Who Are These Jobbers?
When the fixture list was announced the idea of Southend away on the final day looked so enticing. The hordes of red and white descending on to the Essex town, safe in the knowledge Sunderland had wrapped up the league weeks ago and had an entire bank holiday to bask in the coastal sunshine.
All the lads and lasses would be dancing on Jubilee Beach, toasting Jack Ross’ gorgeous boys demolishing every goddamn jobber in League One. The plans would already be in place for those trips to Blackburn Rovers, Hull City, Millwall and all those other sexy Championship destinations.
Life would be good and we wouldn’t have to endure the inevitable heartache of the play-offs. Ah, wouldn’t that be sweet.
Instead, we’ll have to settle for another month of football as those gorgeous boys have royally buggered everything up. However, we still have one last act of sh*thousery to come by relegating the Shrimpers just to ensure we make some other set of supporters utterly miserable.
Anyway, listen to me prattling on. I promised you beautiful readers in November I would rehash a joke originally told for Morecambe. So here it is, the Southend version.
If there is one thing that Southend bloody loves, it’s shrimp. They can’t get enough of the stuff. They make loads of stuff with shrimp - shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. They pan fry it, deep fry it and even stir fry. They’ve got loads of varieties as well - pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp. Then they make dishes like shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger and shrimp sandwich. That’s about it I think.
I’m really sorry, I thought we would’ve been promoted by now.
What’s The Ground Like?
There were concerns during the week that Sunderland’s visit to Roots Hall could be in doubt as someone had set Southend’s home on fire. Luckily, the only victim in the blaze was lot of artificial grass in the corner of the stadium car park.
The quick response from the fire brigade mean Shrimpers fans will indeed still have the chance to witness a semi-interested bunch of lads in red and white shirts 1-1 their team into League Two.
Roots Hall has been the scene of some memorable Sunderland performances including a 3-1 defeat at the utter nadir of Niall Quinn’s tenure and Michael Bridges scoring a goal no-one could see thanks to a thick blanket of fog.
It is a fairly quaint little place with those obstructing pillars we all love and curiously two-tiered home stand. Sunderland supporters are housed in the North Stand and, once again, it will be completely sold-out.
How Do I Get There?
Who’s ready for a massive long drive down south? Of course you are!
Smash the A19 and A1(M) all the way down to junction 14 where you join the A14 heading towards Cambridge. Exit for the M11 and continue south until junction 6 where you join the M25. Take the A127 at junction 29 which guides you into Southend-on-Sea and after passing a Toby Carvery pub take the third exit onto Victoria Avenue and follow the signs for Roots Hall.
Parking is available at the ground for £5 per car while Southend High School For Boys on Prittlewell Road offers parking for the same price. If you get lost put SS2 6NQ into your sat nav.
For the big dawgs heading down by train, Southend has no less than four railway stations. The closest to Roots Hall is Prittlewell but be aware there will be replacement buses in operation on Saturday (dontcha love our railways).
Alternatively, you can catch a train from London Liverpool Street to Southend Central. Services are every 15 minutes and the station is around a 20-minute walk from the ground.
A Love Supreme buses leave the Stadium of Light at 9am with return fares priced at £42. Book your place here.
Where Can I Get The Sesh Started?
Being a seaside town, Southend holds a certain appeal for a lot folk once a bank holiday rolls around. It would make perfect sense to escape the trappings of the rat race in the big city and breathe in that enticing sea air, why not? You’re not back in work until Tuesday.
Bearing this in mind, and coupled with the oh-so delicious teatime kick-off, it is probably fair to say that the hostelries of this Essex hideaway maybe lively of want of a Saturday afternoon. Pickings are slim around Roots Hall with the stadium’s sports bar restricted to home fans and no alcohol being served inside.
Not to worry, take a little walk into the town centre and stop by the incredibly named Olde Trout Tavern on London Road for a drop of their famous ‘Trout Ale’. Immediately outside Southend Central station is The Railway Hotel on Clifftown Road which features a vegetarian pizza menu and plenty of lovely beers to wash it down. If you’re a fan of great pub names then the Cow and Telescope on Southchurch Road is just for you while the less impressively named The Alex on Alexandra Street provides that homely student bar vibe.
The Dickens, which stands directly outside the University of Essex, on Clarence Road is another favourite if you love a cheap pint. And since you insist, Southend’s main Wetherspoons outlet, The Last Post is on Weston Road.
I’m Staying Owa, Is There Owt To Do?
Former Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom, Sir John Betjeman once described Southend Pier as “the Pier is Southend, Southend is the Pier”, which can all agree is complete gibberish. However, it is the longest pleasure pier in the world stretching over 1.3 miles into the Thames Estuary and features everything from mini golf course to a concert pavilion.
If you’re making the most of the bank holiday, take the kids to Adventure Island which proudly proclaims to be the “UK’s No. 1 Free Admission fun park”. It’s a pretty bold claim but it does have over 60 rides and attractions to keep a smile firmly plastered all over your young’uns’ faces.
Like jazz? Of course you do, who doesn’t like jazz? Well, Southend bloody loves jazz so much that The Jazz Centre UK is located here. Celebrating everything jazzy it charts the life of legends like Louis Armstrong and counts Van Morrison as one of its patrons. And if you didn’t get your fill of Southend Pier you can learn more about it at Southend Pier Museum.