MR BROWN’S BOYS

Southend boss Phil Brown ex­plains why he takes his lads about town

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE - By Matthew Bad­cock

PHIL BROWN is look­ing out on Southend beach and the Es­planade he reg­u­larly runs along be­fore train­ing.

“I don’t stick them in there, be­cause it’s a lit­tle bit cold now,” Brown says, ges­tur­ing to­wards the Thames Es­tu­ary. “But in the sum­mer you wouldn’t be­lieve it. Have you ever been in?”

Sadly I left my trunks at home and any­way, this is my first trip to the Es­sex town by the sea­side.

“Well, you’ll be back,” Brown says. “I took the lads along the pier last Mon­day for a war­m­down. Lo and be­hold we went to Chel­tenham the next day and won, so it wasn’t bad prepa­ra­tion!

“It’s nice. I used to do it at Hull. I’d take them along the Hum­ber Bridge, just to show them the area.

“There are parts of Southend lads who’ve been here three or four years don’t even know.

“I’ve been here 18 months and prob­a­bly know it bet­ter than them. It’s im­por­tant you know the sup­port­ers, how they tick and what they want to see on a Satur­day af­ter­noon.

“I know they want to see win­ning foot­ball, but they want to see it in the right way.”

We’re talk­ing after Brown has hap­pily posed for shots with lo­cal club Southend Manor and the FA Vase, a com­pe­ti­tion with a Wem­b­ley fi­nal the prize.

And who can blame the for­mer Hull City and Preston North End man­ager for his jovial mood.

His side have just won three League Two games on the bounce – Portsmouth at home be­fore Chel­tenham and York away – to take them fourth be­fore yes­ter­day’s game with Shrews­bury. Liv­ing in the town means there’s no hid­ing place.

“You don’t want to es­cape,” Brown says. “You want to be in it and feel it ev­ery day.When you’re out of it, if you call that es­capism you’ve got another thing com­ing.

“It’s a great club to be man­ag­ing. The peo­ple are good as well. They’ve ac­cepted a thick Ge­ordie north­erner in the posh end of Es­sex!”

In his first full sea­son at Roots Hall, Brown guided his side into the play-offs. But ul­ti­mately they were nar­rowly beaten 3-2 by Bur­ton Al­bion over the two­legged semi-fi­nal.

Those three wins on the bounce have shaken off any early wor­ries of a hang­over the 55year-old boss may have had.

But, an ex­pe­ri­enced and proven op­er­a­tor, Brown knows the road ahead is a long one as he looks to drive Southend, and him­self, back up the leagues.

“We’ve had suc­cess and played in the Cham­pi­onship,” he says. “To get back to that is ob­vi­ously the am­bi­tion. It’s tak­ing each step as it comes. Get­ting in the play-offs last sea­son was a de­cent achieve­ment, be­cause we had a lot of up­heaval when I first ar­rived at the club. I think I made some­thing like 24 changes – ins and outs. That takes time to set­tle. We did that and fin­ished strong.

“The re­al­ity is we’re still in League Two, we’re still a good strong unit and peo­ple might fancy us so that adds a lit­tle bit of pres­sure.

“I just know the good core of play­ers we’ve re­tained and the good play­ers we’ve added will take us that step closer. Not just play-offs, but hope­fully au­to­matic pro­mo­tion.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Images & Michael Hulf

CHATTY MEN: Southend man­ager Phil Brown. In­set: The Shrimpers’ Michael Tim­lin halts Bur­ton Al­bion’s Lee Bell’s progress

CHATTY MEN: The FLP’s Matt Bad­cock with Phil Brown. Right: Southend Manor boss Wayne Seal and Brown with the FA Vase

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