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    Small Football Stadium

    Living in Malta, I’m a fairly rare breed of football supporter for I follow a lower league club. In fact, as things stand right now, I am a fan of the worst club in the English Football League. This is not my opinion but statistically true. While clubs up and down the country head towards an existential crisis due to COVID-19, our situation comes off the back of a run of events going back a good three years or more that can be best described as shambolic.

    While clubs like Chelsea, Villa and Arsenal spent big (Chelsea forked out over €200m alone in the recent transfer window), lower league clubs, with a few exceptions, tightened their belts, cutting down their squads and bringing in loans and free transfers. The world of Premier League football is an alternate reality to the one I face every Saturday at 4pm. And my team exists in its own twilight zone.

    I feel I should join a support group where, sat in a circle with others harbouring dark, disturbing secrets, I can introduce myself by declaring in a low, resistant voice; “My name is Mark… and I am a Southend United supporter”. I can hear the gasps of shock emanating from my support group cohorts. I can see their looks of pity.

    So there, I’ve said it. I am a Southend United supporter. Let me give a little background to my Essex based club and its unspectacular history that has been peppered with comparative highs.

    We were formed by a group of local footy enthusiasts, led by a man called Oliver Trigg, in 1906 and played in the professional Southern League until 1920 when the Southern League clubs formed Division Three. A year later, with Northern teams joining, Division Three became regionalised as North and South (in 1958/59, the Fourth Division was formed).

    Southend United remained in the third tier until suffering its first relegation to the fourth in 1966. The club then yo-yoed between the third and fourth levels until achieving the unthinkable… promotion to the Second Division (now the Championship) for the first time in its history. We remained in this lofty position for six seasons before getting relegated. Then, in true Southend style, we were relegated again the following season.

    Following some rather awful seasons, the good times returned as we won double promotions, winning the third tier championship title in 2006 and returning to the second flight. This time we only lasted one season and, yet again, suffered double relegations back to the basement division. We did make it back to the third tier in 2015 before crashing… and I mean ‘crashing’ out of that level last season.

    And that brings us to the shambolic state I eluded to at the start of this piece. Our record last season makes for dire reading. At the end of the curtailed proceedings we had played 35, won 4, drew 7 and lost 24. Over those 35 painful games we scored 39 goals and conceded… wait for it… 85. Yep, 80 and 5. The only reason why we finished 22nd and not 24th was because a) Bury were sadly expelled from the league and; b) Bolton were handed a 12 point penalty for entering administration.

    This season has started equally as bad. I write this on a Saturday, a day I have come to dread in football terms over the last year and a half or so. We are currently 24th out of 24 having played 7, won 0 and drawn 2. We have scored 4 goals and shipped 16 at the other end.

    Today we face Tranmere Rovers. They are also struggling at the moment, but we have been a club teams in poor form look forward to playing so they can get a much needed three points.

    However, they say every cloud has a silver lining. There must be one for us.

    Give me a moment.


    Oh… our Hummel made kit is very nice. Very, very nice.

    Straws? Clutching?

    So there, I’ve set the scene. My aim is to offer a sense of perspective to the world of football fandom (I often hear Premier League fans bemoaning the fact that they’re not in the top three and therefore the manager should go, or they’ve not upped an offer to €60m for a target – while Southend fans would just like onions in their burgers [true story]). If this has been of any interest, I’d like to return with a look at how my club has found itself in such dire straits and further insights into lower league sufferance.

    Enjoy your footy.


    Article written by Southend Fan and accomplished writer Mark Warner.

    Agree? Disagree? Have something to add? If you’re a supporter of a lower league club, please share your thoughts and share this piece….

    and finally, remember, OzUncut is now for the fans, by the fans. So if you are a fan, and have an opinion about something, write it down, send it to us and we will throw it on the site. You don’t need to be CHARLES DICKENS, just a passionate fan with an opinion.

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