Southend United 2-1 Sunderland
“Lads I’m having a quiet one”, was the cry the night before. “I’m on the half 5 train to London in the morning, so I don’t want to sleep in”. Fast forward to 5:23am the next day, as I awake in a blur of panic, and 72 missed calls from amused, and quite annoyed friends. “Fucked it haven’t I? Unless I can get from Sunderland to Newcastle Central Station in seven minutes?”
I couldn’t. BUT, there is always the Grand Central from Sunderland with their trusty walk on fares. What’s that?! Your mate has a free ticket, and its in first class? Well, I’m glad I slept in now. So there I am, on the 6:30 departure from Sunderland’s magnificent Railway Station, a lukewarm filter coffee and a mini packet of sour cream pretzels in hand – what a time to be alive.
So – London. And a thoroughly deserved chorus of piss taking greeted me as we had a pint, and bought cans, from Liverpool Street Station. Fairly uneventful to be fair, the journey to Southend, though I was blown away by some incredible Art Deco houses and wanted to buy one immediately. I’d sorted the hotel – next to the airport, obviously, and it happened to be the same one the Sunderland team had stayed in the previous night (judging by the performance we will come to later, they’d not had rooms, they’d just slept in the bar).
Anyway, bags slung in the room and a taxi to the greatest pub in Southend, the Blue Boar. 12:30, early kick off on telly. Of course our game wasn’t til 5:30 so, “let’s go carefully lads”. Or not. Pints came and went, And of course I was completely mortal at about 4pm. The afternoon involved a conversation with Max Power’s dad about how great I thought he was, so I’m sure he thought I was perfectly normal. I had been in the Blue Boar for what felt like, all of my life. The ground was about 5 minutes away, so we walked in and dear me, what a mess.
I loved Roots Hall, it’s great. However the performance was woeful and I have a habit of missing away goals. Once missing all four of Sunderland’s goals away at Crystal Palace, this one wasn’t white so bad but I missed the Southend opener - however I remained unaware of this. No phone reception, or the ability to really speak properly meant I thought it was 0-0, and when Chris Maguire tucked “the opener” away, I was confused as to why no one cared. Well anyway, I’m an idiot and Southend “equalised” (won) in the last minute and I trudged off home. I say home, I mean of course the Blue Boar.
We had thousands more pints, watched Newcastle lose to Liverpool (I think), and eventually I had to admit defeat and head to the lovely hotel by the runway of the airport. Via McDonald’s, which I woke with most of attached to the side of my face. The hangover from hell, and the 7AM TRAIN awaited me the next day. Somehow I didn’t sleep in, but I wish I had. Two trains and 6 hours later I arrived in Sunderland for the biggest of menders.
We’d planned to go back to Southend this year, and we thought the collapse of FlyBe was the biggest obstacle to us getting there as for some reason we wanted to fly. Anyway, erm, it wasn’t the biggest obstacle. The pesky virus meant the game didn’t even happen and then Southend got themselves relegated. So, I’m very much looking forward to our League Two clash in 2022.
I still to this day don’t know how I slept in. Funny though.