Southend United v Newport County – Sky Bet League Two – Roots Hall Stadium – Saturday 3pm – Preview
We’ll meet again – don’t know where – don’t know when?
The truth of it is, Colchester, Orient, Walsall, Bradford City, Carlisle… I’m not overly convinced that we will see any of you again, anytime soon!
Barrow 1-2 Southend United
Match: 45 Won: 10 Drawn: 14 Lost: 21 Points: 44 Position: 23rd Nils: 25
Back-to-back Sky Bet League Two victories – Small steps of further progress under Phil Brown – Ultimately, too little too late – Southend United’s 101-year stay in the EFL is over – The supporters collectively point the finger of blame, largely in the same direction.
Several weeks ago, a fellow Blues follower asked me at what point during the season did I think we were in trouble? Last season! Was my response – With the evidence at our collective disposal, I’m afraid it was really that obvious. If we are honest with ourselves, we can take it back even further. That dramatic late, last day of the season success over Sunderland at Roots Hall simply served to paper over the cracks of a football club without ambition or direction.
As I scribe a preview for, quite possibly, Southend United’s last-ever Football League fixture, Chairman Ron Martin is preparing to go live on BBC Essex as well as take part in a forum, fielding questions from supporters groups. I scan through the responses posted to this announcement on social media. It appears that the vast majority of Blues fans would go out to check if the Chairman told them the grass was green! They are angry, agitated and from what I can see, no longer believe anything Mr Martin has to say. They want change and appear prepared to express that in no uncertain terms they don’t want him to be a part of it.
Not even an upbeat update on the mystical Fossett’s Coliseum will sway the mood. Indeed, an increasing number of Blues supporters no longer want or support Mr Martin’s plans to relocate the club a couple of miles north-east. Collectively, the fans groups plan to protest ahead of the Newport game, with support for the motion gaining steady momentum. Just taking into account the last three seasons, Southend has plunged at breakneck speed whether it be finances or football, one way or another meaningless conversation needs to be replaced by positive action. During a recent Zoom meeting, Mr Martin told the Blues fraternity that he is ‘thick skinned’ – But if he loves the club as much as he suggested during that very same congregation and acknowledges the outpouring of heartache this particular chapter in the clubs’ history has caused, then a little compassion and above all, an apology should be forthcoming. We wait with bated breath.
A possible beacon of light? Stan Collymore’s continued input. The former Blues frontman met with Ron and a potential new CEO. The meeting, by all accounts, was constructive. Once again, as much as the fans adore Stan, I’m afraid seeing is believing such is the amount they have been forced to swallow in recent times.
Anyway, back to the start of this piece – Southend United’s last Football League game, possibly ever? – Explain yourself, Jeevesie?
I’m not being melodramatic, I simply don’t see this being the quick fix some fans are suggesting. I can see things getting worse for the Blues before they get better such is the current state of our infrastructure.
I’d like to know what input other board members had when Kevin Bond, Sol Campbell and Mark Molesley were appointed? During their tenure, the club has adopted a losing mentality. Playing recruitment has been shocking and although Phil Brown has managed to get a tune out of the proverbial broken instrument, his future remains in question. When asked about remaining at Roots Hall, Brown seemed to suggest he is open to the idea, but there would need to be a significant change in the current culture to secure his signature for a longer stint.
Plenty of clubs have thrown big money at getting themselves out of the National League, but with competition fierce and only two promotion places up for grabs, the likes of Hartlepool, Wrexham, Chesterfield, Notts County, Halifax and Aldershot – all with a rich history of competing in the EFL – have found themselves now a permanent fixture outside that structure. What evidence is there that we are any better than them? Like every other Blues supporter, I’m happy for the hierarchy to prove me wrong but I lack the confidence and belief that they can deliver it.
Anyway, for one last time, there is a Sky Bet League Two football match to be played. Newport County – A club that has been to the very bottom – rebooted, reinvented and come back stronger. Another flicker of hope for those of us who currently see no way out.
Newport arrived in south-east Essex needing a result to secure a play-off place – a very different pressure to that we’ve experienced at Southend in recent times and perhaps taken for granted during successful promotion campaigns over the years.
Southend sprung a surprise earlier in the season, winning by a goal to nil at Rodney Parade a result which saw the Blues climb off the button of the table and briefly lifted collective spirits which had been crushed by a crescendo of poor decision making and neglect.
But just in terms of football, Southend United owe us big time. Slipping out of the Football League with a whimper is not an option. Fans will be protesting ahead of the game simply because they are deeply concerned and care passionately.
I don’t know what the future holds for our wonderful little club. I’m not even convinced that we have one! But victories over the O’s and Barrow suggested the wounded animal will battle for its very existence – As a supporter, I demand and expect nothing less from any footballer pulling on a Southend United shirt and I’d imagine you all feel exactly the same!
Jeevesie’s prediction: Southend United 1-0 Newport County