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Strange But False exclusive – Clohessy sold into slavery

8 Aug

Sean Clohessy has been forced to play for Col Ewe against his will.

Sean Clohessy has been forced to play for Col Ewe against his will.

BRITISH football is assumed to be squeaky clean. While other countries are regularly shaken by allegations of corruption and bribery, the British game is considered to be above such dubious practices.
But an undercover investigation by Strange But False has revealed that there is a menace that has been around for decades, yet remains under the surface – the issue of slavery.
The problem of players being sold into slavery by unscrupulous clubs has been growing over the years, but nobody came forward to speak out, until now.
In an exclusive report, we can reveal that former Southend defender Sean Clohessy was sold into slavery in June 2013.
He was on his way to Roots Hall to sign a new contract with the Shrimpers when a terrifying incident occurred.
A clearly emotional Clohessy said: “I was just walking past Priory Park. There was a spring in my step as I prepared for another couple of years with a great club. Then, from nowhere, a van screeched up. Three men wearing masks got out and bundled me into the back. They put a hood over my head. I didn’t know where they were taking me, but we drove for hours.
“I wound up playing for a team in a third-world country where the standard was so appalling, even Scott Vernon was considered a decent target man.”
But if the marauding right-back thought things were bad at Kilmarnock (“I didn’t know the name of the team, I couldn’t understand a word anyone said”), things were to take an even darker turn.
“One day the boss came to me and told me I had an hour to get my things together. I thought to run away, but you can’t run from these people. I did what he said, but I was still masked and tied up again for a long journey.
“When I got out, I was disorientated and couldn’t focus. I remember a large carpeted room, they made me sign something but I couldn’t read it.”
It was later revealed he had signed a two-year contract with borderline football club Colchester United.
“This place was different, but if anything it was worse. I played dull football in a cheap stadium next to a main road, but the stands were empty. It was like an apocalypse. Fortunately in the town, baseball caps, tracksuit bottoms and bad tattoos were everywhere so at least I had something in common with the locals.”
A spokesperson for Colchester United vehimently denied Sean’s story.
Munching on a piece of straw, the spokesperson said: “This is utter rubbish. He simply has an atrocious agent. I said when we untied him that he’s try a stunt like this.”


Southend hope to complete O’Neill signing

17 Jan

SOUTHEND are hoping to complete the loan signing of Burnley’s right-back Luke O’Neill in time for tomorrow’s crunch League Two promotion clash with Chesterfield.
The 22-year-old has already spent some time on loan at York City this season and played at Roots Hall in the Minstermen’s 2-1 defeat in late November. He was recalled by the Clarets earlier this month to provide cover for injuries.
O’Neill came through the Leicester academy before joining Mansfield on a free transfer in 2011. His form for the Stags persuaded Burnley to buy him for an undisclosed fee in 2012, but first-team opportunities with the Championship club have proved limited.
A six-footer who hails from Berkshire, O’Neill has also spent time at Tranmere and Kettering Town during his career so far.

Enough “passion” for you?

9 Aug

ONE of my pet hates about football fans is their obsession with “passion” and their odd misinterpretations of how it manifests itself.
For example, Paolo Di Canio’s appointment as manager of Sunderland last season was greeted with glee by supporters of the Wearsiders, who cast aside any doubts about his questionable man-management skills, his inability to manage a club without millions of pounds at his disposal and his controversial political views – simply because he is perceived to show “passion” on the sidelines.

Chris Barker has left the club by mutual consent

Chris Barker has left the club by mutual consent

Southend fans are just of guilty of this, lauding Bilel Mohsni for his “passion” despite his blatant unprofessionalism and his ability to let his team mates down on an almost weekly basis because of his indiscipline and total lack of positional sense. Just because a player roars his disapproval when we concede a goal, just because he attacks a post in anger having missed a chance (and therefore rendering him offside for the next attack), does not mean he is more “passionate” that one of his team mates who doesn’t do those things. It merely means he has anger management issues.
You see, you can be committed to the cause without picking up yellow cards on a fortnightly basis. You can give your all for a club without arguing with your own team mates, booting inanimate objects, and signing autographs for half the ground after games. One player who in my opinion had just as much passion for three years, but never left his team mates in the lurch was Chris Barker.
I think most of us recognised towards the tail end of last season, and particularly in the JPT final where he was up against a particularly nippy winger, that at the age of 33, pace was not something that Chris was gaining. The unkind phrase “his legs have gone” was used often by the Shrimpers’ faithful, not without a degree of truth to it.
But Barks was club captain throughout the Sturrock era, which may not have produced a promotion but could well be seen in years to come as one of the most crucial periods in this club’s history. One of the first to join in the infamous summer of 2010, where the club looked headed for a grim demise, he was deservedly named player of the year in his first season, where he and Mark Phillips formed a fine partnership in defence meaning a patched-together team avoided the trapdoor into non-league with ease.
He may not have been the quickest, but the Welshman’s game was never really built on pace. He was (and still is) a superb reader of the game, and proved the saying that the first ten yards are in the head to be true. During the 11/12 season, he was again a major player and part of a team that racked up 83 points but somehow did not get promoted. His solitary goal, in the dying moments of the playoff second leg against Crewe, was not quite enough to send the team to Wembley.
But Barker was not to be denied. If anyone really wanted to see what “passion” really is, how about last season’s Area Final against Leyton Orient, where despite struggling badly with an injury sustained in the first leg (which he played through during eight minutes of stoppage time), he took his place in the back line for the second leg despite not being fully fit, with Southend suffering a major injury crisis. He played through the pain to help the Blues to their first ever Wembley appearance, and his reward was to lead the team out at the national stadium.
He may not have pumped enough fists or gone for enough drinks with fans to be labelled a “legend” in Blues’ history, but Chris Barker certainly has his place in the clubs history. Farewell Chris, thanks for all you have done and good luck at your new club.

