Please log in or register. Registered visitors get fewer ads.
Prediction
Prediction Logged by at 19:46:10
Exeter City v Colchester United prediction logged
Blog
Matches of Yesteryear - Wycombe v U's 23/3/02
at 16:18 24 Jan 2020

Ahead of another vital match in our bid for promotion back to League 1, this time at t’other St James’ Park in Devon, we return to our previous spell at that level, and dip again into one of the odder football rivalries (given that over 100 miles separates us from them).
Forum
Thread
Matches of Yesteryear - Wycombe v U's 23/3/02
at 16:17 24 Jan 2020

Ahead of another vital match in our bid for promotion back to League 1, this time at t’other St James’ Park in Devon, we return to our previous spell at that level, and dip again into one of the odder football rivalries (given that over 100 miles separates us from them).

Wycombe Wanderers v Colchester United
Saturday 23rd March 2002
Nationwide Football League 2 (Tier 3)
Attendance 6,737


Match #39 of the Matches of Yesteryear series, and a first trip (in this series) to Adams Park, home of the auld enemy Wycombe Wanderers. Not my first trip by a long stretch, that was back in September ’91 to witness Scott Barrett score the winner from about 90 yards, and every visit since has always been a feisty affair. In truth, I’ve been to Adams Park so often that the trips are starting to merge into one, and it’s difficult to recall one from another – there have of course been visits to the infamous White Horse and its dubious delights, I’ve even had beers in the Hour Glass before, not that we’ve been able to do that any time recently.

However, for this trip I'm absolutely certain I had driven over, and met up with my brother-in-law at a Hungry Horse on New Road for some lunch before the match, a pub which was recommended in the Football Fans Guide. Try as I might though, in researching this blog I was struggling to find mention of the pub anywhere. However, after much digging and following a trail of breadcrumbs through t’interweb, I eventually discovered that it was yet another football pub that had slipped away, converted into a Tesco Express at some point in about 2009 or so. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, there must be mileage in a book remembering the lost football pubs of the UK?



We left my car at the pub, and drove down to one of the enterprising local businesses that were charging for parking on the Hillbottom Road – I certainly don’t remember which one, but I do remember it spared us the interminably long walk from the Hour Glass roundabout, which looks like it ought to be a short five minute stroll, and feels like a half hour trudge. As always, there was a decent turnout from the U’s faithful, considering it hadn’t been the best of seasons for the U’s, with just over 500 in attendance (I think the official figure was 505).



At this point, with six games to go, the U’s managed by Steve Whitton were 16th and all but safe on 49 points, and Wycombe were slightly higher mid-table with all thoughts of moving in either direction gone for another season. That may well have been a factor, because frankly this was probably the most uneventful match I’ve witnessed between Wycombe and Colchester – and that extended to the terraces as well (at both ends). Lawrie Sanchez was in charge of Wycombe at the time, of Ecuadorian descent, but actually played international football for Northern Ireland. Sanchez was a reasonably gifted midfielder in his day, with long playing careers at both Reading and Wimbledon, as well as his three international caps. Like many who don’t know the history, even he was slightly perplexed by the rivalry between the U’s and Chairboys. In his programme notes he comments “it has always been a mystery to me how this clash is described as a ‘local derby’ considering the distance between the two clubs”.

There is a somewhat more controversial reflection on our mutual relationship by ‘Ted’ on page 46 of the programme, which to be honest I’m impressed he managed to get past the copy-editor. Special mention to our very own Essex Girl, former visitor to these shores though…



The U’s lined up:

1….Simon Brown
20..Micky Stockwell (Alan White 88’)
3….Joe Keith
??..Con Blatsis
12..Scott Fitzgerald
10..Kem Izzet
15..Thomas Pinault
8….David Gregory
11..Graham Barrett (Karl Duguid 40’)
9….Scott McGleish (Adrian Coote 19’)
21..Kevin Rapley

Signed on a non-contract basis on 15th March, this was only Australian Con Blatsis’s second appearance for the U’s, after making his debut in the 3-1 home win over QPR the Saturday before. He was so recent that he didn’t make the matchday programme squad list, so I’ve no idea what number he had on his back (though I’d hazard a guess it was 33?). Also in the line-up was popular Arsenal loanee Graham Barrett. Barrett was due to return to Arsenal in May, but coming into this fixture Whitton had already made enquiries about the possibility of keeping him through to the 2002/03 season, though in his own words “I’m not very hopeful but had to ask the question”. For the Chairboys that day, plenty of players that we’ll all be familiar with through the enmity between our two clubs, including the wonderfully named Jermaine McSporran, Sean Devine, Andy Rammell, Keith Ryan (on the bench) and Steve Brown. However, the name to pick out from this match has got to be Danny Bulman in midfield. If you’re thinking that name sounds familiar, yep – it’s the same Danny Bulman who 18 years later blasted in Crawley’s opening (and ultimately consolation) goal in our 4th round League Cup match.

As for the match, certainly one of the duller encounters between the rivals, seemingly played out by two teams who were more just going through the motions waiting for the end of the season, rather than if there was anything really at stake. As one commentator on the original unofficial WWFC Gasroom website said “the only previous 0-0 draw between the two sides had come at Layer Road in November 2000 but at least that had the excitement, albeit controversial, of a sending-off and a mass brawl between players to liven up the proceedings”.

In a fairly even encounter, Wycombe were the first to show any really scoring intent, with Currie blasting high wide and handsome twice in the first quarter of an hour. It wasn’t all Wycombe though, with Rapley forcing a decent save from Taylor in goal after a jinking run into the box. This was actually after we’d lost Scotty with just 19 minutes on the clock, taken off injured and replaced by Adrian Coote. Things didn’t improve on that front, and after 40 minutes Graham Barrett was also taken off with a knee injury, to be replaced by Karl Duguid. I don’t remember it being a particularly physical game, just seemed bad luck really. Right on the stroke of half-time, Andy Rammell decided to liven up the atmosphere, with a beautiful 9.5 swan dive in the box, claiming he was pushed. Needless to say, the referee was having none of it, much to the dismay of the baying home fans (and of course our delight), and the first half finished 0-0.

Not much to report at half-time, other than one enterprising chap deciding he couldn’t be bothered to wait in the lengthy queue for the loo, and nipped into the ladies instead. I suspect he regretted that decision when he was soundly rounded on by one of the better-known (and fiercest) U’s ladies when he emerged, and given the haranguing of his life – certainly made me chuckle anyway.

Although Wycombe again started the brighter in the second half, with Devine just missing with an angled drive early on, the U’s began to really get on top thereafter, and for most of the second half looked far more likely to score what I’m certain would have been the winner. Coote in particular was causing no end of problems, including leaving Taylor in a heap that earned him a yellow card (and Taylor needing a new shirt). On 80 minutes we thought we’d finally got the breakthrough, as Coote poked home from close range to send the faithful into delirium. Unfortunately, some were still celebrating as Wycombe took the free-kick for offside, and so the match finished 0-0. Overall, it was the fair result, both teams could have snatched it, but to be honest neither team really deserved to. I certainly went home reasonably happy, knowing we’d reached the magical 50 point mark.

Wycombe 0 Colchester United 0

Though we didn’t know it at the time, Graham Barrett’s injury meant this was his last appearance in a U’s shirt. The following season he went on loan to Brighton, and following his release from Arsenal, signed for Coventry City in 2003. Although a very gifted player, including a handful of international appearances for the Republic of Ireland, Barrett was dogged by injury problems throughout his career, and eventually retired from football at the relatively young age of 28.

However, his wasn’t the only final appearance for the U’s that day – it also marked the end of legend David Gregory’s playing days for Colchester United. A talented midfielder, he had started at Ipswich, but struggled to break into the first team, and after a brief loan spell at Hereford and a handful of matches at Peterborough when Ipswich released him, Colchester United snapped him up in 1995. In the following seven years at Layer Rd, stalwart David made 226 league appearances, scoring 19 times in the process, for a year or so playing alongside his brother Neil.

