Little to save us from an embarrassing back-to-back-to-back relegation into the Conference with an amazing run of form on the road that started with a 3-0 drubbing of Orient in their backyard, even more memorable for Neil Campbell actually netting twice!

Little then got rid of a some of the dross that Alvin had signed such as Simon Livett but then unleashed Gordon Connelly onto the unsuspecting punters. With fellow ex-York boys Tolson and Tinkler on board it looked like 99/2000 was going to be our year. The season began with a 2-1 win at home to Plymouth, the Plymouth goalscorer being a young lad by the name of Adam Barett.... After moving Barry Conlon off to York Alan Little realised that outside of Neil Tolson we needed a recognised striker as Neville Roach and Trevor Fitzpatrick weren't cutting it. With that in mind Martin Carruthers was snapped up and he formed a good partnership with Neil Tolson, we beat Halifax 4-1 on his debut. The Blues were suffering problems in between the sticks though an Senor Little decided that Mel Capleton wasn't upto scratch after some howlers and bought in another one of his cronies in the shape of Mark Prudhoe. After a serious of his own howlers Prudhoe was subbed at halftime against Barnet after somehow manaing to parry Mark Arbers show into the net. With the Blues never really putting together any kind of good sequence the season just fizzled out after Christmas and another mid-table finish was ours. Although we had a much stronger team on paper then the previous season 15th place was only two places better off then the previous season. The real star of the show was Nathan Jones this season who capped off a great season with run from inside our half which ended with him scoring a cracking goal against Cheltenham. This was also to be his last contribution as he decided to move on to Brighton in the summer.

2000/01 started with rumblings in the boardroom as official "nice bloke" John Main was moved on, although he was popular with the fans he had basically let Alan Little build a mid-table team on long and fat contracts. Although we started that season well with a 2-0 win over Brighton on the opening day. The football had become quite boring as we ground out victorys in the 5-3-2 system. Ron Martin it seemed had seen enough and sacked Little despite us being in the playoff berths. This led us onto the return of Webby! They always say "Never Go Back" but here he was again. I remember we took nearly 2,000 fans upto Blackpool for his first game (mainly as well because Ron had allowed coach travel for a fiver). It tipped down with rain at what was left of their stadium and we quickly went two goals down but at halftime the SUFC squad got their first taste of a Webby teamtalk and Gordon Connelly was subbed, never to be seen again. As a result of that we came back to get the 2-2 draw with Fitzpatrick getting a last minute equaliser. Everyones hopes were again raised but it was apparent that Webbs priority this season was to balance books. This saw Webb wheeling and dealing to get some of the higher paid players off of our wagebill. Tinkler and Houghton were the first out of the door but without them we still went on a 7 game unbeaten run. Darryl Flahavan was picked up from Woking as Webb started to go bargain hunting to get our wage bill down but at the same time, try and keep the team on the up. My happiest memory in this period was a 2-0 win at Leyton Orient on a cold afternoon in January when Ben Abbey got a brace. We also had a good run in the LDV, losing out to Brentford in the area final. Wages were again an issue as Carruthers was allowed to join Scunthorpe. Due to this transition period the promotion challenge did eventually falter again with us finishing in 11th spot.

So with Webby at the helm and his young and hungry players on board, expectations were raised again even though Webbs summer transfer activity did raise more then a few eyebrows as we signed Jason Harris and Tony Richards who had both never set the world on fire plus Actor turned footballer Dean Holness! Webbs reign would however be quite shortlived as left the post in October citing health problems. So Rob Newman was left to pick up the reigns and the season went onto be another season where we never really looked like threatening the playoffs and ended in 12th To Newman's credit we did have a good run in the cup which saw a cracking 3-2 victory over Luton.

Rob Newman was given the job fulltime and in the summer Neil Jenkins and Graeme Jones were our main signings. Newman made the foolish statement that he expected our Graeme to get a big tally of goals which instantly meant the Roots Hall faithful had high expectations whilst the stattos out there could already see that he only had one good season at Wigan whereas the rest of his career had been dooged by injury. Our season started with a 2-2 at Hull, Neil Jenkins scoring a corker of an equaliser but this was followed up with home defeats to Carlisle and Shrewsbury which left the natives restless to say the least. After a couple of games in the reserves Jay Smith had caught Newmans eye and was thrown into the team and this was rewarded with 3 wins on the bounce against Oxford, Cambridge and away at Rochdale. Yet again the season started to go downhill and Rons answer was to bring in Stewart Robson to assist. The pressure was mounting on Newman after a 2-0 home defeat to the 10 men of Swansea witnessed by a sub 3,000 crowd. A derby win over Orient was seen as too little too late and again Ron Martin felt it was time for a change and in came Steve Wignall with three games left.

The summer saw those expectations rise again as Wignall began a cull which saw fan favourites like Searle and Flahavan culled. We would learn later on that as Wignall hadn't been in the job long he had to make a lot of contract decisions based on his right hand man, Stewart Robson. Wignall was a busy boy in the summer signing 12 players, mostly on frees but 25k was paid to Barnet to acquire the services of Mark Gower. Carl Emberson was signed as our new shot stopper, which like our signing of Graeme Jones was met with a mixed reaction as his reputation at previous clubs had not been too great. After a 2-0 win on the opening day at home to Cheltenham results deterioted quickly, 2-0 defeats at Doncaster and eventually relegated York. There was also a terrible 3-0 defeat at home to Mansfield where Carl Emberson came under a lot of fire and in September Stewart Robson left the club. Darryl Flahavan was quickly re-signed and it looked like things were going well with Wignall in total charge but Ron decided that the passion was no longer in Wignalls eyes and a change was needed as we continued to slide down the league and Webb returned, albeit very briefly to oversee our safe passage past Canvey in the FA Cup. So up stepped local hero Steve Tilson as caretaker manager and he quickly bought in Paul Brush to help him out with the coaching side. a 4-0 defeat to Yeovil had left us in 23rd position but in their first home game the new managerial setup saw us beat Rochdale 4-0 on the same day the England lifted the Egg Chasing World Cup. An FA Cup defeat at Scarbro left us cursing at "what might of been" as a tie at home to Chelsea awaited the winners, but to more then make up for it we had a great run in the LDV whish saw us make our first national final at Milstad although Blackpool were a much stronger team and ran out 2-0 winners. This didn't get to us though and we pulled away from the relegation dogfight with Leon Constantine firing us to safety with a quite a few games to spare. Tilly had also started to sign a few players picking up Mark Bentley from Daggers and Carl Pettefer from Portsmouth. Lawrie Dudfield was also added to the clubs expanding pool of Strikers.

