Unfortunately Martin will be unable to write the blog for a while. We hope you will enjoy the guest blog that follows
Many football fans find themselves supporting their club through two very traditional methods of selection, fathers team or local team, (more often than not I would imagine both). My route was a little more complicated. Born in Hadleigh, the Essex version with the castle not Suffolk, my local team was Southend United. (There are many pronouncations of Southend but the correct way is Saufen-mate always said with an Eastenders accent.)
My dad though was a season ticket holder at Stamford Bridge, originally coming from Battersea in South London. Back in the late 70’s Chelsea were, of course, a different animal to todays club and you couldn’t really take a 10 year old there.
This was a time when Southend played at home on Friday nights as many fans also followed West Ham on a Saturday, (many of you will remember Colchester United and Tranmere Rovers did the same, with their fans also supporting Ipswich Town and Everton or Liverpool). So my first games were at Roots Hall with my dad in the old Fourth Division. My love affair with football had begun. My two best friends Mark and Phil also watched Southend United, but also followed a big team. Mark was a Leeds United fan, to the best of my knowledge he did this purely as a glory hunter. Phil was and still is a fan of West Ham United and indeed now takes his grown up son Luke to games. I went with both of them to Upton Park to see West Ham beat Leeds in a 4-3 thriller. The crowd and atmosphere was so much larger and noisier than at Roots Hall. It was a baking day and I’m sure I remember Mark nearly passed out on the packed terrace. I enjoyed it but my mum presumed I had become a Hammer and promptly purchased me a pink and turquoise replica shirt. Back then Southend United did not produce such things.
So by the time I reached 14 years of age, I had wanted to go with my dad and watch Chelsea but couldn’t, had started watching Southend United but wore, very reluctantly, a West Ham shirt for a season.
I soon developed a dislike for the Hammers and their disgusting kit and settled down to following Southend United home and away until 1996. I was lucky to be supporting them during the most successful period in their history. I remember them beating Newcastle United 4-0 on New Years Day to go top of what is now the Championship, then later that season beating West Ham United 1-0.
My best memory though was a couple of seasons later when Southend United were away to Fiorentina in the Anglo-Italian Cup. 200 fans flew out on the day and me and my mates were in a bar in Florence drinking in the afternoon. The bar area had scarves from so many of the big teams the Viola has played over the years left by opposing teams supporters. The owner offered to give us a round of drinks in exchange for my scarf. What happened next was surreal. Ipswich Town have Ed Sheeran, Southend United back then had Alison Moyet (she used to stand just behind us). Alison rocked up into our bar and the owner recognised her, ‘if she sings, the food is on the house’. So I ended up being a backing singer for Yazoo in Italy! The game by the way was settled by a twenty minute first half hat trick by none other than Gabriel Batistuta!
During the 1995/96 season I took my girlfriend at the time to a game against Stoke City as I remember. At half time an over zealous steward pushed her and she was covered in scalding hot chocolate. I reacted very badly and was literally thrown out of ground by four thug stewards and my love affair with my home town club was over.
I spent the next three seasons following England, at the same time I had moved up to Colchester through work. I missed club football so much. I’d caused such a stink at the club over how I had been treated that I was told I was no longer welcome there. I found my love of Southend United turn to hatred in the same way it easily can with an ex. I couldn’t follow Colchester United on principal so found myself ground hopping to random matches. Without the passion and caring about the result I soon found games uninteresting.
I needed to find a new love. Just as in human relationships, on occasions you find your perfect partner by accident. Many of my customers followed Ipswich Town and I remembered their great Bobby Robson team well. I was invited to the Fulham game when Martyn Reuser debuted. I enjoyed the game, the passion of those around me. I knew that day Ipswich Town was who I was going to support and fell in love again.
My first away match was Bolton 2-2 in the First leg of the Play Off Semi Final. What a match! I couldn’t get a ticket for the 5-3 but did go to Wembley. From there onwards I’ve had season ticket and been to most away games up until two seasons ago, when I could not cope with the McCarthy brand of the beautiful game anymore. My season ticket has returned this year and I will support the Blues in every game home and away
So that explains how and why drove to Bolton on Saturday August 24th 2019.
ALLEZ LES BLEUS!