Leading up to the Wycombe game, Greggors had cracked a bone in his foot (Wikipedia reckoned it was against Port Vale, but I don’t think he played in that game?), which ultimately brought an end to his distinguished playing career for the U’s. After a couple of years in non-league for both Canvey (teaming up with brother Neil again) and then Wivenhoe, he retired from playing, and joined Matt Hudson in the Colchester United media department, where he remains to this day (now almost ever-present as the voice of Colchester United in the match commentary team).

In April 2013 Greggors was deservedly inducted into the Hall of Fame, not least for scoring the winning (and let’s be frank, dreadfully scuffed) penalty to achieve play-off success against Torquay in the 1998 Wembley final – happy days, so thank you David!



Up the U’s
Prediction
Prediction Logged by at 14:20:50
Colchester United v Bradford City prediction logged
Blog
Matches of Yesteryear Special - U's v Bradford City 30/12/61
at 13:57 20 Jan 2020

This one is a special for the Matches of Yesteryear series, as we step slightly outside the original concept of blogs related to my football memorabilia collection. I am delighted that our very own pwrightsknees approached me with an absolutely fantastic idea just before Christmas, and an idea that really deserves this specific slot in our football calendar. It is also particularly appropriate given the terrible coincidence that Martyn King sadly passed on Christmas Day, the all-time record league goal-scorer for the U’s with 130 goals (1959-64).
Forum
Thread
Matches of Yesteryear Special - U's v Bradford City 30/12/61
at 13:56 20 Jan 2020

This one is a special for the Matches of Yesteryear series, as we step slightly outside the original concept of blogs related to my football memorabilia collection. I am delighted that our very own pwrightsknees approached me with an absolutely fantastic idea just before Christmas, and an idea that really deserves this specific slot in our football calendar. It is also particularly appropriate given the terrible coincidence that Martyn King sadly passed on Christmas Day, the all-time record league goal-scorer for the U’s with 130 goals (1959-64).

Colchester United v Bradford City
Saturday 30th December 1961
Division 4 (Tier 4)
Attendance 4,415


Match #38, and we go back to a time before I was even born (though I was on the way, arriving about eight months later). Danny Williams was no. 1 with his version of Mancini’s Moon River, a year before Andy Williams (no relation, obviously) made his own recording, and the Empire State building had just been sold for $65,000,000. The Vietnam War had officially started earlier in December, with the arrival of USS Core in Saigon Harbour, Marina Oswald and her husband Lee Harvey had been granted exit visas to travel to the US from Minsk, and on this actual day Ben “Billy the Whizz” Johnson was born (presumably drugs were involved?). In the world of football, their first season in the top-flight was going well for our country cousins at Portman Rd, who at the time were in 4th place.

As best as I can tell, Colchester United programmes for that season didn’t indicate which match was being played on the front cover, so I have shown a version I found on a Wrexham FC programme archive.



PWK will take it from here…

1961/62 was the U’s first in League Division 4, having been relegated from Division 3 the previous season. Although eventually finishing 2nd in the table behind Millwall, the season kicked up a mixture of results, suggesting that the U’s were far from dominant. This game took place just four days after the 4-1 Boxing Day defeat by Bradford City at Valley Parade (managed by Bob Brocklebank at the time), which left the U’s in 2nd place in the table behind Wrexham. At the turn of the year, most thought that Wrexham were the class team in the division, but they faded in the second half of the season, finishing only third, while Millwall became much more dominant and won the title by just 1 point from the U’s.

That 4-1 defeat to Bradford City was typical of the U’s away performances that season, with many (league) defeats by at least 3 goals. In addition to our battering at Bradford City, there were heavy defeats at Southport (3-0), York City (5-0), Mansfield Town (4-0), Tranmere Rovers (5-2), Chesterfield (4-1), Barrow (4-0), and Crewe Alexandra (4-0). The only defeats by less than 3 goals were (and I attended all four) at Gillingham (2-1), at home to Wrexham (2-4, and our only home defeat that season), at Millwall (2-0), and at Aldershot (1-0)

As for the match itself, Christmas had gone, and the New Year beckoned. It was a cold, grey day, and I had walked the mile and a quarter from my parents’ home just off the Mersea Road, along Circular Road South, through the barracks to Layer Road. My pals and I stood just to the right of the main stand with the Layer Road turnstiles further to the right. As far as I can remember, I took up my usual spot, halfway up, leaning on a crush barrier, and about level with the edge of the 18-yard box.

There were no changes to the team as printed in the programme:
Goalkeeper Percy Ames
2 Right Back - Tommy Millar
3 Left Back - John Fowler
4 Right half - Trevor Harris
5 Centre Half - Brian Abrey
6 Left Half - Ronnie Hunt (Capt.)
7 Outside Right - Mike Foster
8 Inside Right -Bobby Hill
9 Centre Forward - Martyn King
10 Inside Left - Bobby Hunt
11 Outside Left - Peter Wright

This was Benny Fenton’s (U’s Manager) preferred first eleven line up that season. No substitutes in those days, and proper numbers, i.e. no goalie number, then 2-11 on the outfield players and not squad numbers. Percy Ames, John Fowler, Bobby Hill, Martyn King, Bobby Hunt, and Peter Wright were U’s stalwarts over many seasons, but some names may seem unfamiliar, even to regular board readers.

Tommy Millar: Had been signed from Scottish non-league a couple of seasons previously and converted to attacking full-back. He scored a number of goals for the U’s but was also noted for being fierce in the tackle. Tommy had replaced Alan Eagles following his departure after Benny’s clear-out at the end of the relegation season. Tragically, Tommy’s year-old son had drowned in the garden and Tommy was released and returned to Scotland soon after this match.
Trevor “Chopper” Harris: Yes, we had a “Chopper Harris” a decade before the better-known Chelsea player. Colchester-born Chopper was an attacking wing-half, renowned for his aggressive playing style. Chopper had been promoted from the reserves the previous season to replace an out-of-form Derek Parker.

Brian Abrey: A new signing from Chelsea reserves in the close season to replace U’s stalwart Chic Milligan at centre-half, who had been released at the end of the relegation season. Brian was a strong centre-half, and a good footballer and passer of the ball. Sadly, a knee injury caused him to miss the last few games of the season and he was replaced by a young Duncan Forbes. The knee injury caused Brian to retire from football at the beginning of the following season.

Ronnie Hunt: U’s captain that season and elder brother of U’s hero Bobby. Colchester-born Ronnie was a defensive wing-half, tough in the tackle. He, too, had been promoted from the reserves in the previous season to replace an out-of-form Cyril “Squib” Hammond.

Mike Foster: A new signing from Leicester City reserves in the close season to replace the U’s hero Tommy Williams who had been released at the end of the relegation season. A pacey outside right who seemed to glide over the pitch, and who could deliver a good cross. He was sold to Norwich City at the end of the season for £3,000 + Roy McCrohan, but never played a first-team game for them.

The referee that day was Jim Finney, later an international referee with FIFA and who, at the end of the 1961/62 season, refereed the FA Cup Final between Spurs and Burnley (Spurs won 3-1). Finney had a somewhat colourful career. He is believed to be one of only five freemasons to have refereed an FA Cup final (of course, how would we know for certain), and it certainly broke with convention when Danny Blanchflower presented him with the match ball at the end of the final. He achieved international notoriety in 1963 when he abandoned the match between Scotland and Austria in the 79th minute, with Scotland winning 4-1 at the time. According to Finney, he called the game off for “persistent fouling”, with Horst Nemec already dismissed for spitting, and Erich Hof for a “diabolical tackle at waist-height”. Finney reported afterwards “I felt that I had to abandon the match or somebody would have been seriously hurt”.

