LUKE Guttridge took just five minutes to make up his mind when joining Southend United.

The composed midfielder initially favoured a switch to Northampton Town when leaving Cambridge United back in 2005.

But a meeting with then Blues boss Steve Tilson immediately changed his mind “One of the lads at Cambridge told me he had heard Southend were in for me and I remember saying nah I don’t fancy going there if I’m honest,” said Guttridge.

“I said to my agent I didn’t want to go to Southend as well but he told me to I should be courteous and go and meet them because they were really keen.

 “I went to see them and I don’t know why but it just felt right.

“I was talking to Tilly and Paul Brush and after about five minutes I said can we stop please. I looked at my agent and said honestly I’ll sign.

"I went to the training ground and all the lads came over. Normally at most clubs it would be all cloak and dagger but I felt really welcome and so many of the players shook my hand.

“It felt right and I’m so happy I signed.”

Blues are also believed to have offered Guttridge less money than Northampton. But the midfielder does not regret his decision after winning two promotions in his first 14 months with the club.

“We got back to back promotions but my main memory is the bus parade and just how many people were down on the seafront after we won League One,” said Guttridge, 38.

“It blew me away and there were people everywhere.

“It was something special but it probably wasn’t until a few years later I realised just how special it was.

“I tell a lot of players I talk to now to cherish the moments you win because not many people get to win promotion or leagues but what we did was incredible.”

And Guttridge feels the togetherness of the team played a key part in their success.

“There was just a mutual respect across the whole group,” said Guttridge.

“Everyone was together as one unit. We weren’t all best mates but there was a great atmosphere and we all came together collectively.

“We all accepted each other’s good and bad traits and there was really good chemistry which I think showed on the pitch.”

That saw the Shrimpers work their way into the Championship. But, just four months into the season, Guttridge joined Leyton Orient on loan.

“Looking back, I wish I knew what I know now back then,” said Guttridge.

“I was probably too sentimental and emotionally attached to it all.

“I felt people who had done well deserved another year or more of a chance but they were replaced and that’s natural.

“But we lost our buzz and feel good factor. People were playing more as individuals and we lost that team ethos which made us a good team.

“I think I still started the first 12 games or so but then I went to Orient.”

And Guttridge soon opted to make a permanent switch to the O’s but only after giving things another go at Blues.

“I had a really good chat with Steve at the time,” said Guttridge.

“He told me they had accepted a bid from Swansea if I wanted to go. I just said ‘I know things have gone a bit sour but what would be your thoughts if I didn’t want to leave.’ “I came back, played a few games and then got dropped again.

"After that I just thought well I came here in League Two and we’re now mid-table in the Championship so leave now when it’s still a good memory. I didn’t want anything to be tarnished.

"But I was always an emotional player and I probably let my emotions get the better of me when I was younger. I spoke freely and I wanted to leave on good terms.”

Guttridge went on to make 564 career appearances after going on to also line up at Colchester United, Northampton Town, Aldershot, Luton and Dagenham & Redbridge.

And he is still enjoying working in football.

“I work on the agency side of things now,” said Guttridge.

“I took a leap of faith but I like to do more than just deals. I like to help players off the pitch so you’re there for them. If someone supports you and believes in you then you feel much better when you’re on the pitch. I try and help them anyway I can so they can enjoy their football.”