Your glass house…

Brian Jeeves
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Southend United v Rochdale AFC – Vanarama National League – Roots Hall Stadium – Saturday (12:30pm) – Preview

May 1, 1981 – Roots Hall Stadium – A crowd of 10,857 (I must admit, it seemed a lot bigger!) witnessed Southend United play out a 1-1 draw with Rochdale and clinch the Fourth Division championship.

Twelve-year-old Jeevesie was amongst the sizable audience, celebrating the club first ever title. I remember racing onto the pitch at the full-time whistle, losing my dad in the mayhem, and clambering into the director’s box alongside the players. Faces were filled with joy, hope and expectation. For me, it was a love affair I thought would last forever. To be honest, all these years later, I’m not sure it has.

Turn the clock forward approaching five decades, the Blues face Rochdale at Roots Hall in their final Vanarama National League fixture of the season. At the time of scribing this article, should the stars line up elsewhere, the Blues could sneak into the play-offs, extending their season and perhaps providing a shot at restoring the EFL place robbed of them through sheer incompetence and negligence three years ago.

Of course, as a fan, I want that eventually to become a reality. But in my mind, I want it over. I’ve struggled more than ever to deal with this season. Finding things to write about a football club constantly shooting itself in the foot has become evermore difficult, alarming and even tedious. The environment, to me, has felt uneasy and even poisonous for some time. I desperately need a break from football, particularly Southend United.

I know that is going to raise a few eyebrows. I understand that. As a lifelong fan, I’ve only ever wanted the best for the football club and those who support it. During my time as a football writer, that has been a challenge, and one not always accepted and appreciated by some of the very people I believed I was fighting for. 

Admittedly, there is potential for brighter times ahead. But there are still hoops to jump through, unanswered questions as well as faith placed in people we know very little about. As I’ve mentioned in the past, we have been here before. It seemed as if the closer I got to the club, the further it pushed me away. I will reserve judgment until the new regime is in full control and a realistic direction is mapped out.

In the meantime, my coverage of the club remains from afar. Unfortunately, I’ve struggled in recent months. Home certainly hasn’t been where the heart is. As much as I want the Blues to succeed, I no longer feel a part of it. I’m aware of others, albeit a handful, who feel the same. Hopefully, they can find the strength to go back and rekindle that love affair we collectively once shared. But from a personal perspective, I feel exhausted and sapped of enthusiasm once readily provided by all things Southend United. 

Of course, I want it back. I desperately want it back. I hope competition and a new direction will provide me with the solace sort from an afternoon at Roots Hall. But at the moment, I need time to collect my thoughts and reboot my passion. They say time heals all wounds. I hope that is the case. Perhaps a good summer break will provide that?

In the meantime, Kevin Maher and his players continue to defy the odds. Regardless of the outcome, even getting us this close to the top seven is something of a miracle. The achievement should be embraced and respected because it is every bit as impressive as that 80/81 title, what with the group collectively working with both hands tied behind their backs for a considerable period. 

Similar to that Friday night in May all those years ago, Rochdale will arrive at Roots Hall on Saturday with little to play for other than pride. Whether it ends there or we get another throw of the dice remains to be seen. But whatever happens, embrace the moment and enjoy being at the match and the company of those you share it with because if you have it, feel it, breathe it and believe it, it’s a commodity worth more than gold.

Up the Shrimpers!Jeevesie x

Jeevesie’s prediction: Southend United 1-0 Rochdale AFC

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Brian Jeeves

Email: sport@yellowad.co.uk