|Knees-up Mother Brown #9|
Written by wessex_exile on Sunday, 8th Oct 2023 14:44
So, what have we learned so far this season. Well, clearly when we play against better teams who also like to play the attractive passing game, we’re as good as anyone in this league (I submit as evidence m’lud, Gillingham, Mansfield and Notts County). When we’re up against the gnarlier more ‘traditional’ outfits, who want nothing more than to get in our faces, close us down and bully us, not so much. The trouble is, this league is made up of about 25% of the former and 75% of the latter, so we’re on a hiding to nothing if we don’t put that right and develop some steel (without the needless indiscipline). With absolutely no disrespect to today’s visitors, I suspect Morecambe will be more of the latter today, as will FGR and Harrogate up next, so what better chance to prove our mettle and take all nine points on offer?
[b]In Ben we trust…hopefully[/b]
[b]The world outside U’s World[/b]
If proof were needed that like moths around a candle flame, anyone who courts the favour of Donald Trump will end up in the sh’t, the ‘MyPillow Guy’ Mike Lindell is well on the way to bankrupting himself and his company. Facing billion dollar defamation lawsuits from both Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems, as well as former Dominion employee Eric Coomer, his attorneys Parker Daniels Kibort LLC have filed a motion to remove themselves from his defence due to unpaid legal fees, reportedly in the millions of dollars. All this is on top of his $5m “[i]Prove Mike Wrong[/i]” 2020 election challenge, when software developer Robert Zeidman proved that Lindell’s ‘election fraud data’ was just that – a fraud. He’s still waiting to be paid…
In other news: Israel has declared a “[i]state of readiness for war[/i]” as conflict in and around Gaza increases; Dale Vince is to stop funding Just Stop Oil (so Just Stop Funding Just Stop Oil?) after concluding that further protests from the group would be “[i]counterproductive[/i]”; Sainsbury’s denies that their ‘big shop’ prices are now more expensive than Waitrose; and in a wake up call for the climate change crisis, on about a third of days so far this year the average global temperature was at least 1.5C higher than pre-industrial levels. A long-term global rise of 1.5C is widely considered to be the tipping point for more damaging impacts of climate change.
…and finally, you heard it here first, peas are the new avocados according to The Times. During the 2010s avocados became the favourite obsession of the intelligentsia and illuminati (I quite like them too), with global imports peaking at $4.8bn. However, the current viral sensation is apparently peas on toast, with hashtag “peas on toast” on 3.3m TikTok views and Google searches for peas on toast increased by 133% just this month. Who’d have thought?
[b]”[i]Aren’t peas brilliant![/i]”[/b]
I am assuming because of the international break, the FGR game will be available for streaming on iFollow, not that it’ll matter to me as I make my way over to one of my closest League 2 fixtures this season. Interestingly, today’s opponents Morecambe have been awarded a postponement next weekend, as they may have no less than four players out on international duty, including Eli King (Wales U21), JJ McKiernan (N Ireland U21), Jacob Bedeau (Grenada) and Michael Mellon (Scotland U21, and as Durham has mentioned, Micky’s son). Perhaps I do them a disservice lumping them in with the League 2 cloggers club?
My Xitter alerts made depressing reading yesterday evening, as the U’s U21 were beaten 5-2 at Maldon Park by their illustrious opponents Chelsea. To be fair though, it was no real disgrace, as Chelsea are up their with the Spurs U21 side who smashed five past our second string first team in the EFL trophy without reply. Despite the scoreline, reports indicate goalkeeper Harrison Chamberlain had a very good game, and it was a first appearance for recalled Frankie Terry too (though he did get booked in the first half).
[b]Match of the Day
This is kind of a special, in so much as the memorabilia random match selector has chosen Issue #12 of [b]Daniel’s[/b] excellent fanzine [i]The U’sual[/i]. As a result, I have picked the match immediately after the fanzine’s entry in the archive, which happens to be the U’s at Blackpool almost exactly 18 years ago, a game I obviously wasn’t at (and on a Sunday too). Technically, btw, the fanzine was actually released following the Blackpool game, but as I don’t usually know exact dates, each fanzine is assigned the first of the month they were released.
As the front cover suggests, this issue of the fanzine was heavily focused on the ongoing new stadium campaign, coordinated by the Colchester Community Stadium Action Group. The fanzine included a Q&A style interview with CCSAG committee members including our very own [b]Leadbelly[/b]. Much of the interview focused on where matters were at, when are we likely to hear anything, what more can supporters do – that sort of thing. This followed on from handing in the 30,000 signature petition to the council on the Thursday before the trip to Blackpool.