Aldershot striker Craig Reid joins Southend

1 Aug

STRIKER Craig Reid has joined Southend United after leaving relegated Aldershot.
The 27-year-old former Stevenage and Newport County striker links up with the club two days before the opening day match against Plymouth.
Reid, who scored 11 goals in 39 appearances for the Shots, is best known for his time with Newport between 2008 and 2011 when he scored 62 league goals for the Exiles.
He then moved in a big-money transfer to Stevenage and helped them win promotion, before joining Aldershot in 2012.
However, following the club’s relegation into the Conference, Reid has agreed to join the Shrimpers, providing a welcome boost to the club’s front line.
He will fight for a place in the starting line-up with Barry Corr, Freddy Eastwood and Seedy Njie.

Ryan Cresswell’s move to Fleetwood Town is for the best

24 Jul

NO ONE likes to see good players leave their club. Ryan Cresswell’s departure will leave a chasm in the centre of Southend’s defence with the season just ten days away, and I must admit seeing his picture on the Blackpool Gazette website holding up a dreadfully tinpot scarf wasn’t easy.
However hard it may seem to understand Cresswell’s desire to leave Southend for a club which gets gates of under 3,000 in a town that makes Rayleigh look like a metropolis, it can’t be denied that Fleetwood are a club on the up under Andy Pilley, who has bankrolled the club’s rise from the Northern Premier League. The Cod Army (urgh) look certs for automatic promotion to League One this forthcoming season thanks to a lot of dollar being spent wisely, and the Lancashire club’s manager Graham Alexander believes Cresswell to be the final piece in his jigsaw.
Southend, on the other hand, have seen their top four performers from last year – Clohessy, Assombalonga, Tomlin and Cresswell – leave the club this summer, along with plenty of squad players, leaving them a squad of just 14 senior professionals on the eve of the season.
Phil Brown has mentioned plenty of transfer targets, but only Ben Coker, John White and Will Atkinson have arrived. Plenty of “hard work” is going on behind the scenes, it is claimed, but there is hardly anyone coming in the door. The main reason for this, it is suspected, is that Southend have been under a transfer embargo that restricts them to a 20-man squad. With the signing of young pros like Ryan Auger, Jack Payne, Mitchell Pinnock and Seedy Njie, the current number is believed to be 19. Room for one more, then.
As always, Southend United’s financial situation is like an iceberg with the odd article in the Echo the only real knowledge the supporters have and it would be pointless to speculate why the club is under a transfer embargo, if indeed it is. What is clear is our club is living a day-to-day existence with more going out than is coming in and a lot of creditors, staff, the taxman and occasionally the players going without on a regular basis. Receiving £150,000 for Cresswell will not cure our problems, but it could go a long way towards easing the more pressing issues holding up Phil Brown’s attempts to build a squad for the coming season. It’s probably about a quarter of the club’s entire season ticket income, which no doubt had already been spent keeping another debt wolf from the door.
There may be only a week and a half to go until Plymouth arrive in town for the opening day fixture, but the transfer deadline is not until September 2, with free agents able to sign for clubs after that date. So there’s no point panicking. At the moment, the squad is weak to the point of fragile, but the first 11 is competent. Cresswell may have been our best defender, but when fit, Mark Phillips is certainly not far behind. White has looked accomplished in pre-season matches and Luke Prosser has improved year-on-year and looks set to play a key role this year. Add Chris Barker and Ben Coker, and there are enough defenders currently at the club. The alacrity with which Julian Bennett was despatched to the club’s Madrid training base suggests Brown knew Cresswell’s departure was coming and the former Forest and Wednesday man has been a target.
There is also the point to consider that Cresswell’s form tailed off significantly towards the end of last season. Perhaps his inability to settle in the area was a factor and it was clear the defender, while remaining professional to the end, wanted to leave the club from January onwards. That never makes for good form, and keeping him here against his will would certainly not have brought the best out of him on the pitch. We’ve also seen, with Ryan Hall and Bilel Mohsni, how unsettled players can react when they are denied the move they crave. With Cresswell, it’s best for all parties that he moves on. Let’s just hope we can move forward ourselves with the money that has come in.

