All At Sea guide: Exeter City

12 Nov

THOSE who experienced that miserable, sodden afternoon on an open terrace watching Southend lose 3-0 to Exeter last January probably won’t be in too much of a hurry to make the mammoth journey to Devon less than a year later.
However, Exeter is a decent city with plenty to see and some stunning beaches and countryside nearby, so why not make a weekend of it? Or at least go to some cracking pubs to numb the pain.
If you haven’t bought your train tickets by now, you’ve probably missed out on the cheapest deals and will probably pay a premium. The train will get you into Exeter St Davids, which is a 20-minute walk from St James’ Park but you do get to pass some good boozers on the way, including the AAS tavern of choice last year, The Great Western Hotel, right opposite the station and with a plethora of ales on tap.
Nearer the ground, the Bowling Green pub on Blackboy Road is a good option, as are The Wells Tavern and The Victoria, on Victoria Road behind the grandstand of St James’ Park.
Southend fans are likely once again to be mostly housed on that odd little open terrace behind one goal. Seems hardly fair to have to stare at the home fans’ magnificent covered affair at the other end for 90 minutes, but that’s the lot of the away fan I suppose.
Ticket prices are £17. If the weather is pants like last season, a seat in the grandstand will set you back £21.
Due to high train and petrol prices, it is likely to be worth your while to seek out coach travel from TravelZone or the Shrimpers Trust if you want to do this one without having to remortgage your house.


Flares back in fashion

5 Nov

BRITISH football fandom used to lead the way back in the 60s, 70s and 80s. It was not malways for the best, but European fan groups always used to look on admirably and try and imitate English fans. Now, it is the other way round, and one of the irritating side effects of this is the recent fashion for “pyro”, or people using flares and smoke bombs at grounds.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I dislike the heavily sanitised atmosphere of the modern football arena as much as the next man. I even got told off recently for calling Fleetwood’s goalkeeper “shit”, which quite frankly is ridiculous as, not only was it factually correct, I was in the South Upper, not the family stand and quite frankly it should be our duty to make away team’s players feel as uncomfortable as possible when we are blessed enough to be so close to the action.
However, I draw the line at this fashion for throwing smoke bombs onto the pitch and ensuring you can’t see the next ten minutes of the match. What exactly are people gaining from it? I’ve seen it happen twice at Roots Hall this season, Yeovil fans and Dagenham fans the culprits, and I rank both occasions as being amongst the most tin-pot things I have ever seen at a football match. I can see how it looks good when seething massed ranks of fans set off flares while deafening everyone around with vociferous singing, but when it’s seven people with replica shirts over their jumpers letting them off between gaping gaps in the stand, it is a tragic sight. It’s the football equivalent of Robin Thicke trying to defy the fact he looks like a geography teacher and look cool in a video full of extremely attractive women. It doesn’t belong there. Simple as that.
Aside from the lack of credibility, and without wanting to come across all health and safety executive here, it’s not a particularly good idea to let off these things off around large groups of people. Spurs fans lobbed one at a linesman the other week and although secretly I imagine most people found it quite funny when it smacked him on the back of the neck, they wouldn’t be laughing if they were deducted points for it. I know the FA doesn’t have the balls to do that to a big club, but lower down the leagues they wouldn’t think twice about it.
So please, if any Southend supporters are thinking about trying the same thing at a far-flung ground this season, please don’t. It makes all of us look like twats, and having paid far too much money to travel to the game, gain admittance, and drink enough booze to make watching League Two football seem palatable, most of us would actually quite like to be able to see the game we’ve paid to watch rather than peer through a haze.
Jamie Forsyth

This article appears in Issue 45 of All At Sea. To buy your copy online, head to our webstore at where you can pay your £1 + postage easily with Paypal. We send all fanzines out first class.

Issue 45 – Hot off the press

31 Oct

Issue 45 - on sale now!

Issue 45 – on sale now!

