It’s been a quiet old week, hasn’t it? Not one single thing of note springs to mind from the past few days. You’d think the club are trying to avoid the headlines. News, however, is all about the present. And the present is not what bothers us right now. No – Wednesday is all about the past, not least it’s probably the first time this week that your weekend shenanigans don’t bring you out in a cold sweat. It’s the latest step on our Remember Them path, then, and coming the other way this time with a nod and a wink is Southend United. From Essex. Again.
Southend United: Who Are They?
You have to go back to 1906 to pick up the start of the Southend United story. The Shrimpers joined Southern League Division Two from the outset, winning the title two years on the spin. It wasn’t ’til the second time of asking, however, that the club won promotion to Division One. The Southern League would give them a home until 1920. At this point, they were one of the founder members of the Football League’s Division Three South. And, from that point onwards, the club has remained ever-present in the Football League.
The club finished third in Div Three South twice (1932 and 1950), which was the highest they’d finish ’til 1991. That’s what their Wikipedia article says, and that’s good enough for us. After Division Three ‘went national’ in 1958, Southend United’s time was spent either in that division or in Division Four. That same Wikipedia article also reveals how things got a bit hairy, financially-speaking, in the 1980s. Amid off-field strains, the club were relegated to Division Four again in 1984; this relegation notable for the fact that Bobby Moore was gaffer.
Yeah, that Bobby Moore.
A good time to be a Sarfend fan was in the early 90s. Two successive promotions (sounds familiar) took them into the second tier for the first time in 1992. The late 90s, however? Not so kind. Two successive drops took ’em back to the fourth tier in 1998. And, yet, the Shrimpers do a rise and fall better than Reggie Perrin. In the mid-noughties, two successive promotions (again) took ’em back to the second tier. And, after one season in the Championship came the fall. That said, it was three years before slipping out the arse end of League One.
And guess who were waiting…
Southend United: Us And Them…
Oh yes, a supreme sense of timing brought Southend United into League Two at the same time as our good selves. Our first meeting, however, came nearly 10 years before we were at the same level as the Shrimpers. Boro’ were one of a select few non-league clubs invited to take part in the Football League Trophy before two-up, two-down. Our first-ever game? Southend indoors. The result. It’s not important. Well, since you ask, it was 4-1 to them – and all their fans were in the North Stand because the South Stand was under construction.
In the league and in the League, our first head-to-head was less one-sided. In fact, it was no-sided; a draw at our place. Peter Winn saw red in the reverse at Roots Hall after inadvertently kicking a defender in the face. Southend won 1-0, but it didn’t derail our promotion to League One. And, with our ascent into League One, came a three-season break from inter-club relations in so far as we didn’t meet again until we slipped out of the third tier ourselves. The welcome we were given on our return wasn’t what we’d describe as ‘nice’ either.
Back in League Two, one of the first games of the 2014-5 campaign took place at their gaff – and produced another three points for them. Yet, the wheel was finally broken in February 2015; Boro’ running out 4-2 winners after Roarie Deacon scored his only ever goal for us. By the end of term, both of us were in the frame for the fourth and final promotion spot via the playoffs. After a draw at our place in the semi-final first leg, the Shrimpers came from behind and after extra time in the second leg to forge their path back into League One.
Steve Wignall and Peter Taylor. There are two more reasons that link us and them too.
Southend United: And Then What?
Up went Southend, then, and here we still are. But for one point, the Shrimpers were beaten to the final playoff place in League One last term. The team that edged them out of the equation? Millwall? And now they’re in the Championship. Now, of course we’re not suggesting that they’d have been odds on to repeat their double promotion trick again. Yet, the chance was so nearly there. Meanwhile, their promotion wasn’t the end of our ongoing story; Boro’ winning 4-0 in last season’s Checkatrade Trophy, if that counts in your mind?
Southend United: Boro’s Record
P8 W2 D2 L4 F12 A14 – League Points: 4, Cup Meetings: 0, Win Rate: 25%
• BoroGuide’s Southend United club profile – for old time’s sake…