SOUTHEND United hit the headlines when they dismissed manager Paul Sturrock just a matter of weeks before he was due to lead the club into a Wembley final.

The Scotsman had led the Shrimpers to the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final after leading Blues through a tricky run to reach the national stadium.

But, with the showpiece event taking place on April 7, 2013, Sturrock was shown the door on March 24.

The decision to remove Sturrock from the position proved to be controversial, with Blues and football fans alike critical of chairman Ron Martin’s move.

Echo: Southend United manager Paul Sturrock before the match against Stockport County. 26th March 2011 PA Photo by Martin Rickett/PASouthend United manager Paul Sturrock before the match against Stockport County. 26th March 2011 PA Photo by Martin Rickett/PA

As a result, experienced manager Phil Brown – who had spent time in the Premier League in charge of Hull City – was drafted in to replace Sturrock in the hotseat.

With the final against Crewe Alexandra around the corner, Sturrock was offered the opportunity to lead his former players out onto the hallowed turf at Wembley.

Echo: New man - Phil Brown replaced Paul Sturrock in the hotseatNew man - Phil Brown replaced Paul Sturrock in the hotseat

But, having been sacked, Sturrock turned down the offer.

Rather than new man Brown enjoying the honour of leading the Shrimpers onto the pitch, assistant manager Graham Coughlan shepherded Southend’s starting line-up out of the tunnel.

Echo: Southend United assistant manager Graham Coughlan (centre) leads the players out for the matchSouthend United assistant manager Graham Coughlan (centre) leads the players out for the match

Blues were backed by thousands of travelling fans for the showpiece final, but their support was not enough to launch the Shrimpers onto silverware as they fell to a 2-0 defeat.

Luke Murphy handed Crewe a sixth minute lead to give Southend an uphill battle and Max Clayton put the clash beyond the Essex side by doubling the Alex’s advantage four minutes after the interval.

Echo: Southend United fans make their way towards Wembley Stadium for the matchSouthend United fans make their way towards Wembley Stadium for the match

It meant the Shrimpers, who were captained by the late Chris Barker, were unable to end their incredible run in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy by getting their hands on the trophy and returning to Roots Hall victorious.

However, Brown led Blues to promotion to League One in 2015.

Scroll down to see more images from that day under the Wembley arch.

Echo: Southend United fans look on nervously from the standsSouthend United fans look on nervously from the standsEcho: Southend United's Luke Prosser (right) and Chris Barker battle for the ball with Crewe Alexandra's Chuks Aneke (left)Southend United's Luke Prosser (right) and Chris Barker battle for the ball with Crewe Alexandra's Chuks Aneke (left)

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Echo: Southend United fans cheer on their side in the standsSouthend United fans cheer on their side in the standsEcho: Southend United's Gavin Tomlin (left) and Crewe Alexandra's Abdul Osman (right) battle for the ballSouthend United's Gavin Tomlin (left) and Crewe Alexandra's Abdul Osman (right) battle for the ballEcho: Southend United fans applaud during the sixth minute of the match in support of Crewe Alexandra's Adam Dugdale whose new born son died earlier in the week.Southend United fans applaud during the sixth minute of the match in support of Crewe Alexandra's Adam Dugdale whose new born son died earlier in the week.