There have been many historic footballing families, the Allens, the Charltons, the Dawsons and the Nevilles.
Undoubtedly though, of recent times, the most successful dynasty in British football has been the Ferdinands.
‘Sir’ Les, crashed onto the scene as his incredible goalscoring form led to him going from van driver and part-time Hayes striker to Queens Park Rangers frontman, for £30,000.
From there he had a superb Premier League career starring for Newcastle’s title challengers in the mid 1990’s and Tottenham’s mediocre but ambitious side of the late 90’s and early 2000’s before becoming a journeyman striker. He remains the joint fifth highest scorer in Premier League history with 149 goals.
Next to come along was Les’ cousin Rio, who really doesn’t need introducing, having won five Premier League medals, a Champions League winners medal and 81 England caps, although Rio’s brother Anton, might.
The third Ferdy, started out at West Ham with much promise only to fade after he missed the crucial penalty in the epic 2006 FA Cup Final where the Hammers drew 3-3 with Liverpool only to lose on spot-kicks. He then went onto Sunderland and is now starring at QPR.
But now there is a fourth Ferdinand.
This is 19-year-old Kane Ferdinand. He is a cousin of Rio and Anton, although it would seem due to their rather large family he has had barely any contact with them.
Having been with Southend United since he was 13 he progressed through the ranks as a defensive midfielder and on January 1 2011 he made his debut for the club against Oxford United in a 2-0 victory at the Kassam Stadium.
After impressing all at the game Kane remained with the first team squad and continued to show his potential as a versatile midfielder also capable of filling gaps in defence.
Now he’s in his first full season as a regular for Southend and the boy has definitely done good. His defensive ability was undoubted but now the Ireland Under-19 international is blooming into a brilliant attacking playmaker.
He was asked to assume a more offensive role for the Shrimpers by boss Paul Sturrock and Kane is delivering. He’s notched six goals in his fifteen appearances so far in what has been an astonishing season at Roots Hall.
Southend top League Two ahead of Crawley Town, who many assumed would romp to the title, and sit six points clear of the play-offs already, which was unprecedented at the start of the season considering Barry Corr’s injury woes and the disciplinary problems within the squad.
Southend have, rather incredibly, won nine of their last ten league matches and this nosebleed-inducing form can partly be placed at the feet of the youngster, although many would argue the performances of the herculean Mark Phillips at centre-back and Liam Dickinson bagging the goals up top were equally as crucial.
Sadly the sparkling showings of young Ferdinand flag up the same old problems for sides like Southend.
The summertime advances of Peterborough United were brushed aside but now bigger fish are circling, it feels like the Shrimpers are headed for shark infested waters and predators like West Ham United, said to be offering £500,000 for Kane, will prove hard to fight off.
Kane himself has shrugged off the interest in him as the Hammers shamelessly scout his performances but The Irons are watching and waiting for their moment to pounce.
Speaking after Southend’s 3-2 win over rivals Dagenham and Redbridge, he said; “You can’t let it get to you and you have no choice but to focus on your game and carry on.”
“You can’t be affected by any of it and just have to try to keep on playing well to help the team get good results.”
Hopefully his form will continue and the achievements of Southend this season will match his ambitions, but you can’t help but feel that as long as form continues the shoal of sharks will continue to circle until he’s finally sold and that will be a sad day indeed.
Too often in recent times have Southend lost their best youngsters to Premier League sides who hunt for the stars of tomorrow as they look to win the top flight’s arms race, flooding their youth academies with cheap youngsters hoping they will progress into the next big thing.
Femi Orenuga joined the ranks of Everton after representing Southend in the FA Cup as a 15-year-old back in 2008 under Steve Tilson. The winger is yet to appear for the Toffees and is now on loan at Notts County, and striker Michael Ngoo left for the other side of Merseyside when he signed for Liverpool in 2009.
Lyle Della-Verde was Southend’s most recent loss, transferring to West London and Fulham in August, although chief executive Tara Brady seems insistent that they aren’t a selling club – most of the time.
“It’s not a case of us having to sell Lyle because of the money, it just makes good sense at this stage,” Brady told the Southend Echo.
“If a Premier League club makes an offer above what we value any of our players then it’s hard to say no.
“It would also be difficult to keep someone here once their head has been turned by a Premier League club.
“We don’t cash in on all our young players either. We turned down offers for Anthony Furlonge and others last year and there are plenty of more talented youngsters working their way through the system to follow in the footsteps of people like Kane Ferdinand.
“It is about striking a balance and that’s what I think we do.”
Let’s hope Brady and the club stick to their word and perhaps, aided by Kane Ferdinand, the club can stop this talent drain by moving up the divisions.
So hands off West Ham, he’s ours – for the time being.
Written by Anton Stanley, We Are Going Up’s Southend United Blogger
Anton tweets at @antonstanley