LIVERPOOL 3 CRYSTAL PALACE 0 Liverpool remain unbeaten in the Premier League this season after Sadio Mane scored his 100th goal for the club, and became the first player to net in nine consecutive league matches against a single opponent. Everyone predicted a win for Liverpool, with 10 getting it spot-on.
MANCHESTER CITY 0 SOUTHAMPTON 0 A strangely shot-shy City were fortunate to get a draw, as they did not manage a single shot on target until the 90th minute. Again everyone predicted a win for City, so no points for anyone.
NORWICH CITY 1 WATFORD 3 Norwich become only the fourth side to ever lose their opening five Premier League games - and manager Daniel Farke is the first manager to lose 15 consecutive matches in the English top flight. The canaries are already looking like falling off their perch and dropping into the Championship yet again. Nobody got this spot-on, but 5 did have the outcome.
FULHAM 1 READING 2 Fulham dropped off the top of the Championship table after this surprise defeat. Again nobody had this spot-on, and only oxfcolu got the outcome. The other 27 predicted a win for Fulham.
MILLWALL 1 COVENTRY CITY 1 Millwall and Coventry shared the points in an entertaining Championship match that should have had more goals. 4 got this spot-on, and 1 more had the outcome.
QUEENS PARK RANGERS 1 BRISTOL CITY 2 City get a 93rd minute winner and their third straight away win in the Championship. No points for anyone from this game. 24 predicted a win for Rangers with 14 going for a 2-1 in what was the weeks most predicted score.
AFC WIMBLEDON 0 PLYMOUTH ARGYLE 1 The 47th-minute winning goal ensured Plymouth manager Ryan Lowe had reason to celebrate on his 43rd birthday. Just 2 got this spot-on, and another 6 had the outcome.
BOLTON WANDERERS 0 ROTHERHAM UNITED 2 Ben Wiles struck twice in four first-half minutes as Rotherham ended Bolton's unbeaten home record in League One. Well done to Daniel for being the only one to have this spot-on, and only Blue4U2 got the outcome. 23 predicted a win for Bolton.
COLCHESTER UNITED 0 CRAWLEY TOWN 1 A first apperance in the Happy League this season for the U's, and one to forget, as Crawley get their first away win of the League Two season. No points for anyone again here, as 24 predicted a win for the U's.
MANSFIELD TOWN 1 ROCHDALE 1 After looking good against the U's, Mansfield lost their next five games, before coming from behind to get a draw here. Perhaps it was more like the U's were rubbish on the night. 3 had this spot-on, and 1 more got the outcome.
After the last two weeks had produced less than inspiring results, I was confident this week would be better, with a number of home teams looking good. How wrong could I be, with only Liverpool winning out of those so called good things. In fact they produced the only home win in this weeks fixtures, as we had an incredible six away wins. The home advantage with the fans back watching games has soon evaperated away. It is certainly the case in the Happy League, as the last 22 games have only produced 4 home wins. That Liverpool victory saved the week from being a complete disaster, as it achieved exactly half of the weeks 20 total 3 pointers, and the 18 outcomes were more than half of the 33 total 1 pointers. In such a tough week four members did well to have two 3 pointers each. Best of those was basher2010, who had the Millwall 1-1 and the Plymouth 1-0, plus two outcomes, to make him the weeks top scorer with a very decent 8 points. The other three were blueeagle and medicine_man, who both had the Liverpool 3-0 and the Millwall 1-1, and Sector4 who got the wins for Liverpool and Plymouth, to give them all a decent 6 points. Best of the members to get one 3 pointer was oxfcolu, who had the Liverpool 3-0 and three outcomes to also give him a decent 6 points.
In the Premier By getting the Mansfield 1-1 spot-on, RSCOSWORTH increased his lead to a decent 9 points. The most it has been in his fourth week running at the summit. Having the Liverpool 3-0 spot-on moved sevebalo up a place into second, but only on the most 3 pointer rule ahead of unitedwhites and this weeks top scorer basher2010, who moved up three places. The decent week for Sector4 also gave him a three place rise. Another to benefit from getting the Liverpool 3-0 spot-on was noah4x4, as it was enough to move him out of the relegation zone. He is replaced by ghughes11 again, as along with concordman and Blue4U2, they are all still looking for a first 3 pointer this season. But because they have all got a decent number of outcomes, they remain very much in touch, as there are only 12 points separating 2nd to 10th.
In Division One Just one outcome for MrHappy2 means he only has a one week stay at the top, but he only loses out on the most 3 pointer rule from medicine_man, who moves back to the top, after last being there in Week 1. Whatever medication he has sorted out for himself, it seems to be lasting longer than a Covid jab. Even though he drops a place to third, Tropical_Us moves 2 points nearer the top after getting the Liverpool 3-0 spot-on. Remaing fourth after having the Mansfield 1-1 spot-on is gerry_us, and he is now only 2 points from the automatics. Up another place into fifth is blueeagle, after his decent week. The final play-off spot is held by Lewis_1. Just missing on that final place is Pinault_Noir, on the most 3 pointer rule again. The only real change in the rest of the league has wessex_exile moving up three places, thanks to getting the Mansfield 1-1 spot-on.
THE TABLES (50 out of 280 played) (Tie-breaker: Most 3 pointers, and then the first to post)
Week 8 Fixtures
LEEDS UNITED v WEST HAM UNITED LEICESTER CITY v BURNLEY BLACKBURN ROVERS v CARDIFF CITY FOREST GREEN ROVERS v TRANMERE ROVERS HARROGATE TOWN v STEVENAGE HARTLEPOOL UNITED v EXETER CITY
After over a month of absence, the U’s finally make a welcome return to the JobServe for a home league fixture. Sutton seem to have quickly got over their Covid-19/ injury crisis/ international call-up woes, fielding a team the following Tuesday that was strong enough to push Cardiff City hard in a narrow 3-2 defeat to the Championship side. But enough of that, I haven’t seen the outcome of the EFL investigation, but I don’t doubt the decision has either already been or will be rubber-stamped. Gamesmanship – maybe, but I hope at least the EFL are now a bit more alert to the fact that some might think they can treat them like chumps when it suits their purpose? Still – it’s great to be back home isn’t it!
