Southend Utd 0-1 Swindon Town: Return to shrimpers

After a teenage trip to legendary TOTs nightclub, renowned Swindon hedonist, Wild Al has always been keen to return to Southend. His wish was realised as Town travelled to Roots Hall. Though this time a skilful French man, rather than an Essex girl with a feather boa and dubious personal morals, stole his heart.

A trip to the seaside in stifling August heat seemed fitting for this new look Swindon side. So far this term, Town have about as been as solid a candy floss at the back, while attacking with the carefree lusty gusto of honeymooners promenading down Southend peer, Europe’s longest, in days gone by

A goal fest in the summer sun was expected. It didn’t quite turn out like that…

Town travelled in vocal numbers, though unlike the banter brigade in the front of the home stand, the Wiltshire contingent largely kept their clothes on. I was an obvious exception.

To the match. Nathan Thompson had clearly heard that Southend Carnival was set to swing into action later than evening. Keen to grab himself prime position and get stuck into the Red Stripe before it ran dry, he conspired to get himself ‘injured’ early doors.

Of course, he could’ve actually hurt himself. That outcome is probably less likely to incur a financially punitive managerial wrath, though it will mean a spell on the side lines for the Captain. So I’m not sure what’s preferable to be honest.

The resulting reshuffle saw Jordan Williams deployed as centre back, replaced in the middle of the park by substitute Drissa Traore. The Ivorian was soon playing the wing man who occupies the ugly mates, to Kasim’s swashbuckling swordsman on the prowl. Basically, he did the necessary dirty work well.

Meanwhile Raphael Rossi-Branco was moved to right back. And though I had, I think we’ve all realised by now, been drinking heavily, he appeared to blossom in the role. At one point he even looked like he might attempt a cross into ‘the mixer’, but like a liver spotted local about to dump his weekly pension into a two penny push machine, in a seaside arcade, he thought better of it. And opted to pass.

Truth be told, the first half offered little in the way of entertainment, and I found my mind wandering, pondering the home sides nickname, ‘The Shrimpers’. Why would they call them shrimps not prawns?

I’d always thought the former was an Aussie affectation, the sort of thing the delectable Beth Brennan may have suggested Brad Willis ‘throw on’ a sexually charged, yet still pre watershed friendly, Ramsay Street ‘barbie’

Ah Beth, as a boy I dreamed when I grew up she’d be my eternal plus one. And if Ms Imbruglia is reading, the offer still stands. Though can you let me know quick? As mum is hankering after my spare guest list for DJ Trevs ‘Foam and Fingering’ party in Wroughton on Bank Holiday Monday.

And so to the second half. Town took the lead on 53 minutes, after an otherwise quiet Nathan Byrne, played a delightful through ball for Fabien Robert to grab his third in as many games. The free-scoring Frenchman was soon serenaded from the away end, with an adapted Bon Jovi number ‘Woooh, we’re half way there, wooooh Fabien Robert!”

The travelling hoards were also spurred into song on the 86th minute, when, despite sustained Southend pressure, the lead was intact, and Miles Storey was sent into the fray. This, the most unlikely come back since 5ive performed as a 4our, sparked delight that teetered on delirium, among some sections of the travelling support.

Now I’m not one to talk about others dining out on past glories. After all I spent the entire train trip to Essex reminiscing, in lurid detail, about the time I snogged a girl who looked a bit like Claire from Steps (during the cake years) back in 2003.

But, though he didn’t really put a foot wrong, Miles’s brief cameo did nothing to suggest that those two goals against Villa will remain the only epitaph to his Swindon career.

A late Southend onslaught, and over nine minutes of added time, were not enough to salvage a point for the home side. Town escaped with a welcome, if not altogether deserved, three points.

And the home side were left to wonder where it all went wrong. Like an aging crooner, indefinitely occupying an off season seaside hotel room, staring in the mirror as he endlessly applies fake tan, in the mistaken belief that he can cover the cracks, and recapture past stolen glories, before the curtain falls on his career. But that’s enough about Phil Brown’s domestic arrangements.


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