TWENTY-NINE years ago today Ian Benjamin worked his way into Southend United folklore by firing the Shrimpers into the second tier of English football for the first time in their history.

Benjamin scored the only goal of the game as the 10 man Blues beat Bury 1-0 at Gigg Lane back in 1991.

But Benjamin initially feared he would not feature in what ultimately proved to be one of the most memorable matches in the club’s history.

“The boss (David Webb) pulled me in on the Friday and I thought he was going to leave me out if I’m honest,” recalled Benjamin.

“I had been slightly off form, I hadn’t been scoring many goals and I didn’t feel as though I’d been doing enough in the previous seven or eight games.

“I’d been trying hard but I felt off form so I didn’t think I was going to play.

“But the boss actually laughed to Kevin Lock when I went in, saying how I thought he wasn’t going to pick me.

“After that, he actually said I’d be the last person he would leave out and that was really reassuring. “

Webb actually called Benjamin in to tell him he would be featuring on the left hand side of midfield rather than his usual role as centre forward.

Despite that, Benjamin was still able to work his way into the box to score the goal which is still sung about to this day.

But Benjamin does not look at his actual goal when he watches clips back from the game.

“When I watch the goal back on YouTube I don’t actually watch the goal,” said Benjamin.

“I watch the fans and they’re going mad.

“I hope no-one hurt themselves because they’re going everywhere!

“But you can see how much it means to them and that fills me with a lot of happiness.”

And Benjamin therefore feels the strike was the most memorable of his whole career.

"I scored better goals but that was the most important in terms of what it meant to the team, the supporters, the manager, chairman, coaching staff and everyone at the club really,” said Benjamin.

“A few moments before Andy (Ansah) had gone down the right. I was going to go into the box but I was half-thinking of their winger Dave Lee and making sure I was in the right position to help stop him so I didn’t go.

"But Andy crossed it exactly where I was going to go so next time I made sure I was definitely in the box. It’s hard to express just how it felt when it went in.”

And the goal came at a difficult time in Benjamin’s life.

“There was a lot going on at that time for me,” said Benjamin.

“My wife was ill and had to stay in bed for three months. I was always fully focused but I always went straight home after training to be with her.

"Sometimes I wouldn’t even get changed before leaving and it was difficult because we had three young kids.”