TWTWTW On this day in 1961 UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld died in a plane crash under somewhat mysterious circumstances. “Who?” I hear you say. Swede Hammarskjöld was elected to the role of Secretary-General in 1953 and re-elected unanimously in 1957. In 1960 the newly independent Congo asked for UN help to defuse the Congo Crisis, and Hammarskjöld subsequently made four visits to the Congo between 1960 and September 1961 in his efforts to find a diplomatic solution, efforts that were treated with distain by the Soviet Government.
Meanwhile, on the ground, UN forces launched Operation Morthor, a military offensive against mercenary forces serving the State of Katanga, which had seceded from Congo at the start of the Congo crisis. Into the midst of this operation were thrust “A” Company of the Irish army 35th Battalion, 155 men under the command of Commandant Pat Quinlan. “A” Company were ordered to hold Jadotville, a small mining town comprising a few scattered properties, no defensive perimeter, bisected by a public road, and of no obvious strategic value.
On the morning of Wednesday 13th September 1961, whilst most of the Irish troops were at mass, a combined estimated force of 3-5,000 attacked the town, a force comprising mostly Katangese soldiers and local settlers, but supported by many Belgian, French, German and Rhodesian mercenaries, mostly veterans of the Algerian War. The surprise offensive might have worked too, but for the vigilance of Private Billy Ready on sentry duty, who fired a warning shot to alert his comrades.
Five days of battle followed, with wave after wave of attacks from the besieging forces repelled by “A” Company, armed mostly with just personal firearms and a small number of water-cooled Vickers machine guns and 60mm mortars. Unable to break out of the siege, UN forces attempted to get relief to “A” Company on a number of occasions, all to little or no avail. After refusing one invitation to surrender, and with no ammunition or food left and very little drinkable water, Quinlan finally surrendered on Sunday 17th September. Although several Irishmen were wounded (including Private Ready), Quinlan did not lose a single man in the conflict. The Katangese were not so fortunate, with an estimated 300 killed (including 30 mercenaries) and up to 1,000 wounded.
”We will hold out until our last bullet is spent. Could do with some whiskey.”
The following day Hammarskjöld was en route to Congo to try and negotiate a ceasefire with the Katangese troops under Moise Tshombe when his Douglas DC-6 airliner crashed in Northern Rhodesia. All on board perished, in circumstances that are still unclear. A 1962 Rhodesian investigation concluded it was pilot error, while a subsequent UN investigation could not positively identify what the cause was, though there was compelling evidence to suggest the plane had been shot down. A CIA report was more definitive, claiming the plane had been shot down, and that the KGB were responsible.
“A” Company were held as prisoners-of-war, bargaining chips by the Katangese government in an attempt to extort beneficial terms for a ceasefire from the UN. The men were eventually released about a month after capture. The entire incident had been a huge embarrassment to the United Nations. So much so that the Irish Defence Forces’ leadership did not overtly acknowledge the battle, even perhaps ashamed that Quinlan had been forced to surrender an impossible situation. The derogatory term “Jadotville Jack” was often used as a term of derision about the Irish Defence Forces following the battle.
Quinlan died in 1997, still with an implied black mark against his name. Dubbed the Irish Thermopylae, not one veteran of the Siege of Jadotville were decorated for their courage against overwhelming odds, and it would take until 2004 before an inquiry finally ‘cleared’ Quinlan and “A” Company of soldierly misconduct allegations. A year later a commemorative stone recognising “A” Company was erected at Custume Barracks in Athlone, and in 2017 as one of his last public office actions, former Taoiseach Enda Kenny unveiled a plaque commemorating Pat Quinlan in his native County Kerry.
Closer to home No news yet regarding the investigation into the disgraceful racial abuse of Shamal George, but if you want to have a wander through a selection of thoroughly unsavoury responses from some of the Barrow supporters, take a look at the 10-page thread currently running on their unofficial forum ( https://www.barrowafc.net/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=29225). I warn you though, you might need to shower after the unpleasant experience. To be fair, and to their credit, there are also many decent Barrow supporters who are equally ashamed of some of the responses, and just as vocal in saying so.
Closer to home for me, my tickets arrived this morning for the U’s trip to the County Ground next Saturday – which remarkably (for me) will be my first football trip of the season – can’t bloody wait. My Spireite mate is coming with me for a beer awayday, and we’re hoping the Merlin will allow us to use just one of their many TVs to watch Chesterfield at home to Torquay at 5.20pm on BT Sport. All of this means if I don’t manage a blog next Saturday, you know why 😊.
Stat attack Creepy Crawley are in town, normally not something to look forward to given the league record stats between us and them. Formed as Crawley Football Club in 1896, and founder members of the West Sussex League, it would take until 2011 under the dubious privilege of Steve Evans as manager for Crawley Town to finally gain promotion to the football league.
Much of the credit for this success should go to then co-owner Bruce Winfield, who alongside fellow majority shareholder Susan Carter managed to attract significant investment in the club, allowing Evans to build the team to gain promotion. Sadly, Winfield died from cancer in March 2011, just 19 days before Evans clinched promotion to the football league. Three days before his death, and against doctor’s orders, Winfield signed himself out of the hospice to go and watch Crawley play AFC Wimbledon, stating “well, what’s the worst thing that can happen?” – respect Bruce, and Crawley won 3-1.
Our paths would first cross in 2012, drawing 1-1 at the JobServe (Weston Homes as it was then). It would take nine more matches before we’d finally record a victory over the Sussex bogey side, winning 3-1 at home almost exactly four years ago under John McGreal. It seemed the worm had turned, and we’d go on to win the next two encounters as well, including a Szmodics-inspired Boxing Day 2-0 victory at the Broadfield Stadium. But that was it, three league victories in quick succession are the only ones out of 16 attempts.