And so to this season! In the transfer market we were sad to see the two Leons move on although more Cort then Constantine as his signing for Peterbrough had bought back memories of how Mark Rawle had signed for Oxford only the previous year. Bart was signed as the new keeper and Darryl had re-signed as backup keeper without too much of the previous contract stalling we'd seen in the past. At the back Spinner and Andy Edwards were back at the club to add some experience and local lad Adam Barrett was finally back in his hometown. To make up for the loss of Connie, Wayne Gray was signed from Wimbledon/MK Dons. The bookies still didn't fancy us and maybe they were right as we didn't win until the end of August. Adam Barrett was chipping in with goals but not enough was coming from our strikers, until that is the 16th of October. We'd beaten Boston with goals from Wayne Gray and Mark Gower but due to Darryls sending off Tes had gone in between the sticks but injured himself in the process. This coupled with Dudfields injury left with Tilly with two headaches going into the visit of top of the table Swansea. This was sovled by signing Ryan Clarke to go in goal for the one game and Tilly was forced to give young striker by the name of Fredy Eastwood his first league start. Any fears of whether he could cut it in the Football League were answered in 8 seconds as Fredy headed home. It was to get better as he went on to clinch a hat trick and Roots Hall had a new hero. We picked up wins interspersed with the odd defeat going into Christmas and after losing 2-0 at Boston on the 15th of Jan, we really started to motor! 14 games undefeated leading upto the LDV final had taken us to the summit. Another visit to the Milstad and this time we gave a much better account of ourselves but alas defeat again but we pushed Wrexham all the way to extra time until Ugarte and Darren Ferguson left us to slump our way back home along the M4. Tilly was quoted after the game as saying he didn't fancy visiting Cardiff but the form we showed in the final 5 games wouldn't leave him with much choice if we were to go up. We edged out the cobblers over a tight two legs to setup a final with Lincoln who I personally didn't fancy playing again after the way they outmuscled and kicked lumps out of us at Roots Hall earlier in the season, Arriving at the Milstad the most inebriated I'd ever been at a match as a result of arriving in Cardiff at around 1130am the first 90 minutes seemed to go really quickly for a 0-0 (probably thanks to the booze) so another session of extra time awaited. I can't even remember too much about the goal going in until the players wheeled away. It was a case of "$%&* we've actually scored at Cardiff". When Juppy put away the second goal everyone around me knew it was job done and out came the cigars. After being put through the emotional wringer since the LDV final we played out the last 10 minutes with ease and looked comfortable again. This was it, after 7 seasons where any chances of promotion were gone by Christmas we had done it and would be back into the 3rd tier of English football since 1997.

So for the first time in a good few years I'm looking forward to that fixture list coming out and seeing us in the same division as Notts Forest instead of Notss County. hell, I've even bought a season ticket!
biggrin.gif


has anyone else got any longstanding memories of the Division 3/League Two years?
 

Bob Cratchitt

Devil's Advocate
Joined
Oct 24, 2003
Messages
7,777
Location
Near the Baby Jesus
Kenny if you sent it to me I could have made it into an article to so no need to bump it.

Next time you feel like writing a masterpiece send it this way first.
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Napster

The Horse with no Name⭐
Joined
Oct 27, 2003
Messages
35,317
Location
The wilds of Kent
Exactly. And this goes to everyone else, as well. If anyone has any memories they want to write up, please get in touch with me, Leeboy or Bob C and see it on the frontpage
 

Kenny

Thailand Shrimper
Joined
Oct 28, 2003
Messages
3,582
Location
Bangkok
[b said:
Quote[/b] (Bob Cratchitt @ June 01 2005,13:11)]Kenny if you sent it to me I could have made it into an article to so no need to bump it.

Next time you feel like writing a masterpiece send it this way first.
cool.gif
yeah but then I would have had to wait for the Frontpage to be updated
tounge.gif
 

Shrimp in a Kilt

Guest
[b said:
Quote[/b] (Bob Cratchitt @ June 01 2005,13:11)]Kenny if you sent it to me I could have made it into an article to so no need to bump it.

Next time you feel like writing a masterpiece send it this way first.
cool.gif
Only 90 - 0dd views so far, Andee, I would have thought that it was still very much worth transferring it to an article.

smile.gif
 

Matt the Shrimp

aka Harry Potter
Joined
Oct 27, 2003
Messages
19,929
Location
Lewisham, London
[b said:
Quote[/b] (Kenny @ May 29 2005,12:39)]Our seven season stay in the doldrums
That reminds me: is this the longest we've ever been in the bottom flight? Any stattos out there with any info on that?

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Here's another random stat for you: apart from Hull and Luton, the force has been with the tail end of the alphabet:

Sunderland
Wigan
West Ham
Sheffield Wednesday
Yeovil
Scunthorpe
Swansea
Southend

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