Peter discusses the Shrimpers
I saw my first Southend game in April 1976, a 0-0 with Chester should have acted as a forewarning! Followed them all over the place ever since, mainly through thin and thinner, although I have stopped doing aways in favour of watching non league matches at a lower level.
HOPES AND EXPECTATIONS FOR 22-23
They were not high as our financial position is still really awful, the owner is hellbent on moving to a new stadium as he will make a fortune on property deals out of it. I think a play-off place would be an excellent achievement, we are not in a position financially to expect more.
THE START TO THIS SEASON
We lost the opening home game to Boreham Wood, they came and played their “anti football” style and we couldn’t break it down. Decent away points at Solihull and Halifax followed with a good home win against Oldham. We should have got something at Eastleigh but didn’t, but then easily saw off an abject looking Maidenhead side on Bank Holiday Monday.
We are a non league side so have been signing non league players, some of our fans find this hard to accept. However, most have impressed with great hunger and work ethic. It makes a refreshing change to have a manager sign players with their best years ahead of them, rather than crocked veterans looking for another pay day.
Steve Arnold is a great keeper but is currently injured, although young Collen Andeng Ndi has come in and done well. Our danger men are Callum Powell, a pacy, superfit winger/ front man, and I would pay the entry money alone just to watch an on song Dan Mooney, a very talented lad. Cav Miley and Wes Fonguck have massively impressed as a midfield pairing, both read the game so well.
Kevin Maher is the “head coach”, assisted by Darren Currie who has been around the National League block, and ex Southend player Mark Bentley. Maher himself played 454 games for Southend and was part of the academy coaching team, before having to leave to find a first team coaching role with Bristol Rovers. He is a double promotion winning captain at this club and all round legend in these parts. Better still, compared the previous two incumbents, he actually seems to know what he is doing and can adapt mid game with a Plan B. We play 5-3-2 with a high press and unlike the squads that had a double relegation out of the EFL, we have a lot of pace and energy in the team.
Arnold could recover from a back injury to return in goal, definite starters will be Gus Scott-Morris, Shaun Hobson, Louis Lomas, Wes Fonguck, Cav Miley, Dan Mooney and Callum Powell all who have been signed from non league clubs. Up front has been an issue with Harry Cardwell and Rhys Muprhy sidelined with long term injuries. Chris Wreh has come in after a stellar campaign with Banbury United last season and Aaron Cosgrave is on loan from AFC Wimbledon, one of those will partner an in form Callum Powell.
The Railway and The Blue Boar (where the club was founded in 1906) are the obvious pubs for away supporters whilst the Fish Inn does a roaring trade on match days.
He is director of strategic operations and it is no exaggeration to say he has saved the club from utter oblivion. We had run without a CEO for around 6 years and the untrustworthy owner had run the club into the ground with numerous winding up orders having to be overcome. He has bought Tom Lawrence in as CEO and he has done an excellent job sorting the club’s dire issues out. The management team were recruited by Collymore and Lawrence and importantly the wily veteran John Still was appointed as head of recruitment. Since he came in January the signings have been outstanding. Sixteen players were released last season, several on burdensome contracts given out by the previous manager and they have been replaced by an eager to learn squad many of whom are playing full time football for the first time. I just wish the intransigence of the owner hadn’t prevented an earlier dialogue with Collymore that could have seen us retain out EFL place.
We don’t concede many but conversely we haven’t been scoring many, so I will take a 1-0 win thanks very much.