Match of the Day Crawley Town v Colchester United Tuesday 29th October 2019 Carabao Cup (4th Round) Attendance 5,612
WSC06 is a special for the occasion, dipping into the archive to take a look at without doubt our most significant match against Crawley Town, away in the 4th round of the League Cup back in 2019. It had been an eventful journey to this point too. Next weeks’ opponents Swindon Town were the first to fall, crashing out 3-0 in the first round in a match that if I’m honest, there were the better in for much of, but hey – who’s complaining.
A sterner test awaited in the second round, away at Premier League Crystal Palace, but the U’s rode their luck at times, defended when they needed to, and on more than a few occasions to the match to Palace. Come the penalty shoot-out, up stepped brave young Noah Chilvers to confidently hammer the U’s into the 3rd Round, and a home fixture against Tottenham Hotspur. That match may well feature in a blog one day, so I won’t go into too much detail, suffice to say after another spirited performance, increasingly putting the megastars of Spurs under pressure as the match wore on, it was diminutive Tom Lapslie who would score the penalty shoot-out winner to set up Crawley in the 4th Round.
And so I found myself on the train over to Crawley for the evening fixture. Having already exhausted all possibilities of getting back to North Wiltshire post-match, particularly given the possibility of penalties for a third successive time, I’d booked myself into the local Ramada for the night. Needless to say, tickets for the match were in high demand, with an estimate 1,800 U’s fans making the journey, including six more of my extended family – time for a family gathering and some pre-match beers in the Railway.
The significant connection for this match was of course Maltese Luke, who had played on loan at Crawley Town the previous season, and who I had the misfortune of watching tear us apart on New Year’s Day, scoring both goals in a dreadful 2-0 defeat. This time, fortunately, Luke Gambin was on our side, though he started on the bench. Crawley also fielded Dannie Bulman, still playing at the tender age of 40, and at the time the oldest active player in the EFL. Of the usual U’s regulars that season, Brendan Wiredu and Theo Robinson were cup-tied.
Pre-match refreshments on board, we headed down to join the U’s faithful on the unimaginatively named but packed-out KR-L Terrace. Given generally the U’s support might best be described as small but vocal at away matches, it must be some kind of record that we were partly responsible for both Crawley’s record attendances that season, 2,636 in the league, 5,612 in the League Cup.
The match started brightly, with both teams getting the ball down early and passing it around, with no apparent nerves on show for what was a big occasion for both sides – the opportunity for a rare Quarter-Final draw in the League Cup. In truth, Crawley were probably having the better of it, and nearly took the lead in the 10th minute, Gerken doing well to save a curling 25-yard strike from Tarryn Allarakhia (apparently a former U’s academy player, though I didn’t know that at the time). However, just as we seemed to be getting more into the game, veteran Dannie Bulman threw back the years, surged forward and from outside the box blasted an absolute rocket past Dean into the net. Reminiscent of Halford’s goal against Sheffield Wednesday, I honestly can’t remember a goal struck with such power.
It remained to be seen how the U’s would respond to that set back, but we didn’t have to wait long – straight from kick-off in fact. The ball broke to Big Frank out on the left (take note Hayden), who twisting and turning his marker inside out floated a delightful chip over straight onto the head of Chuck Norris, who made no mistake to immediately wipe out Crawley’s opener. And now ths shoe was on the other foot, and most of the remainder of the first half, roared on by the U’s faithful, the U’s had Crawley on the back foot. Norris nearly made it two, with a deft flick which clipped the bar, and just before half-time Ben Stevenson fired in a 25-yarder which might have troubled goalkeeper Luyambula if it hadn’t been straight at him.
Into the second half, and the U’s picked up just where they’d left off, and now it just seemed to be a matter of not if but when would we take the lead. It didn’t take long, when on 53 minutes Norris was fouled by Dallison just outside the box. Up stepped Cohen Bramall to curl a wicked shot over both the wall and the despairing dive of the Luyambula – only to strike the bar and rebound off the back of the unfortunate goalkeeper and into the net for an own goal of comedic proportions…and the away support erupted!
On the hour mark Luke Norris was taken off injured, replaced by Callum Harriott. This brough big Frank back into a more central role, which somewhat stifled our attacking threat to a degree. Stifled but not eradicated however, and Courtney Senior nearly made it 3-1 fired over from a well-worked move with Poku, when he really should have done better (sounds familiar?).
Gambin was introduced with just over 15 minutes to go, I’m sure in an attempt by McGreal to protect our lead. He went one better, and combining well with Frank up the middle, and following a deft pass from Harriott, swivelled on a sixpence to drill the ball high into the net, sparking delirium amongst the U’s faithful both on and off the pitch. We had further chances as well, from both Lapslie and Comley, but to his credit unlucky goalkeeper Luyambula saved well. It didn’t matter though, the match finished 3-1, we celebrated like mad people and the U’s were in the hat for the League Cup Quarter-Final.
Crawley Town 1 (Dannie Bulman 20’) Colchester United 3 (Luke Norris 22’; Michael Luyambula 53’og; Luke Gambin 79’)
Just under two months later, our reward from the draw was Manchester United at Old Trafford, with over 5,000 U’s packing out the away end. The U’s performed valiantly, holding the Premier League giants 0-0 at half-time, mostly through a doggedly defensive performance. Into the second half, the U’s actually started to take the game to Man U, but three goals in quick succession left the U’s playing for pride – and there was a lot of that that night.
For those who weren’t there, enjoy the Crawley highlights.
Four league games unbeaten for the Super U’s after a dramatic and thrilling game at Holker Street last Friday. Saturdays sees the Red Devils of Crawley led by John Yems come to Town.
Now if we are serious about promotion then we need to drastically improve our home form and the Crawley games offers that chance. It is about time that we put a team to the sword, and I reckon a 3-0 home win tomorrow will set us up nicely for the tougher games to come.
Now no disrespect to the Red Devils but they must be defeated to get that home monkey off our backs.
After his 20 minutes of madness last week Luke Chambers misses the game tomorrow but that is perhaps not a bad thing. Tom Eastman was imperious when he came on last week and his goal was Maguire-esque in its power and simplicity.
Now for the first time this season I can show the table or part of it anyway: The top ten are shown in full and then Crawley in 20th place. But this only goes to show just how tight the early season league positions are. But now is the time to maintain our good form and secure three valuable home points.
