I CAN still remember my first ever Southend United match like it was yesterday.

The Shrimpers saw off Rochdale 3-2 at Roots Hall back in 1990 and I instantly loved every second.

I was hooked by Roots Hall on and off the pitch and still recall the excitement of banging my feet on the floor, like everyone else in the East Stand, every time Blues won a corner.

Sadly, in the 31 years since then, it has not always been quite so exciting and there have been numerous twists and turns and contrasting feelings at the final whistle.

I have often joked with my dad that making me a Shrimper could have been some kind of cruelty but I would not have wanted it any other way and I now consider myself lucky to be able to cover my hometown club.

Following the fortunes of a lower league side is very different to supporting one of the country’s top teams in my opinion.

You feel far more part of things and, with a smaller fan base, comes added familiarity and something of a family feel.

That makes the good times even better and the tough times even worse.

And, put simply, things have never been this bad for Southend United.

Gone is that excitement and adrenaline I have long had for the Shrimpers and in its place is a numb, sad feeling of almost expecting another defeat to occur.

Put simply, football is no longer fun where Blues are concerned and it is tough to take, especially right now when watching the matches is one of very few outlets available.

The stats and the scorelines are there for all to see and the reasons for the depressing decline have long been explained in these columns.

Put simply, the side is not good enough and Saturday’s depressing 2-0 defeat against Carlisle United further underlined that fact.

A pathetic penalty from Simeon Akinola rather summed up the Shrimpers’ day as Mark Molesley’s side failed to score for the sixth home game in succession.

The reverse kept Blues second from bottom in the League Two standings, five points from safety with just seven games to go.

And 100 years of Football League action now looks to be coming to an end at Roots Hall.

Many big clubs have fallen down in non-league but it is a monumental failure of management both on and off the pitch which has led to the Shrimpers’ own depressing decline.

And Saturday was as bad as it has been.

With so much at stake, Blues needed a passionate, aggressive and committed performance yet they failed to register a single shot on target in the whole of the second half.

Now losing is something you do become accustomed to supporting Southend but a lack of urgency should never be tolerated.

Yet the Shrimpers seem to be sleep-walking their way into the National League.

This means so much to so many people and the loyal Southend supporters deserve so much better.

Most of this squad will move on at the end of the season, managers come and go and so do chairmen, eventually.

But the fans will always remain.

Supporters continue to watch matches on iFollow in their thousands and more than 300 of them sent messages of support to the side ahead of the clash with Carlisle.

But they are being let down in a big way.

Last weekend’s win at Harrogate Town did offer some slight hope but Saturday’s defeat pushed Blues another step nearer to dropping out of the League.

With Colchester playing Barrow on Monday and the Shrimpers travelling to bogey-team Morecambe on Tuesday that gap could soon become bigger.

And perhaps one of the most concerning issues is just when this decline will ever stop.

Blues have now been beaten in 55 of their last 95 League games and it has already been three years of constant struggle and pain.

Relegation could ultimately kill the club’s academy which is arguably the only bright spot at the Shrimpers right now but the problems will not stop there.

The already fragile finances will take another huge hit and potential fans of the future could end up watching their football elsewhere.

And for a club with such potential and strong support it is utterly unforgivable the Shrimpers have been allowed to stoop quite so low.