Southend FanZoner Martin Hines is still pinching himself after the news of Freddie Eastwood rejoining the club.
Eastwood back where he belongs
Every single football team in the world has a "prodigal son". The boy wonder who makes watching football a joy, the maverick who makes you feel things in places you weren't even sure existed before you laid eyes on him. He makes watching football that little bit sweeter, makes the away trips that little bit easier to take. Win, lose or draw, if he's on the pitch, anything can happen.
And then, just as soon as you've fallen in love, they're gone, whisked away to another suitor, where another set of fans will become enraptured with them. As the years progress, and their careers veer from one extreme to another, you begin to wonder if you'll ever see them again. Every transfer window comes and goes, with the faint murmurings from the dreamers.
"I just saw him in the training ground car park..."
"He just passed me on the A127, got out of the car, did 10 keepy-uppys and promised me he had just signed"
"My brothers girlfriends dog is best friends with his aunties dog, and they swear he's just moved back home..."
But they never come. The express-line of footballing strays continues to whirl, and seasons go by. His name stops appearing on Soccer Saturday as the goals fly in from his team. Then his name stops being mentioned at all...
The rumour mill begins to churn massively. He's going to take part in a reserve team game. Other teams have put in a bid for him. Why aren't we trying to sign him?
Then, your eyes flicker on a tweet. His names on it. And Southend United is in the same sentence. The pulse races. Sweat drips, hands become clammy as more buttons are pressed, the brain is running a thousand miles an hour as twitter is searched, forums are examined. He's even trending on twitter!
Then, the official website is tentatively opened. It's there, in those beautiful blue letters. It's Eastwood, he's signed.
Freddy Eastwood, the prodigal son is back, five years after his big money move to Wolves. Now, he's back, via Coventry, with a point to prove and back in front of his adoring fans.
Everyone knows the Freddy Eastwood story. Plucked from non league obscurity, a hat trick in his debut (with the first goal after just 7.7 seconds) two promotions in a row, and THAT goal against Manchester United.
The cynics will sneer, and say he's not fit enough, it's never good the second time round, never look back, but you have to close your eyes, remember how it felt the first time around, and imagine it even better. Life is too short to immerse yourself in the gloom, it's not a problem to let yourself get carried away. They'll be darker days to come, but more like today would be great. No, it'd be more than great. It'd be Freddy Eastwood.