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Zoner Community / Part One: What's YOUR Southend United story?

South Bank Hank

Staff member
Nov 4, 2003
As we're going to be in something of a slump due to the lack of games and the discussion that goes around them, I was thinking about how we could turn a negative into a positive, and it occurred to me this place works best when we're acting as a community. So I thought it might be a good time to pull out some of the interesting stories from our Zoners SUFC supporting careers.

Question 1: Who or what is to blame for bringing YOU into this tough but eventful, lower-league club supporting life?

For me, I fell into football through the TV and grew up as a fan of Liverpool in the twilight years of Ian Rush, Peter Beardsley, Jan Molby, Ronnie Whelan, John Barnes, Bruce Grobbelaar, Steve McMahon, Mike Marsh etc not knowing what a thrill it would be later in my supporting career that I'd get to see the two in bold playing for a local club I'm not sure I'd even heard of but which would become part of my life. I never went to games. I never knew the experience of watching a team from the terraces. In fact, like many kids, with my childish naivety, I didn't even have a notion that football even existed as a professional sport outside of the "big club" structure that I was watching on TV. I just knew I loved the drama and competition of football and these guys were my heroes.

It was just before the 1991-1992 season when @overseas shrimper (a committed regularly before he left these shores) introduced me to the pains and delights of Southend United and what it meant to be PART of a real crowd in a stadium. My Dad had taken me to a Hammers game when I was a lot younger but it had really passed me by and I was far from a part of things. I still follow Liverpool which is interesting these days with the yin and yang of following the best and worst teams in world football at the same time! A strange conundrum that after 30 years watching Liverpool fail to land that title, it might still get snatched from them while a potential void season could still yet see my true love avoid the drop! But that’s a different topic entirely.

I was hooked on Southend United from the moment I entered the Roots Hall stadium though, even if I still can't legitimately place the fixture in time. In my head, it was a home pre-season game against Leyton Orient but it was all pretty vague as a memory. I do vaguely remember us going a goal down though and having to tell my Dad (with all of my experience watching live football!!) that you "don't applaud opposition goals". In fairness, he's never done it again since! I suppose that I was really in it for life when I felt the atmosphere of a Friday night game under lights, revelling in the delights of the North Bank as an 18 year old.

Since I was at Uni at the time, I wasn't able to attend many games. But these were heady times for being a Southend United supporter. Our first promotion to the second division and a bloody good team - beating Derby County in our first away match of the campaign to finish the season in mid-table just one spot below Wolves, but ahead of teams like Millwall, Sunderland, Newcastle United and Brighton.

Leaving Uni coincided with the opening of Southend's new two-tier South Stand, and I've been a fervent season ticket holder there ever since. I even published a book on the Blues - “The Southend United Yearbook 1996/1997” and sold about 500 copies!

But mainly, for 26 years I’ve got to spend time and watch the games week on week with my Dad which is a truly precious thing. He comes to my house, we drive up together, park early and have a meal together somewhere - either one of the cafes or the Fish House. I wouldn't swap these moments for anything and in time to come I know I'm going to look back on these moments and treasure them.

Following Southend is a journey with ups and downs. Pretty tough right now. I just hope we can survive this current crisis on and off the pitch, inside and outside of our club, and come back stronger so we can create some more amazing memories. I’m sure there are still some great times ahead!

So over to you. What’s your story? Who or what is to blame for getting YOU onto your Southend United journey?