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Barrow v Southend United – Sky Bet League Two – Holker Street – Saturday 3pm – Preview
Do you want the good news or the bad news?
Southend United 2-1 Leyton Orient
Match: 44 Won: 9 Drawn: 14 Lost: 21 Points: 41 Position: 23rd Nils: 25
Mild euphoria is swiftly extinguished by an impressive midweek win for Barrow at play-off hopefuls, Forest Green Rovers. As a result, Grimsby plunged – Southend left teetering on the brink, needing two wins coupled with two defeats for Scunthorpe, who have slipped alarmingly of late. Oh, and a nine-goal swing to boot. The big switch on the Shrimpers life-support is about to be flipped. I should be sad, angry, numb – I just feel helpless and indifferent.
I don’t begrudge Barrow their win, just as I didn’t Colchester a week previous. I took the liberty of following all of our League Two rivals on social media ahead of the season. Barrow is a transparent club that is highly thought of in their local community. They’d waited 50 years for a return to the Football League and were going to do everything in their power to ensure they are still there when lockdown restrictions are finally lifted and fans return to Holker Street.
Decisions on managerial changes were taken swiftly, honestly and for the best interests of the club, the team, the town. Congratulations Barrow you thoroughly deserve to stay up. Watching how you went about your business from afar, you are everything my club is not. Your fans feel a part of something – You embrace them – I’ve not felt that way about Southend United for years and I doubt very much they give two hoots about me either. Fellow Blues fans, ask yourself, do you feel the same?
Perhaps that is while I was unable to shed any emotion as the ‘relegation reaper’ cast his ghastly shadow further across Roots Hall. Let’s face it, he doesn’t need a satnav to get here – He probably booked a room in the Roslin Hotel, put his feet up and waited for the inevitable. This moment has been coming, it remains to be seen as to whether the captain will take responsibility and go down with his ship or whether he’ll point the finger of blame elsewhere and expect the Roots Hall faithful to carry on regardless – in blind faith – as we have done in the past. I suspect the vast majority of us know the answer to that question.
Anyway, going off track a bit here – Football – Despite the doom and gloom, we won at the weekend!
Supporters made their feelings known ahead of the Leyton Orient game, protesting in the Roots Hall car park. The group was small but voiceful and I suspect there will be many more of them come the Newport game. Perhaps it was clever of Phil Brown to lead the players out to face them as they turned the negative energy into a positive on the pitch. Congratulations to Matt Rush on his winner. The first victory and Blues goals at our crumbling fortress since January. Perhaps the last as well?
In other news…
The Chairman’s recent utterance agitated thousands of Southend fans, a former crowd favourite and perhaps his most recently dispatched manager, who was semi-criticised, this having already been undermined mid-season when his job was offered elsewhere. Of course, I’ll freely admit I was often condemning Mark Molesley, but at least I was honest enough to throw him under the proverbial bus while he was still here, serving up substandard football with a group of footballers he largely recruited and were not up to the task. But then again, I wasn’t the one who appointed a man with so little experience and so few contacts in such a ruthless league in the first place!
Meanwhile, Stan Collymore’s olive branch to the Chairman was angrily withdrawn and then offered again amidst a plethora of statements. The pair are due to speak as I’m cobbling this article together. With the club clearly in dire straits, the very least Ron can do – if he thinks anything of Southend United and the supporters – is listen and take on board what Stan can bring to the table. However, with Stan having suggested that Ron Martin is ‘no longer a fit nor proper owner of the club’ the pair are already on rocky ground. One can only hope common sense and the long-term future of our 115-year-old football club is placed at the top of the agenda. Unfortunately, my head and heart are telling me two different scenarios here. My fears, I’d imagine, remain very much the same as anyone who holds the club dearly.
Anyway, going back to the beginning – My frosty reaction to this whole sorry situation invited me to quiz myself over my current feelings towards the club.
I’ve supported Southend United for almost fifty years, first standing on the South Bank with my dad – a West Ham supporter – in the early 70s. The old man wanted me to follow in his footsteps, but he had inadvertently sown the seed. This was my team, my emotional rollercoaster, my home.
Of course, countless numbers of you have your own story, your reason for supporting the Shrimpers and I don’t doubt that you love them from the bottom of your heart, just as I do. But ask yourself, does it still feel like YOUR club or has that privileged compassion been wrenched away from you?
Why do YOU personally want a new stadium? I think we thought we wanted a new stadium because Blues’ chairman, past and present, told us we wanted one. I’ve thought about it and to be honest, it doesn’t benefit me at all in any way! I’m not sure I want a new stadium, I don’t want to leave Roots Hall and above all, I don’t want the club suffocated by a project which, from what I can see, offers no clear pathway to a debt-free, self-sufficient Southend United. Show me a crystal clear way forward and perhaps my way of thinking will change but in the meantime…
As for the football side of things, I’ve said it before. At the moment, relegation is the very least of the clubs’ problems. We are not the first to surrender a lengthy stay in the Football League and won’t be the last. We are set to meet up with some old friends next season – Stockport, Torquay, Wrexham, Halifax, Dagenham & Redbridge, remember them?
But with the downward spiral showing little signs of concluding any time soon, I remain concerned that we might not be playing any of those clubs for too long, or for that matter, anyone else ever!
Oh yes, and before I forget – Barrow away – Phil Brown has put in the miles to watch them a couple of times of late. A spirited club that have displayed all the right attributes to survive and are at the heartbeat of the local community and who will no doubt offer a hardworking, honest performance on Saturday under the guidance of caretaker-manager, Rob Kelly. I tell you what, give them a follow on social media. The perfect example of a club and its fans singing from the same hymnbook and in perfect harmony.
Jeevesie’s prediction: Barrow 1-0 Southend United