Tangled Up in Blue

Southend United v Dorking Wanderers – Buildbase FA Trophy Third Round – Roots Hall Stadium – Saturday (3pm) – Preview

It’s arrived…

An early Christmas treat provided a special memory of those long-lost times when I was actually able to believe that Southend United was my club. A special garb from, what for me, was a special era.

Fast forward to broken dreams and promises. Sadly, I think even darker days lie ahead for the Shrimpers. For a few brief moments, I’ll emerge myself in nostalgia with the likes of Derek Parker, Colin Morris and Ron ‘The Artist’ Pountney, all under the watchful eye of boss, Dave Smith.

From high up on the South Bank slope – Up the Shrimpers

How Southend United could do with the likes of Derek Parker, Colin Morris and Ron Pountney right now

Here it comes… Back to reality

A couple of weeks ago I suggested that Christmas might have come early for Southend United… I was wrong!

A gutsy performance at Altrincham in tandem with news that the club had appointed John Still as Head of Football suggested a glimmer of light in what has been a lengthy tunnel, consisting of almost complete darkness. But I should have known better. Only Southend could employ a man with arguably the biggest player network at this level and then pull the rug from under him with yet another transfer embargo.

Of course, the club provided their own explanation. Once again, a quick scan across social media offered enough evidence that the Roots Hall faithful simply doesn’t want to hear it. Sure, I’ve seen shreds of contempt towards Tom Lawrence, Stan Collymore and incredibly, even Kevin Maher. But the unity of resentment towards Ron Martin has never been stronger amongst the fanbase.

With the Shrimpers Trust falling in line with, well, almost everyone else, Mr Martin finds himself isolated. Further issues with HMRC, particularly when you have just been charged with failing to pay a near-£5million VAT bill, has not done him any favours in the popularity stake. I for one, remain sceptical as to whether there is any way out of this, either for Martin or the football club. In the meantime, the supporters fully intend to make their feelings known. An uncomfortable period looms ahead for the chairman, his close associates, and perhaps Southend Council, who after
voted almost unanimously in favour of the development at Fossetts Farm back in October, must harbour doubts over the beleaguered clubs’ prospects of delivering the project.

What was never in doubt was the Blues swift ability to extinguish any distant dream and aspirations following the win at Moss Lane. Despite making a reasonable start at Notts County, the eventual outcome came as little surprise. The best part of nine hundred Blues fans made the pilgrimage to the East Midlands. Their loyalty was never in doubt but hugely taken for granted by the Roots Hall hierarchy. I reiterate what I’ve said time and time again, they deserve so much better.

It has been suggested that Southend missed out on as many as three potential signings ahead of the game due to the transfer embargo. Again, one mans’ failings, the supporters ultimately suffering. You have to ask yourself who, if anyone, will do business with the club while they remain a proverbial footballing circus act?

As if getting thrashed a Notts wasn’t bad enough, the Blues midweek BBC Essex Senior Cup pasting from Pitching In Isthmian League North side, Coggeshall Town painted another grim picture of the position we find ourselves in.

Firstly, we must congratulate the visitors on scribing a memorable chapter in their history. However, without wishing to pour cold water on their success, it must be said they are an average team for the league in which they compete, and one that shouldn’t provide a problem for a group that constitutes Southend United’s second string.

After constantly bemoaning the lack of quality possessed in the Blues first-team squad, the very thought of these boys being asked to step up is quite frightening. Again, recruitment should be heavily questioned. Someone out there has brought these players to the football club. Someone, for whatever reason, thinks they are good enough. They aren’t. Further evidence that the decks need clearing and a worrying insight as to how deep-rooted the issues are on the football side alone.

On Saturday, Southend competes in the Buildbase FA Trophy for the first time in their history when they entertain ambitious National South outfit, Dorking Wanderers in a third-round tie.

Despite sitting eleven places above the visitors, I’d argue who are representing the underdogs? Blues have their issues with Steve Arnold, Kacper Lopata and Abu Ogogo all absent. Rookie stopper, Collin Andeng-Ndi could be handed a debut, while boss, Kevin Maher could have Harry Phillips available for selection?

As ever, there are plenty of rumours circulating, suggesting that employees of the football club have been paid late, and questions have been raised as to whether certain players wish to remain with the club. While treating these rumours as exactly what they are, it can’t be ignored that dark storm clouds hang heavily over Roots Hall Stadium and the fans know it.

It could be argued that Southend has bigger fish to fry than a run in the FA Trophy and I tend to agree. But even if the transfer embargo is lifted over the coming days, what further damage has been done to the reputation of our beloved football club?

Personally, I don’t expect Southend’s participation to last any further than Saturday afternoon. National League survival remains the target. But here’s some final food for thought, provided by a good friend of mine and fellow life-long Shrimpers fan, who explained; “I think Dover and King’s Lynn are doomed. We’ve only got to concentrate on finishing above either Maidenhead or Weymouth.”

With all the evidence in front of you, can you confidently predict that outcome in May? Nope, me neither!

Jeevesie’s prediction: Southend United 1-2 Dorking Wanderers

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Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]