WHEN it comes to looking back at Southend United’s season, Saturday’s match with Rochdale will be little more than a footnote.

The Shrimpers miraculously went into the final day of the campaign with an outside chance of still being able to reach the play-offs.

But results elsewhere ultimately made what unfolded at Roots Hall immaterial in terms of Blues trying to secure a top seven finish.

And what eventually transpired into quite a flat game saw the visitors score a last gasp winner to triumph 2-1.

However the fact Kevin Maher’s side were even anywhere near being able to extend their season is right up there with any achievement the Shrimpers have secured in my 35 years of watching the club.

I am not exaggerating when I say I did not think Blues would even start this season.

And, even if they did, I would have seen finishing 20th in the standings and avoiding relegation as a successful campaign before a ball had been kicked.

The Shrimpers had no real pre-season, hardly any proper warm up fixtures and no new summer signings due to a crippling transfer embargo which remained in place until late December.

Those restraints continually limited the options available and the number of substitutes that could be selected on the bench.

But the issues did not stop there.

Blues had no water at the training ground, meaning they were unable to wash or even go to the toilet while at Boots & Laces.

Club vehicles had to be hidden to avoid being taken away by bailiffs who made regular visits to Roots Hall.

All in all, the set up would have seen hideous for Sunday League let alone the National League and the Shrimpers came within 10 minutes of not being able to start the season.

But in the toughest of times the players, the staff and supporters stuck together to form something of a unique siege mentality which, in turn, somehow created the most special of seasons.

It also enabled Blues to battle on whatever was thrown their way, including a 10 point deduction which would have crushed the character of most clubs.

But time and time again, the Shrimpers found a way to work their way off the canvas.

Because while they may been able to dock Blues' points they could not dent their pride.

Head coach Kevin Maher was very much the glue which kept the club stuck together and gave everyone else connected with Blues belief that all was not lost.

Had Maher walked away I dread to think where the Shrimpers would now be but it would not have been pretty and chief executive Tom Lawrence also deserves immense praise for the crucial part he played.

Lawrence is a very unassuming character who often shies away from the limelight but his role amid the chaos cannot be understated as he personally paid bills from out of his own account to stop certain situations becoming even worse.

The Shrimpers’ supporters also stood up when it mattered most and backed the side – through good and bad – in extraordinary numbers.

Even when protesting their passion shone through and gave everyone at the club even more desire to achieve against all expectation.

So eventful has this season been that some of the events which unfolded seem far further ago than the current campaign.

The fact things were allowed to get quite so bad is of course disgusting and controversial chairman Ron Martin has deserved all the criticism coming his way on these pages this season.

But I do not want to waste any more words on that for now and would much prefer to focus on those playing a positive part.

The consortium – headed up by Justin Rees – have ensured the club have kept going despite not officially being in charge.

And it is obvious observation that their involvement becoming bonified is the biggest thing needing to happen for the Shrimpers this summer.

With their backing Blues are on far more of a level playing field and have the stability needed to kick on.

A lot of what is needed is now in place – most notably spirit, support and momentum.

But it will still be tough going to win promotion from the National League next season and success cannot be taken for granted.

However, the Shrimpers will certainly be better prepared this next around.

And you sense and hope that no season will ever come close to matching the drama associated with Southend United in the past nine months.