The dust has not yet settled on the vile abuse meted out to Shamal George but the player himself proved by his actions that he could rise above such racist chanting.
Indeed, George is fast becoming one of the faithful’s favourites and could become one of the Colchester great keepers. Too early for such plaudits perhaps, but George is confident, much understated and his handling, kicking and shot stopping are all excellent. He is a great personality too.
Now injuries are again thankfully limited. Miles Welch-Hayes might have to sit this week out, but we have a strong squad and plenty of decent players on the bench.
HM has a decision to make about the youngsters. Does he play both Jasper and Dobra with Sears and Nouble, that would be a bold side? Or does he play only one youngster or does he go with the experienced midfielders. And what about Junior Tchamadeu who was outstanding after coming on in the 87th minute. Yes, I know only a cameo, but we did play almost 8 minutes of additional time. And is Clampin fit to return, possibly but Daniels is playing out of his skin and that corner last week was sublime. Luke Hannant blotted his copy book with a stupid and unnecessary challenge to concede the penalty and must return to the bench.
So, I would go for the following side in a 4,2,4 formation. Plenty of pace and experience in equal measure.
George Coxe Eastman Smith Daniels Wiredu Chilvers Dobra Sears Nouble Jasper
Sadly, I fear that not even Klopp or Guardiola would play that adventurous team.
So, what about a half-way house XI in a 4,3,3 formation:
George Coxe Eastman Smith Daniels Wiredu Judge Chilvers Jasper Nouble Sears
George Coxe Eastman Smith Daniels Wiredu Skuse Chilvers Judge Nouble Sears
George Coxe Eastman Smith Daniels Wiredu Skuse Judge Dobra Nouble Jasper
However, this is what I believe HM will go with tomorrow in a 4,2,3,1 formation:
Coxe Eastman Smith Daniels
Sears Judge Jasper
Turner Chilvers Kennedy Tchamadeu Dobra Hannant Welch-Hayes or Clampin
Weather in Colchester will be 20 degrees Celsius, sunny, and dry. Pitch will be top notch and hopefully a decent crowd buoyed by recent good performances.
3-0 Colchester with Big Frank scoring to improve his confidence plus Jasper and Sears.
BLACKBURN ROVERS 2 HULL CITY 0 This result means Hull have now gone six games without a win in the league and have not scored since their opening day win against Preston. 8 got this spot-on, and a further 13 had the outcome.
BLACKPOOL 0 HUDDERSFIELD TOWN 3 Victory for Huddersfield puts them into the play-off places in the early-season table while Blackpool, who have won only once this season, slip into the relegation zone. Nobody had this spot-on, but 9 did get the outcome.
AFC BOURNEMOUTH 2 QUEENS PARK RANGERS 1 Bournemouth inflicted QPR's first defeat of the season to go joint top of the Championship. A big 10 got this spot-on, and 10 also had the outcome.
SHEFFIELD UNITED 2 PRESTON NORTH END 2 Preston get a 95th minute equaliser, as the point extends their unbeaten league run to four - having started the campaign with three defeats. Again nobody had this spot-on, and only 2 got the outcome. 22 predicted a win for United.
READING 3 PETERBOROUGH UNITED 1 Reading get their first win in five games, while Peterborough are now winless in five. 3 got this spot-on, and a further 18 had the outcome.
WEST BROMWICH ALBION 0 DERBY COUNTY 0 A bore draw where West Brom will reflect on missed chances, and Derby fail to have a shot on target. Another game without a 3 pointer, and only Blue4U2 got the outcome. 24 predicted a win for West Brom with an incredible 17 going for a 2-0 in what was the weeks most predicted score.
BIRMINGHAM CITY 1 FULHAM 4 Fulham return to the top of the Championship after this comfortable win. The final game this week without a 3 pointer this week, though 16 did have the outcome.
BRISTOL CITY 1 LUTON TOWN 1 Luton get a 91st minute equaliser, as City's victory drought at home stretches to 14 matches. That late goal was good news for the 5 who had this spot-on, and the 1 who got the outcome. 18 predicted that City would finally get a home win.
COVENTRY CITY 1 CARDIFF CITY 0 Coventry moved into the Championship play-off places with this win, as Cardiff could only manage one shot on target. 8 got this spot-on, and another 5 had the outcome.
NOTTINGHAM FOREST 0 MIDDLESBROUGH 2 Victory was Middlesborough's first in five games, and with only one point this season Forest sack manager Chris Houghton, as he becomes the first manager to be sacked in England's top four divisions this season. Well done to wessex_exile for being the only one to have this spot-on, and 7 more got the outcome.
STOKE CITY 1 BARNSLEY 1 Cauley Woodrow's world-class strike earned Barnsley a point. Stoke had won all their previous five home games this season - three in the Championship, two in the League Cup, and missed a penalty to keep the run going. Well done to Blue4U2 for being the only one to get this spot-on, and 2 more had the outcome. The other 23 predicted a win for Stoke.
The Happy League has been bit of struggle for most recently, but this new competition continues to make up for it, by delivering some good points again, with 36 spot-ons this week, after we had 33 in Week 1. It was a good week for mfb_cufc, as he was the only have four 3 pointers, the wins for Blackburn, Bournemouth, Reading and Coventry. With two outcomes as well, he is the weeks top scorer with a very welcome 14 points. This was enough to put him top at this early stage. Just missing out on being top scorer was gerry_us, but he will be pleased with his brilliant 13 points, that has moved him up eleven places into fifth. He was the only one get three 3 pointers, the wins for Blackburn and Reading, and the Bristol City 1-1, together with four outcomes. Last weeks leader BFG had another excellent week, by having the wins for Blackburn and Coventry spot-on, but has to settle for second this week, after another double figure score. An excellent 10 points also for TheFatGooner, that included having the Bristol City 1-1 and the Coventry 1-0 spot-on. He is another who has started with two double figure scores, and moves up a place into third. An excellent 10 points also for RSCOSWORTH, who got the Bournemouth 2-1 and Bristol City 1-1 spot-on, to take him up four places to eighth, and Daniel, who had the wins for Bournemouth and Coventry spot-on. Those same two 3 pointers for ghughes11, but he drops to sixth. There were four members who had the wins for Blackburn and Bournemouth spot-on, they were unitedwhites, who remains seventh, thillseeker, Lewis_1 and Tropical_Us. The final members to get two 3 pointers were durham_exile, who had the wins for Bournemouth and Coventry, and medicine_man, who had the wins for Blackburn and Coventry. Best of those to get one spot-on was concordman, who had the Bournemouth 2-1 and an impressive six outcomes, to give him a very decent 9 points, but he drops two places to fourth. The next fixtures will be in two weeks, so a shorter gap between games this time.