Bid accepted by Southend United for Ryan Cresswell from Fleetwood Town

23 Jul

RYAN Cresswell has flown back from Madrid to finalise a deal with Fleetwood Town, it was revealed late last night.
Southend United have accepted a bid, thought to be a six-figure fee, for the goalscoring defender, who revealed earlier in the summer he would be keen to return to the north of England.
His favoured destination was thought to be Chesterfield, but the Spireites offered a paltry £25,000 for the defender’s services, a bid so derisory that Blues considered reporting the Derbyshire side to the Football League.
York City were also interested earlier in the summer but the Yorkshireman now looks certain to join Fleetwood Town, who have spent heavily during the summer to try and gain promotion.

Ryan Cresswell is likely to join Fleetwood this week.

Ryan Cresswell is likely to join Fleetwood this week.

With less than two weeks to go until the first game of the season, Phil Brown has moved quickly to try and plug the gaping hole in the centre of Southend’s defence, and has invited former Nottingham Forest and Sheffield Wednesday defender Julian Bennett to join the squad at their Madrid training complex.
Bennett is a free agent since leaving Hillsborough at the end of last season, and is a tough-tackling defender who is comfortable on the left or in the centre of the back line.
The 28-year-old Nottingham-born Bennett began his career with Walsall, before joining then-League One Forest, where he played 110 games in five years alongside Shrimpers’ goalkeeper Paul Smith.
However, a serious injury sustained in 2008 kept him out for a lengthy period of time and he was released by Steve McClaren, whereupon he joined the Owls, where he made just 25 appearances in two years. He had a loan spell at Shrewsbury in December which was cut short when he sustained an injury to his back.
He is set to line up as Southend take on Real Madrid’s third side at their Valdebebas stadium tomorrow morning.

Southend cruise to win at Bishop’s Stortford

9 Jul

Seedy Njie put Southend in front.

Seedy Njie put Southend in front.

SOUTHEND continued their pre-season by recording a 3-1 win over Blue Square South side Bishop’s Stortford at Woodside Park.
Seedy Njie opened the scoring early on, before ex-Southend player Kyle Asante levelled things up. Trialist Matthew Silva netted a second for the Shrimpers, before Freddy Eastwood bagged his second goal of pre-season to seal the victory.
Phil Brown fielded a makeshift side to start the match, with trialists Jacob Erskine, Bruno, Matthew Silva and Cleveland Taylor all starting the match.
Blues fans also got their first chance to see Will Atkinson, who lined up in the centre of midfield. However, his debut was cut short after half an hour, with the former Bradford man still playing catch-up with pre-season fitness.
Blues took the lead when a corner from the left was not cleared, and Njie was on hand to stab the loose ball into the net from close range.
The striker then curled the ball just over after Cleveland Taylor had played him through, before just missing a left wing Matthew Silva cross with his head.
Kane Hemmings partnered Freddy Eastwood in attack in the second half

Kane Hemmings partnered Freddy Eastwood in attack in the second half

The hosts equalised somewhat against the run of play when Blues’ defence failed to clear the ball after a shot had struck the inside of the post, and with the ball bobbling around the penalty area Kyle Asante was first to assert himself, placing a neat half volley on the turn into the bottom corner of the net.
Just before the break, good work from Cleveland Taylor found Njie in the right hand channel, and his deflected cutback was neatly sidefooted home by Matthew Silva.
Erskine and Silva for the most part failed to impress. Bruno at left back put in some good tackles but appeared to be found out of position on a number of occasions. Taylor showed some nice touches and was constantly talking to his team mates. It was the former Burton man who stood out the most amongst the trialists in the first half. Elsewhere, Jack Payne looked busy and skilful but occasionally his inexperience showed.
The second half saw the home side replace their entire eleven, and 15 minutes in Southend did the same, making a raft of changes. Amongst them were left back Ben Coker, former Hibs man Martin Scott and ex-Rangers striker Kane Hemmings, all on trial at the club.
But arguably the most impressive Southend player was Freddy Eastwood, who looked fit and sharp and was always looking for the ball, in contrast to much of last season. It was he who added to the lead when John White’s attempted cross fell into his path 15 yards out. With the ball rather underneath his feet, he did well to get a shot away and was rewarded when a deflection took it past the Stortford goalkeeper.
Eastwood then went close with a fizzing drive, while Kane Hemmings should have done better with a couple of chances but missed the target.
As for the other trialists, Scott looks a tough tackler who played in the centre of midfield, Coker didn’t have much to do but looked to have some pace and made one particularly good tackle.
The game petered out in typical pre-season fashion but it was a good workout for the Shrimpers’ players, who can be pleased with their performance.
Trialist Matthew Silva, scorer of the second goal

