The day Leo Roget saw red for Southend United against Oxford United when it was really Jeroen Boere

Leo Roget in action at the Meet the Blues Day in July 2012

Leo Roget in action at the Meet the Blues Day in July 2012

First published in Sport by

LEO Roget hopes tomorrow’s clash between his former teams at Roots Hall will be far less eventful than his own experience of the fixture.

Roget, who lined up for both Southend United and Oxford in his own playing career, was sent off for the Shrimpers against the U’s back in March 1997 following a case of mistaken identity.

And the ex centre-back believes that dismissal remains the worst red card of all-time.

“I don’t think there has ever been a worse red card than that, it’s the worse one ever for me,” said Roget.

“I was actually getting booked by the referee for a foul and as I ran back in to the box there was a little bit of pushing and shoving between our striker Jeroen Boere and Darren Purse.

“The linesman started to flag and told the referee it was me, which was actually impossible because I wasn’t even in the box.

“The referee, who was Steve Bennett, then called me over and said the greatest ever quote I’ve ever heard from a referee – “I know it wasn’t you but I have to send you off anyway”.

“I couldn’t quite believe it and then he went on to referee in the Premier League!

“Hopefully nothing like that will happen again this weekend.”

Roget was also reminded of the incident when he unexpectedly bumped in to Boere’s wife while watching his son play football in Harlow earlier on this week.

“A lady came up to me and asked if I was Leo which made me a bit nervous but it turned out to be Jereon’s wife,” recalled Roget.

“Unfortunately he isn’t with us anymore (Boere died suddenly in Spain in 2007) but it was great chatting about our memories of him and how crazy he was.

“I hadn’t seen her since I played at Southend with Jereon which must be about 15 years ago now.

“And it was unbelievable how we found ourselves on the side of the same pitch watching our children play football.”

But Roget’s red card was not the only controversial moment of his Shrimpers career.

The defender was known for being a hot-head and was memorably involved in an after match clash with Barnet.

However, the 37-year-old still refutes allegations that he smashed up their team stereo.

“I never smashed the stereo, I just pulled the leads out of the wall,” laughed Roget.

“We had lost the game and they were listening to music which was fair enough.

“But they placed it right outside our dressing room door which we all felt was taking the mickey.

“Everyone was saying something needed to be done so that's when I went and pulled the leads out.

“There was a bit of a kafuffle and then next thing I know I'm reading I smashed up the stereo!

“People still ask me about me now but it never actually happened.

“However, there one or two other times when I got sent off and, looking back now, I needed to be a bit more grown up.”

Despite that, fans favourite Roget – who made 149 appearances for the Shrimpers – holds mostly happy memories from his spell at Roots Hall.

“Southend was my first club, I was there from the age of 14 to 23 and all my best memories are from my time there,” said Roget.

“It was where everything started for me and I have a lot of happy memories. My debut at Charlton was fantastic, so was coming on to score my first goal against Watford.

“We were in the Championship back then and I got to play against some big names.

“There were some bad times as well with relegations and injuries but overall I enjoyed being with Southend and it's still their results I look for first.”

But, while Roget enjoyed his lengthy stint at Roots Hall, he still regrets not making more of a chance he had to join Dutch giants Feyenoord at the end of the 1996/97 season.

“My main regret definitely involves Feyenoord,” revealed Roget, who now works as a personal trainer.

“I went there for a week on trial and they invited me back for a second one.

“I came home for the weekend and on the Sunday our manager Alvin Martin came to my house and convinced me to sign a long term contract.

“I got injured shortly afterwards and missed nine months of the season so I do always wonder what might have happened if I had gone to Holland.”

Roget did eventually leave Roots Hall for Stockport County in 2001 and also spent time with Reading, Brentford and Rushden & Diamonds before teaming up with Oxford United.

And the former defender is grateful to the current U's side, who visit Roots Hall tomorrow, for erasing his own unwanted club record at the Kassam Stadium.

“Things went well to start with at Oxford but then we ended up getting relegated and lost seven league games in a row,” said Roget.

“I think that was a record until the current team lost eight and I wasn't too sad to lose that record at all.”

Comments (1)

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1:12pm Fri 5 Sep 14

KimCandy says...

Was the linesman on the left wing? It wouldn't surprise me. It's something that you'd expect from the left, all controlling despite being wrong, wrong wrong and even acknowledged as wrong by the authorities. But because of the stranglehold that the filthy left have our neutered judiciary were unable to act.
Was the linesman on the left wing? It wouldn't surprise me. It's something that you'd expect from the left, all controlling despite being wrong, wrong wrong and even acknowledged as wrong by the authorities. But because of the stranglehold that the filthy left have our neutered judiciary were unable to act. KimCandy
  • Score: -2
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