THE TABLE (20 out of 100 played) (Tie-breaker: Most 3 pointers, and then the first to post)
Week 3 (of 10) Fixtures
HUDDERSFIELD TOWN v BLACKBURN ROVERS HULL CITY v BLACKPOOL PRESTON NORTH END v STOKE CITY BURTON ALBION v PORTSMOUTH CAMBRIDGE UNITED v GILLINGHAM IPSWICH TOWN v DONCASTER ROVERS MILTON KEYNES DONS v FLEETWOOD TOWN OXFORD UNITED v ACCRINGTON STANLEY SHREWSBURY TOWN v WYCOMBE WANDERERS SUNDERLAND v CHELTENHAM TOWN
I was privileged to join the other 119 Colchester supporters at Holker Street to witness a great Super U’s victory on Friday night. The match had it all 5 goals, 2 sending offs, great Away Support, brilliant team spirit, the most amazing post-match celebrations you could hope to see and much more. Suffice to say I was buzzing on the drive home.
Having been Away with the Schoolchildren on a Residential trip this week there was no time to do a pre-match write up. I unpacked my case and then got into Col U gear ready for the match. Fortunately, the A66, A685, M6 and A590 were all behaving. I followed the team bus into Barrow at about 6.20pm suggesting that they had been delayed and then whilst eating prior to the game I saw two of the faithful who told me that the CUSA bus had been delayed on the M6 and were unlikely to make the start of the game. This after an 11.00am start from Colchester.
Walking to the ground the delay was confirmed and the stewards on the turnstiles would be waiting for the supporters coach to guide them into the ground.
Now the standing Away supporters are allocated a corner of the ground at the Holker Street End and the seated a small area the other side of the corner flag. This end has been covered and is home to the more vociferous of the home fans. More of this later.
There were already about 70 of the faithful inside the ground. Noise levels were building and there was a good atmosphere amongst the faithful. The tannoy announcement confirmed that the programmes had not been received from the printers as a result of circumstances beyond their control. Very disappointing.
HM had selected a team without Jasper and Dobra in the line-up, both were on the bench.
The evening was mild (I was still wearing shorts!) and it was dry, so the pitch was well watered before kick-off. The pitch immediately in front of the faithful had cut up but otherwise the surface was good.
The initial exchanges were fairly even, Big Frank had a headed chance but failed to make good enough contact. Both Smith and Chambers looked lethargic. Chambers especially seemed out of sorts.
Now Freddie Sears played the best game that I have yet seen for Colchester since his return. I think that he is now finally fully match fit. Playing down each wing alternately he looked sharp and full of running.
After 15 minutes of the first half a cheer went up as we saw the Roman Coach draw up outside the stadium. The faithful streamed in and took their seats or joined the standing faithful. Chatting to a couple of supporters they told me their tale of woe. The delay was hard to take especially after the Rochdale game which was similarly affected by accidents on the Motorway.
We all bemoaned the fact that we had a decent squad but still lacked a Number 9 to crack in the goals. Once I revealed where I had driven from, they said “you’re Durham Exile”. It was nice to meet some fellow supporters with similar views concerning where we still needed to improve but sharing the passion for Col U.
On 25 minutes a bizarre back pass shockingly under hit from Smith left George in no mans land and Stevens nipped in to score. It was a shocking howler by Smith and no blame could be apportioned to Shamal George.
Referee Simon Mather halted the game temporarily and after a discussion with Captain Tommy Smith, an announcement was made on the Barrow PA system notifying the crowd that no racist abuse would be tolerated, and this was met with widespread applause within the stadium. It transpired that a small element of the Barrow support had verbally abused Shamal George in racist terms. George seemed to take this in his stride and cleared his head. Now I did not hear what was shouted and there was confusion as to why the ref had halted the game until the announcement was made. Quite simply there is no place in football or society for this behaviour and it is hope that the perpetrator can be identified, and the appropriate sanctions applied.
Colchester were undeterred by this obvious gift goal. A great U’s move started by Brendan Wiredu (surely the best defensive midfielder in league two) saw him pass to Freddie Sears who gazelle like centred for Alan Judge to beat the keeper to bring us parity on 35 minutes.
Three minutes later and we were in dreamland. Wiredu (who else) won the ball and chipped a delightful ball toward Sears who nipped in smartly to beat the defender and flick the ball past the keeper for 2-1. Frankly it was thoroughly deserved. Colchester were the better team, and it made the earlier hopeless back pass all the more annoying.
Half time arrived and no changes to the personnel were made. Colchester were now attacking the end where the faithful were gathered. The attendance of 2,430 within Holker Street albeit with only three sides occupied made the ground seem full and the partisan home support were baying for an equaliser. In truth Colchester did not seem in any trouble, we continued to play the ball forward and Coxe, Wiredu, Judge and Skuse were playing well. Big Frank battled away without success and Sears looked imperious.
Tom Eastman replaced Alan Judge on 66 minutes. Apparently, HM had decide to go 5 at the back but 2 minutes later everything changed for the worst.
Chambers was booked and then on 68 minutes after claims of handball against the Barrow player, he made a rash challenge and the referee belatedly sent him off. The tunnel was behind the far goal and so he had the walk of shame from the half way line.
Here we go again was the thoughts amongst the faithful. We never play well against 10 men, and we usually concede when we go down to 10 men. But we looked comfortable until the 76th minute when Hannant allowed his man to get the wrong side of him and he made a challenge from behind in the box. The ref had the easiest decision to make and he duly obliged. Banks despatched the penalty past the unlucky George, and we had a desmond.
