SOUTHEND United super fan Phil Cox clocked up his 1,300th consecutive game when he watched the Shrimpers at Mansfield Town on Saturday.

Cox has now not missed a match for more than 24 years, spending close to £28,000 in the process.

But the 49-year-old does not regret splashing that cash on his beloved Blues.

“I think it’s been worth every penny,” said Cox, who lives in Southend.

“The last one I missed was Grimsby away in 1989 but I’ve come close to missing a couple of others since then.

“In October 2001 the coach got stuck in a traffic jam on the way to Torquay and we arrived about 10 minutes before half-time.

“Portsmouth away this season was also close but I’ve spent around £1,000 already this season and it keeps on getting more and more expensive.

“But who needs food anyway!” he joked.

Cox, who works as a data analyst for HMRC, has experienced plenty of ups and downs while following the fortunes of the Shrimpers. But he selects the seasons when Blues went up as the main highlights of his time at Roots Hall.

“I really enjoyed the promotion-winning games and seasons we’ve had,” said Cox.

“The first few seasons in Division Two when we looked like we might get to the old Division One stand out, as well as all those cup finals, especially the first LDV one against Blackpool.

“As for the worst moment, I think it was those years stuck in the basement division at the start of the 2000s when there seemed to be no hope of promotion or anything exciting happening.”

Cox selects victory against Bury, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, plus the away games in the Anglo-Italian Cup as his favourite ever matches.

And Stan Collymore, Chris Powell, Ricky Otto, Freddy Eastwood, Mark Gower, Kevin Maher and Mike Marsh rank among his all-time best Southend players.

But Cox is now hoping for more memorable moments this season as the Shrimpers chase a return to League One.

“I think, in this rather even division, that promotion is a real possibility this year,” said Cox. “Whether or not that is automatic promotion or via the play-offs I don’t know.

“Maybe we might get another trip to Wembley? Perhaps they are like buses you wait years for an appearance and, well, you know the rest. That would certainly be something else to remember.”