seaside shuffle

Southend United vs. Spurs  
Pre-season friendly .9.1990

Bad tempered.  Hmmmm. That's the word I was looking for.  I think it describes my evening out on the Essex Riviera.

I had decided to repeat my trip of last season, when Spurs visited Roots Hall in the, then Littlewoods Cup.  That night, I had to walk around the ground to stand among the home fans, owing to there being too many people let in the Spurs end.  All this despite having a ticket !!  While on this trek, I managed to miss the first goal. So, thanks to the bright sparks at the Third Division club, my experience was repeated.  Half an hour waiting to get through only two open turnstiles saw my entry to the ground with 10 minutes of the match gone (even though the kick off had been delayed by a very generous five minutes !!).  In this period, as last term, I missed the match's first goal, only this time it was Spurs who scored and Paul Walsh at that.  I mean, come on Southend, fair's fair.  I might not see another goal from Walshie for months !!  

Anyway, I settled down to watch Spurs take control and despite Southend sporadically breaking towards our penalty area, Bobby Mimms was equal to every effort (Don't be cruel !!).  Paul Allen was using the acres of space on the right, with Gazza controlling Spurs' play from the middle, while Nayim bamboozled the Shrimpers defence on the left laying on chances for Allen and Walsh.  Both these opportunities were narrowly missed, but soon it was 2-0, when Stewart's header from close range was well saved, but he forced the ball (and nearly the keeper) into the net.  He celebrated his goal in front of the fans who had give him a hard time (something he's not unused to) about his sending off in the corresponding game last season. It didn't stop them, but it must have been enjoyable.

Shortly after, Stewart exchanged passes with Vinny, who strode towards the box and from the edge placed a shot precisely to the goalie's right hand stanchion.  It was all Spurs at this stage, with the Essex side scurrying around trying to secure the ball, but a couple of corners wee conceded and from the second, a blue-shirted body hit the floor.  Mr. D. Axcell - one of our favourite refs - pointed to the spot, the penalty was duly converted and then it was time for half-time.

The second half was different altogether, as the seaside team came hell-for-leather at Spurs.  I imagine David Webb must have shown them a video of his most gruesome tackles as they began taking the ball/player/advertising hoarding (delete as appropriate) in their fury.  It took 60 minutes for Pat to introduce his studs to a Southend thigh and Bergsson got involved in a wrestling match.  Both were substituted before they got sent off.  At least we got a sight of some of our promising youngsters before they join the exodus to Norwich.  David Tuttle performed well against some physical forwards; Edinburgh showed a determined tackle and some deft touches against his old mates; Ian Gilzean had a short run-out and showed that with first team experience could be a good squad member; Ian Hendon proved that not all out Youth team model themselves on Sparrow and Peter Garland was a powerful runner who took over form Nayim, after he had been assaulted by an opponent.

With the game more or less won, Spurs turned it on and had further chances through Stewart, Nayim and Lineker (who appeared from the subs bench to delighted pre-pubescent screams, which caused severe hearing loss at high frequencies).  The closing stages saw Mimms come for a cross he had no chance of getting (some things never change), but also make two excellent saves to keep it to just one conceded.  The final goal came when a free-kick out on the right was swung over by Gazza. Stewart darted forward to head it, missed it and the ball flew past the keeper via the shin of a Southend defender.

Not the strongest of foes that the Lilywhites will oppose this season, but a strong performance that cheered me up on a dark September night in Southend.  I hope that the Cup draw doesn't mean a trip to ...

Joe King

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