Hannant was immediately substituted. He did not need to make any challenge and we had sufficient defenders back. Noah Chilvers slotted into midfield. He was perhaps unlucky not to start the game.
Colchester decided not to sit back, which was absolutely the right thing to do. Just four minutes later Charlie Daniels took a corner and delivered a delightful cross for Tom Eastman to head powerfully down and past the keeper. Cue great scenes with Daniels leaping into the crowd with at least five other players celebrating in the corner with the faithful. The camera even caught yours truly leaping to his feet to join in the joyful celebration.
The Blue Birds were stunned, Holker Street fell silent and the faithful sang “Follow Col U away, Follow Co, U away”. It was just great.
HM made an inspired substitution on 87 minutes by bringing on Junior Tchamadeu. He has bulked up and looked determined from the start. He played brilliantly.
Defender Jones from Barrow who had been booked earlier lunged in on Big Frank on 90 minutes and rightly received a second yellow card and was sent off.
The card happy referee booked 5 Colchester players and 1 Barrow plus the two sendings off. He then found 7 additional minutes which proved to be a tense affair. We were well into the eighth minute of added time before he blew the final whistle.
Unbridled joy amongst the faithful was shared by the players. Anyone who doubted what this win meant to the players witnessed the most amazing celebratory scenes. Every player ran past the faithful high fiving the supporters and the backroom staff plus HM applauded and joined in the joyful scenes. It was the first time that I had ever seen a Colchester team celebrate with such raw emotion.
Give us the League title now I say.
The team were superb, and the win thoroughly deserved. Shamal George after the vile abuse that he suffered was sound as usual. Cameron Coxe was solid. Smith recovered after his howler to sort himself out. Chambers should be ashamed that he put a victory at risk through his foolishness. Charlie Daniels is a real star. His experience came to the fore and his celebrations with the faithful was something else.
Brendan Wiredu gets better every game and Cole Skuse was almost unnoticeable, he was that good at keeping a check on midfield matters. Luke Hannant was out of sorts and his rash challenge almost cost us, but it would have been a travesty if we had dropped points. Alan Judge was good first half. Keeping him fit is crucial. Freddie Sears was outstanding Friday night. Simple as.
Big Frank needs a goal so badly. Simple as.
Tom Eastman was welcomed back and deserves his place back in the starting XI. Noah Chilvers is a star in the making and Junior Tchamadeu despite a cameo appearance was brilliant in the closing stages.
Yes, we need a striker, but Richard Kone seems to be making things impossible with no passport, confusion over his age and an agent who clearly does not have his best interest at heart. Ultimately the difference between finishing in the top seven and automatic promotion will be down to a striker. How much longer will Michael Folivi be out I wonder.
I enjoyed the win at Oldham, but I LOVED Friday night at Barrow. The U’s were that good and the spirit was immense. We definitely went nuclear in the furnace of Barrow on Friday.
I hope that the faithful had a better journey home. I also hope that Mr and Mrs Witham enjoy their mini holiday in the north. I was home by 1140pm after a brilliant journey reliving the scenes of joy and thinking about the quality in the team which just needs a Number 9 to top it all off.
ARSENAL 1 NORWICH CITY 0 Arsenal lifted the pressure on manager Mikel Arteta as they scored thier first goal, and secured their first points of the Premier League season. 5 got this spot-on, and a further 20 had the outcome.
BRISTOL CITY 0 PRESTON NORTH END 0 City extend their wait for a home win in the Championship this season after this bore draw. Nobody had this spot-on, but 7 did get the outcome. The other 20 predicted a win for City with 10 going for a 1-0 in what was the weeks most predicted score.
READING 3 QUEENS PARK RANGERS 3 Rangers get a 91st minute equaliser to maintain their unbeaten start to the Championship season. Again nobody got this spot-on, though 4 did have the outcome.
IPSWICH TOWN 2 BOLTON WANDERERS 5 Poor old Ipswich are still looking for their first league win after this thrashing. No 3 pointer for anybody here, but 7 did get the outcome.
MORECAMBE 3 AFC WIMBLEDON 4 Wimbledon get a 94th minute winner in this topsy-turvy encounter. A final game this week with no 3 pointer, though 10 did have the outcome.
CRAWLEY TOWN 2 CARLISLE UNITED 1 Nick Tsaroulla's last-minute goal earned Crawley their first win in four league games, and they finally beat Carlisle after failing in their previous 15 encounters. That late goal was good news for the 4 who had this spot-on, and another 8 got the outcome.
SALFORD CITY 1 BRADFORD CITY 0 Salford were another team to get a last minute winner this week. That was good news for the 3 who got this spot-on, and for the 8 who had the outcome.
What a crazy week this was with three games producing 20 goals between them, and only 5 goals from the other four games. So crazy that even Arsenal won a game. It looked for a while their victory was going to be the only game to have a 3 pointer, but the late winners for Crawley and Salford gave us a respectable 12 in total in the end. Two members had two 3 pointers, they were MrHappy2 and Tropical_Us, who both made a good decision to go 1-0 all games. That also got them one outcome, so they share the honour of being the weeks top scorer with a decent 7 points each. Best of the members to get one 3 pointer was blueeagle, who had the Crawley 2-1 and three outcomes to give him a solid 6 points.
Happy Midwek League Cup A final reminder that the next round of games start next Tuesday with a 19.45 deadline. All details on the separate Happy Midweek League Cup thread.
In the Premier A useful four outcomes for RSCOSWORTH extends his lead to a handy 7 points. Back on track with three outcomes keeps unitedwhites in second. Having the Arsenal 1-0 spot-on moved sevebalo a bit closer to the top two. A useful four outcomes also for TheFatGooner moves him up a place into the final Super Cup spot. Another week of struggle for mfb_cufc means he drops out of the top four. In another tough week for 3 poibters in this division, the only other members to get one were Daniel, who had the Salford 1-0, and moves up a place to sixth, and Sector4, who got the Crawley 2-1. At the bottom, even though he is still looking for a first 3 pointer this season, an impressive 16 outcomes has taken ghughes11 out of the relegation zone for the first time since Week 1. He is replaced by noah4x4, who is struggling to produce the form that saw him win the league twice in the last three seasons. Also looking for that elusive first 3 pointer is concordman and also Blue4U2, who had an unfortunate miissed week.
