Southend United are clinging on to their existence

SOUL OF SPORT: Southend United are sticking to their existence after years of mismanagement. Barnet took all three points on Friday night but fans are happy to have just one club to support – KEVIN QUIGLEY captures the mood in pictures

By Kevin Quigley for the Daily Mail

07:00 06 Mar 2023, updated 07:49 06 Mar 2023

  • Each week on a Monday, our Soul of Sport series takes readers behind the scenes at top sporting events
  • Kevin Quigley traveled to south-east Essex on Friday to capture the raw emotions of Southend United fans
  • His photographs give a perfect insight into the love that fans have for their local non-league football teams

Welcome back to the soul of sport. sports mail‘s photographers captured the optimism, passion and eventual heartache of Newcastle fans during their Carabao Cup final defeat by Manchester United last week and have returned to provide behind-the-scenes detail in yet another sporting event.

From the riches of Carabao Cup glory to the rags of financial turmoil in non-league football, sports mail were keen to capture the raw emotions of fans who are on the verge of losing their club.

So for our second installment in the series, KEVIN QUIGLEY traveled to south-east Essex to visit Southend United of the National League, who finally paid their £1.4million debt to HMRC last Tuesday but their long-term future is on a knife edge.

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Several fans feared last month’s clash with Gateshead would be the last game at Roots Hall for Southend, but fans flocked to cheer for their side against Barnet on Friday – and against chairman Ron Martin’s leadership during the 0-1 defeat to protest .

The match was emotional. It showed how much football clubs mean to the fans. This is the soul of the sport.

If you are interested in purchasing Kevin Quigley paintings please email [email protected].

Roots Hall Stadium, home of National League side Southend United, is no more than two miles from the city’s waterfront
Southend Pier is a major attraction for locals and tourists in the city – although it’s much busier in the warm summer months
Very few people roamed the seafront on Friday – instead several locals were looking forward to Southend United’s game against Barnet, despite all the uncertainty currently clinging to the club in Ron Martin’s possession
Fans gather at the Blue Boar Pub and enjoy a drink hours before kick-off, no more than 400 meters from the stadium
Everyone was in high spirits at the local pub before kick-off, hoping to cause an upset against fourth-placed Barnet as Southend themselves remain trapped in an unlikely play-off bid despite unhappiness off the pitch
A Blue Boar fan passionately points to his Southend United badge as a symbol of his support for the non-league club
Other Shrimpers fans eat before the game at The Fish House, a popular diner near Roots Hall Stadium
A sign is now ironically describing an “exciting era” for Southend, left on the edge of a cliff due to financial woes
A group of Southend supporters line up outside the stadium ahead of their club’s National League clash with Barnet
Supporters could buy matchday programming from the stadium for £3, which serves as a crucial income for non-league teams
Several fans took the opportunity to protest mismanagement at Southend and called on owner Martin to leave the club
Southend’s mascot Sammy the Shrimp kept the spirits high by interacting with fans ahead of Friday night’s kick-off
The National League side, ranked eighth in the division, had no shortage of support with over 7,000 fans at Roots Hall
It was a promising first half for the home side and Shrimpers supporters were optimistic they could get a positive result
Burgers, pies and sweets were on offer as fans stocked up on half-time sodas – in the 0-0 draw
Shrimpers supporters take a moment away from the patios to exchange ideas and enjoy a drink during half-time
As is so often the case at the bottom of the football pyramid, the fans enjoy an excellent view of the game from their seats
Southend fans watch in agony as Idris Kanu puts the visitors 1-0 ahead – with a goal that proved the winner on Friday
A dejected Shrimpers supporter hangs his head after watching his beloved Southend beating Barnet 1-0
It wasn’t the result Southend supporters would have hoped for on Friday, but at least they still have a club to cheer for for now

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