You may not know it, but I support Southend United. I never talk about it or bring it up in conversation. For all you know I might not even like football…
The above statement is false. It is true that I am a Southend supporter, but the fact that I never talk about it is a lie. In fact depending on who you ask you’ll be told that I never shut up about it. So this is an article where I can fantasise about what would happen if all of my favourite players were at the club at the same time.
There are no rules to this lineup – just a starting eleven with seven subs. To make things easier this will be done in a 4-4-2 formation.
Goalkeeper – Darryl Flahavan
Darryl was at the club between 2000 and 2008. He was there for the so called “glory years” when we got promoted in the League Two playoffs and then for the League One championship the next season as well as the famous win against Manchester United the year after that. Darryl always wore a green goalkeeper kit which in my eyes looked amazing. As a teenager watching Southend he was one of the players that stuck out as a star to me, and I don’t think we’ve ever had a goalkeeper as good as him since.
Right back – Duncan Jupp
I don’t actually remember Duncan Jupp much other than the League Two playoff final, but his goal in that game will always put him in this squad as I celebrated Southend getting promoted on my twelfth birthday. That run up the wing while Eastwood went forward, that pass, that simple shot, that celebration. I jumped off the bar stool in the Kings Head pub in Hadleigh and shouted out in celebration! (Yes I didn’t go to it – having been to Cardiff for two losses in the LDV we didn’t feel the need to go to it so we watched it in a pub in Hadleigh instead.)
Left back – Steven Hammell
He wasn’t at the club long but I remember his free kicks were amazing. Hammell just oozed coolness and got a few goals as well. Of course, he was in the squad for the Manchester United game so that made him even cooler.
Centre back – Adam Barrett
Mr Southend AKA Adam Barrett played for us over two spells. The first one of course being the more successful but he was as equally brilliant in the second. Adam went through spells as being the club captain and wore the armband with pride. He has also done and continues to do a lot of charity work in and around Southend. Adam is also the president of the ex-players association (SUEPA). I always remember when he scored a goal he was full of passion punching the air, which is something that perhaps the current squad severely lacks.
Centre back – Peter Clarke
One word is required for the great Peter Clarke – Chelsea. See the video above – it is him that headers the ball in from Johnny Herd’s throw in. The goal meant we could take Chelsea back to our ground for another go at the FA cup third round. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be but Clarke always gets a warm reception at Roots Hall now when he returns to beat us!
Centre midfield – Kevin Maher
The announcer always called Kevin “captain marvel” and he definitely lived by it. Kevin played for Southend for ten years (1998 – 2008) so he was there since I started supporting (or can remember!). I remember him being a great passer of the ball and good for getting the good goal here and there.
Centre midfield – Ryan Leonard
A modern legend for the club – Leonard signed as an eighteen year old for the club in Sturrock’s revival season. Initially he was a right back but eventually made the transition to centre midfield. He became very adept at long throws as well.
Right wing – Mark Gower
Mark Gower is my all time favourite Southend player – he scored goals, ran around a lot, passed the ball and was the coolest man in the ground. He could play on either wing or in the centre. I met him (as well as many of the other squad members like Maher, Eastwood, Jupp, Gray and Bentley) just before the victory tour bus at the end of the 2004/05 season for the League Two playoffs. I’ve also got a signed photo of him celebrating in front of Southend fans (Dad and I in the crowd).
Left wing – Kevan Hurst
I know a few people who might protest at the addition of Kevan Hurst but I always thought he was amazing. He scored 17 goals during his four years at the club, signing for Paul Sturrock when we were recovering from League One relegation.
Forward – Freddy Eastwood
This is the guy who you probably thought was my favourite Southend player. He is indeed my second all time favourite with Flahavan in third. Freddy scored the goal against Manchester United as well as many others during his time at the club. I remember feeling devastated when I heard that he left the club for Wolves but equally ecstatic when he returned for a second spell.
Forward – Lee Barnard
I struggled whether to pick Lee or Barry Corr here – but Lee Barnard always stuck out for me. He was at the club not long after Freddy left and scored goals galore. Barnard always looked very cool and had that star player quality that we so desperately wanted after Freddy left.
Sub 1 – Steve Mildenhall (Goalkeeper)
Steve was a very strong (and stable!!) goalkeeper for Southend. He was in goal for the Chelsea game making some great saves.
Sub 2 – Simon Francis (Right back)
Simon was a super sub in the Manchester United game coming on after 14 minutes. He was a great right back who I always admired and has gone onto be captain for Bournemouth in the premier league.
Sub 3 – Efe Sodje (Centre back)
A Nigerian World Cup player who received a lift from Dad and I in my car! He was a great defender for us and was always a very hard defender to beat when we faced him. Sodje always stood out in a crowd with his bandana which was always the same colour as his team’s kit at the time.
Sub 4 – Nicky Bailey (Centre Midfielder)
He was only with us for a season but Nicky scored some great goals for us in that year. Funnily enough the main thing I remember about him was when a free kick had been called, the ball rolled towards him at speed and he kicked it over the stand! The referee then proceeded to give him a yellow card which of course we protested!
Sub 5 – Alan McCormack (Centre Midfielder)
Alan was with us for two loan spells and then signed on a permanent basis. The main thing I remember about him was the chant (in my head now as I type!) we used to sing when he either had the ball or scored. He formed some great partnerships at the club with Kevin Maher and Nicky Bailey.
Sub 6 – Jack Payne (Attacking Midfielder)
A great little attacking midfielder for the club, Jack was a product of the youth academy. At the end of the 2015/16 season, Jack was presented the player of the year award by the fan of the year – my Dad! (Maybe a story for another time).
Sub 7 – Barry Corr (Forward)
One of my all time favourite Southend players, Barry was a great striker for us in League Two. I could never understand why he left us before we started life in league One as I could imagine him scoring goals there too. However, he will always be in my mind for the many goals he scored and remains a fan favourite.
Bonus – Joe Piggott
Feed the pig and he will score. 2015 League Two playoff final. Stoppage time of extra time. Ready to win 2-1 Wycombe? Pigott didn’t think so. He scored a goal in stoppage time and then scored a penalty in the shootout. He’s always given a great cheer when he returns to beat us! (As do all of our ex-players – both the beating us and cheering parts!)