Southend United: From Pre-Season Chaos To Play-Off Despair

Pre-season training at Southend United was a mess this year, but the club topped League Two for long parts of the season before dropping down to the Play-off spots and were finally overcome by Crewe to end the promotion dream. It's certainly been eventful...
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Pre-season training at Southend United was a mess this year, but the club topped League Two for long parts of the season before dropping down to the Play-off spots and were finally overcome by Crewe to end the promotion dream. It's certainly been eventful...


The ‘I f*cking love this game’ highlight of the season?

The first half of the season we were looking good – top of the league, playing well, scoring goals and then we hit the wall. We barely won in two months, our form going in to the new year was all over the shop to say the least. All hope of promotion was slipping away. Then we re-signed Freddy Eastwood. I hadn’t felt this much excitement for a signing since we signed Duncan Jupp (joke, obvs). It was great seeing him back, let’s just hope he stays. The A13 has missed being backed up on match days because Freddy’s exercising his horse.

The season ticket shredding moment?

The moments that piss me off most are when I’m unfortunate enough to sit behind that Bobby George looking chump who seems to only have a vague grasp of the rules of football and what constitutes talent and aggressively shouts his views at everyone around him. Chill your beans, bruv. Bilel Mohsni is not a good player. And that was obviously not a foul.

Moment that just about summed it all up?

Wednesday night’s game at Crewe had moments that summed everything this season up – moments of real passion, and class, followed by 10 minutes of kicking the ball out for throw ins. There was also the moment when Michael Timlin (who wasn’t having the best of nights) almost put a great ball down the line for Hall, but it struck Antony Grant in the balls and he went down quicker than Tulisa.

Got the right manager?

Yep. Sturrock’s done a great job I think. He turned up at the beginning of the 2010/2011 season, with the club in administration, under a transfer embargo and only nine players turned up for pre-season training, and five them had resignation letters in their hands. He signed an entire squad on the first day of the season, so it’s a slow build. So taking a team on the brink of being totally f***ed, to promotion contenders (and top of the league for most of the season, at that) in two seasons is not much short of a miracle.

Player of the season?

Mark Phillips. Solid, reliable centre back, who runs like he’s got a little poo in his pants. Scored a fair few goals at the start of the season too (8 for the season). We always seem to get a goal scoring defender every other season. They soon realise we’re not used to goals being distributed around the team and stop it. He won player of the season too, so the majority of Southend fans and I agree sometimes.

What would you change next term if you were the gaffer?

I’d bring in a solid defensive midfielder, we’ve really suffered since Kalala got injured and an attacking central midfielder to take the strain off Ryan Hall. He’s basically our only creative player. Michael Timlin’s good, but has been too inconsistent this season and has been playing very deep.

Which player would you like to sign?

Crewe’s Ajay Leitch-Smith looks good. Scored against us Wednesday night and generally looked lively. Other than that, I’d hope Freddy Eastwood would make his brief stay permanent. With a good run in the team next season I feel he could really get back to his best.

Best goal?

Anthony Grant’s last minute volley against Wimbledon was a great goal. Which makes a change for him, as usually he’s passing it sideways and putting it out for a throw. I think he lost his head for a moment.

Biggest t*sser?

Bilel Mohsni. He astonishingly seems to be really popular with Southend fans, despite the fact he’s a stroppy twat – he went back to France after refusing to travel with the team after being substituted (for being shit, by the way) twice this season. He gets sent off when he’s most needed. He’s been threatened with the sack at least twice for a breach of club discipline, which must’ve been quite bad as Ryan Hall was charged with affray, got a suspended jail sentance and didn’t even get near to being sacked. He shoots from the half way line, when an easy pass to at least six other players is on. These shots always end up going out for a throw. W**ker.

Best away pub?

I always stick to the most unassuming pub that doesn’t look like it’ll have many football fans in. There’s not much worse than getting stuck with that Southend fan who obviously still lives at home with his mum at the age of 50 and studies Opta stats at the library between trips to the job centre. He cornered me after the game at Barnet, fortunately I’m quite adept at switching my brain off and nodding. Couldn’t tell you a word he said to me.

Best pie?

I don’t really eat pies (I’m a burger man myself), but if push comes to shove I could murder a Chicken Balti Pukka Pie. Apparently Rotherham fans eat 40% more pies than any other fans in the country.

Best chant?

“Mohsni Bilel, it’s Mohsni Bilel, he don’t speak no English, Mohsni Bilel”. Doesn’t even rhyme.

Player’s tweet of the season?

Being an adult, who grew up without mobile phones, text speak and what not, I find it almost impossible to understand what the modern footballer puts on Twitter. Too many numbers (m8) and ‘lol’’s for a right thinking person to decode.

Best laugh you had all season?

Despite the second leg of the play-off against Crewe being a tense old affair (Southend fans aren’t known for their patience, or for giving a player the benefit of doubt), the biggest laugh came just before half time – “Come on Sturrock, you need to f***ing change something!”, followed by a moments silence, then the shout comes from the other end of the terrace, “that f***ing jacket for a start!”. Paul’s fond of the cream coloured jacket, paired with black shirt and black trousers. The look your former car salesman uncle will always sport at wedding receptions. You know the one.

Catch Richard on Twitter

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