It’s Quiet Uptown…

Brian Jeeves
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FC Halifax Town v Southend United – Vanarama National League – The Shay Stadium – Saturday (12:30pm) – Preview 

Another week passes. Days, hours, minutes, and seconds of absolute radio silence from Roots Hall Stadium. We have a name – Justin Rees – But little else. Those who have met him have remained largely tight-lipped while the identity of his rumoured consortium of local businessmen remains a mystery too. October 4 moves ever closer, and let’s be honest, however many, protests we stage, articles we write, podcasts we make or meetings we have, there is absolutely nothing any of us as supporters can do about it.

I’ve often been critical of the Shrimpers Trust. However, their recent statement from earlier this week, documenting a meeting with Stuart Andrew MP, the Minister for Sport, and Anna Firth MP for Southend West, chewing the fat over what steps the Government need to take to ensure that unfit owners are unable to own of mismanage football clubs, was a step in the right direction. 

The Trust’s ‘Ron Model’ highlighted our current plight, and perhaps that suffered in the past, notably by the likes of Blackpool, Luton Town, Leyton Orient and Bury. 

The Shrimpers Trust’s ‘Martin Model’

“We need to move on from the ‘Martin Model’ of football club ownership,” the statement explained.

“The UK Government White Paper offers the prospect of a brighter future through its core principles of improved governance, a revised Owners and Directors Test, by protecting heritage and community assets and by reflecting fans’ interests.

“We believe the White Paper can help us to make that important step.”

Shrimpers Trust statement (part two)

Unfortunately, with the information available to Blues supporters, speculation remains rife that this is all too little too late. I must admit when speaking to the football club staff on the day of the Kidderminster game, they came across a little more upbeat than in recent times. Some might suggest a positive sign, while others will be quick to remind us that the pianist on the Titanic continued to play whilst they manned the lifeboats. Whether we are nearer or farther away from a favourable conclusion remains unclear. In the meantime, fans will speculate with the worst-case scenario remaining the top-topic.

In other news, it has been reported that the club have submitted an appeal to the Football Association against their ten-point deduction handed out by the National League after Mr Martin failed to clear the HMRC debt.

While I appreciate that everyone at the club is currently spinning plates, personally speaking, I think this action suggests confusion over priorities. Sure, I’d rather be ten points and numerous places better off. But Ron was warned by the National League before the last High Court hearing, just as he’s been warned sternly by the judge ahead of the next one. Whether he recognises that rules apply to him as well, only he knows. History would suggest otherwise. I think the majority of Blues supporters accepted the punishment brought about by his actions if only highlighting to the wider footballing fraternity the predicament we find ourselves in. In the meantime, control the controllable because although we are a football club, football isn’t the main focus as the eleventh hour draws closer.

 Nevertheless, as it stands, Southend United are still playing football matches and the latest, a highly competitive Vanarama National League clash with a well-drilled Kidderminster Harriers side, provides us with a dramatic conclusion.

Congratulations to Harry Cardwell on his fifth goal of the campaign and also to substitute Callum Powell on his stoppage-time winner. In my opinion, Powell isn’t given the credit he deserves for his all-action wholehearted performances in a Southend shirt. I fully understand that in a Southend United world going back and consisting of Eastwood, Crown, Spence, Best, Collymore etc., Powell isn’t going to be regarded as one of our best. But at a time when we desperately need triers, he and this current crop fit the bill perfectly. 

Matchwinner Callum Powell

Harsh as it may seem, should Southend United be taken over by an ambitious group dead set on winning promotion, then a large percentage of this squad is likely to be replaced. But they are the here and now. I, for one, won’t forget their contribution during our most traumatic time.

Boss, Kevin Maher, was satisfied with the efforts of his side: “We knew that they’re well-organised and hard to break down with a back five and three in front. They can make it very hard for you to create chances and we found that in the first half,” he explained.

“We were a bit edgy on the ball at times, but we spoke about learning from games we’ve lost, staying calm on the ball and making the right decisions at the right times. I don’t think they did loads to hurt us. The first goal was massively important.”

The win edged Southend back into the black, points-wise, although we remain at the bottom of the league. Don’t forget who is to blame!

Continuing with the football theme during these times of utter madness, Southend head to The Shay to face FC Halifax Town in what should have been an early-season encounter between two play-off contenders. We are painfully aware of why it isn’t!

The Shaymen currently occupy sixth place with just a single defeat to their man after seven matches. Rob Harker’s first-half goal ensured them a 1-0 victory at Rochdale last time out. Broley and Oldham have also been beaten during an otherwise satisfactory start for Chris Millington’s men.

Adding to our own four league victories is going to be a tough ask for our wafer-thin squad. Maher recognised the size of the task in hand: “They’re unbeaten in five and they’re tough to score against. They haven’t scored loads themselves but they’ve got some dangerous players in the attacking areas.

“Whoever we come against we look to win and I don’t think that’ll ever change. They’re built on a solid base and they’ll be looking to win as well so it sets it up for a good game.

“It’s always a tough game when you go away from home in this league, so we’ve got to get our performance right. Where we’re at with the small squad we’ve got, we just have to take it one game at a time and not look too far ahead.”

Of course, as is always the case. By the time you read this article, Southend United might well be under new ownership with a bright and successful future ahead of them. If that is the case, ignore everything I have said and written over the past umpteen years…

We can only dream and hope, although I won’t hold my breath!

Jeevesie’s prediction: FC Halifax Town 1-1 Southend United


Brian Jeeves