It was the start of fresh optimism and hope for Southend supporters in August as fans piled back into stadiums for the first time in over 12 months following a season away.
For Blues, it was the start of their first ever season in the National League.
Phil Brown had put pen to paper on a fresh new contract at the club in the close season and along with his newly assembled squad, he was about to embark on a different challenge in the fifth tier of English football.
It was the dream start to life in the National League for Blues as almost 2,000 supporters made the journey to Norfolk to support Brown’s side against King’s Lynn Town. Summer signing Sam Dalby made an immediate impact as he slotted home in the eighth minute, to score not only Blues’ first of the season, but the League’s too, as Southend sat top of the table temporarily. Southend remained in control of the game as King’s Lynn were reduced to 10 men when Junior Morias saw red for a stamp on Jason Demetriou. Despite not being able to capitalise on the man advantage by extending the lead, the 10 men held on for the win.
It was a tough test for Blues in their first home competitive fixture of the season, as eventual champions Stockport County made the trip to Roots Hall in front of the BT Sport cameras. Yet again, it was fantastic support from the Blues loyalists whose hopes of seeing their team make it back-to-back wins were scuppered in the 15th minute, thanks to a well-struck John Rooney goal. Despite a number of chances for Blues to get back into the game, the game ended in Stockport’s favour, as Steve Arnold put in a strong performance to keep the score 1-0 to County.
Frustrations show in the Capital
Determined to show their home defeat was nothing more than a blip, Blues made the short trip to Wealdstone 48 hours after the Stockport defeat looking to get quickly back on track by making it two away wins in a row. However, after hitting the woodwork twice in the first half through Rhys Murphy and Sam Dalby, Southend were made to settle for a point at Grosvenor Vale. Once again backed by a sold out away end in North London, Blues fans watched their team move up to ninth in the National League Table.
A win, a loss and a draw to start the campaign. Steve Arnold’s performances and two clean sheets provided some reason to be optimistic but tougher tests were to lie in wait at the start of September.