Address: Victoria Avenue,
Capacity: 12,392 (All-Seater)
One of those cases where you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. The exterior of Roots Hall may be rather dull in colour, but it’s a completely different story inside.
Built in 1952, the site Roots Hall is now based on was originally where Southend United Football Club had played their games since forming in 1906.
The club were forced out upon the outbreak of the First World War, when the area was used for storage and Southend moved to two new grounds. The then-wasteland where Roots Hall now stands was purchased in 1952 with plans to build a new football ground on it.
Roots Hall was opened that same year but had not yet been fully completed, with some of the stands not yet long enough and others not yet concreted over.
Southend United as a result would have to wait some three years until the 20th August 1955 for their first game here, where they played Norwich City.
Location and Getting There
Roots Hall is based in Prittlewell, within one mile north of Southend-on-Sea Town Centre. Priory Park is northeast of the football ground, Southend United’s training ground is further away to the east, and heading south eventually brings you to Adventure Island and Southend Pier.
Roots Hall is pretty tightly packed into a residential area, and is just off Victoria Avenue, one of the major roads in the town.
You may be able to find free parking along the tight streets west of Roots Hall, but I can’t guarantee that where you find space will be within close walking distance of the ground.
Prittlewell is the closest train station to Roots Hall, just 10 minutes walk to the east and served by greateranglia rail. Most fans though will use the town’s two major stations, Southend Victoria and Southend Central, instead.
Victoria is on the same line as Prittlewell station and right on the edge of Victoria Avenue, which you simply walk up until you reach Roots Hall.
Southend Central is slightly further south, but the walk from the station to Roots Hall is equally simple. Central is served by c2c and will be the station most fans arrive at if they are coming from London.
Outside the Stadium
If you’re coming along Victoria Avenue, the first part of Roots Hall you will get to is its east side.
Southend’s Club Shop and Main Ticket Office are based in a completely detached building on the corner between Victoria Avenue and the road leading into the ground’s car park.
The East Stand itself has an exterior which admittedly shows its age in plenty of places, and a whole host of differently-shaped office buildings are attached to the outside, holding Southend’s Club Offices.
The whole of Roots Hall is lower down than the ground surrounding it and getting to the stand’s turnstiles requires you to head down either the nearby ramp or staircase. It’s the same process to get round from here to the other three sides of the football ground too.
The East Stand’s Executive Entrance however is up on the high ground next to the Main Car Park, and there’s a tunnel going over the path which leads into the stand itself from here.
Continuing round in a clockwise direction brings you to the South Stand. It is named after former left-back Frank Walton who played 154 times for Southend United, later becoming chairman of the Shrimpers in 1978.
The stand has a large residential estate out the back and its exterior consists mostly of a white corrugated iron roof.
There are no turnstiles present along the stand’s outer well as it is so tightly packed in. Entrances instead can be found by the southeast corner, accessible by heading along the East Stand, and also alongside the West Stand turnstiles which can be accessed by heading down Shakespeare Drive.
Almost all of the West Stand has a row of houses outside it along Shakespeare Drive. The only open part is a small road that leads to the aforementioned turnstiles.
The stand’s exterior has a white brickwork base and much like the rest of the stadium, its age certainly shows in places.
The North Stand also has houses outside of its exterior, but unlike the West Stand there are two ways of reaching it.
One is by taking the ramps and staircases on the east side of the football ground, leading to the Away Turnstiles by the northeast corner, and the other is down the exit from Fairfax Drive, leading to the stand’s Home Turnstiles.
Inside the Stadium
Roots Hall’s exterior is fairly dull in colour, so it comes as something of a surprise to see the contrasting mix of colours inside.
The East Stand is single-tiered and from left to right the seating blocks are coloured blue, yellow, red, green and black, with the executive seating in the centre of the stand much darker coloured than the ones nearby.
A row of executive boxes and suites is up at the very back of the stand, and you can find Roots Hall’s dugouts and tunnel down the front, with the changing rooms based inside.
Four large pillars come down roughly half-way up the stand so it is likely that your view will be restricted somewhat if you are sat towards the back, whilst the front row seats provide a clear view of the action.
