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Matches of Yesteryear - U's v Doncaster 8/1/93
Written by wessex_exile on Sunday, 27th Oct 2019 19:56

With school half-term upon me, and with much to do before leaving early for Crawley on Tuesday night, I’m going to have to post this one a bit early I’m afraid.

[b]Colchester United v Doncaster Rovers

Friday 8th January 1993

Division 3 (Tier 4)

Attendance 4,402[/b]

Match #22 of the series, and we go right back to those best of times, a Friday night game at a packed Layer Rd. I can’t for the life of me remember why I was in Colchester for an evening game, there are no family birthdays around that time, it was too late to be a Christmas visit, but still, there I was! Of course, the simple answer to that question was it would be a long wait if I only went to Layer Rd for Saturday matches back then – there were only eight scheduled all season, I’d already been to one of them (home to Lincoln first match), and one (Maidstone on April 3rd 1993) was destined never to happen – more of that later…but why Doncaster in early January, god only knows.

After two seasons in the Conference, we were finally back in the Football League, and under Big Roy’s somewhat unique style of management, not having too bad a season of it overall. Mind you, it certainly hadn’t started well, as we struggled to adjust, and after losing six of our first eight matches we were uncomfortably close to relegation straight back to the Conference. However, Big Roy gradually started to turn things around, and by this match we were in 10th place, and still in with a decent chance of the play-offs. Not bad when you consider our struggles to find a permanent goalkeeper.

Goal-scoring hero Scott Barrett had left for Gillingham in the close season, so we started with Paul Newell on loan from Leyton Orient. He went back in November, to be replaced by Ron Green on loan from Kidderminster Harriers, but he returned in December, to be replaced (also on loan) by Carl Emberson from Millwall. By the end of the season we would have played six different goalkeepers, also including Fred Barber (10 games), Alasdair Monk (2 games) and Nathan Munson (1 game) – not exactly the stability you want for such a key position. Mind you, stability was a problem throughout the team, with 16 players listed as having debuts for the U’s this season, though that includes Peter Cawley twice – once on loan (vs Wycombe in the pointless Conference Shield), then again (vs Wrexham) once we had signed him.

The U’s lined up:

1….Carl Emberson

2….Martin Grainger

3….Paul Roberts

4….Mark Kinsella

5….Peter Cawley

6….Simon Betts – programme lists Tony English

7….Jason Cook (replaced by Steve Ball)

8….Gary Bennett (replaced Paul Abrahams) – programme lists Tony Sorrell ([b]who!?!?[/b])

9….Dean Martin – programme lists Roy McDonough

10..Steve McGavin

11..Nicky Smith

Before we turn to the match (which isn’t going to take long), it’s also worth pausing to reflect on the structure of the Football League this season, and particularly the make-up of our league. First off, 1992/93 was the inaugural season for the new Premier League, hence Tiers 2, 3 and 4 were Divisions 1, 2 and 3. Prior to that, in March 1992, Aldershot were declared bankrupt, expelled from the league and their record expunged (is there any other context other than football when that word is used?). To offset this, there was no relegation at the end of the season (Carlisle the fortunate beneficiary), whilst the U’s were promoted from the Conference. Not long after, after failing to fulfil their opening fixture of the 1992/93 season and in severe financial problems, Maidstone United resigned from the league and subsequently folded.

The original plan was for 22 teams in the Premier League, with 94 teams overall competing in the four tiers. However, with the demise of Aldershot and Maidstone, this plan was dropped, and it was decided to carry on with a 22 team Premier League, with 70 in the remaining three tiers. As a result, for Division 4 at the end of 1990/91 season five were promoted, three relegated from Division 3, and one (Barnet) promoted from the Conference, resulting in a 23-team league in the 4th tier. As a result, with Maidstone folding at the start of the season and thus only 22 teams competing in our league, the fixture list in the programme is a little odd, with our away and home fixtures against them on 9th March and 3rd April respectively as empty slots.

The other two empty slots were, optimistically, for the League Cup Second Round first leg (23rd September) and League Cup Third Round (28th October) – we went out against Brighton in the first round, and they were never needed.

As for the match, other than I was in the Drury and then barside with my brother-in-law, I’ve got nothing I’m afraid, can’t remember a bloody thing about it at all. All I know is that Graeson’s excellent stats (https://www.coludata.co.uk/item.php?pg=match&pd=1022&sort=sdate&order=asc&fsea=all&frt=all&offset=27&it=2564 ) show that we left it late, with Grainger scoring in the 81st minute, and McGavin making sure with a second two minutes to go, and I can only imagine our celebrations resulting from those two late strikes.

So, a bit of audience participation time is needed here – if anyone can remember anything about this match I’d love to hear your memories – who knows, it may jog some of my own.

[b]Colchester United 2 (Grainger 81’, McGavin 88’) Doncaster Rovers 0[/b]

The U’s were blowing a bit hot and cold all season, and this victory turned out to be our last until the end of February, when we turned it on again to win seven out of the next eleven. Eventually, we finished the season pretty much exactly where we were going into this match, tenth in the league, three places and four points from the play-offs – a solid return to the Football League.

Following the demise of Aldershot FC, a group of supporters set up new club Aldershot Town FC in spring 1992. They started in the Isthmian League Division 3, five tiers lower, and eventually got back to the Football League in 2008 (though then relegated in 2013).

Maidstone United were technically never reformed. Instead, the core of those at Maidstone United took over Maidstone Invicta, originally a youth club. Without a suitable ground to play at, Maidstone Invicta dropped seven levels to join the 4th Division of the Kent County League in 1993/94. They changed their name to Maidstone United in 1995, and whilst they’ve never got back into the Football League, they did reach the National League in 2016 (though relegated back to the National League South at the end of last season).

Freaky coincidence, Aldershot’s last competitive win before going out of business – away at Maidstone United on 28th December 1991.

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Witham added 17:26 - Oct 28
Surely Len Bond was our worst ever goalkeeper. Even now I can remember the cheer he got in the second half when he caught a ball. By then we were 4-0 down
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