We didn’t know any of that at the time of the U’s v Bradford City match, of course.

And so to the action:

The U’s kicked off towards the uncovered clock end. The ball went out to Mike Foster on the right wing. He took on the Bradford City full back and crossed the ball low. Bobby Hill nipped into the near post and scored - WITH HIS KNEE. The U’s were a goal up inside the first minute. The next quarter of the match was fairly even and uneventful. Then on 18 minutes, Tait scored an equaliser for Bradford City. Ten minutes later, Bobby Hunt scored to put the U’s 2-1 up and on 34 minutes Martyn King scored the U’s third, so at half-time the U’s led by a relatively modest scoreline of 3-1.

For the first 20 minutes of the second half, the U’s sat comfortably on their two-goal lead. Then they put the match completely beyond doubt by scoring twice in rapid succession via Bobby Hunt (65 minutes) and Martyn King (68 minutes). 5-1 to the U’s, who were dominant now, and on 80 minutes we were awarded a penalty. Some in the crowd called for it to be taken by Percy Ames, who had had very little to do second half, but Bobby Hunt wanted every goal he could get so that he could remain in contention for the League’s top scorer. He duly despatched the penalty to put the U’s 6-1 up.

But the fun hadn’t finished yet. Bobby Hunt scored again a minute later (7-1), followed by two more from Martyn King (85 and 88 minutes), the U’s eventually running out 9-1 winners. Following Bobby Hill’s early goal, Bobby Hunt and Martyn King had then weighed in with four goals each.

Colchester United 9 (Bobby Hill 1’, Bobby Hunt 28’, 65’, 80’p, 81’, Martyn King 34’, 68’, 85’, 88’) Bradford City 1 (Barry Tait 18’)

Ipswich Town did not have a match that day and some of their players came to watch the U’s. Andy Nelson, the Ipswich captain, rather ungraciously suggested most of the goals had come from defensive mistakes rather than good play by the U’s. The comment infuriated Hal Mason the local reporter, and it should also be noted that a largely unchanged Bradford City defence only conceded three goals to Arsenal at Highbury the following week in their FA Cup match.

By the end of the season, top goal-scorer in the football league was Roger Hunt of Liverpool (then 2nd Division) with 41 goals. Bobby Hunt (4th Division) was runner-up alongside Cliff Holton of Watford and Northampton Town (3rd Division) with 37 goals each – Bobby obviously top scorer for Division 4. Top 1st Division scorers were Ray Crawford (Ipswich Town) and Derek Kevan (West Bromwich Albion) both with 33 goals each, with Ipswich winning the title in their first season in the top-flight.

The U’s finished one point behind champions Millwall, and were promoted straight back to Division 3 at the first time of asking, alongside Wrexham and Carlisle – Bradford City missed out by one point in 5th place. Doncaster Rovers, Hartlepools United and Chester finished in the relegation zone, but as was so often the case then, were all re-elected. Not so fortunate was Accrington Stanley, who after financial difficulties following the purchase of the new Burnley Road stand, were declared bankrupt and resigned from the league in March of that season.

As we all know, this remains our record win in the league, matched only by our 9-1 victory over Leamington in the 2005 FA Cup 1st round match. Only three players have ever scored four goals in a game for the U’s, Bobby Hunt and Martyn King in this game, and of course Chris Iwelumo against Phil Parkinson’s Hull City when we were in the Championship. In addition to his four goals here, Martyn King also jointly holds the record for scoring the most hat-tricks (five), shared with Arthur Pritchard, Arthur Turner and Tony Adcock. King was a magnificent footballer, and he will be sorely missed.



The expunging of Accrington Stanley’s results is part of U’s folklore, but a bit of a red herring as far as that season was concerned. Yes, it cost Bobby Hunt a goal in his chase for top scorer across all four divisions, but his namesake Roger Hunt (Liverpool, then remarkably in Division 2) would have won that anyway. Accrington’s demise did cost the U’s 4 points, and Millwall only 2 (they had only played Accrington Stanley once at the time), but Millwall would probably have won the second match anyway, and still finished a point above the U’s even if the Accrington results had stood.

Anyway, to finish, enjoy the delightful talent of “Britain’s Johnny Mathis” Danny Williams, no. 1 on the day we made history.



Up the U’s
Forum
Thread
U'sual Champions League 2020 - Round of 16
at 13:34 19 Jan 2020

First off, congratulations to the qualifiers for this season's competition. The ever trustworthy random number generator has drawn you into the following four groups:

Group A: BFG (holder), noah4x4 and mfb_cufc
Group B: Sector4, sevebalo and Lewis_1
Group C: Daniel, thrillseeker and blueeagle
Group D: Blue4U2, basher2010 and concordman

The first legs are still someway off, but I thought I'd get this rolling now, to give you all plenty of time to start researching the form of the various sides in this season's competition. I will bump this thread nearer the time to remind anyone yet to post.

The fixtures are:
First Legs
18/02/2020...Atletico Madrid v Liverpool
18/02/2020...Dortmund v Paris
19/02/2020...Atalanta v Valencia
19/02/2020...Spurs v Leipzig
25/02/2020...Chelsea v Bayern Munich
25/02/2020...Napoli v Barcelona
26/02/2020...Lyon v Juventus
26/02/2020...Real Madrid v Man City

Second Legs
10/03/2020...Leipzig v Spurs
10/03/2020...Valencia v Atalanta
11/03/2020...Paris v Dortmund
11/03/2020...Liverpool v Atletico Madrid
17/03/2020...Juventus v Lyon
17/03/2020...Man City v Real Madrid
18/03/2020...Barcelona v Napoli
18/03/2020...Bayern Munich v Chelsea

The rules are as before.

Three points for a spot-on, one point for the correct outcome.

There will be no first-to-post tie-break decider this round, only most spot-ons. However, please remember you are only allowed one exact match prediction with each one of your group members for this entire round (1st and 2nd legs together), so first to post may be a factor in this regard. If I spot too many exact matches I will do my best to give advance warning, but please don't rely on me to do this - you must watch this one yourselves too.

All predictions are the result at the end of normal time, extra-time and/or penalties will not count.

Prediction deadline is kick-off for any match, and all matches kick-off at 8pm.

Top two from each Group go through.

The Group qualifiers will then form two mini-leagues of 4, and play off against each other predicting all of the Quarter-final matches. Mini-leagues will be comprised as follows: Winner A, Runner-Up B, Winner C, Runner-up D and Runner-up A, Winner B, Runner-up C, Winner D.

The top two from each mini-league will then be drawn from a hat to play off in head-to-head matches, all predicting the semi-final matches.

The finalists will play-off predicting the Champions League Final, this will include predicting different aspects of the game, not just the score - and will be submitted as concealed bids (via PM to me).


Good luck everyone!
Prediction
Prediction Logged by at 13:03:26
Colchester United v Macclesfield Town prediction logged
Blog
Matches of Yesteryear - U's v Lincoln 27/10/18
at 12:59 18 Jan 2020

Firstly, my apologies that this is a bit later than usual – it’s been a pretty hectic week at work, and by the time I got home last night, I was ready for a few beers and not a lot more. As we approach a vital double-header at home for the U’s promotion challenge, and on 12 games unbeaten, we come right up to date with an equally vital home game from last season.
Forum
Thread
Matches of Yesteryear - U's v Lincoln 27/10/18
at 12:59 18 Jan 2020

Firstly, my apologies that this is a bit later than usual – it’s been a pretty hectic week at work, and by the time I got home last night, I was ready for a few beers and not a lot more. As we approach a vital double-header at home for the U’s promotion challenge, and on 12 games unbeaten, we come right up to date with an equally vital home game from last season.