Windshields cover all but the very front row seats on either side.
It is worth noting also that the stand uses different materials for its seats, with the front rows of each block made out of plastic seating and the rows further back using wooden seating. It's not common in modern stadiums anymore and worth checking out, albeit your view from them is not guaranteed to be perfectly clear.
The Frank Walton Stand is divided into two tiers with one stacked on top of the other in a double-decker format.
The seating area in both tiers is split evenly between two colours, with the blocks closer to the southeast corner blue and the blocks closer to the southwest corner yellow.
Supporting pillars come down onto the staircases between each block and they may restrict your view of the south goal slightly depending on where you are sat in the stand. The top tier however is a good height above the lower one and so the roof does not get in the way if you are sat at the back of the bottom tier.
Brick buildings on either corner also act as windshields that cover every row in the Frank Walton Stand.
In the centre of the roof is an analogue clock which has the words “Frank Walton Stand” written around it.
The West Stand is made up of a single tier of mostly blue seating, with the letters S.U.F.C. spelt out in yellow across the central blocks. A sliver of black seating is also used to give each letter a 3D effect. The blocks next to the northwest and southwest corners are more yellow in colour.
Supporting pillars run regularly down from the roof and will restrict the view of all except for those sat in the very front row seats. Additionally, the mezzanine which holds the matchday camera is on top of the West Stand, and the poles holding this come down and will restrict your view if you are sat anywhere in the middle of the stand.
Both corners of the West Stand are covered however and so there is no chance of the wind or rain coming in from either side.
The North Stand is also single-tiered and a similar height to the adjacent West Stand.
Like the Frank Walton Stand opposite however, its seating area is equally split between blue and yellow seats, with the blue ones closer to the northeast corner and the yellow ones next to and including the northwest corner blocks.
Supporting pillars come down regularly from the roof and your view will be restricted somewhat unless you are sat at the very front of the stand.
There is also an electronic scoreboard attached to the roof which can be seen by everyone except for those sat in the North Stand itself.
Away fans are housed behind the goal in the North Stand.
Depending on the size of the travelling allocation, they can be given just a section of the stand, which is usually the blue seating blocks next to the northeast corner, with home fans taking up the nearby yellow seating blocks.
Larger crowds however are given much more of the stand, but still mostly use the blue seating blocks.
The northeast corner is open at the side and has a small concourse area that offers food for fans, but the area next to the away turnstiles has no roof overhead.
Supporting pillars are regularly in place and will restrict your view inside, unless you are based right down at the front.
Pubs available to supporters on a matchday include*:
-The West Stand Bar at Roots Hall itself (Typically Home Supporters Only)
-The Blue Boar (Victoria Avenue, SS2 6EQ) (Home Supporters Only) (Located east of Roots Hall)
-The Borough Hotel (12 Marine Parade, SS1 2EJ) (Typically Home and Away Supporters) (Located near Southend Pier)
-The Cornucopia (39 Marine Parade, SS1 2EN) (Typically Home and Away Supporters) (Located near Southend Beach)
-The Last Post (Weston Road, SS1 1AS) (A JD Wetherspoon Pub, Typically Home and Away Supporters) (Located near Southend Central Station)
-The Railway Tavern (108 East Street, SS2 6LH) (Home Supporters Only) (Located south of Prittlewell Station)
-The Spread Eagle (267 Victoria Avenue, SS2 6NE) (Home Supporters Only) (Located east of Roots Hall)
*There aren't really any pubs for away supporters located within close range of Roots Hall. The recommendation would be to head towards the centre of Southend-on-Sea to find a drink instead.
You don’t expect such a bright and colourful interior to be present when you see the outside of Roots Hall. It is relatively well-placed in the town of Southend-on-Sea but certainly shows its age in more places than one.
Views inside the stand aren’t great and the Frank Walton Stand on the south side of the ground is probably your best place to go for a good quality matchday experience.
Southend United have however produced plans to build a new 21,000-seater stadium at Fossetts Farm. It has been in the works since 2008 but construction has still not yet been approved.
It could be a while till the Shrimpers have a new place to call home, but it’s worth coming to see a game at Roots Hall before Essex’s largest football ground potentially closes forever.