IT seems one of the fashionably barmy things for football clubs to do these days is try to control the press. Only this week we’ve seen the Newcastle Chronicle and the Stoke Sentinel guilty of bruising the egos of the local club’s chairman, with sanctions as a result. And Southend last month prevented Chris Phillips, of the Echo, from talking to Phil Brown and some players after daring to write we are under a transfer embargo (which, erm, we are).
In this month’s All At Sea we have a general catch-up with Chris to find out what it’s really like to report on Southend United every day. We also talk to former Southend defender Leo Roget, who embarks on a professional boxing career on November 16th at York Hall. Unfortunately, his opponent is not Marco Gabbiadini.
Another raft of excellent contributions has arrived at AAS towers this month. Piers Hewitt tells how his recent tour to the United States with his band has helped develop his Youtube video fetish to the point where he watched the highlights of Southend losing 1-0 away at Stoke in 1996.
Stormy weather arrived in the UK this week, and James Welham recalls a time where blizzard conditions almost robbed the Shrimpers of a vital victory.
Andrew Roach dissects the facts behind Friday night football at Roots Hall, and tells us once and for all whether it’s good for the gate, Peter Miles heads over to Belgium to visit a ground where Southend played in the 1950s, and Sam Leveridge tracks down the players that Paul Sturrock begged, stole or borrowed to play the opening game of the 2010/11 season (Sofiane Zaaboub has been in a spot of bother, to no-one’s surprise).
There’s plenty of other stuff inside too for the normal price of £1, and you can buy it now by visiting our webstore at

Newport away – an All At Sea guide

23 Oct

NO anti-Welsh sentiment here. Crossing the Severn Bridge has mostly been a very enjoyable occasion for Southend fans over the last decade or so. There was the incredible, unreal 3-2 win with eight men at the Vetch, then the hard-earned point the following season to help us on our way to the play-off final, in Cardiff, which we subsequently won. And the last time we returned from South Wales, we had been promoted thanks to a pulsating 2-2 draw at the Liberty Stadium which saw certain members of the All At Sea team knocked back several bottles of champers on the First Great Western service back to London.
One of the few highlights of that subsequent Championship season was a cracking 1-0 win at Ninian Park in January 2007, and that was probably a good place to leave our affinity with Wales and we’ve only actually been back once a forgettable defeat at the Liberty in December that year, notably only for its peskiness in spoiling this introduction. Let’s forget it ever happened – yes, Southend tend to enjoy their trips to the valleys.
Now Cardiff and Swansea have shot up the leagues, we’re very much back where we started and have a new destination… Newport County, who went bust and then rose phoenix-like from the ashes. Southend fans of a certain vintage will remember some memorable battles in the land of the Druids, both on and off the pitch.
Indeed, the city’s Wikitravel article does not paint Newport in a particularly good light, proclaiming “Newport is without doubt the roughest city in Wales, but remember we only have six!” Anyone who has been to away games at Cardiff and Swansea in the past will know the drill, no loud comments in English accents and no slagging off of rugby or Charlotte Church should see you right.
Somerton Park has been consigned to history and now the city’s football team play at Rodney Parade, which is predominantly a rugby ground but is very handily placed just over the River Usk from the station and city centre.
Train travellers who have not secured advance ticket prices (the cost was as low as £40 from Essex) will pay £65 for a return from London Paddington. Trains leave at 9am, 9.45am, 10am, 10.15am, 10.45am and 11am (gets in at 1417). On the way home, the 1745 will get you back to London at 2036.
Travelzone and the Shrimpers Trust are running coaches, check out their websites for availability.
Alternatively, if driving to Rodney Parade, there is some street parking around the ground but residents’ permit restrictions are in place in certain areas, so keep an eye out to ensure you don’t end up paying more than you bargained for. The recommends using the Kingsway Shopping Centre car park, a short walk over the bridge, which costs £2 for five hours.
Away fans are advised to ignore signs for the visitors’ turnstiles, as these apparently only apply to the rugby club. To avoid confusion, look for the blue posts along Corporation Road – this marks out an alley from which the away fans gain entrance. Shrimpers’ supporters will be housed in two areas, the Bisley Stand, which is covered, new and runs alongside the pitch, and an area of uncovered seating behind the goal. Weather forecast is dry – as of Wednesday – but quite frankly I wouldn’t risk it. The Bisley Stand is home to a rather plush away fans’ bar, with Sky Sports. Fans must be out by 2.50pm though.
Tickets for the Bisley Stand are £20 on the day, £18 if you can get yourself down to Roots Hall by tomorrow, and being a new stand the view and facilities are good. Students and senior citizens pay £16 on the day (£14 in advance), Under-16s pay £9 and under-12s £6. You can knock a quid or two off these prices if you want to be a billy no mates and brave the elements behind the goal (the Synter End).
Drinking away from the ground is very much hit and miss in Newport. You won’t want for cheap booze and grub – there are four Wetherspoons’ outlets – two extremely close to the station and a ten-minute walk from the ground. Spoons is currently in the midst of a real ale festival so looks an ideal choice. If you want to watch the early kick off between Palace and Arsenal, The Lamb on Cambrian Road is likely to be showing it and, nearer the ground, The Dodger, on Chepstow Road, also has BT Sport. If you are looking for quality ale, look no further than the Ye Olde Murenger House, along the High Street, which is rated extremely highly. The Pen and Wig, on Stow Hill, also has three or four ales on. It must be said however, that Newport has more than its fair share of utter crapholes, so be wary of which pub you choose.