Colchester United v Lincoln City
Saturday 27th October 2018
Sky Bet League 2 (Tier 4)
Attendance 4,962


Match #37 of the series, and we’re at home against the league leaders Lincoln City on a bright crisp October afternoon - the second time a home game against Lincoln has featured in the series. The Imps were 3 points clear at the top, we were 5th, and with one or two familiar faces from this season around us (namely Exeter in 3rd place, and Forest Green Rovers just behind us in 6th place). Today’s opponents Macclesfield were rock bottom, and already 5 points from safety, with surprise package of this season Cheltenham keeping them company in the relegation zone – puts their current success into somewhat sharp focus.

Lincoln were of course managed by Danny Cowley at the time, assisted by his brother Nicky. Many of us here lamented Robbie not taking the opportunity to snap the Cowley brothers up after their very successful 2015/16 season managing Braintree Town. Who knows, maybe he tried and they weren’t interested, or Lincoln City made a better offer, or maybe Robbie just wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to give John McGreal his first chance at full-time management? Who knows (apart from Robbie), but whatever the reason, it didn’t happen and that’s that.



Barring one or two notable exceptions, the U’s lined up with a squad bearing some close similarities to the likely starting XI today:

25..Rene Gilmartin
2….Ryan Jackson
22..Kane Vincent-Young
6….Frankie Kent
5….Luke Prosser (captain)
4….Tom Lapslie
8….Harry Pell
10..Sammie Szmodics (Tom Eastman 84’)
7….Courtney Senior (Mikael Mandron 89’)
45..Frank Nouble
9….Luke Norris

Not wanting to get back too late, and without the convenience of the shuttle buses to rely on, I decided to drive over for this one with Alfie, so no beers for Dad on this trip (well, maybe just the one pre-match whilst Alfie devoured a plate of chips). As always, we parked in the park ‘n’ ride and hiked across the wasteland to the ground – yes I know it’s not the officially sanctioned route, traffic hazards etc etc etc, but whilst my knees last, it’s so much quicker. I’d also taken advantage of the Early Bird discount and bought the tickets in advance for printing at home (well work, but don’t tell them).



Going into the game, the U’s had been a bit up and down, struggling to find some consistency – I offer as evidence thumping Crewe 6-0 on a Tuesday night, before wimping out to lose at home against lowly Northampton the following Saturday. October had followed that pattern, great victories against Yeovil, Crawley and Morecambe, tainted with defeats at Stevenage (damn you Guthrie) and the previous Tuesday night at Grimbsy. Lincoln, on the other hand, had only been beaten twice all season, albeit they had drawn their previous two games prior to this match, at home to both Cambridge United and then Carlisle United. Is this a record, three successive matches against all three CUFC’s?

This game is so recent that there are still plenty of reports, accounts, videos etc. available online to read, so I’ll try and restrict this to my perception of the game. There was a very good attendance that day, with S1 in excellent voice (we were in S3), and certainly buoyed by a sizeable and vocal away following of well over 1,000 Imps filling out the North Stand.


Lincoln City fans in the North Stand

As for the game, one of the more enjoyable matches I’ve watched in recent years, between two teams who at least try to play the right way, notwithstanding personal skill permitting. Lincoln showed their intent after just five minutes, with a effort long-range effort that was fortunately straight at Gilmartin. This was to become a feature of the day that I remember quite vividly, neither side showing any reluctance to fire in long-range shots on goal (take note 2019/20 U’s!). The U’s gradually eased into the game, and after 10 minutes or so KVY was really starting to torment the Lincoln defence, going close after a twisting turning jinking dribble into the box.

After 28 minutes our increasing pressure had its reward, when a near post corner for the U’s had the Lincoln defence at sixes and sevens, and after his first effort was fumbled by the goalkeeper, Frankie Kent clipped it over the prone keeper and into the net – cue bedlam around the ground, and particularly the South Stand. Naturally, this spurred Lincoln on, and for much of the remainder of the half were bringing the game to the U’s from all angles. Senior picked up a yellow card from some ‘agricultural’ defensive work, though to be fair Lincoln were no slouches in that department, and Pett joined him in the referee’s little black book not long after. Despite the pressure, the U’s were still playing some beautiful one-touch passing football, and always carried a goal threat throughout – a threat that Lincoln were well aware of. 1-0 to the U’s at half-time, and time for some refreshments – one look at the queue, screw that, Alfie can have a McDonalds drive thru’ on the way home.

Second half wasn’t really more of the same, it was more…err…more the U’s really imposing themselves in the game, and for large parts of the second half keeping the league leaders penned in their own half, throwing bodies on the line to block the goal attempts that were being fired in. This rather left the only option open to Lincoln City was to revert to type, and overly rely on hoofball to create the few chances they had second half. Decent efforts by Sammie, Frank, Chuck, Senior and Jacko all deserved more, but last-ditch defending and decent goalkeeping denied them all.

With 15 minutes to go, Danny Cowley tried a virtual double-substitution, bringing on Matt Rhead and then straight after Matt Green, to try and turn things around. With time running out, tempers started to fray a bit, with Wilson picking up another booking with eleven minutes to go…and then substitute Green just four minutes later. McGreal’s game management started to come into effect too, replacing Sammie with erstwhile striker Tom Eastman with six minutes to go, and then replacing hard-working Senior (Man of the Match) with Mikael Mandron with just one minute to go – and a well-earned standing ovation from the U’s faithful. Three minutes into injury-time, and a tussle between Frank and Jason Shackell saw them both booked, followed by Eastman a minute later (I think for verbals?). Not to be outdone, Luke decided the referee wanted his name too with seconds of extra-time to go – but the “You Can’t Fix Stupid” award for this match goes to Matt Rhead, booked after the final whistle had blown, for what appeared to be a frank exchange of views with the match officials.

Colchester United 1 (Frankie Kent 28’) v Lincoln City 0

Without a doubt, not just an absolutely vital three points against a promotion rival, but a thoroughly entertaining game in which the U’s showed that they were more than a match to the champions-elect Lincoln City. Remarkably, because it wasn’t a dirty game at all, just two teams who were fully committed, there were ten bookings, five of which were handed out in extra-time. The U’s were hitting a bit of a purple patch, and following an identical victory against Swindon the following Saturday, got themselves into the automatic promotion places, and more or less stayed there right up to Christmas.

Lincoln probably decided they really didn’t like playing CUFC teams, after drawing two and losing one in succession. However, they recovered, and only lost one more game between then and confirming their promotion in mid-April. Of course, once that was done and dusted, the wheels came off a bit, culminating in a humiliating 3-0 home defeat on the last day of the season, against the mighty U’s. Not enough it turned out to get us into the play-offs, but a pyrrhic victory of sorts – the only team in the league to do the double over the champions.

Macclesfield, incidentally, after spending virtually the entire season in the relegation zone, clawed their way out at the beginning of April, and just managed to stay out on the last day of the season, with a draw at home to Cambridge.

There’s a good quality highlights video of our game against Lincoln City on YouTube, so enjoy…



Up the U’s
Prediction
Prediction Logged by at 05:28:00
Morecambe v Colchester United prediction logged
Blog
Matches of Yesteryear - Cheltenham v U's 22/2/03
at 19:25 10 Jan 2020

The U’s travel to the Globe Arena tomorrow, aiming at the very least to keep the unbeaten run going – though in truth after three somewhat disappointing draws against Exeter, Crawley and Stevenage, surely nothing less than three points is acceptable? Ahead of this trip, the Matches of Yesteryear random number generator has chosen a match which for me has a particularly bitter-sweet poignancy.
Forum
Thread
Matches of Yesteryear - Cheltenham v U's 22/2/03
at 19:24 10 Jan 2020

The U’s travel to the Globe Arena tomorrow, aiming at the very least to keep the unbeaten run going – though in truth after three somewhat disappointing draws against Exeter, Crawley and Stevenage, surely nothing less than three points is acceptable? Ahead of this trip, the Matches of Yesteryear random number generator has chosen a match which for me has a particularly bitter-sweet poignancy.

