We take a look at the modern era chapter of the Southend United story
New Manager, Paul Sturrock inherited a massively depleted squad with just four contracted players, but his impressive scouting network assembled a varied and experienced crop of players for the 2010/11 campaign. Gems from the non-league scene, Sean Clohessy and Ryan Hall also proved pivotal signings.
A mid table finish seven points adrift of the play-offs was a decent effort after the considerable turnover of personnel. For the 2011/12 season Blues mounted a serious challenge for promotion to League One being in an automatic promotion position as late as March.
However, indifferent form at a vital period, encapsulated by the eccentric performances of French import Bilel Mohsni, meant promotion would have to be achieved via the play-offs. Sadly the Shrimpers drew the in-form team in the semis and lost to a rampant Crewe Alexandra side.
Sturrock again shuffled his pack for the 2012/13 campaign bringing in promising strikers Gavin Tomlin and Britt Assombalonga. Freddy Eastwood, having returned on loan towards the end of the previous campaign, would sign a deal as well. Crowd favourite Barry Corr would also make a triumphant return to the game after 17 months out through injury.
Blues, however, never really mounted a serious promotion challenge with home form being the team’s Achilles heel. Once again though, solace came in the shape of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, the latest incarnation of the much maligned Football League Trophy. The run included a penalty shootout win, late goalkeeper substitutions and a truly dramatic last gasp Area Final goal by Ben Reeves against Leyton Orient.
League form had remained indifferent however and Sturrock would be relieved of his duties in the weeks leading up to Southend’s first ever Wembley final appearance.
Phil Brown was charged with overseeing the last few weeks of the campaign as Wembley fever gripped the town. A magnificent 32,000 tickets were sold as Wembley Stadium was well and truly painted blue. However, a crippling injury list saw Crewe Alexandra secure the trophy.
Phil Brown’s first full season in charge saw the Blues come within touching distance of League One.
The Boss made many additions to his squad for the upcoming campaign including the likes of John White from neighbours Colchester United, Will Atkinson from Bradford City and Ben Coker following a successful trial.
A disappointing start to the season put pay to Southend making the automatic promotion spots as they won only three of their opening ten games, losing five.
Phil Brown’s side rallied though and finished comfortably inside the play-offs by ten points in fifth position. Standing in the way of another trip to Wembley was Burton Albion, a side that Blues had beaten twice in the regular season.
But when it’s the lottery of the play-offs anything can happen and after losing 1-0 in the first leg at the Pirelli Stadium it all came down to the second leg at Roots Hall. Sadly, a 2-2 draw meant the Blues fell short and it was back to the drawing board for the 14/15 season.
Phil Brown strengthened his squad yet again as Southend eyed automatic promotion in 14/15. Myles Weston, David Worrall and Gary Deegan were amongst those who came in for the new campaign.
After a slow start, Blues started to hit the ground running in September winning four consecutive games. Some poor form over the winter caused Manager, Phil Brown to strengthen yet again and it proved a masterstroke as ‘Mr Southend’, Adam Barrett returned to the club along with striker Joe Pigott who joined on loan from Charlton Athletic.
As the season approached it’s ‘Business End’ Southend were in inspired form going on a seven game winning run with Dan Bentley breaking a club record of 11 consecutive clean sheets at home.
Southend went to Morecambe on the last day of the season knowing that a win would see them automatically promoted to League One. It was not to be Blues day though as they lost 3-1 and were pipped to third place by Bury.
So it was to be the play-offs again for Southend, but the players weren’t feeling sorry for themselves and professionally saw off Stevenage over two legs to seal a Wembley date with Wycombe Wanderers.
Daniel Bentley was hero as Blues defeated beat Wycombe on penalties to win the Sky Bet League 2 Play-Off Final on the hallowed Wembley turf.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man as Bentley stepped up to deny Sam Wood's effort to complete the League One march under the arch.
It had all looked so different in extra time as it looked for all the world that Joe Jacobson's 25-yard free-kick had given Wycombe the win.
As time ticked on and went into stoppage time, up stepped Joe Pigott to slot home in the 122nd minute to take it to the lottery of penalties.
This was to be Blues first return to the third-tier in five years.
Phil Brown made some additions to his attacking line ahead of Southend’s first season in League One in 2015/16, adding the goalscoring experience of Noel Hunt and David Mooney.
After taking time to adjust to stepping up a division Blues got their first win of the campaign in front of the TV cameras against Peterborough United at Roots Hall. Goals from Adam Barrett and summer signing, Hunt secured a first class victory over Posh.
Towards the end of September, Blues were thrown into the Lion’s den at Millwall, and came out triumphant after goals from Barrett and another new boy, David Mooney gave Phil Brown’s side all three points.
The league was now having to sit up and take notice of Southend; a team who had stepped up a division, but was also stepping up a gear or two.
A four goal demolition of Bury put supporters in the Christmas spirit, and the 2-0 Essex derby win took them to dreamland with goals from Captain John White and David Mooney.
The New Year began with a bump as successive defeats brought Southend back down to earth.
The squad pulled their socks up, and a last gasp penalty save from Dan Bentley at Peterborough United galvanised the team to finish January with an impressive 3-0 over Coventry City; Tyrone Barnett bagging two on his home debut!
The first week of February brought about two games, six points and another comprehensive victory in the ‘Battle of Essex’.
Goals from Anthony Wordsworth on his return from injury, Mr Southend Barrett and Saints loanee Sam McQueen saw Blues ease past Colchester United.
Inconsistency put pay to Southend’s hopes of making the League One play-offs however, as they finished the season in 15th positon on 59 points.