Trialist Matthew Silva, scorer of the second goal

Blues fans lack faith in Martin’s stadium predictions

5 Jul

SOUTHEND supporters do not believe that a new stadium at Fossetts Farm will be delivered this year, according to a survey conducted by All At Sea.
When asked ‘do you believe Southend will ever move to Fossetts Farm?’ just 10 per cent of respondents so far answered ‘yes, soon’.
Almost 60% believe the club will move to the stadium eventually, while 20% feel the move will never come to fruition.
8.7% said they would rather not move.
In addition, 65 per cent of fans claim they are worried by the prospect of playing in a three-sided stadium, while just two per cent believed a fourth side would be built straight after the completion of the rest of the project.
The pessimistic answers come as chairman Ron Martin claimed in the Southend Echo that he hopes work on site will start in December.
Mr Martin added that the purchase of Victoria Avenue properties by Sainsbury’s, and the purchase of the Boots and Laces training ground by the club had yet to be completed, but work on the initially three-sided ground could start without those purchases being complete.
The next stage is to apply for planning permission for the 8,000-seat main stand, which will only be built when the funds are in place to do so.
Take the survey by clicking here.
The survey is still open for responses and results will be published on the website and in the first fanzine of the new season.

Fossetts Farm

Plans for the new stadium

Issue 43 CUP FINAL SPECIAL – available to pre-order now

12 Mar

THE latest issue of All At Sea is brought to you with fanfares, bunting and champagne* as Southend celebrate reaching a Wembley cup final for the first time in their history.
As the team managed to get this far, defeating League One opponents despite a horrendous injury list, we have decided to pull out all the stops too, and bring you a 40-page bumper cup final special.
It will be available for the normal price of £1 and will be on sale from Saturday as the countdown begins.
Inside, we’ve included an interview with Drewe Broughton, the hero of our 2004 LDV Vans Trophy campaign, kindly donated to us by Lee Morgan.
Tony Agg remembers the heartache of coming a penalty kick away from reaching our Wembley dream almost 20 years ago.
Peter Baker gives us some insight into how Southend ended up making their only Wembley appearance, in bizarre fashion, in 1930, and what happened that day.
Piers Hewitt tells of the time he first visited Wembley – and it was a far cry from how you would have expected it to be. Peter Searles has even let all the emotion get to him and has written a poem.
There will also be an in-depth report of both legs of the Area Final so you can relive them all over again, as well as a full lowdown on how to get the best out of your day at Wembley.
As we’re all telling the players not to be distracted from league duties, we’ll be practising what we preach and there’s a full round up of recent away games, previews of games coming up plus some inevitable column inches on the controversial return of Bilel Mohsni.
Joseph Rutter makes his debut within our pages to look back at some of our best ever loan signings in the wake of Ben Reeves’ influential month at Roots Hall.
All this and plenty more is inside, and it can be yours by seeing our sellers on Saturday outside the club shop on Victoria Avenue and at the Shakespeare Drive entrance. It will also be on sale at Plymouth and Fleetwood home games, on Travelzone coaches to Rochdale, Bradford, and Wembley, and online here (where a selection of back issues are also available). You can order your copy now, and it will be sent first class as soon as the fanzine is back from the printers later this week.


* Not actually included in the £1 cover price.

Issue 40 on sale Saturday

24 Oct

IT’S a good job All At Sea is coming out this weekend to lighten the mood as to be honest recent home fixtures have been about as fun as pulling out your fingernails with a pair of pliers.
It’s a corking issue if we do say so ourselves, with interviews with not one, but two former Southend stars.
Ex-captain Craig Easton gives the inside track on his 12 months at the club, while cult hero Roy McDonough pulls no punches as he chats about everything from his Roots Hall memories to what he thinks of the cast of TOWIE (he’d shag the women and punch the man, in a nutshell).
Piers Hewitt remembers some of the funniest incidents he’s seen watching Southend over the years and we ask if society’s attitute towards football fans will change as a result of the Hillsborough Justice Panel’s findings.
We’ll also round up recent games, although not too much as we forgot to include a number for the Samaritans.
It’s on sale at Saturday’s game priced at £1 from the usual places, outside the club shop and on Shakespeare Drive. There will also be a link to buy it online from this very website coming soon