Next Game: Slough Town at Home on Saturday 19th August at 3pm

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Roots To The 92


A new book entitled Roots To The 92 has recently been published. Written by Andrew Leeder, it's all about ground-hopping. 

He told BN how he came to write the book.
I first got interested in football just before the 1970 FA Cup final. I was then aged seven, and at school one day the local bully was doing his rounds of the playground asking whether you supported Chelsea or Leeds. When he found me I was clued up to what he was doing and answered "Chelsea" - satisfied with this response he moved on, inflicting a chinese burn on anyone who foolishly answered "Leeds". But this sparked a hitherto untapped interest - eager to find out more my bedroom wall was soon covered with pictures of the Chelsea squad.

Recognising this new hobby, the following season my Dad decided it was time to take me to a match. However, he decided that my introduction should take place at local Roots Hall, the home of Southend United, rather than at the more glamourous Stamford Bridge. But once in I was hooked and it has been that way ever since.

My footie traveling really took off when I was at university in Plymouth in the early 80's. It was at this time that I made what is still to date my only visit to Edgar Street. It was an occasion I would never forget, but not for the sublime football on offer. Indeed, many years later when BBC 5 Live ran a competition asking for FA Cup football stories of no longer than 300 words I decided to enter with an overview of my trip to Hereford. It went as follows:

‘A Southend fan washed up in Plymouth in 1981, our ball had come out of the hat after Hereford’s. So off I went to Edgar Street, once host to a glorious 70’s FA Cup parka pitch invasion, for a nice relaxing day trip and the start of our annual forlorn assault on Wembley. I left my digs at 6.30 am for the seven mile cycle ride to the train station. One mile in I had a puncture, ran back home to dump the bike, and then hitched a lift to Plymouth centre. Train caught just in time, three changes and five hours later I was in Hereford. We lost 3-1. About turn for the train ride back, but British Rail was in meltdown. Changes this time had to be made at Newport, Bristol Parkway, Bristol Temple Meads, Taunton, Exeter St David’s and Newton Abbot, arriving back in Plymouth around 1.00 am. It was peeing down (I mean, really peeing down, Plymouth style), the last bus had gone, no stranger wanted to give a drenched inadequately clothed young adult a lift, and so I walked. An hour or so later, about one mile away from the end, a cop car pulled up and asked where I had been. I told them my story and submitted a soggy programme as Exhibit A. They took the piss, told me that they were on the look-out for a peeping tom but believed my unique alibi and desire just to get home rather than peep at Tom or anyone, declined to give me a lift up the steep hill before me, suggested I support a better team, and sped off laughing. I eventually got back some 20 hours after leaving. Never mind, there’s always next year I thought.’
 
At the time Edgar Street was early on in my 92 quest and it took me a just over a further three decades to get there, completing it all at Bloomfield Road in April 2016. Towards the end of completing the 92 I had decided to tick another one off the bucket list and write a book, and opted to make the 92 my subject. Now published, it is something I am very proud of - it is not a series of match reports, I think that would be a bit dull. Instead it is a tale of what it was like to be there, written in a dry humour fashion which I hope will entertain the football fan whoever they support. It is certainly not a Southend-centric book - much of my ground-hopping was undertaken with fans of other teams.

The book can be purchased from Amazon (in paperback or kindle format) or from the publisher Completely Novel (paperback only) - just type 'Roots To The 92' in to the site search box. Alternatively I have set up a website - www.rootstothe92.co.uk - where you can learn more about the book, see a video picture montage, and access the 'buy' links.