This Magic Moment…

Brian Jeeves

Dagenham & Redbridge v Southend United – Vanarama National League – The Chigwell Construction Stadium – Saturday (3pm) – Preview

Saturday, August 5 – Kevin Maher’s post-match press conference…

“As I’ve said before I think the strength of the football club is its fans and the staff who’ve stayed loyal to the football club.

“That one was for them and they can all go home and enjoy it.”

In all my near-fifty years as a Southend United supporter, I don’t think I have ever been prouder of a group of players, a manager and his staff, as I was last Saturday afternoon.

No doubt, that accolade will be passed from a sizable percentage of the 5,800-strong audience on what proved to be a passion-driven afternoon at Roots Hall Stadium. 

As time went on, we held on to hopes that the Blues could hold on to their slender single-goal advantage provided for them in the tenth minute by the ever-busy Callum Powell. the next thing, we are all looking at each other in disbelief after further strikes from Oli Coker, Dan Mooney and Harry Cardwell had landed us a 4-0 victory over a much-fancied Oldham side who finished the game with ten men following the dismissal of Will Sutton following a crude challenge on Blues skipper Nathan Ralph.

Callum Powell fires home Southend’s first goal against Oldham Athletic (Nicky Hayes)

The press box is usually a place of tranquillity and professionalism. However, I can confirm that etiquette went out the window as the goals continued to fly in. Apologies to those of an Oldham persuasion, but having experienced much the same until recent times, I’m sure you will understand our over-excited reaction.

What with everything the football club has been through, hearing the home crowd singing ‘We are top of the league’ was somewhat surreal. The proverbial ‘Dunkirk Spirit’ shone through. Mr Martin, if real thought you could break us, think again. This result, this performance, and this emotion have lifted everyone who holds Southend United close to their hearts. Collectively, we are not going away!

I’ll be the first to admit that I wholly underestimated the strength within Maher and the squad. Ahead of the manager’s post-match press conference, I apologise to the boss for predicting a 3-0 defeat in my column. However, I was quick to offer a similar forecast ahead of Saturday’s trip to Dagenham & Redbridge, if he thought it would stir a similar reaction from the players.

“I don’t think anyone turning up today expected that,” Maher told us. 

“It’s thanks to the fans who came here last week that we had a game on. It’s a testament to the players and how they go about their business.

“They’re quite calm in the dressing room to be fair and there’s a few tired bodies. We won’t get too ahead of ourselves but it was just an outpouring of relief from everyone at the football club.

Despite all the excitement, for the time being, Southend United Football Club remains in the hands of Ron Martin. Fans chanted for his departure during the Oldham match. Meanwhile, Anna Firth, the Member of Parliament for Southend West, confirmed that a meeting with Blues CEO, Tom Lawrence had revealed that there are several parties interested in buying the club.

This is where I become slightly puzzled. At a time when the supporters are calling for clarity and transparency, why are we hearing this second-hand from Mrs Firth and not directly from the CEO himself?

Mrs Firth went on to mention productive meetings with Southend-On-Sea City Council over the future of the club, ideas going forward and Roots Hall being considered a community asset. 

The lack of transparency at Southend United Football Club has been a bug-bare of mine for some considerable time. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, new ownership should bring sweeping positive change. The supporters are the lifeblood of any football club. We should not be kept in the dark and taken advantage of.

Recently, we have seen supporters contribute both financially as well as through the cleaning-up operation. Other fans have chosen to stay away until Mr Martin has gone. This isn’t a willie-waving competition. Everyone’s contribution is sending him a message. Togetherness means exactly that. Nobody should be criticised for having their particular stance towards the Chairman, however different.

In the meantime, while Kevin and his threadbare squad look to continue spinning plates, Mr Martin’s next date of destiny with HMRC at the High Court edges closer. We continue to balance precariously on the edge of the obis.

But for now, let’s focus on the football. A positive Southend heads into Saturday’s Vanarma National League derby with Dagenham & Redbridge. However, they face a Daggers side buoyed by a late goal from Harry Phipps and a share of the spoils at Altrincham.

The Daggers are going through something of a transition period under the management of their former player, Ben Strevens, and as ever, will provide Southend with a tough, physical test, where midfield battles will be key.

Southend have sold their full allocation and can expect vocal backing from the fans, who like everyone else connected with the club, remain in siege mode.

I think the Blues will find Dagenham a tougher nut to crack than Oldham. The word is out. Strevens and his troops will be wary. Nevertheless, I expect Southend to come away with something, possibly a share of the points. But with last week’s column in mind, let’s see if reverse phycology works again.

Up the Shrimpers 

Jeevesie’s prediction: Dagenham & Redbridge 3-0 Southend United 😉


Brian Jeeves