Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughMeeting Your Heroes - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Meeting Your Heroes - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Meeting Your Heroes

They say in life you should never meet your heroes, as you’ll more often than not be crushingly disappointed with how arrogant / rude / ignorant etc they may turn out to be. It’s best to admire them from afar so your initial preconception of them is kept intact; your illusion is never shattered.

As you may all know by now, I support a rubbish League Two team, and over the years I have come to meet some of the legends who have worn the sacred blue. And guess what? Apart from one arrogant little tossbag ( who shall remain nameless ) they have all been genuinely lovely, down-to-Earth fellas, some of whom have been so shy it was almost bordering on the could-be-mistaken-for-arrogance scale.

My boyhood Southend hero was a striker called David Crown who, unless you are a fellow Shrimper or a Gillingham fan, you probably won’t have heard of. But to me he was the best player in the land, too good for Southend and, in my schoolboy opinion, should be regularly playing for England. Indeed, when we played a full-strength Spurs side in the 1989 League Cup (which included Gary Lineker & Gazza amongst others), his performance that night put the England striker firmly in the shade.

I first met David Crown in the flesh around 2002 at the annual Club open day. I had seen him around the ground numerous times as he did ( and still does ) hospitality work for the Club and still lives locally, however I could never bring myself to talk to him. And yet on that particular day I summed up all my courage to ask him for a photo and to sign my ‘100 Greatest Southend Legends’ book (yeah I know what you are all thinking – 100? Really!? )

I was shaking with nerves, my palms were sweating and my heart was thumping. My mouth was dry as I bumbled out the words ‘Excuse me Mr. Crown, do you have a moment?’

He turned to me and I froze. Here he was, live and in the flesh, my boyhood idol.

‘Mr. Crown?’ he laughed. ‘Mr. Crown!?! Call me Dave!’ and shook my hand with his vice-like grip.

And from that moment I realised that maybe you should meet your heroes, because they may turn out to be what you hoped for – honest, decent, normal human beings. I’ve met Dave quite a few times since, in and around the ground. His son plays for my old Sunday League team so we’ve chatted on the sidelines on freezing Sunday mornings. He’s met my own son who didn’t think it was that much of a big deal ( he was 2 at the time ) but for me I nearly burst into tears – my own flesh & blood meeting one of my football heroes and a Southend legend. A proud father moment if ever there was one.

Last October I was lucky enough to play in a charity game against Dave and some other Southend old boys, which for me was really raising the bar. Talk to them, yeah easy, but to play against them? Christ this was going up to a whole new level. However any nerves soon subsided as I was in fits of laughter throughout the game as Dave just did not stop bloody talking – his knee hurt, his back hurt, he could murder a pint and so on.

I’ve been asked to play in another charity game in a couple of weeks time, again versus a Southend legends team, and what’s the betting that Dave will be playing, cracking jokes and moaning about his old injuries.

It’s nice to know that for every arrogant little tossbag out there, there are at least 10 David Crowns to replace them.

So go on, if you get the opportunity, talk to your heroes. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Lee Morgan @LeeM_007

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