Time to shine
Ryan Hall gives his take on an eye-catching start to the season by him and his employers at Southend.
Last Updated: 11/11/11 5:31pm
The name Ryan Hall appears to be well-suited to flying wingers, with two men of that name currently blazing a trail through the sporting world.
In rugby league circles, Leeds Rhinos star Hall tasted Super League Grand Final success this season and is in the process of trying to help England to Four Nations glory - having grabbed two tries against Australia last weekend.
Turn to the football world and another Ryan Hall is making quite a name for himself at Southend United.
Life in League Two may not see him grab as many headlines as his namesake, but it would appear to be only a matter of time before the pair are competing on a similar level.
The Shrimpers have made an eye-catching start to the 2011/12 campaign and find themselves sat proudly atop of the fourth tier standings.
Hall has played a leading role in the Roots Hall success, with the club having also moved to within touching distance of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final.
At the age of 23, the former Crystal Palace trainee has come of age.
He has picked up a useful habit of scoring spectacular goals and is reported to be attracting interest from higher up football's food chain.
Unsurprisingly, given their exploits this term, Chris Burton found the Southend camp to be in high spirits when he attempted to grab a few words with Hall on Friday.
The Shrimpers were on their way to an FA Cup clash with Preston when skysports.com came calling and, judging by the din in the background, it is safe to assume that Paul Sturrock's men will arrive in Lancashire in buoyant mood.
"I'm feeling confident at the moment," said man of the moment Hall when asked to give his take on his recent fine form.
"The gaffer believes in me and I'm just trying to take every game as it comes.
"As a wide player my job is to get the ball in the box, but I have been scoring a few goals recently and I want to do that at the same time.
"The mood around the club is great. Confidence is rising and the boys are doing great. It makes my job a lot easier and allows me to stand out a bit more."
Hall saw his efforts rewarded recently with a nomination for the League Two Player of the Month, and he insists he has no complaints at having missed out to Aldershot's in-form frontman Danny Hylton.
"It would have been great to win it, but Danny Hylton deserved it," he said.
"He has scored quite a few goals and I'll just have to keep going."
Southend's cause has been aided this season by the noise League Two new boys Crawley Town are making, with the Shrimpers able to go quietly about their business while the Red Devils dominate the spotlight.
Hall said: "It has helped us out. Everyone goes on about Crawley. That takes some pressure of us a little bit."
While playing without pressure is one thing, Southend's transformation from a side that finished 13th in the fourth tier last season to a side that tops the standings this term is quite remarkable.
"I think we just believe in ourselves a lot more," Hall said when asked for the reasons behind the upturn in fortunes.
"There is confidence and everyone has got together and gelled a bit more."
The reassuring presence of Sturrock in the dugout has also played a big part in Southend's rise through the standings, with the former Plymouth, Swindon and Sheffield Wednesday boss a man who knows all about the Football League.
"The gaffer has helped so much," said Hall.
"He is good at getting players to play to the best of their ability on a Saturday. He is great at that.
"He has been outstanding with me. He understands where I have come from and has given me a chance and got me back in the game. I want to pay him back by doing well on a Saturday."
Southend have, however, made a rod for their own back in some ways, with their League Two rivals now determined to knock them off their lofty perch.
"Winning nine of 10 games is difficult to do and teams now want to ruin it," said Hall.
"You are out there to be knocked down now. You have to go out there and try and win every game and perform."
While the league remains the priority this term, Southend will once again turn their attention to knockout competition this weekend at Deepdale.
On the club's hopes for their FA Cup campaign, Hall said: "The gaffer has said that every game is important to us and we want to try and win as many games as we can. We want to go as far as we can in this competition."
Southend have already enjoyed considerable success in one cup competition this term, with Tuesday's 1-0 victory over Oxford taking them into the southern section semi-finals of the JPT.
"It's only three games now," Hall said when asked if he had dared to start dreaming about running out at Wembley.
"It's something I would love to do, play at Wembley, so it's a dream for me."
With the JPT providing a considerable carrot for Southend this season, Hall is quick to point out that he has given no thought to the speculation surrounding his future and is determined to continue doing the business for the Shrimpers.
"I signed a two-year contract (in April). I want to keep doing well for Southend," he said.
"I am a Southend player, I work for Southend United and I just want to do my best. I'm not thinking about anything else.
"I want to get Southend promoted. That's my ambition."