Barry Fry only spent eight months at Southend United but his impact at Roots Hall, along with his acrimonious departure, left an indelible mark on the club.
Fry was appointed in April 1993, joining from Barnet where he was in his second spell as manager, with the sole task of saving Blues from relegation.
Right out of the gate, Fry got the club back up and running, starting with a 1-0 win against West Ham United who would end the season promoted to the Premier League.
The win over the Hammers was the first of four successive home wins, with a 2-1 win against Luton on the final day enough to stave Blues from the drop.
Fry had galvanised the club and managed to get even more out of Southend’s talisman Stan Collymore, who ended the season being carried off the pitch as a hero.
That was the last the club would see of Collymore as he left for Nottingham Forest, but Fry began to build a side that could challenge at the right end of the table.
Despite a slow start, marquee wins away at Sunderland and Derby saw Blues go as high as third. But the 3-1 win away at Derby County was to be Fry’s last victory with Southend.
Having had success at Barnet and now Southend, Fry caught the attention of the ‘sleeping giant’ that was known as Birmingham City.
After saying he wouldn’t leave to then change his mind and go to St. Andrews drew vitriolic resentment from the Blues fans, although Southend would get some retribution when Fry returned a month later to see his new side lose 3-1.
Fry’s departure will forever sour his tenure at Roots Hall and left Blues fans wondering what might have happened had he stayed.
Jason Lee, who scored against Birmingham in that 3-1 defeat, felt that Southend would have ended the season amongst English football’s elite had Fry remained.
“I honestly do think there is every chance Southend could have got promotion that season had Barry stayed,” said Lee, in an interview with the Southend Echo in 2014.
“At that time, we saw ourselves as a young Wimbledon and I think we all thought we could go on to achieve what they had done.”
Date of Birth: 7th April 1945
Place of Birth: Bedford, England
Managed Southend: 1993
Playing Honours: None
Managerial Honours: Second Division Title 1994-95, Football League Trophy 1994-95, Conference Title 1990-91, Conference League Cup 1988-89