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Opposition Profile: Southend United

19 June 2017

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A new feature where we take a closer look at who Rovers will face in League One next season.

Southend United

Founded: 1906
Nickname: The Shrimpers

Founded in 1906, Southend United began life in the Southern League until they became a co-founder of the newly-formed Third Division in 1920; they finished 17th in its first season. The following year saw the regionalisation of the Third Division with the Shrimpers joining the Southern section, a league they would remain in until it was renationalised 1958. Their highest league finishes during that period came in 1932 and 1950, both times missing out on promotion in 3rd place. They were to be United’s highest league positions until 1991.

As many across the country celebrated England’s World Cup glory in 1966, the year would prove to be bittersweet for Southend as they were relegated for the first time in their history, into the Fourth Division. It was 6 years until the Shrimpers experienced promotion for the first time as they returned to the third tier, finishing runners-up behind Grimsby Town.

The Essex side would find themselves back in Division Four following relegation in 1976 but bounced back via another runner-up finish in 1978. Another relegation followed in 1980 before a record-breaking season saw Southend claim their first Championship in 1981, capturing the Fourth Divison title and breaking a series of club records in the process.

A turbulent period off the pitch followed with attendances dwindling and club finances strained. World Cup winner Bobby Moore was unable to turn the clubs fortunes around on the pitch and the Shrimpers were relegated to the Fourth Division once more in 1984.

Another promotion and relegation followed before two successive promotions in 1990 and 1991 saw them promoted to the second tier for the first time in their history. In 1992 Southend finished 12th to record their highest-ever league finished to date.

The Shrimpers dropped out of Division One in 1996. Former West Ham defender Alvin Martin took the reins at Roots Hall; however, he was unable to prevent a second consecutive relegation for United.

Southend reached their first national cup final in 2004 when they met Blackpool in the final of the LDV Vans Trophy at the Millenium Stadium. The Tangerines came out on top on the day winning 2-0. They would make the final once more the following year, but once again lost out 2-0, this time to Wrexham.

A third appearance in two seasons at the Millennium stadium followed just a couple of month later, this time the Shrimpers would taste success and claim their first silverware since 1981, as they won the League 2 play-off final against Lincoln City thanks to goals from Freddie Eastwood and Duncan Jupp.

2006 would prove to be a memorable year for Southend as they won promotion back to the second tier of English football. Despite failing to consolidate their place in the league, it was in cup competition where the highlight of the Shrimpers season would come. Freddie Eastwood’s memorable free-kick knocked the Premier League champions and defending cup holders Manchester United out of the League Cup.

Since relegation from the Championship in 2007, Southend were relegated to League 2 in 2012 before returning to League One in 2015.

The Manager:

Former Hartlepool United, Halifax Town, Bolton Wanderers and Blackpool right-back Phil Brown has been in charge of the Shrimpers since 2013. Guiding them back to League One during his 4-year tenure.

After taking his coaching badges whilst a player at Bolton, Brown’s coaching career began as assistant to former Rovers boss Sam Allardyce at Blackpool. He returned to Bolton Wanderers after his playing career ended and served as assistant manager to Colin Todd, and even took charge of the Trotters in 1999 as caretaker, until the appointment of Allardyce saw the duo reunited.

After 6 years as Big Sam’s assistant, the South Shields native decided to forge his own career as number one and took the vacant managerial position at Derby County. Following an unsuccessful 7 months, Brown had soon parted company with the Rams and returned to a backroom role at Hull City under Phil Parkinson.

He guided Hull City to safety during a stint as caretaker following the sacking of Parkinson and led the Tigers to the Premier League for the first time in the club’s history after his full-time appointment.

Hull City consolidated their place in the Premier League that season and Brown memorably sang to a packed KC Stadium following survival. However, he and the Tigers would not be singing the same tune the following season as Brown departed and the Humberside club were subsequently relegated from the top tier.

A return to Lancashire followed. He took the helm at Preston North End but was unable to save them from relegation. He left the Lillywhites after a poor run of form the following season in League One.

In 2013, Southend United appointed Brown 24 hours after the dismissal of Paul Sturrock, despite his predecessor guiding his side to the Football League Trophy final, which they eventually lost 2-0 to Crewe Alexandra under Brown’s stewardship.

Two successive play-off appearances followed, seeing the Shrimpers promoted to League One in May 2015.

The Ground:

Southend United’s current home is Roots Hall, where they are enjoying their second occupancy of the site.

The site now occupied by Roots Hall is where the Shrimpers had originally played their home games on their formation in 1906. Upon the outbreak of the First World War the area was designated for storage and United were forced out.

After the war the club elected to move to the Kursaal, an amusement park in Southend-on-Sea. The Essex side spent almost two decades at the Southend Stadium, home to a greyhound track, before returning to the Roots Hall site in 1955.

Roots Hall has a current capacity of 12,932 but its record attendance came before the necessity for seated stands in 1979, as 31,033 fans flocked to watch Southend face Liverpool in the FA Cup.

Last Season:

Last season ended in heartache for the Shrimpers as they missed out on a play-off place on the final day of the season.

After a disappointing start to the campaign, a run of 13 games without defeat from the 15th October until the start of the New Year catapulted Brown’s men up the table and into a play-off place.

Just four defeats out of their next 15 games consolidated their place before just two victories in six games saw the Shrimpers miss out on a play-off spot to Millwall by just one point, despite beating Bury (1-0) on the final day.

Last Meeting:

The last meeting between the two sides was in a Division Two fixture during the 1991-92 season, as Rovers clinched promotion to the newly-formed Premier League.

However, the encounter came during a baron run for Kenny Dalglish’s side as Rovers enjoyed just one victory out of twelve league games.

Rovers made some amends for a comprehensive 3-0 defeat at Roots Hall earlier in the season with a 2-2 draw at Ewood Park. Goals from Chris Price and David Speedie for the home side responded to Andy Ansah and Brett Angel’s goals for the Essex visitors.

Don't forget, there's just two days to go until the 2017-18 EFL fixtures are released – at 9am on Wednesday morning.

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