Awkwardly positioned pillars, ageing floodlights towering over the pitch and an authentic old-fashioned feel - Brentford fans will probably feel right at home at Southend United’s stadium, Roots Hall.
Used as a storage location in World War One and later a sand quarry and a rubbish tip, The Shrimpers acquired the site, which sits less than two miles from the seafront, in 1952 but couldn’t begin building work until a year later due to the sheer mass of rubbish that had been dumped there during the site’s previous incarnation. It was open by 1955 but left incomplete until 11 years later after significant pitch repairs, along with an extended east stand and brand new floodlights.
Financial issues in the 1980s forced a rethink in the look of the ground, but by the late 90s, each of the stands had been joined at the corners and the stadium, though the main East Stand on one side of the pitch remains an separate entity.
Though Southend averaged an 7,195 home attendance in the 2017/18 season – in a 12,392 capacity stadium - the club remains hopeful of building a new home at Fossetts Farm in the near future. Much like those of Brentford’s Lionel Road, the long-running plans have been shelved several times since they were first drawn up prior to the new millennium, largely due to financial constraints. A deal was signed for a Hilton hotel to be built as part of the stadium complex. Though plans are yet to be approved by Southend Council, it’s thought the agreement will boost chances in the coming months.
Tuesday’s trip to Essex will be the first time the two clubs have met since The Bees’ 2-1 FA Cup replay win in January 2013 and Brentford’s first visit since the initial cup tie 10 days earlier. The previous four trips east have resulted in two draws and two defeats, with the most recent away victory coming on 13 March 2001, when Michael Dobson’s double cancelled out Phil Whelan’s 57th minute goal to hand Ray Lewington men a slender advantage in the LDV Vans Trophy Southern Area Final First Leg, which The Bees went onto win later that season.
DID YOU KNOW?
Though Roots Hall, in its current state, was constructed in 1952, the site upon which the stadium now stands was where Southend played their home games after being founded in 1906.
HOW TO GET THERE
From the M25 take Junction 29 and follow the A127 to Southend. Continue towards the town centre, through the lights near to the Bell Pub. At the next roundabout take the third exit and continue on the A127. The ground is on the right just past the next traffic lights. If you turn right as you reach the ground, this will put you behind the away end where there is plenty of street parking to be found. Otherwise, there is a car park at the ground, behind the Main Stand which costs £5, or Southend High School For Boys on Prittlewell Road, which also offers car parking for £5 per car. The journey to the east is around 60 miles in distance from Griffin Park by car and takes around 90 minutes.
Travelling to the game may be easier by train, should fans be able to access the railway easily. Prittlewell Station is just a five minute walk from the ground and is served by trains from London Liverpool Street, from where the journey takes an hour. An off-peak day return costs £21.80 for adults, £10.90 for children, though the last direct train returning to the capital leaves at 9.02pm and subsequent services currently require a bus replacement from Prittlewell to Wickford, from where supporters can continue onwards. An alternative is Southend Central, which is served by trains from Fernchurch Street, though it is 25 minutes’ walk from the ground and taking a bus/taxi to get there may be favourable.
We are advising supporters to allow plenty of time when travelling to Roots Hall for tomorrow's game.
Victoria Avenue will temporarily close southbound from Cuckoo Corner roundabout to its junction with Priory Crescent. The closure will commence at 7.30pm and run until 11.00pm. The alternative route will be via A127 Prince Avenue, Hobleythick Lane, Prittlewell Chase, Fairfax Drive and vice versa.
The closure is required for the safety of the public and workforce whilst repairs to a manhole in the carriageway take place. Please leave enough time to get to the ground ahead of kick-off.
WHERE TO EAT/DRINK
The Shrimpers Bar at the stadium is likely to permit Brentford fans for this fixture, particularly with it being a relatively low-key Carabao Cup meeting and is a convenient spot to prepare for the game, with alcohol not being served to away fans once inside the walls of the ground itself. The Blue Boar pub – the site upon which the club was formed - on the way to Southend town centre is also an option, while a Toby Carvery pub called The Bell and a Wetherspoons named The Last Post are two further pubs that admit away fans on the way to Southend. Please note that the Spread Eagle on Victoria Avenue has historically been designated for home fans only.
Should fans arrive in good time, the seafront is under 1.5 miles away. There are a number of bars close to the water and plenty of places to grab a famous portion of fish and chips – if you are feeling up to it, stroll along all 1.34 miles of Southend Pier, the longest pleasure pier in the world.
Tickets will be available tomorrow night, cash only, from the away ticket office next to the away turnstiles: £12 adult, £6 concessions, £2 under 16’s