Sport in Southend



Southend is a city that loves its football, and there are no less than two football teams in town - Southend United and Southend Manor. Southend United is a bona fide division league team while Southend Manor competes in the Essex Senior League.

With its home games played at the 12,000-plus capacity Roots Hall Stadium in Prittlewell, Southend United is certainly has a huge following, despite the fact that they were recently relegated to Football League One after competing in Football League Championship, the second highest division in English football. They were promoted to Football League Championship after emerging as champions of Football League One at the end of the 2005-06 season.

Southend United traces its roots back to 1906, when the team was formed to compete in the Southern League. They stayed there until 1920 when they became one of the founders of the newly developed Third Division of the Football League. The team would stay in the southern section of the Third Division until 1958 when the league was re-structured. In that span, Southern United nearly attained promotion on two occasions -- in 1932 and 1950, when they placed third both times.

Southend United played in the new Third division from 1958 to 1966 when they were relegated to the Fourth Division. They stayed there until 1972 when they were promoted back to the Third Division after finished second to Grimsby Town. It was the first promotion in their history. However, in 1976, the team was relegated once again before winning promotion anew by virtue of a second place finish to Watford in 1978.

The same trend would repeat itself with relegation in 1980 and promotion in 1981 when Southend captured the Fourth Division Championship to cap one of their most successful seasons in history wherein they broke a number of club records.

The team would experience a series of up-and-down years until they attained successive promotions in 1990 and 1991 to reach full membership in the Football League for the first time ever. This was followed by their best-ever finish (12th place) in the Second Division in 1992. 

Unfortunately, the late-nineties saw the team relegated twice and sent back to the basement league. There, the team would languish until 2003 when former player Steve Tilson would be appointed as manager. Under his guidance, the team would compete for the national cup finals in 2004 to 2006, winning the title in 2006 and earning promotion to the Football League Championship.

Unfortunately, their stay at that level would be short-lived. But with Tilson still at the helm running things, Southend United's fans believe that their future is as bright as ever.

The city's other football team, Southend Manor, actually began as a team of 10 and 11 year old boys in 1955. As the team metamorphosed into a senior team, it would compete and attain great success in the Borough Combination. In 12 years of competing at that level, Southend Manor would win the championship six times and would finish in second place three times.

The team would join the Essex Senior League in 1985. It first participated in the Reserve Division before it met the requirements for senior status in 1988. In only its second season as a full member of the league, Southend Manor would capture the Essex Senior League Division 1 title. They would go on to win the Essex Senior League championship once (1990-91), the Essex Senior League Cup three times (1987-88, 1989-90, 2000-01) and the Essex Senior Trophy once (1992-93). In addition, Southend Manor would also capture the Harry Fisher Memorial Trophy once (1990-91 and 1992-93) and the Eastern Floodlight Competition once (2002-03).

Aside from football, Southend also has a great following in rugby and cricket. There are two rugby clubs in Southend that are known nationally -- Southend RFC and Westcliff RFC. The Southend team is obviously the more accomplished club and the more talented line-up as it competes in National Division Three South. The Westcliff club have more developing youngsters on their team and put a great emphasis on training and fundamentals.

In cricket, the only regular games available are at the local league cricket. Aside from that, games of County Cricket are played for one week during the season at the Essex County Cricket Club. That week is known as a cricket festival and it used to be held at Southchurch Park before the festival changed its venue to a newer facility in Garon Park.

In addition, Southend has long been recognized for the accomplishments of its favourite son, John Lloyd, former British tennis number one. Other prominent sport figures who hail from Southend include football manager Peter Taylor; Michael Ward, founder of Nita Nitros football team; Svend Joscelyne AKA Dreadknux, owner of The Sonic Stadium; and footballer Spencer Prior, who previously suited up for Southend United and Derby County footballer.

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