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Apr 1, 2019, 1:54 PM
Post #2 of 2
Sid Broomfield, the man who transformed a smelly rubbish pit into Southend United’s Roots Hall home, has died, aged 94.
Broomfield, of Sandhill Road, Eastwood, and a small band of helpers started work on the town’s new football ground, in Victoria Avenue, in 1953.
Southend United’s Supporters Club purchased the site, which had been the team’s original home between 1906 and 1914, for £11,258 in 1952.
During this time, Broomfield was working on the farm of Bert Smith, a former Southend chairman, who put his employee in charge of the development of a new stadium.
Speaking before the 1,000th game at Roots Hall in 1999, Broomfield recalled: “Bert said to me, ‘Sid, I’ve got a little job I want you to do. That little job was turning a 36 feet deep rubbish dumping pit into a brand new football stadium. We got to work in 1953, marking out the pitch wall and its perimeter so we had the ground’s basic shape. It was all dug out by hand with shovels, we had no machines back then. The next task was to lay the foundations of the East, West and North Stands, before building the terraces by pouring concrete into shuttering moulds. It took nearly three years for us to terrace the old South Bank alone, which could hold 16,000 people in those days. There was only a handful of us and it was a remarkable feat to get the stadium ready for the first game against Norwich. We were still building the turnstiles the night before the match.”
Roots Hall had its grand opening on 20th August 1955, in front of nearly 18,000 fans – which Broomfield described as: “The greatest and proudest day of my life.”
He carried on working on the ground well into the 1960s, finishing off the terracing and extending the West Stand and North Bank roofs.
He was also the club’s groundsman for many years and was awarded a testimonial match against Chelsea in 1974 in recognition of his long service.
His favourite Roots Hall moments both came in the F.A. Cup, a 1956 clash against Manchester City when lorry loads of cockleshells and sand were used to soak up water on a mud bath of a pitch.
And the 1979 match against Liverpool played in arctic conditions, when a record Roots Hall crowd of 31,090 fans braved the big freeze to watch Southend hold the reigning European champions to a draw.
He also took great delight in seeing Southend finally reach the second tier of English football in 1991, after 85 long years of trying, describing it as an “eternity of waiting”.
Mr. Broomfield, who passed away on Saturday 2nd March 2019 was married to Maisie, who died in 2008, and leaves behind a son, Graham.
(This post was edited by John Treleven on Apr 1, 2019, 1:55 PM)