In 2015 I totted up the number of grounds I had visited and hatched a plan with my son Jim to visit those left to achieve the holy grail for all football fans, namely visiting all (then) current 92 league grounds. I completed this in April 2016 with a party up at Blackpool and used that ambition to achieve another, namely to write a book. ‘Roots To The 92’ has since clocked up over 2,000 sales and I use it now to raise funds for various causes.
Marketing that book has changed completely my football-watching experience as I have met so many people through it and got involved in many new initiatives, one of which led me to joining the Shrimpers Trust Board in 2017. Whilst at Blackpool I met one of my footballing heroes, Derek Spence (who I had helped to chair off the pitch in our promotion-clinching win at Torquay in 1981) – we got on so well, and Derek agreed to write the Foreword to my book (I subsequently helped him to publish his own autobiography). I then arranged for Derek to come back to Roots Hall as a club guest which he did at the end of the 2016/17 season with his old strike-partner Keith Mercer. We got talking about old team-mates, one of whom. Alan Moody, I had recently learned had to go through a life-changing operation to save his life I then got in touch with the club about running a tribute campaign for Alan and in September 2017, working with the Shrimpers Trust we held a series of ‘Moody Blues’ events which resulted in over £11,500 being raised to help buy Alan a specially adapted car to meet his new needs.
We then arranged for Alan to return to Roots Hall, organised for many of his old team-mates and friends to be there, and the event went so well we thought it would be a good idea to do more and so in January 2018 The Shrimpers Trust formed SUEPA.
It has since gone from strength to strength and as of 1 May 2023 has 451 current ex-player/coaching staff members making it quite possibly the largest former players group in the world. SUEPA not only re-connects former players with each other, the club and the fans, but also does community work, raises money for charity, helps former players in need, and is a great way of engaging fans with the club’s past to create new memories.
Quite simply, SUEPA is a joy and a passion, and I have ambitions to take it further via the Professional Footballers Association and the setting up of a national forum.
I truly believe that SUEPA is a huge club asset and that it is something that the club should cherish.
First Game Attended: 26 March 1971 v Notts County.
Most Memorable Game: 8 May 2006 v Bristol City.
Favourite Player(s): Dave Worthington.
Where I sit at Roots Hall: East Stand.
Match Attendance History: Living in Dorset for the last three years I now attend approx. 20 games a season (home and away), but before the held a season ticket for many seasons attending with my eldest son Jim. My first season ticket was back in 1977/78. I moved away from the Southend area in 1978, since then living in Chelmsford, Plymouth, Bristol, Colchester, Ipswich and now Swanage. Throughout that time I have regularly watched the Shrimpers home and away, my attendance fluctuating with the usual demands of work and family life as well as location. I suspect that, overall, by now I must have been to around 1,000 Southend United matches. My earliest memory is of the flared trousered pitch invasion by Southend and Aston Villa fans in the FA Cup tie back in November 1971.
An interesting fact about me is: I was the tallest Little Chef chef in 1979.