Steven Heath gives us a brief history of Southend
1906 A group of local worthies gather in the Blue Boar in Prittlewell (of which Southend was once the south end) to establish a rival to local amateur side Southend Athletic. In a fit of optimism, the proposed name, Prittlewell United, is dropped.The team turn professional and gain entry to the Southern League Second Division.
1907 Southend win the division at the first attempt but fail to gain promotion – their place is given to newly formed Bradford Park Avenue who, despite never having played a competitive game, have stacks of cash. It was ever thus.
1908 Win the division again and this time go up. Harold Halse, 91-goal hero (yes, ninety-one) of the first season moves to Manchester United and eventually plays for England.
1910 Colours changed to red and yellow hoops for a year. Fans laugh. Team slumps.
1916 All club assets auctioned. Roots Hall lease surrendered. Club wound up, to be reformed three years later.
1920 Third Division created. Southend become founder members of the southern section, where they remain for 38 years.
1930 Blues play at Wembley, but only because Clapton Orient are playing their home games there. Southend’s massive pulling power lures 2,500 fans. Orient abandon the experiment.
1953 Work begins on new stadium at Roots Hall. Since 1914 it has seen service as a sandpit and is now many feet lower. It has also seen service as a rubbish tip and is full of gas cookers. The new ground is financed and built by the supporters club, who foolishly hand it to the club in the Sixties.
1981 Blues finally win something, the Fourth Division title.
1983 Essex butcher, night club owner and self-styled football broker Anton Johnson buys a majority shareholding. Luckily, after a year of almost destroying the club he is arrested.
1984 Victor Jobson takes control. Out of the frying pan, into the fire (almost). Two years later Dave Webb becomes manager. lt seems Southend is the only club he has managed whose fans don’t despise him.
1991 Ian Benjamin scores at Bury. Blues escape the Third Division, this time in the right direction. Second Division for the first time.
1992 New Year’s Day: Beat Newcastle 4-0. Top of Second Division for three hours. Dave Webb’s successor, Colin Murphy, one of the club’s worst managers, signs Stan Collymore, probably their best player ever, for £150,000.
1993-1998 Vic Jobson appoints a succession of inept managers who will “do the job”. Blues slide from First Division to bottom of Third. As 1998 ends, Jobson finally goes. Huzzah!
1999 Jan: “Blues can still make the play-offs,” says Alvin Martin. March: Southend in bottom three. Martin resigns. May: Just escape the Conference.
From WSC 148 June 1999. What was happening this month