With working for a few days down in the big smoke this week, when I realised NUFC were playing a friendly at Southend on Tuesday night I thought champion I’ll have some of that. Roots Hall being a ground that I hadn’t visited in the early 90’s.
Tuesday arrived and after finishing work. I headed straight up to Southend. The train journey to Prittlewell (station closest to the ground) from Liverpool Street was a pleasant one and memories of Southend away matches came flooding back, in particular listening on the radio to the 4-0 hammering on New Year’s Day 1992, this on the day of my wonderful Grandad’s passing.
Upon arriving at Prittlewell, it was then a short walk down the road to Roots Hall, this quickly brought 80s flash backs to me, it was even complete with the old car park. A few eager Mags and local Southend fans were present to see Rafa and the lads arrive off the coach, who duly arrived all smiles. I thought this was a good sign and hoped for an enjoyable evening.
The ground itself was small and friendly, and having had a bit crack with a programme seller I walked up a short path. To my surprise this went directly into the ground and after walking alongside the pitch to the dugout, Rafa, the players and staff were stood very near to me on the pitch for their pre match walk on the pitch. Advantage was duly taken with photos obtained with Rafa, Mitro, Ayoze, Darlow, Colback Hanley, Sels, Jesus and Thauvin and also shortly afterwards surprisingly Nile Ranger. A cracking experience this was supplemented with some good banter with the locals. After this I settled down for the match amongst the Southend fans in the main stand right next to the dugout, instead of heading for the away end with my ticket. Most enjoyable it was!
Onto the match, eight of the team that played Lokeren were joined by Darlow, Dummett and Shelvey and it was the later himself Shelvey who was unlucky in the first half with a rasping shot, there seemed to be plenty of corners for us without much success and the half ended relatively quietly. Straight out the blocks in the second half we came, and went into the lead with a pile driver from Vurnon Anita (I’ve always like this lad, he’s always been a bit of an unsung hero for me). It was good to see Grant Hanley come on for the last half an hour and even fitting to see Yoan Gouffran finish with a good left foot shot near the end. There might be a player in there still! The home side provided what I though canny opposition without really showing any threat, and overall this was another good workout for the lads.
The journey back to London shortly afterwards was uneventful and chilled meaning that my first ever trip to Southend United was indeed an extremely good one from start to finish and of course finally a treasured photo with Rafa.
Really looking forward to the new season, Keep the Faith!
GAVIN HAIGH – You can follow Gav on @
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