In Division One It is the weeks two top scorers who have moved into the automatic places, with MrHappy2 moving up a couple of places to go top, and Tropical_Us up four places into second. Just two outcomes for medicine_man means he drops to third. Despite getting the Arsenal 1-0 spot-on, gerry_us remains fourth, but close enough to keep that £100 in sight. Last weeks leader Lewis_1 had to settle for the one outcome, and drops four places. Up another couple of places into the final play-off spot is blueeagle, as he continues a rise that has taken him up eight places in three weeks. Just losing out on a play-off place, after being there for two weeks, is Pinault_Noir. Though he still got a useful four outcomes, and only lost out on the most 3 pointer rule. Still very much in the play-off mix are burnsieespana and bwildered, after they both had the Crawley 2-1 spot-on. A useful four outcomes for wessex_exile, as he comes back to some sort of form, but with 2's and 3's for all other members, it very much as you were, but at such an early stage in the season, a top six place is still very much a possibility for everyone.
THE TABLES (40 out of 280 played) (Tie-breaker: Most 3 pointers, and then the first to post)
Week 7 Fixtures 10 games picked by this weeks guest Lewis_1
LIVERPOOL v CRYSTAL PALACE MANCHESTER CITY v SOUTHAMPTON NORWICH CITY v WATFORD FULHAM v READING MILLWALL v COVENTRY CITY QUEENS PARK RANGERS v BRISTOL CITY AFC WIMBLEDON v PLYMOUTH ARGYLE BOLTON WANDERERS v ROTHERHAM UNITED COLCHESTER UNITED v CRAWLEY TOWN MANSFIELD TOWN v ROCHDALE
Never mind the U's winning 3-2 at Barrow, I see Ipswich's promotion campaign is floundering, spanked 5-2 at home to Bolton and currently sitting in the relegation zone with 3 points from six matches.
The old ones are the oldest, and It's a much-used meme, but I've just been sent this, which made me chuckle
Meanwhile, in other news, after a 3-1 drubbing at FC Halifax, the wheels appear to be falling off Southend's "Back to the League" campaign, unless the league in question is the National League South that is...
“Well, I can tell u my son was stood nearer the back of the Holker Street end and although he couldn't see who was responsible, he was disgusted and was very clear in telling me that the 'N' word was used by someone stood directly behind the goal nearer the front. I'm sick of hearing this, no one but the player being abused heard anything so maybe he was mistaken crap. This shite still exists despite everything that the authorities try to do because unfortunately there are still racists in every, city, town, village and hamlet in this country. [SwearFilter] scum of the earth.”
TWTWTW Today of course marks the 20th anniversary of the horrendous coordinated attacks on western democracy, when al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four commercial flights with the express intent of crashing them into prominent US landmarks. Two planes were crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, and a third into the Pentagon. It is believed the fourth plane’s target was either the White House or the US Capitol, but passengers on the flight fought to regain control of the aircraft, and the plane eventually crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.
The attacks resulted in the death of 2,977 innocent people – I won’t dignify the 19 terrorists by counting them amongst the dead – and an estimate 25,000 people injured. Numbered among the dead were 344 firefighters and 71 law enforcement officers trying to rescue those they could from the North and South towers.
I’m sure many, as I do, remember exactly where they were and what they were doing as news of the attacks spread, played out in horrific detail on internet news feeds worldwide. With colleagues I sat stunned and watched events unfold, almost too numb to even comprehend what I was seeing – one friend even made the grim but accurate comparison that it was almost like watching a Hollywood big-budget blockbuster – it just didn’t seem real.
The impact on the world was seismic, with a wave of hostility against Muslims which still pervades to this day. Under a study overseen by the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, the post-9/11 wars that the US has participated in have caused the deaths of an estimated 929,000 people, at a cost of $8 trillion dollars. The study concluded that a conservative estimate of 38 million people have been displaced by these conflicts in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and the Philippines.
There have been no winners in any of the above, and sadly I fear very little learned either – may all victims rest in peace.
Closer to home For this week, When Saturday Comes we already have the luxury of being able to relax after the U’s battled to victory in a feisty entertaining game ‘oop north at Barrow. Goals aplenty, two red cards, a fistful of yellows (in a game that referee Simon Mather struggled to keep control of at times) and of course the alleged racial abuse against Shamal George in the first half.
The sheer unadulterated joy shared between the players and heroic 120 of the faithful as Beastman bulldozed past Sea to powerfully head home the winner was a joy to watch, reminding me once again just why I am so proud to support the U’s. I’m sure my neighbours were less enthused about my support for Colchester United as I charged around my kitchen screaming like a maniac 😊.
By all means relive the experience, and you’re welcome 😊
Stat attack Normally I’d be looking at interesting Barrow-related stats, seeking wisdom and insight into how the match might play out – but of course that’s rather moot the morning after our stunning 3-2 victory at Holker Street. Still, let’s give it a go eh?
Incidentally, if you haven’t worked it out, the left shield pane is bee-arrow, taken from the Barrow-in-Furness coat of arms
Barrow AFC were formed in 1901, moved to Holker Street in 1909, and in 1921 joined the football league. Achieving very little of any significance in their early years, they became a founding member of the new Division Four in 1958. They would finally achieve a promotion in 1967, just 66 years after their formation, and the following season achieved their highest ever league position, 8th in Division Three. They were relegated two seasons later and haven’t been back.
Further woe was to follow in 1972, after finding themselves applying for re-election for the second season running. Although finishing third from bottom of the league, after a recount they were voted out in favour of the new post-Newcastle darlings of the media, Hereford United, Ronnie Radford et al. It would take another 48 years for the Bluebirds to return to the football league, capitalising on the Covid-19 curtailed season to be promoted 2019/20 National League champions on points per game.
