A downbeat Gregg Davies recalls an eventful weekend watching his beloved Bulls...
Saturday meant Southend and a trip to report on Hereford as the quest continued for a first point on their League 1 travels.It was my first visit to the snug surroundings of Roots Hall, and a welcome change to a similar trip little more than two years ago to watch the Bulls play, not the Shrimpers, but Conference outfit Canvey Island. Compared to that, third-tier status is veritable nosebleed territory.
Roots Hall: One of a dying breed of 'proper' grounds
All appeared fine and dandy en route to the seaside, with the added bonus of an entertaining taxi ride from train station to ground, as the Spurs-supporting cabbie mixed radio commentary on Liverpool-Man United with a verbal tongue-lashing on the transfers of Robbie Keane and, in particular, Dimitar Berbatov. And, of course, how he would have conducted himself had he found himself in similar shoes considering that once upon a time he had been a Ã¢ÂÂpretty decent footballer, IaÃ¢ÂÂll have you know.Ã¢ÂÂ But that chat was as enjoyable as my afternoon was going to get, as I soon discovered. Queuing for tickets to the press area, I was met with a peremptory Ã¢ÂÂDavies? Never heard of you.Ã¢ÂÂ Ah.Several phone calls and the flashing of an out-of-date press card later, I appeared to have convinced the Southend hierarchy that I wasnÃ¢ÂÂt some chancer hoping to catch a League 1 basement encounter on a freebie. But having cleared the first hurdle, I went crashing into the second. Ã¢ÂÂTrouble is mate, youÃ¢ÂÂre not allowed to wear jeans in the press box, itÃ¢ÂÂs strictly trousers and shoes only.Ã¢ÂÂ Oh. A faux pas on my part, admittedly, although I felt a little hard done by that my black-as-the-night jeans had failed to pass muster. ThatÃ¢ÂÂll learn me.
"You ain't coming in here wearing those..."
I wasnÃ¢ÂÂt expecting what followed, though. Ã¢ÂÂWe can lend you some black trousers, if youÃ¢ÂÂd like,Ã¢ÂÂ came the generous offer from the man IÃ¢ÂÂd just met. And in no time at all I found myself being led into a small, unoccupied room being asked to remove my trousers, whilst wondering just how often journalists turn up at Roots Hall donning the wrong type of leg-wear, and whether the Shrimpers have a cupboard specifically reserved for such occurrences, possibly named Ã¢ÂÂHacksÃ¢ÂÂ SlacksÃ¢ÂÂ.Still, IÃ¢ÂÂm anything but ungrateful for SouthendÃ¢ÂÂs handling of the affair. Another club may well have just turned round and said: Ã¢ÂÂYou ainÃ¢ÂÂt on the list, pal, so hop it.Ã¢ÂÂ As for the game itself, following the difficulties I encountered just getting into the ground, defeat for the visitors seemed merely a foregone conclusion. And so it proved, Lee BarnardÃ¢ÂÂs strike on the half-hour proving the difference between two unspectacular sides.
Barnard: On target
SouthendÃ¢ÂÂs struggles wonÃ¢ÂÂt last too long, with newly-acquired Ã¢ÂÂexperienced veteranÃ¢ÂÂ Dougie Freedman likely to prove a handful for any League 1 defence, as high-flying Carlisle recently found out. In contrast, HerefordÃ¢ÂÂs pleasing passing between the areas failed to work the goalkeeper enough Ã¢ÂÂ a recurring theme so far this season.So, thatÃ¢ÂÂs four defeats out of four for the Bulls in front of your intrepid trouser-free reporter. And itÃ¢ÂÂs a trip to Elland Road next. Should I have taken the hint yet?