At the moment Southend are in a battle to avoid a second successive relegation and an exit from the EFL for the first time in over 100 years. Four successive losses left them bottom of the league until an away win at Newport and an away draw at Cambridge pulled them just out of the relegation places. However, with Barrow’s defeat of Oldham and Grimsby beating Crawley, Southend are back on the bottom of League 2 and are facing a real battle to avoid non-league football next year. The Shrimpers have only netted 18 goals in their 29 games to date, while conceding 45 times. This goal difference is otherwise comfortably the worst in the division (only Grimsby’s comes anywhere close).
Until they beat Newport and drew with Cambridge in February, Southend had the worst away record in the league. These recent results have now nudged them ahead of Colchester & Barrow with 11 points gained from their 14 away games. Even so, scoring away from home is still an issue for Southend – they have only netted 5 times this season on the road. We can maybe expect a side that will come to defend deep and make themselves difficult to beat.
It is hard to identify who in the Southend squad will provide the threat to Rovers. None of their side have scored more than 3 goals this season and, as a team, they have the worst attack in the league.
Overall, there haven’t been many high points for Southend this season. They were put out of the FA Cup in their first game losing to Borehamwood on penalties after a 3-3 draw. They did have success when they beat local rivals Colchester on Boxing Day but victories have generally been thin on the ground. In the reverse fixture in late November an Aaron Collins assist and a Jake Young goal was enough to give Rovers all 3 points.
Southend Utd are one of only 2 full-time professional football clubs in Essex. Their fierce rivalry with the other, Colchester United, is consequently not surprising. Other rivalries include Leyton Orient, who are probably their closest league opposition, geographically.
Southend are known as The Shrimpers or The Seasiders or The Blues – all these are evident in the club crest. They were formed in 1906 and admitted to the league in 1920. Since then they have spent most of their time in the 3rd tier of the league. They had a 6 year spell in the 2nd tier from 1991 followed by a further single season in 2006/07. This is the 6th period in their history when they have dropped to the 4th tier (having been relegated last season).
Southend’s recent history has been marked by financial troubles. A winding-up petition by the taxman hung over the club for a while before this was finally settled in October 2020 when the club paid nearly £500,000 of tax owed. Last season the club were also charged twice by the FA for late payment of salaries. A PFA statement read “Throughout this season, including prior to the Covid-19 crisis, the club has consistently let its players down with regards to late or non-payments of salaries.” In June, Blues chairman Ron Martin tried to put the whole squad on furlough (a move the players rejected). Their manager at the time, Sol Campbell, had moved from Macclesfield after issues of non-payment of salaries at that club. Campbell must have had feelings of deja vu! Campbell and 3 assistants left the club by mutual consent at the end of June 2020. The new manager, appointed in August 2020 on a 3 year contract, is Mark Molesley, former manager of Weymouth FC.
Southend have had some famous managers over the years. The list includes England’s world cup winning captain Bobby Moore, Chelsea star David Webb (who managed his hometown club on 3 separate occasions), Barry Fry, Peter Taylor (another Southend lad), Ronny Whelan, Chris Powell & Phil Brown, to name a few.
Southend itself is probably most famous for having the world’s longest pier (1.34 miles from the shore). Viewers of Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast will know it well. The programme has been located there since 2014.
Wages for workers in Southend are some of the lowest in the UK so it’s maybe not surprising that some 20% of Southend’s working population commute to London to work. With this and a high percentage of people aged over 65, Southend is an expensive place to live. This combination has led to Southend being dubbed Britain’s only high wage, high welfare city.