Cheltenham Town v Colchester United
Saturday 22nd February 2003
Nationwide League Division 2 (Tier 3)
Attendance 3,607


Match #36, and for the first time in the series a trip to Whaddon Road, home of Cheltenham Town. Cheltenham had been in the football league since gaining promotion from the Conference in 1999, and following a successive promotion via the play-offs at the end of 2001/02, this was the very first season we were to play each other in the football league (we had of course already met in both of our Conference seasons). This wasn’t quite my first visit to Whaddon Road, we’d also been drawn away at Cheltenham earlier in the season for a 1st round LDV Vans Trophy match on a freezing night in October, for which I had made my first trip to Whaddon Road. Rather wished I hadn’t in some ways, after the U’s were trounced 4-1 mainly as a result of a Richard McKinney horror-show which concluded on 45 minutes conceding a penalty for their first goal, with the bonus of a straight red for his troubles.

Cheltenham, managed by Bobby Gould at the time, were finding life in the third tier a bit of a struggle, and at the time of this match were bottom of the league, albeit only by one point and still well in touch with those above them, and with only five points separating the bottom nine clubs. The U’s were one of those nine, only two points above the relegation zone, and looking to make some serious progress away from danger and towards the relatively hallowed ground of mid-table obscurity (and safety). Our poor start to the season had lead former manager Steve Whitton to conclude he could do no more for the U’s, and he resigned on 29th January following a home defeat against Blackpool that saw us deep in the relegation mire. As a result, for this game we had Geraint Williams as caretaker manager – his first spell in charge of the U’s – and he wasn’t doing too badly either, getting a decent point at Stockport, victory at Ashton Gate, and then a home win against Mansfield.



The U’s lined up:
1….Simon Brown
25..Sam Stockley (Micky Stockwell 45’)
5….Scott Fitzgerald
19..Alan White
18..Liam Chilvers
7….Karl Duguid
10..Kem Izzet
6….Thomas Pinault
3….Joe Keith
23..Gareth Williams (Dean Morgan 63’)
9….Scott McGleish

My in-laws lived just outside Cheltenham, and my father-in-law particularly was a proper football supporter – born and bred within sight of Old Trafford, and a genuine Manchester United fan as a result (unlike the hordes from the Home Counties etc.). He would take any opportunity to get to a match, and was therefore delighted when his daughter hooked up with the sort of football fanatic who was always trying to get to any games that were possible. This was our second visit together to Whaddon Road, as he had braved the elements to be there with me for the dreadful LDV game too. We were never happier than with a glass of scotch or two watching Match of the Day on a Saturday night, marvelling at the skill, and howling with laughter at the incompetence in equal measure. Over the years we shared many excellent trips together to watch football, mainly Colchester United, sometimes Gloucester City, and even Salisbury City on occasion, before he was tragically taken from us by cancer at far too young an age. I can genuinely say he was one of the finest people I have had the privilege to meet, and I miss him terribly to this day. My trip to Old Trafford was tinged with the regret that he wasn’t there with me – he would have loved it.

Prior to kick off, as neither of us were wearing colours, we popped into the large home-only Cat and Fiddle pub on Whaddon Road for a pre-match beer. This is another football pub that has since disappeared, converted into flats in 2009, and subsequently demolished and rebuilt as some form of housing facility – not sure, but it looks like warden-assisted flats or some such now? I can only assume calling this new-build “Arkells” is in reference to the former pub that occupied the site?


The Cat and Fiddle shortly after closure

Back in 2003, away supporters were housed at the south end of the Wymans Stand – the new Whaddon Road End stand where we gather these days wasn’t built until 2005. I don’t recall it being a huge U’s following that day, probably no more than about 150-200 I’d guess, but we were in good voice hoping to see the positive uplift in results continued. Unfortunately, we’d barely warmed our seats when giant striker Julian Alsop headed home his tenth goal of the season after just 90 seconds. Although a massive set-back right at the outset, I always console myself in these situations with the belief that we still had plenty of time to put things right.

Cheltenham were proving to be no slouches on the pitch, despite their lowly position, but the U’s gradually began to impose themselves in the game as the first half went on. We rightly received our reward following good approach work by Joey Keith, when Gareth Williams drilled home an equaliser just before half-time. This was the first goal scored for the U’s by Williams, who had signed on loan from Crystal Palace a month earlier, along with Liam Chilvers from Arsenal. They were, I think, the last two players bought into the club by Steve Whitton – not a bad brace to finish on I reckon.

Both managers changed things around at half-time to try and gain an advantage. Gould replaced McAuley with David Bird, and George brought on Micky Stockwell for Sam Stockley (incidentally, it had been Micky Stockwell who was sacrificed following McKinney’s red card in the LDV, to allow benched Simon Brown to go in goal). The second half was just as evenly contested, with both teams well-matched on the pitch. Gould mixed it up further after 58 minutes, bringing on Damian Spencer for Tony Naylor, which was countered by George five minutes later, replacing goal-scorer Gareth Williams with Dean Morgan. The final roll of the dice was Bobby Gould’s, replacing Devaney with Marvin Brown with just over twenty minutes to go, but to no avail, and the match finished without any further goals.

Cheltenham Town 1 (Julian Alsop 2’) Colchester United 1 (Gareth Williams 44’)

Geraint Williams had finished his caretaker manager spell with two wins, two draws and no defeats, and had rightly put himself forward to become the new permanent manager. Peter Heard interviewed George and two other (then unknown) short-listed candidates in London – the Evening Gazette at the time reported on the Sunday that the interviews had taken place the day before (on the matchday!). I can’t believe that to be the case, it must have been either Friday 21st February, or Monday 24th February, and on Tuesday 25th February the relatively unknown (and completely untested) Phil Parkinson was announced as the new manager. Without the benefit of hindsight, I thought that was unfortunate for George, who I believed had earned his chance. But Parky clearly recognised the value of Geraint Williams as well, and moved swiftly to get him signed up as his assistant – and the rest, as they say, is history.

Cheltenham were to continue to struggle to adjust to life at this level, and although they did climb off the bottom eventually, they couldn’t escape the relegation zone, and finished fourth from bottom in May. Although it took a few seasons, it was our very own John Ward who eventually steered them back into League 1 via the 2006 play-off final.

Off the field, it was being widely reported that the broadcaster ITV Digital was in serious financial trouble, beset by low audience figures, piracy issues and a frankly unaffordable broadcasting rights multi-million pound deal with the Football League. This was proving to be a serious financial problem for many clubs, who based on the hype surrounding the broadcasting deal, had budgeted on the expectation of substantial revenue from the arrangement. Bradford City and Barnsley both went into administration, clubs were forced to cut staff and sell players, and ticket prices were increased to mitigate the shortfall in revenue from broadcasting. In all, 14 clubs went into administration in the four years following the collapse of ITV Digital, and many believe it was a major factor in most of these cases. Fortunately, the ever-wise and ever-prudent Peter Heard had refused to believe the hype surrounding ITV Digital, had never budgeted more than the U’s could afford, and as a result we were largely unaffected by the collapse.


Up the U’s
Blog
Matches of Yesteryear - Newport v U's 14/1/17
at 16:07 3 Jan 2020

Ahead of tomorrow’s match at Stevenage, the Matches of Yesteryear random match selector has chosen one with some familiar faces in, one or two of whom we will see tomorrow, and one we probably won’t.
Forum
Thread
Matches of Yesteryear - Newport v U's 14/1/17
at 16:06 3 Jan 2020

Ahead of tomorrow’s match at Stevenage, the Matches of Yesteryear random match selector has chosen one with some familiar faces in, one or two of whom we will see tomorrow, and one we probably won’t.

