GRAHAM Coughlan will reach 400 games for Southend United this weekend feeling proud of the Shrimpers’ progress.

Coughlan - who is now the club’s assistant manager - arrived at Roots Hall as a player coach back in 2010.

And the 42-year-old cannot believe how much has changed during an eventful seven years which started when he arrived - alongside manager Paul Sturrock - at a club in crisis.

“When I came here we were looking to stay up in League Two and now we’re looking to get promotion to the Championship so a lot has changed,” said Coughlan.

“The calibre of players we have has changed along with the facilities but it’s easy to forget where we’ve come from.

“It’s been a real roller-coaster ride of emotions but to begin with it was incredibly tough.

“There were days when we weren’t leaving the training ground until 10pm because we were doing so much hard work to try and get a squad together.

“We didn’t have much time at all, we were putting together pre-season programmes overnight and we barely had enough players for a five-a-side team to begin with.

“To finish mid-table that season was an unbelievable achievement and gave us something to build on.

“At that time, Stockport County were in a very similar situation to ourselves and they now find themselves in the National League North so I think that also shows how far we’ve come.”

Blues finished seventh in League One last season and again hope to be pushing for the play-off places this time around.

Coughlan will be aiming to help make that happen and has relished every second of his spell at Roots Hall.

“I think I’ve done pretty much all the jobs here but most people will say I haven’t done them too well,” laughed the 42-year-old.

“I’ve been a player here, reserve team manager, under 21 manager, assistant manager and I’ve also been the kit-man when we haven’t really had one. But everyone has to dig in and for me working in football is still a real honour so I feel as though I’m living the dream whatever the role is I’m doing.”

And Coughlan is looking forward to reaching the 400 game mark with Blues.

“I had my 500th career appearance as a player while I was at Southend and this is another nice landmark to have got to,” said Coughlan.

“The only problem is it’s making me feel old to think I’ve been involved in that many matches!”


GRAHAM Coughlan’s favourite memory with Southend United remains winning at Port Vale back in March 2013.

With then Shrimpers boss Paul Sturrock too unwell to travel to Vale Park, Coughlan took charge of the team.

And the 2-1 victory remains fresh in Coughlan’s mind.

“There have been more high points than low here but the main one for me would be winning at Port Vale,” said the Irishman.

“Obviously leading the team out for the JPT final against Crewe at Wembley was an unbelievable experience and so was going back there to win the play-off final like we did.

“But if I had to pick my number one moment it would be that day at Port Vale.

“I took the reins and picked the team against a Port Vale side who were top at the time I think and went on to win promotion that season.

“It was a great win and a really good feeling.”

And Coughlan would love to experience more of the same in the future.

“One day I would like to be a manager but I don’t know if that will ever happen,” said Coughlan.

“Nobody could ever accuse me of not doing my apprenticeship but as long as I’m working in football in some capacity then I’ll be happy.”


GRAHAM Coughlan’s 400th game at Southend United will also fall on his 43rd birthday when the Shrimpers visit Portsmouth on Saturday.

But the former centre-back will only be celebrating if Blues take all three points at Fratton Park.

“It’s nice to have got to 400 games with a club as good as Southend but it won’t mean much if we don’t go to Portsmouth and get a good result,” said Coughlan.