Thursday, 10 May 2018

Roots Hall

Southend United 0-0 Bristol Rovers

5th May 2018

This epic 444 mile journey was made bearable by spending it in the company of Ma, Pa, Tom and the rest of the Joads, whose 1,500 mile traverse (in my talking book, The Grapes of Wrath) across America's Midwest from Oklahoma to California put my trek into the shade.  By the way, am I the only person in the world who views Noah Joad as the most intriguing character in Steinbeck’s masterpiece, and a chap who certainly deserved a follow up novel of his own?

Anyway, the long road notwithstanding, an early start and the A1 generally behaving itself had allowed me to arrive in Southend a few hours before the 5:30PM kick-off, fording me time to indulge one of my other obsessions: piers.  I do find them fascinating places, Southend's, of course, being the daddy of them all.  It being so long that a train runs its length should one find the 1.3 mile span too much.  I walked out, bought my traditional ice cream, and let Sir William Heygate take the strain on my return to dry land.

The plan is, to have an ice-cream on every pleasure pier in the country.

Ticket Office, Roots Hall.

As it sez.....Welcome.

West Stand turnstiles, accessed off Shakespeare Drive.

Lots of pillars inside the West Stand.

I really did not mind the pillars, but could have done without this ladder where it was.

Hi-Tec South Stand, Roots Hall.

I guess this is one of those clocks which is correct twice a day.

al fresco refreshments behind the West Stand at the break.

I really liked the quirky double-barrelled stand roof.
Unique features like this are disappearing fast from stadia.

The Fairfield BMW East Stand - Southend United.

Panorama of Roots Hall, Southend United F.C.

Southend United's Roots Hall can be found around a pier's length north of the seafront, and I really rather wished I had walked it as I have come across few places where parking is so rigidly regulated and jealously guarded than around this football ground.

I chose to sit in the Paul Robinson West Stand with its double-barrelled roof, not realising that as the cover was to all intents and purposes two structures standing side and side, each would have its own set of pillars.  Which meant a LOT of obstructed views within this area.  But in reality, there were sufficient empty seats to allow me to wander around, so the obstructions did not impede my view to any extent.  

As to the match itself it, perhaps predictably, given both sides were effectively already on the beach – mid-table safety for both having been assured some weeks back – finished goalless.  But the tussle was always entertaining, if never quite engrossing, and I can certainly recall having attended many less interesting nil-nils in my time.

United's Simon Cox caught the eye.  After a couple of early comically wayward passes/attempts on goal he settled down to put in a fine shift – eventually being given the Man of the Match award.  I personally would have awarded it to his fellow Irishman Stephen McLaughlin who, after he stopped bickering with visiting defender Tony Craig, showed some fine touches in midfield.  Being left-footed and playing on the right, I felt he did find himself cutting across the pitch rather more often than was beneficial to his side, and that he could have been better utilised on the Southend left.  But that is an old bugbear of mine – right-footed players being employed on the left, and vice versa.

The aforementioned Cox hit the crossbar during the first half, and Rovers' Ellis Harrison a post in the second, but clear cut chances were few and far between for both sides.  Particularly during the second period which the visitors played with ten men, Ollie Clarke having been dismissed for two yellow cards.  Shrimpers' Theo Robinson squandered what was probably the best opportunity of the match in the 55th minute; he shooting straight at visiting 'keeper Sam Slocombe, after the ball had dropped kindly to him on the edge of the box.

Southend United v Bristol Rovers - May 2018

Southend's Stephen McLaughlin (No 11) & Rovers' Tony Craig. 

Southend United v Bristol Rovers - May 2018

John White (Southend United) & Ellis Harrison (Bristol Rovers).

Scoreboard at the ADSI North Stand. 

Southend United v Bristol Rovers - May 2018

Mark Oxley - Southend United.

When you require to wear a harness to leave your place of work, you know you have a dangerous job.
Apart from physio Ben Clarkson, I don't know who any of these folks are.

Chris Powell

The Fairfield BMW East Stand - Southend United.

Leafing through the match programme at half-time, I was reading an interview with former Southend player Tony Bentley, when I was startled to come across a familiar name: John McKinven.  Back in 1993, I had published a history of my local football club Bathgate Thistle, and during the research for the book I had come across John's name - he having played for the club between November 1957 & January 1959, before being transferred to Raith Rovers.  Where he had gone after that I had no idea at the time and, back in 1993, had no real way of finding out.

It took only the most cursory of internet digging when I got home to find that not only had John found his way to Roots Hall in 1960, but had, over the following decade, become a real favourite with the Shrimpers' support.  The warmth felt towards him within the Southend United community even now, some half-century later, was palpable, and I was saddened to learn he had passed in 2014.


  1. Absolutely wonderful site you've built over the years here, came across it whilst googling Cowdenbeath's Central Park. Keep up the great work!

    1. Central Park remains a Scottish League ground after yesterday. But only just.

  2. I've sent a wee recommendation to my own blog's followers here;

    Do come visit my own wee endeavour on football shirts some time :)

  3. Thanks for the links - shall give then a look. Regards