Friday fever as Fleetwood are toppled

19 Oct

Ryan Cresswell finished on the losing side during his return to Roots Hall.

Ryan Cresswell finished on the losing side during his return to Roots Hall.

FOR the first time in ten months, Southend finally enjoyed a good Friday feeling as Barry Corr’s double saw off big-spenders Fleetwood Town.
Corr bundled home his first goal since early August from Kevan Hurst’s deep cross on 21 minutes and then added a second from the spot to calm Shrimpers’ fans nerves with nine minutes left.
Much of the pre-match talk had surrounded ex-Shrimper Ryan Cresswell as he revealed off-pitch problems had let to him seeking a move away from Roots Hall.
But any negative vibes at Roots Hall were quickly erased by a superb team performance to overcome a strong Fleetwood side, who could afford the luxury of leaving £450,000 signing Jamille Matt on the bench.
Lone striker David Ball was the main threat to Southend as the visitors sought an early goal. Twice, the ex-Peterborough striker warmed the hands of Daniel Bentley in the opening 20 minutes.
However, with Kevan Hurst in the team, Barry Corr’s goal drought was always likely to end soon. After a right wing corner was cleared unconvincingly by Junior Brown, Hurst sent the ball back in with interest, and Corr was at the far post to outmuscle his marker and bundle the ball in with his midriff.
It was the early goal Southend needed to settle the nerves after four Roots Hall matches without a victory. The midfield trio of Leonard, Atkinson and Clifford worked tirelessly to press their opponents into conceding possession and after a mad first twently minutes when Mark Phillips seemed to find a red shirt with every pass, he and Robbie Kiernan defended manfully.
However, Bentley had the frame of the goal to thank to keep his sheet clean. Sarcevic’s free kick had the youngster well-beaten, but his curling effort bounced back off the upright. Conor Clifford had put the slightest of deflections onto the shot which probably saved his side.
Clifford himself had a dipping free kick bother Scott Davies, but the ball landed on the roof of the net.
The best chance Fleetwood had fell when Blues were caught by a swift counter attack, and Antoni Sarcevic smashed an angled drive at Bentley and then saw a follow-up blocked.
The second half began with visitors’ winger Ryan Crowther sending a fizzing drive just wide of the post, but Southend were also unlucky when Ben Coker’s dangerous, inswinging free kick from the right channel had to be pushed out by the alert Davies.
Corr then headed off target at the far post when he should have done better, and the visitors brought on Jon Parkin and Jamille Matt to try and create an aerial threat.
Southend though stood firm, and despite the visitors’ enjoying plenty of possession, Daniel Bentley did not have to make a save.
With 81 minutes gone, Will Atkinson’s surging run into the box was needlessly ended by Jeff Hughes, whose trip was correctly punished by the referee. Barry Corr shook off the attentions of Conor Clifford to claim the right to take it, and sent the ball high into Davies’ right-hand corner.
Clifford could have made it three two minutes later when he found space on the edge of the box, but his low drive struck the outside of the post.
In the end it was a comfortable last few minutes for Southend, whose determination and work rate had nullified their high-flying opponents. Ryan Cresswell stayed behind to clap all four sides of the ground, but the big number 16 cut a pleasingly disconsolate figure as the home fans celebrated a rare home success.