Other articles in the fanzine included an interview with physio Stuart Ayles (remember him and his Siege House big tie moment!) and a lovely tribute piece in praise of George Elokobi. Perhaps I’m biased, but I was also amused to realise Issue #12 also included my [i]I-Spy Guide to Trolls[/i], originally aired on the precursor to this forum.
Anyhow, back to the [i]Match of the Day[/i] and we’re several months into Parky’s third full season in charge of the U’s. A mixed start to the season, with just one win in six and three defeats against Gillingham, Swansea and Southend (ouch) saw the U’s in the relegation zone at the end of August, but going unbeaten in September including victories over Donny and Port Vale had steadied the ship and pulled the U’s back up into lower mid-table.
However, as a league it was incredibly tight with (as Daniel commented in the fanzine) “[i]only 5 points between 23rd and 7th[/i]”. The previous Saturday at Layer Road the U’s had disappointingly lost 2-1 to a distinctly average Chesterfield, even after having the match ball delivered by the Army Air Corps. Proof if any were needed about the U’s consistent inconsistency in those early months of the 2005/06 season. Seems consistent inconsistency isn’t anything new after all.
Going into the game, although we were holding on to a mid-table berth at the time, Blackpool, under Colin Hendry as manager, were having a harder time of it, and right on the edge of the relegation zone. They had some decent players too, not least Les Pogliacomi in goal, Simon Grayson and Rod Edwards in midfield, and of course at the time Scott Vernon up front.
Incidentally, the game was moved to the Sunday to avoid England’s World Cup qualifier against Austria at Old Trafford – a game in which the Lions stuttered to a 1-0 victory thanks to a Frank Lampard penalty. However, this was not before Beckham became the first player to be sent off twice for England and wearing the captain’s armband too. Despite this, and thanks to Netherland’s victory over the Czech Republic later Saturday evening, England had qualified for the 2006 World Cup.
Looking to bounce straight back after the disappointing Chesterfield match, Parky’s U’s lined up:
Reports indicate that the flow of the match very much reflected our respective league positions, with the U’s carving out plenty of chances against a beleaguered Blackpool who seemed more intent on keeping us out than doing anything positive to help their plight at the other end. With less than ten minutes on the clock, a neat turn by Danns on the edge of the box allowed him to stab a shot wide of keeper Pogliacomi, but sadly inches wide of the post too.
A few minutes later, a long punt from Aidan Davison was well worked down the U’s right flank, and flicked on to Greg Halford, but his goal-bound left foot thunderbolt cannoned off a defender and safely into the arms of Pogliacomi. However, seconds later the U’s had the lead their dominance deserved. With a rush of blood to his head, Pogliacomi bowled out the ball to no one in particular from the edge of his box, but it was comfortably blocked back to Halford, and his instinctive dipping drive over the frantically back-pedalling keeper easily found the back of the net…and over 150 noisy U’s supporters erupted in celebration.
This really should have been the start of a landslide victory for the U’s, but somehow Blackpool managed to keep the U’s out through to half-time – whether through last ditch defending or profligate shooting from the U’s. It was more of the same into the second half, but still Blackpool managed to keep it at just 1-0 down. As ninety minutes ticked over, Blackpool hadn’t registered a single attempt on target, but wouldn’t you know it, in the 92nd minute, they’d finally do so.
A long punt up-field from Pogliacomi found the Tangerines with a three on two, and following a fortuitous amount of ping pong (lack of) ball control, it bounced out to Tommy Wright, whose toe poke managed to roll agonisingly into the bottom left corner of Aidan’s goal. Blackpool celebrated the lifeline they hadn’t deserved but got anyway, whilst the U’s were facing the possibility of rueing all of our missed chances to bury the game.
Not so Greg Halford and the U’s, that day we were made of sterner stuff. As Blackpool supporters celebrated the point they believe they’d snatched, another long punt from Pogliacomi, perhaps looking to repeat his previous ‘assist’, was this time actually controlled by the U’s midfield. Moving nicely up the left wing, no one in an orange shirt seemed to notice Greg ghosting up the right into the Blackpool box. An inch-perfect pass picked him out, and Greg made no mistake drilling his shot across the face of the goal and into the far corner.
Bloomfield Road was silenced, replaced by the roar of the U’s Faithful, as finally we’d earned the three points we deserved – our first victory over Blackpool in 15 attempts.
