Bill Garner believes anything is possible when Southend United head to Chelsea in the FA Cup this weekend. However Garner, who played for both Southend and Chelsea during his own career, is refusing to rule out an upset.
Speaking to the Southend Evening Echo Garner said: "Of course it's unlikely Southend will win but you just never know in cup competitions. Who would have thought Southend would beat Manchester United in the League Cup a couple of years ago and they did well against Tottenham in the next round too so they've showed what is possible. Chelsea haven't had the greatest home record either this season so it isn't just a foregone conclusion they are going to win."
Garner also knows what it is like to figure in such a fixture as the last time the sides clashed, in the League Cup back in September 1972, he was leading the line for Southend.
The trouble was they liked him so much, they bought him! Three days after our 1-0 defeat at Roots Hall Chelsea signed him in a deal worth around £100,000, the first six-figure sum received by the Blues.
Garner, who scored 47 goals in 111 games for the Shrimpers, continued: "It was a fantastic time, I had a great couple of seasons with Southend and won promotion into Division Three with them and it was a huge step up to join Chelsea. I had some good and bad times there but to be at a place like that for six or seven years was just tremendous. I had some injury problems while I was there and being in a 24-man squad packed full of internationals meant it was often hard to get into the team."
Despite that Garner, now 61-years-old, is relishing another meeting between the two sides: "It's just brilliant that they are going to be playing each other again. It's probably the best draw Southend could have got and what a day out it is going to be for everyone connected with the club."
That now includes Garner as he is back with Blues coaching the club's promising players in the youth team. He has stepped up his involvement with the under-18s who are managed by Ricky Duncan and thoroughly enjoys the role.
"It's brilliant and there are a lot of good young players here to work with. A few of them have played in the FA Cup already this season for the first team and it would be brilliant if Johnny Herd again figured on Saturday. He's a great prospect and for me he's been a little unlucky not to have played more games."
Altogether now, Bill Garner Superstar, do you know how great you are?
He might not have, we did.
The Garner Files
|Birthday:||14th December 1947|
|Size:||6ft 1in - 12st 0lb|
|Comments:||First Southend £100,000 player|
|Honours:||Player of the Season 1971-72|
Bill Garner was born in Leicester and represented all the County sides from the age of 11 to 15 before signing as an amateur with Leicester Victoria in the Leicester Senior League. Still as an amateur he signed for Loughborough United, but at 18 went back to the Leicester Senior League with Midland Athletic.
He then decided to join Bedford Town one of the many clubs after his signature. After just four months with Bedford he came to Southend, and was soon our leading goalscorer.
Garner's time at Chelsea was hindered by the overall decline of the side, culminating in relegation to the Second Division in 1975, as well as his own injury problems and loss of form. He made a total of 119 appearances for Chelsea, scoring 36 goals.
He signed for Cambridge United on a free transfer in 1978. He left Cambridge in 1980 and ended his career with stints at Chelmsford City and Brentford.
|Nov-69 to Sep-72||101+1||4||5||0||110+1||41||4||2||0||47|
(Thanks to www.sufcdb.co.uk and Wikipedia for their help in this article.)