Newport County v Colchester United
Saturday 14th January 2017
Sky Bet League 2 (Tier 4)
Attendance 2,397


As with Match #11 of the series, we return to Rodney Parade almost exactly three years ago for Match #35, and a game against Newport County. At the time Newport County were managed by journeyman manager Graham Westley, who began his somewhat controversial managerial career at the youthful age of just 28, steering Kingstonian away from relegation in his relatively short spell at the club before being dismissed. Since then, he has exclusively managed at non-league and lower league level, including three previous spells at Stevenage. In terms of relatively high-profile appointments, he did have spells in charge at both Preston North End and Peterborough whilst they were both League 1 sides, though neither ended particularly well. On the 15th December 2019, Westley rejoined Stevenage for a fourth spell as their manager – the club where he has probably enjoyed most of his success in management.

Being a relatively easy trip from where I’m based, me and my youngest took the train over for this match, and just three weeks before I moved from Warminster to Calne. I don’t have a programme for this match, just my ticket stub, though therein is another story. You may recall I pointed out in the previous Newport County blog (for our game in November 2018) that I’d managed to blag complimentary tickets for that game – well this appears to be another one for which a freebie was received, though in this case just my ticket – had to pay for Alfie’s ☹. I don’t recall the circumstances with absolute certainty, but I’m fairly certain this was one the ticket cabin staff were holding for the right looking sort to benefit from – they must have liked my face!



At the time of this match, and after losing eight on the bounce, the Exiles were already adrift at the foot of the table, six points from safety behind Notts County. In typical Westley style, the manager had decided sweeping changes were needed, and during January either signed or loaned-in 12 players, whilst releasing seven during the same period. Eight of his new signings either started or were on the bench on this day, five of them as debuts, so they could be forgiven for maybe not knowing too much about each other. The U’s were riding high at the time, on an unbeaten run of eight games stretching back to mid-November, winning seven of them. This run had propelled the U’s from the relegation zone to sixth place, and it was probably no coincidence that this turnaround in form had coincided with the recall of Big George Elokobi from his loan at Braintree. Incidentally, for those that might be wondering, Frank Nouble was yet to arrive at Rodney Parade – he was to be signed at the end of the season.

The U’s lined up at Rodney Parade:
1….Sam Walker
6….Frankie Kent
18..Tom Eastman
15..George Elokobi
2….Richard Brindley
11..Brennan Dickenson
24..Craig Slater (Tarique Fosu-Henry 88’)
4….Tom Lapslie
22..Owen Garvan
28..Kurtis Guthrie (Denny Johnstone 78’)
9….Chris Porter (captain)

This was my first visit to Rodney Parade (owned by the Welsh Rugby Union), and whilst I had an inkling what to expect, given the pitch was used for not only football, but rugby as well (both the Dragons regional rugby union side, and Newport RFC rugby union club played there), nothing quite prepared me for the quagmire that day. Admittedly, mid-January is never a good time for sports pitches, but this was frankly shocking, and it didn’t bode well for the free-flowing passing game the U’s fans had been enjoying in recent months. Our current form clearly a contributing factor, an impressive 312 had made the long trip from Essex for this game, including three coachloads – so many in fact that the paltry block of seats allocated weren’t sufficient to accommodate us all comfortably. With our more vociferous S1 choir and drummer wanting to stand, not enough seats in the first place, and tempers fraying between those wanting to stand and those wanting to sit, the stewards had no choice but to open the terraced area at the east end of the south stand. Normally I’d have joined those on the terrace quite happily, but with Alfie accompanying me it was far better to stay in the seats for this one.

As for the match, with Prosser injured Chris Porter was captain for the day, and the U’s fielded a strong line-up (injuries permitting). Right from the outset, it was clear that the dreadful pitch was going to be the consummate leveler between play-off and relegation zone teams. The bounce was so unpredictable that the U’s more often than not had to resort to a more aerial approach to our game. Given they played on it every other week, this wasn’t a problem for Newport – in fact it was clear that it was their usual modus operandi (not unexpected from any side managed by Graham Westley). Newport also had a considerable physical aspect to their game (again, not unexpected from any side managed by Graham Westley), but it was pleasing to see the U’s stand-up to that sort of nonsense and give as good as they got.

Early on, Dickenson was getting a reasonable amount of joy down the left wing, despite that being the worst part of the pitch, giving David Pipe (no slouch when it comes to ‘ahem’ physicality) a torrid time. Brennan went close after just a few minutes, only just failing to get on the end of an excellent cross from Garvan. As we struggled to cope with the conditions adequately, Newport slowly grew into the game – not surprisingly with much of that threat also coming down the worst side of the pitch that they’d be most familiar with. However, we were still a threat, and with about 15 minutes gone, Porter raced through into the area from an excellent Guthrie pass, only to tumble over under a hefty challenge – I wasn’t convinced, sadly neither was referee Michael Salisbury, who waved play-on. Unfortunately, not long after Newport took the lead, as we failed to deal adequately with a Nelson long-throw, allowing Sheehan to drill low into the far corner past Walker – who I honestly thought should have done better from the view I had of it at the time.

However, the U’s weren’t daunted, continued to press the home side, and on 35 minutes received their reward after Guthrie intelligently nodded the ball into the box, raced through to pick up his own pass, and was unceremoniously blocked off in the box. Porter slotted home the resultant penalty, though not the most convincing of spot-kicks by my reckoning. Had the goalkeeper gone the right way, it would have been an easy save, but they all count when they hit the back of the net. From then to half-time the match became more and more fractious, ironically with the home crowd becoming increasingly incensed that the U’s were perfectly happy to mix up if that’s how the Exiles wanted to play it.

The second half mostly became a war of attrition, with both teams having spells in control, but neither side managing to break the deadlock. Just after the hour, Williams fired in a low shot that Walker saved comfortably, and Walker went one better a few minutes later, brilliantly tipping over a shot from newly arrived substitute Owen-Evans. Again Walker came to the rescue with 15 minutes to go, easily saving Reid’s header from an excellent Butler cross, but that was pretty much the last serious effort on goal for Newport. With Denny Johnstone replacing Kurtis Guthrie on 78 minutes, the U’s found another gear, and spent the remainder of the game pegging Newport back in their own half, and very nearly claiming the victory. Probably our best chance fell to Johnstone, after Porter had excellently closed down a clearance, but his snap-shot was dragged agonisingly wide, and that’s how the match finished.

Newport County 1 (Josh Sheehan 23’) Colchester United 1 (Chris Porter 35’p)

On balance, at the time I thought that wasn’t a bad point, even if we were playing the team at the bottom of the league. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it already, but the pitch was atrocious, so to escape with a point and our unbeaten run continued felt okay to me on the journey home. Of course, with the benefit of hindsight it proved to be a bit of a turning point in our season, and from hereon in our form was patchy, seeing the U’s slip out of the play-off zone for the last time at the end of February.

As for Newport and Westley, they parted company a month and a half later, with Newport County an even further 11 points adrift at the foot of the table. To say it was an acrimonious parting of the ways was an understatement – club secretary Graham Bean had already resigned in December, stating Westley was “…an impossible man to work with...he needs to learn some manners and start treating people with some respect”. When the board had finally had enough of Westley’s controversial approach to man-management, it transpired they had actually consulted with not only the players but the supporters as well in advance of making their decision. Newport-born Mike Flynn, one of the 12 signed in January by Westley, was appointed caretaker manager, and miraculously managed to steer the Exiles clear of relegation, winning seven of the final 12 matches of the season. The dreadful Rodney Parade pitch was removed in its entirety in the close season, and they now play on a hybrid pitch made of both natural grass and artificial fibres, which can stand up much better to the relentless battering it receives from three different teams.