[b]Blackpool 1 (Wright 90+2’) Colchester United 2 (Halford 16’, 90+4’)[/b]
Post-match it is reported (according to Geoffrey Squire in [i]The U’sual[/i] Issue #12) that Halford described the game as the best rollercoaster he’d been on in Blackpool. It certainly did wonders for the U’s league campaign. Although slipping to a narrow 1-0 defeat at home to Bournemouth the following weekend, the U’s were about to go on an extended run of form that would see us back in the play-offs by December, top by mid-January, and the rest is history.
Blackpool continued to struggle, and a month later Colin Hendry was relieved of his duties. Simon Grayson took over as caretaker player manager, and although they spent a lot of December, January and February in the relegation zone, they had just enough about them to pull clear in late February, and then stay clear to the end. They finished two places and three points outside the relgation zone.
Although the video quality shows its age, this game features on reel 5 of Matt Hudson’s [i]Against All Odds[/i] season review and is well worth a watch for Greg’s opportunistic lob over the keeper and winner at the death! I’ve set it to start at the Blackpool review, but if you want you can also see the Chesterfield defeat before that if you must.
[b]Up the U’s![/b]
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Blogs by wessex_exile
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Knees-up Mother Brown #14 by wessex_exile
The blog returns with [i]KMB14[/i], after another awayday last weekend and first visit for me to Edgeley Park to see the U’s pit their wits against the heir apparent champions Stockport County. Despite a stewarding fubar that I’ve probably mentioned more than enough already, it was a good day out overall, with the U’s more than a match for Stockport for most of the game, apart that is from a 90 second lapse in concentration either side of half-time. Certainly no disgrace though, and with the U’s getting straight back on the bike midweek with a comfortable 1-0 victory over League 1 Posh (albeit against largely their second string), I think we can look forward to this afternoon against promotion contenders Barrow with a degree of confidence.
Knees-up Mother Brown #13 by wessex_exile
[i]KMB13[/i], and this weekend I’m sure we will all, in our own way, pause to remember the fallen. With war again raging in Europe, and the Middle East aflame, I’m sadly reminded of the lyrics of Eric Bogle.
Knees-up Mother Brown #12 by wessex_exile
It’s a wet, windy first weekend of November, which can mean only one thing – it’s the magic of the FA Cup again! Today we face a trip to the New Meadow, home of League 1 Shrewsbury Town. I’ve never been to the New Meadow, my last trip to Salop was to watch the U’s win 2-1 in our FA Cup second round match at Gay Meadow back in December 2005 – and what a day that was too. That match was featured in [i]Matches of Yesteryear #20[/i], and it was pleasing to see it was the focus of a club interview with Greg Halford last week. There is also something very noteworthy about today – unless my calculations are awry, this will be our 200th appearance in the world’s greatest cup competition.
Knees-up Mother Brown #11 by wessex_exile
Well, following the U’s has been a bit of a rollercoaster through the last week. Ben Garner’s U’s slumped to a very poor home defeat last Saturday against Harrogate Town, despite taking the lead with a sublime strike from Chay Cooper. Robbie had seen enough, and that evening Ben was let go, with U21 lead coach Matty Etherington announced as the interim Head Coach on Monday. On Tuesday night, Matty Etherington’s U’s put in one hell of a shift, to come away from Grimsby (Cleethorpes – ed.) with all three points and a masterclass from Arthur Read – happy days, could Matty be our man? Well, not right now that’s for sure, after a call to Robbie from Crawley Town yesterday letting him know that apparently Matty is tied up in a contract exit clause from his brief spell at Crawley, seemingly forbidding him from operating in a head coach/ manager role until May 2024 (when his Crawley contract would have expired). So, Matty Etherington is stood down, with Assistant Head Coach Scott Marshall stepping up as our new interim Head Coach for the tough trip to Accrington Stanley.
Knees-up Mother Brown #10 by wessex_exile
Back again, after another U’s-induced matchday ‘experience’ at FGR, and what an experience it was. What was already a poor match between two poor sides descended into insanity after the red card for Mingi, with the U’s dismantled repeatedly to let four second half goals in. I hardly ever leave a game before the final whistle, but as the board went up for nine more minutes I’d seen enough and me and Alfie headed out for our lift home (and as a result, missed the frank exchange of views between players and supporters at the end). However, let’s focus on the positives, whatever was said, a much changed U’s were a different team on Tuesday at League 1 Cambridge. The U’s thoroughly deserved the win and their Pizza Slice Trophy three points, thanks in no small part to an excellent performance from Chay Cooper.