The crescent moon was illuminating the night sky with Venus slowly disappearing towards the faint glow of dawn. It was cold with ice on the windscreen. Within minutes the early morning peace was shattered by the arrival of the usual suspects clattering about and unintentionally waking the neighbours. I could see Mrs B in the doorway, there would be words of advice when I returned, for sure. It doesn’t matter how old you are, everyone gets overexcited by a trip to the seaside.
Joining us on our 232-mile journey south was Roy the Red, one of those familiar faces on the terraces up and down the country. The type of person you say hello to each week, perhaps have a short chat with, but never ask their name. The Warley Shayman had long since shared many the stories of Roy’s dubious antics over the years, but today we were finally able to link a name to face. He’s a lapsed Man United fan who has seen the error of his ways and now supports his local team, and despite the stories we’d been told, he was really good company.
The new year always bring new challenges and targets, and so the healthier breakfast option was emblazoned on the specials board. The choice was melon gondola or grapefruit followed by warm porridge or cereal. There was yogurt too and fruit juice, and the overall price was a few quid cheaper than our usual ultimate cooked breakfast. The experts say that the first step to change in lifestyle is to talk things through first, we can all now say that we have now taken the first step…
Traffic was much better than expected as we rolled into Southend shortly after noon. Admission to the away end was £20 with a view at pitch level behind the goal. It was a covered old, barrelled roof stand with faded yellow and blue seats. We were told that the other half of the empty stand was condemned for a variety of reasons. The ground has a capacity of just over 12,000 with a big old fashioned main stand down one side of the pitch. The other two sides are covered and linked, with double decker seating behind the opposite goal and a sea of yellow seats down the side. The Bishop Stortford Shayman was also on hand to provide us with the news that Town has not won at Roots Hall since the 2000-2001 season.
There was a real chill in the air as the first half started and then an immediate set back, Southend scored within the first couple of minutes at the far end. Only 10 seconds before, Town had possession at our end, then suddenly it was one-nil. The drummer in the stand to our right was off, banging away, never to stop. It was still the same score at the break with fairly even stuff other than the goal. Southend looked content with the lead they had, there were few chances otherwise.
The second half started with Town attacking the far goal. Their keeper made a decent full length save to preserve their lead within the opening few minutes. Whirlwind Jim was doing his best to get the 69 travelling Shaymen going by singing along to the Southend beat but changing the words to ‘Shaymen’ at the appropriate time. As darkness fell, Southend looked more and more in control. We cleared one off the line, but with few other chances for Town it wasn’t much of a surprise when the home side scored a second. There were over 6,000 home fans making a right racket. Their team were playing well and never looked like dropping points. A late third perhaps gave the score an unfair look, but that’s football sometimes.
The team were applauded off for their efforts, it was the first defeat by more than one goal for longer than we could remember. In truth, Southend are a decent side has have almost made up their 10 points deduction on us from the start of the season. The journey back was subdued, perhaps not the exciting day at the seaside that we’d hope for, but a tricky away day done.
Next up, and it’s a local one with a trip to Fylde for an evening kick-off. There’s sure to be a good following for that one.
Miles on the road 3990, Goals on the road 15.
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