For the U’s, this was one of the better games for Guthrie, who was to miss out the final few months of the season through an ankle injury sustained in March. He made a brief return in September of the following season, but after some increasingly frustrated outbursts through social media (and, I’d personally say, not helped by having a far bigger opinion of his ability than was matched in reality), Guthrie’s contract was terminated by mutual consent in March 2018. This followed an on-field altercation with Szmodics about who was going to take a penalty against Yeovil. Guthrie was snapped up by tomorrow’s opponents Stevenage, and of course he had a comedy-villain pivotal role in our match their last season. However, t’internet rumours suggest he won’t be there tomorrow, even if Graham Westley will be, as it is reported he’s gone to Brizzle Rovers – we shall see.


Forum
Thread
Guthrie
at 11:03 3 Jan 2020

Reportedly gone to Bristol Rovers according to the Stevenage Borochat forum, and they don’t seem too disappointed either.

https://forums.footballwebpages.co.uk/borochat/thread/31338

Can’t say I’m sorry either, he’d be nailed on to score if he was playing tomorrow.
Blog
Matches of Yesteryear - Notts County v U's 21/3/98
at 18:23 31 Dec 2019

And so we come to the end of 2019 – halfway through a season that promises much, so it seems appropriate that we dip into the 1997/98 season for this blog. May I take the opportunity to wish you all a very Healthy, Prosperous and most of all Happy New Year, starting of course with three points for the U’s against Crawley tomorrow.
Forum
Thread
Matches of Yesteryear - Notts County v U's 21/3/98
at 18:22 31 Dec 2019

And so we come to the end of 2019 – halfway through a season that promises much, so it seems appropriate that we dip into the 1997/98 season for this blog. May I take the opportunity to wish you all a very Healthy, Prosperous and most of all Happy New Year, starting of course with three points for the U’s against Crawley tomorrow.

Notts County v Colchester United
Saturday 21st March 1998
Nationwide League Division 3 (Tier 4)
Attendance 6,284


Match #34 of the series, and we travel to Meadow Lane, home of Notts County, towards the tail-end of what was to be a very auspicious season for the U’s. Our previous encounter in the league had been back in 1970/71, so I’m pretty certain this was the first of what would prove to be numerous visits to Meadow Lane over the years.



Notts County were managed at the time by none other than Big Sam Allardyce, who had arrived half-way through the previous season, though too late to save them from relegation to the basement. His previous managerial role had been at Blackpool, where he had guided them to the First Division play-offs, only to lose out to Bradford City in the semi-finals. Remarkably, despite bringing considerable success to Blackpool, chairman Owen Oyston sacked Allardyce shortly after the play-off defeat. Now in truth I’ve never been a big fan of Sam Allardyce, but Oyston (who was in prison when he sacked Allardyce, sentenced for the rape of a 16-year old girl) is an odious reptile by any measure, and makes Big Sam look like St Francis of Assisi.

Under Allardyce, Notts County were sweeping everyone before them this season, banging in goals for fun, and running away with the league title. Going into this match, they were a whopping 16 points clear of second place Torquay, and only needed one more victory to be mathematically certain of promotion. This would be no mean feat – not since the Second World War has a team achieved promotion in March – and it was clear that Sam wanted this record for him and Notts County. Part of my antipathy towards Sam Allardyce, apart from the repeated corruption allegations, the relatively one-dimensional tactics his teams tended to employ, and the big gob, was that I’m absolutely certain at some point around this game, before or after, he had some fairly uncomplimentary things to say about Colchester United. I honestly can’t remember the words, nor can I find any reference on the internet, but I’m sure it was focused on the usual big club little club sort of thing.

The U’s lined up:
1….Carl Emberson
2….Joe Dunne
3….Simon Betts
4….Aaron Skelton
5….David Greene (programme lists David Gregory)
6….David Gregory (programme lists Paul Buckle)
7….Richard Wilkins
8….Paul Buckle (programme lists Steve Forbes)
9….Mark Sale (programme lists Tony Lock; Steve Forbes 76’)
10..Tony Lock (programme lists Tony Adcock)
11..Paul Abrahams (programme lists Nicky Haydon; Karl Duguid 62’)

Never mind Notts County, the U’s under Steve Wignall weren’t having too bad a season either, and after thumping Macclesfield 5-1 at Layer Rd the previous Saturday, were sat in 7th place with 57 points (on goal difference), just inside the play-off zone. There was still a lot to do though, Peterborough United and Rotherham United were also on 57 points, with three and four games respectively in hand on the U’s.

I traveled up on the train for the match, which allowed time to meet my brother-in-law for a beer beforehand at the Trent Navigation Inn. I can’t remember exactly how many of the U’s faithful made the trip up, but I’d say it was about 250-300, and we were definitely in good voice. Back then, away supporters were given the cavernous Kop Stand (as it was called then), which could accommodate 5,438 if needs be, so we had plenty of room! I couldn’t help but be impressed with the ground, particularly given they had replaced three of the four stands in the 1992 close season (apparently at a cost then of £8m). I must admit, I always thought that the original Meadow Lane was one of Archibald Leitch’s, with the replica gable above the new-build Jimmy Sirrel stand an homage to Leitch – but it turns out he wasn’t the designer after all.


Jimmy Sirrel Stand

I have virtually no detailed recollections of the game, rather a more general clear memory of a decent game of football, which the U’s controlled for long periods. Notts County were clearly a good side, but whether it was the significance of the occasion (given they could achieve promotion with a victory), or we were just too good that day, but they never really troubled the U’s. I certainly do remember the half-time pie, that’s for certain, which as football food goes, was right up there at the top alongside the old Abbey Stadium bacon rolls.

The second half was more of the same, and in fact we began to look the more likely to break the deadlock and score – which I’m certain would have been the winner had we done so, and really wouldn’t have been undeserved either. Wignall had already introduced Doogie and Steve Forbes during the second half, but on 84 minutes I witnessed something I don’t think I’d seen before, not possibly ever since. With one last desperate roll of the dice, Allardyce made a triple substitution, bringing on Shaun Cunnington, Justin Jackson and Tony Lormor. However, to no avail, as we comfortably saw out the remaining minutes to earn an invaluable point towards our promotion challenge at the champions-elect.

Notts County 0 Colchester United 0

Although the U’s had prevented Notts County from gaining a March promotion at the first attempt, Leyton Orient weren’t able to do likewise the following Saturday 28th, losing 2-1 at Meadow Lane. With results elsewhere going their way, this also confirmed Notts County as champions. They would go on to amass 99 points, scoring a whopping 82 goals, and with a +39 goal difference. They were only beaten five times all season, one of which was at Layer Rd. There were only three teams in the league that they failed to defeat at least once, Macclesfield Town (promoted in second place), Peterborough United, and of course Colchester United, and there was only one team in the entire league that they failed to score a single goal against – you guessed it, Colchester United!

As for the U’s, well I’m sure you all know that we had a storming finish to the season, winning five and drawing one of our final seven matches, to finish top of the play-off zone. Our first-leg play-off semi-final at Barnet has already featured in the Matches of Yesteryear series (Match #15), and needless to say our day out at Wembley to come may well feature in the future, so I’ll say no more than that for now.

Finally, often football supporters will talk about that most elusive of beasts, a 20-goal per season striker. Not that I wouldn’t say no if one came along, but it’s worth reflecting on our 1997/98 season. The joint top league goal-scorers for the U’s were Aaron Skelton, Paul Abrahams, Neil Gregory and Mark Sale, with just seven goals each! Even taking in all competitions, David Gregory was our top goal-scorer, with just ten to his name. It just goes to show, with a stout defence and goals shared out across the entire squad, you can still achieve greatness.

Up the U’s
Blog
Matches of Yesteryear - Brighton v U's 27/10/01
at 13:38 29 Dec 2019

A little later than usual for this one, as I was actually in Colchester yesterday seeing family. Not particularly good timing given the U’s are at home today, but we’re all fairly far flung these days, so the opportunity to get a sizeable amount of the family in one place at the same time couldn’t be overlooked lightly.
Forum
Thread
Matches of Yesteryear - Brighton v U's 27/10/01
at 13:38 29 Dec 2019

A little later than usual for this one, as I was actually in Colchester yesterday seeing family. Not particularly good timing given the U’s are at home today, but we’re all fairly far flung these days, so the opportunity to get a sizeable amount of the family in one place at the same time couldn’t be overlooked lightly.

