‘Supporter Spotlight’ on Lee Morgan…
This Supporter Spotlight was featured in the Crawley Town matchday programme last season. If you would like to purchase a copy you can do so by clicking here.
It was my great pleasure to speak to Lee Morgan recently about his time as a Shrimper and indeed, all things Southend.
"I can remember when I was at school, a lot of the kids back then were going on the train to watch West Ham, Chelsea, Spurs etc and various other London clubs," said Lee. "And although my mum was a long time Gooner, and my dad a Liverpool fan, I had no interest in any of those clubs even though like now, they were amongst the big teams always being shown on the television.
"I couldn’t understand why anyone would be bothering to travel all that way when we had our own professional team playing just 20 minutes down the road. With that in mind, I was 14 when my mate Chris and myself took the number 7 bus from Shoebury to watch our very first game at Roots Hall. A Tuesday night game under the lights in the Sherpa Vans Trophy v Lincoln City in 1988. We won 2-1, with both goals scored by David Crown. I loved it and I was hooked pretty much straight away.
"I started to become a regular at games, paying my five quid to get in and whilst players like Big Roy, Tilly, Martin Ling, Paul Brush, Gary Bennett and a few others became my heroes, it was Crowny who very quickly became my favourite player. Something that is still true to this day. I get quite star-stuck whenever I meet him even now.
"I was lucky enough to play against him a couple of times in charity matches and as a defender, it was my job to mark Dave. He’d long retired but the skill was certainly still there. Not only that, but he kept talking to me throughout the game and telling me what he was going to do next time he got the ball. I remember in one of the games he told me how he was going to flick it over my head and turn me, which is exactly what he did.
"I’ll tell you one thing; it is almost impossible to mark or chase someone who has just gone past you having left you in fits of laughter. Such a great bloke and a true legend is Dave.
"While there were times over the years when I couldn’t go as regularly as I’d have liked due to work commitments and changes in circumstances, I have been a season ticket holder now since 2000. I remember travelling all over the country following Southend with (amongst others) Paul Napper, Ben Weir, Dave Scriven, Simon Dodd, Graham Hines, Paul Brandreth and Barry Harris back in the day. We’d either go by train or hire a minibus and had, shall we say, some very eventful trips to some utter hell holes," he remembered.
"I’ve sat all over the ground over the years. Starting in the North Bank, moving to the West and then to the East, before going back to the West again. I go with my son Charlie now and most of those I have named have also now completed the evolution from the West into the Family Stand, having married and had kids. Time certainly moves on.”
"Some may be surprised that I chose not to go to the Play-Off Final v Wycombe Wanderers in 2015. The Johnstone’s Paint Final in 2013 was such a disappointing day, I honestly couldn’t face the heart-breaking prospect of watching Southend lose at Wembley again. I decided to take the wife out for a nice meal instead and when I heard they were 1-0 down with only minutes left, I thought that was it, they’ve lost. It was only when I heard another couple in the restaurant ask the waitress if she knew how Southend got on, I heard her say that it had gone to penalties.
"I couldn’t believe it! She said they had the game on in the kitchen and from then on shouted out the scores for us as the penalties were taken. 1-0, 1-1, 2-1 etc. When we won, my phone went ballistic with people congratulating me on the win almost as if I’d played in the match myself. A crazy day and I sat up till 4.00am watching the game replayed, highlights and the reports on Sky Sports News after that,” he laughed.
When asked about his favourite Southend game, Lee said: "I have two. The 2-1 win against Luton Town at Roots Hall under Barry Fry when we stayed up on the last day of the season. Stan’s last game and that absolute thunderbolt from Andy Sussex. That and the 2-2 draw at Swansea which clinched promotion to the Championship. I can still close my eyes and see Freddy roll that ball into the Swan’s net. Such fantastic technique to be able to do that. Both such brilliant days.
"When Mike Smith retired to live in Spain and Dave Scriven started to work for the club, both Paul Napper and myself were invited to take over the running of Shrimperzone. We both jumped at the chance. It was great and certainly opened doors for us in terms of being invited to club functions, access to players and the management. We had many conversations with Steve Tilson over the years – on and off the record. I did this for two or three years before work commitments and getting married led to me standing down.
"I also wrote for ‘All at Sea’ fanzine too. I remember interviewing Drewe Broughton and asking him if he had an old Southend shirt he might let me have. He didn’t but gave me a Darlington one that had been screwed up in a bag in his car, which I still have to this day. I am not really a collector but have 30+ shirts now including a couple that are match worn.
"When running SZ, we held a raffle that I actually won for Neil Jenkins shirt. People screamed fix but it was a fair draw honest!!! I also sponsored Lee Bradbury’s home shirt, which he threw into the crowd at Swansea after the promotion game along with the rest of the team. I phoned the club and explained I wanted a home shirt worn by Lee as I had paid for this but was told that Nike had discontinued the design and there were none left – something that led to Southend having to play the final game of the promotion season v Bristol City at Roots Hall in their away kit.
"They gave me Lee’s away shirt but I said I wanted a home one too. They gave me a list of players without sponsors and told me to choose one of their home shirts. I think I got one of a kid who had been on the bench once and whose name I cannot even remember now,” he laughed.
"There have been many players I have really liked over my years of following Southend. In addition to those I mentioned earlier - Damon Searle, Scott Forbes, Ben Abbey, Drewe Broughton, Adam Locke and Derek Payne.
"As far as my favourite team is concerned. The manager is a toss-up between Webby and Tilly. Webby edges it but I will have Tilly with him as his assistant. My 1-11 with subs is as follows – Paul Sansome, Dean Austin, Chris Powell, Peter Butler, Adam Barrett, Spencer Prior, Andy Ansah, Graham Bressington, David Crown, Stan Collymore and Ricky Otto. Substitutes – Darryl Flahavan, Andy Edwards, Andy Sussex, Steve Tilson, Mark Gower, Freddy Eastwood and Brett Angell. Pretty decent team I feel."
A top bloke and a truly great Shrimper. Lee Morgan is yet another fan of whom Southend United can be very proud of indeed.