Issue 44 on sale now!

3 Sep

Issue 44SO not much has happened since we last brought out an issue in mid-March. Just the sacking of a manager, the appointment of a new one, Wembley cup final heartache, Jeremy Kyle giving team talks, the departure of several key players, transfer embargoes, unpaid tax debts, and some football matches as well.
As you can imagine, there’s plenty to mull over in our bargain £1 fanzine for September, and yes, the summer survey results are in? Remember that very long questionnaire you filled in back in June? We analyse the results and there’s some interesting findings. As you can imagine, not many people think this stadium move is going to come off anytime soon (12.3 per cent) and everyone still hates Col Ewe.
Aside from that, we’ll hear how Piers Hewitt persuaded his long-suffering wife to build Chesterfield away into their precious week’s holiday, a disillusioned Daddsy’s view of how Southend United is slipping away from his life, plus we exclusively reveal how the Hamsters’ move to the Olympic Stadium could end in disaster.
There’s plenty for nostalgia fans to get their teeth into as Newport’s promotion prompts Pete Baker to look back through the archives for previous visits to the Valleys, while James Welham takes joy in discovering his Pro Set card collection in his mum’s loft.
Back to the present day, we evaluate Phil Brown’s new-look squad and the man himself, and we also feature his and Steve Kavanagh’s best quotes from an intriguing question and answer session with the Shrimpers Trust on Monday night. Including the embargo question, which got SK a little grumpy to say the least.
It has to be said, what more do you want for £1? It will be on sale for the Morecambe game outside the club shop and in Shakespeare Drive. Or why not save yourself the trouble and get it sent out to you as soon as it comes back from the printers? Visit our online shop at

Shrimpers move for Fulham’s Cauley Woodrow

3 Sep

SOUTHEND boss Phil Brown moved one in and one out on the final day of the transfer window, releasing Don Cowan and bringing in Fulham’s starlet Cauley Woodrow on a one-month youth loan, which can be extended.
Woodrow signed for the Cottagers in 2010 for a substantial six-figure sum from Luton Town having been released by Spurs as a boy.
Described as a player in the mould of Teddy Sheringham, the tall striker is yet to make a first-team appearance but is highly rated at Craven Cottage.
Speaking at last night’s q&a with the Shrimpers Trust, Brown said he was impressed by Woodrow whilst watching a development match between Manchester City and Fulham, where he had initially gone to scout Cottagers’ midfielder Ronny Minkwitz.
But Woodrow stood out and, after consultation with chief scout Bob Shaw, Brown decided to invite him along for training before swooping for a loan deal yesterday having moved out Don Cowan.

Barry Corr’s red card against Hartlepool is overturned

13 Aug

THE red card given to Barry Corr during Saturday’s 1-0 win at Hartlepool has been correctly overturned.
He will now be available to face Northampton, Chesterfield and Wycombe as the Shrimpers look to build on their 100 per cent start to the League Two season.

Southend United appeal Barry Corr’s red card

12 Aug

Barry Corr was sent off at Hartlepool at the weekend.

Barry Corr was sent off at Hartlepool at the weekend.

PHIL Brown has confirmed the club have appealed to have Barry Corr’s absurd red card from the weekend’s clash with Hartlepool overturned.
The Southend number 10 was adjudged to have kicked out at Pools defender Jack Baldwin, when video footage clearly shows the alleged misdemeanour was simply a tangle of legs with both players’ eyes on the ball.
The referee is believed to have sent Corr off on the advice of his linesman, and if the appeal is not successful, the Irishman will miss tough games with Northampton, Chesterfield and Wycombe.
The decision on whether to uphold the appeal is likely to be made by tomorrow afternoon.

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.