Brighton & Hove Albion v Colchester United
Saturday 27th October 2001
Nationwide League Division 2 (Tier 3)
Attendance 6,531


Match #33 of the series, and we travel to the Withdean in 2001, temporary home of Brighton & Hove Albion at the time. Following sale of the Goldstone Ground in 1997, for two dismal seasons Brighton played their ‘home’ fixtures at the Priestfield Stadium in Gillingham, a distance of over 70 miles. However, this was clearly untenable tong-term, and in 1999 an agreement was reached to allow BHAFC to return to Brighton, playing at the Withdean Athletics Stadium. To accommodate the football spectators, a bank of temporary seats was erected as the South stand, with existing facilities designed for athletics meetings already in place for the North stand. Away supporters were housed on another temporary bank of seats at the east end of the ground, and with the curvature of the running track to accommodate, a considerable distance from the action.


South Stand viewed from the East Stand

Brighton were riding high in the league at the time, under new manager Peter Taylor, and were currently second. Taylor had been appointed at the beginning of the season, after former manager Micky Adams had left to become Assistant Manager at Leicester City. The U’s, managed by Steve Whitton, weren’t going too badly either, and thanks to some excellent home form, were eighth. However, gaining points away were proving to be problematic, and we hadn’t won away since the opening day 6-3 thrashing of Chesterfield.



The U’s lined up:
29..Andy Woodman
7….Karl Duguid
4….Gavin Johnson
5….Ross Johnson
6….Simon Clark
10..Kem Izzet
20..Micky Stockwell
17..Bobby Bowry
15..Thomas Pinault (Joe Keith 62’)
9….Scott McGleish
21..Kevin Rapley (Dean Morgan 79’)

I don’t remember this match being all-ticket, but I do know the relationship between Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club and the local residents of Withdean was very strained to put it mildly, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it had been a requirement to ensure the number of fans attending was closely monitored. Maybe, but whatever the reason, I have a receipt for a ticket that was purchased during the week leading up to the game: not something I’d normally do, so there must have been some sort of need.



Aside from manager Peter Taylor, there were one or two names in the Brighton squad at the time, Michael Kuipers in goal for instance, but no one with as big a reputation as Bobby Zamora. Following a successful loan spell at the back end of the 1999/2000 season (six goals in six matches), Brighton signed Zamora permanently in 2000/01. He proceeded to dominate the goal-scoring charts, netting 31 goals in 48 matches across all competitions, not surprisingly taking Brighton to promotion from the Nationwide League Division 3 as champions. Zamora hadn’t had a bad start to 2001/02 either, already with ten goals to his name, and we were barely a third into the season.

I travelled over to this one by train on what was a very wet day, and after a few beers at pubs around the station, caught the shuttle bus out to the ground. As with our own stadium, there were severe restrictions on street parking around the ground on matchdays – basically you couldn’t, and the programme even warned offenders that “individuals who do park in the restricted zone are liable to have their season tickets revoked”. Harsh, but with little or no alternative options for Brighton to play at, it was essential they kept the local residents as content as possible – I won’t say happy, because they were never going to be happy about sharing their leafy suburb with a bunch of football yobs.

My arrival at the ground, much to amusement of onlookers, was accompanied by slipping on the last step leading down into the concourse and landing arse-first in a puddle – not the best of starts, but fortunately the only damage was to my dignity. As for the game, what can I say – probably the best I’ve seen the U’s play and come away with nothing. I recall there was a match at Layer Rd, against Brentford I think, that the U’s were utterly brilliant in, did absolutely everything right, just couldn’t score and the match finished 0-0. Well this was similar, but against a very good team in Brighton, but they somehow nicked it 1-0.

Brighton manager Peter Taylor, put it very succinctly after the match when he admitted "the best team lost". He went on “I've got to give Colchester a lot of credit, they didn't let us have the ball. They were a very lively side, exactly as we expected. They created several first-half chances and should have taken the lead, but when you've got a keeper as good as Michel and a good scorer like Bobby you're always in with a chance”.

After just 90 seconds Kuipers saved well from a Kevin Rapley. Micky Stockwell crossed from the wing, and following a defensive slip, Rapley had the goal at his mercy, but Kuipers raced off his line to block the fierce shot. A few minutes later, after a driving run forward, Duguid blasted inches wide, and on 15 minutes Kuiper again pulled off a brilliant save to keep out a Scott McGleish diving header. We were to rue those missed chances a minute later, when Paul Watson fired a free-kick into the U’s penalty area, and with Ross Johnson caught out, there was Zamora to toe-poke in from close range. Very much against the run of play, but the U’s just got right back at it: Izzet blasted a shot into the side-netting, and Duguid, Raply, Izzet and McGleish all forced further fine saves from the Dutchman Kuipers, who was having the game of a lifetime between the sticks.

Second half the pace slackened a bit, but still very much the U’s continuing to take the game to Brighton. There was the constant threat of Zamora and fellow front-man Lee Steele, and with Brighton very much playing on the break, their pace and skill was something to be very wary of. Woodman in particular would take much credit from diving at the feet of Zamora as he broke clear to try and score a second, blocking a fierce angled drive from Gary Hart at the second attempt, and a fantastic double save to deny Zamora and then Paul Brooker in injury-time. However, at the other end we just couldn’t get past Kuipers, and the game finished 1-0 to Brighton.

Brighton & Hove Albion 1 (Zamora 16’) Colchester United 0

Given the festive season is upon us, and mention of Brighton’s temporary exile to the Priestfield Stadium, some of you may have been unfortunate enough to have been amongst the 2,647 present at the 1997 Boxing Day game against Brighton? Rankin, Adcock and then Rankin again had raced Colchester United to a 3-0 lead with less than 30 minutes on the clock, only for Paul Emblen to smash in a 20-minute hat-trick in the second half to bring it back to 3-3. Scott Stamps put the U’s ahead 4-3 with fifteen minutes to go, but with only four minutes to go Jeff Minton despatched a penalty for Brighton to complete a quite remarkable come-back.

Bobby Zamora would go one better in 2001/02, scoring 32 goals in 46 matches, and again a crucial contribution in Brighton winning back-to-back promotions as champions, with Reading and Stoke via the play-offs joining them in the Nationwide League Division 1. The U’s slipped away from their early promise, but still finished reasonably comfortably lower mid-table, well clear of any serious relegation concerns. After a long career playing at the highest level, including a couple of caps for England, Zamora bowed out with one final season at Brighton & Hove Albion in 2015/16, and showed he still had it netting a very respectable seven goals in 26 matches.

Finally, this wasn’t quite the last that Colchester United heard of Zamora. In 2017 The Legacy Foundation, co-founded by Bobby Zamora, Mark Noble and Rio Ferdinand, were in discussions with the council to develop a brownfield site at the Hythe. The foundations aim was “… to deliver schemes for local authorities that not only reduce the pressure on affordable housing and community services, but will empower their tenants through onsite community and sporting facilities”. Unfortunately, the council were unable to unlock a necessary £10m grant from the government’s Homes and Communities Agency, and with decontamination costs prohibitively expensive, in 2019 the Legacy Foundation abandoned interest in the Hythe option.

Up the U’s
[Post edited 29 Dec 2019 13:42]
Please log in to use all the site's facilities

wessex_exile


Site Scores

Forum Votes: 18
Comment Votes: 0
Prediction League: 9
TOTAL: 27
About Us Contact Us Terms & Conditions Privacy Cookies Advertising
© FansNetwork 2020