Our paths first crossed in November ’61, with a 1-1 draw at Layer Road. The 60s weren’t kind to the U’s where Barrow was concerned, losing successive matches at Holker Street 4-0, 3-0 and 5-0 between 1962 and 1967. Dick Graham eventually broke that away form duck in August 1970, winning 2-0, and prior to last night the remaining four visits (including two in the Conference) have all been draws. At home the picture for the U’s is a bit rosier, with four victories, three draws and just one defeat, suggesting neither team particularly fancies the long trip.
Of course, the key match that every U’s fan will remember is the 5-0 demolition of Barrow at Layer Road on 2nd May 1992 (including a hat-trick from Mike Masters), to confirm Colchester United as Conference champions, ahead of dear friends Wycombe Wanderers on goal difference. 7,193 jammed into Layer Road for the match, not surprisingly a record crowd for matches between the two sides, and whilst the U’s celebrated as champions, Barrow were quietly slipping through the trapdoor back to the Northern Premier League.
Match of the Day Torquay United v Colchester United Saturday 27th November 2004 Coca-Cola League 1 (Tier 3) Attendance 2,984
WSC05 returns to the random match selector with another long trip for the U’s, away against Torquay at Plainmoor. Obviously not so much of one for yours truly, with Torquay always a popular trip in the Wessex calendar whenever our paths cross. Sadly, though I didn’t know it at the time, this was going to be for now my last opportunity to see the U’s at Plainmoor. Crazy when you think they’re still our seventh commonest opponent in all competitions.
There is a significant context to this match to consider. Not only was it one of my regular awaydays as an exile, nor indeed a much-anticipated chance to reunite with Martin, Paul and his dad of the Swedish branch, but we were also in the midst of campaigning for the new ground. One of the coordinators Rob Knight (alongside our own Leadbelly, both driving forces in the Colchester Community Stadium Action Group), and being the persuasive bugger that he was, easily roped me in to collecting signatures at the match – which to be honest I was more than happy to do, and repeat on a number of other occasions elsewhere as well (including asking my audience at an archaeological lecture to do so).
And thus I found myself on a bright crisp November morning on the train down to Devon…
The U’s had started the 2004/05 campaign brightly – exceptionally brightly in fact, with a stunning 3-0 victory away at Sheffield Wednesday (LfW#20). However, by October we were slipping away into mid-table, though buoyed by a most recent comfortable 4-1 victory over Mansfield in our FA Cup 1st Round replay at Layer Road on the Tuesday before the trip to Torquay.
The U’s lined up: 1….Aidan Davison 25..Sam Stockley 12..Pat Baldwin 18..Liam Chilvers 23..John White 28..Richard Garcia 17..Bobby Bowry 6….Kevin Watson 4….Gavin Johnson (Joe Keith 34’) 9….Craig Fagan 2….Greg Halford
In the Torquay line-up that day were one or two familiar names, not least long-standing strike partnership Tony Bedeau and Jo Kuffour up front. Mind you, there was no bigger name at Plainmoor than manager Leroy Rosenior, whose distinguished career as a striker took in spells at Fulham (three times), QPR, West Ham, Charlton and Bristol City. Pertinent to the alleged incident at Holker Street last night, Rosenior is also a leading campaigner in the fight against racism in football, an ambassador for the Show Racism the Red Card campaign, and was awarded the MBE in 2018 for his work tackling discrimination.
So, on arrival at Torquay’s Boots and Laces bar and meeting up with Rob, and armed with pen, clipboard and a sheaf of blank petition forms, I set about coercing as many signatures as I could from anyone who had the misfortune to cross my path. I wasn’t the only one either, so don’t be surprised if a forensic audit of the petition signatures revealed some irregularities 😊. Having exhausted the crowd packing out the bar, I resorted to roaming the area around the ground, even getting signatures from some of the stewards – it was surprising how readily people would sign up as soon as you muttered “yeah, we’re trying to persuade the council…”.
Eventually, with multiple sheets completed, I returned to the bar, handed over my catch, and settled back for a couple of well-earned refreshments in the company of the Swedes, Rob and others – and a cracking time it was too. Suitably refreshed, I took my place alongside a couple of hundred others on the Babbacombe End terrace, the stewards politely declining to allow me to take my clipboard in with me.
There’s not too much I can recall in detail from the game, other than the weather was beautiful and it was certainly an entertaining match to watch. This was despite what could seem on face value a dull 0-0 first half. There was plenty of action, more than a few opportunities, and plenty of cause for the faithful to remain in good voice on the shallow covered terrace. However, the really key incident of the first half was what looked like a heavy studs-up impact injury to Gavin Johnson’s left foot just after the half hour mark, and he had to be replaced by Joey Keith.
Half-time came and went, and the second half kicked off in a similar style, both teams keen to get the ball down and play a fast, passing game. It would pay off eventually for the U’s, with Craig Fagan putting the U’s into a deserved 1-0 lead on 67 minutes. We’d barely stopped celebrating when Fagan repeated the feat on 72 minutes – surely the U’s were home and hosed now?
Not so it transpired – the incident behind it escapes me, but two minutes later Torquay had pulled one back from the penalty spot, Martin Gritton getting the better of Aidan Davison. Anticipating that the last quarter of an hour was going to be a Torquay siege of the U’s goal, I really wasn’t expecting Richard Garcia to more or less immediately restore our two-goal advantage, sending the away terrace into raptures! Torquay gave it a decent go, sacrificing Matt Hockley for the more attacking option of Stuart Broadley with ten minutes to go, but the U’s held out for a well-deserved and most welcome three points.
Torquay 1 (Martin Gritton 74’p) Colchester United 3 (Craig Fagan 67’, 72’; Richard Garcia 78’)
This was our first victory on the road since the same scoreline at Bournemouth in early September, and alongside the opening day 3-0 victory at Hillsborough, one of only three at the time – yep, I was at all of them 😊. We’d go on to only get three more league victories on the road for the remainder of the season, at Swindon, Stockport and Peterborough, and Stockport was the only one of those I missed. Normally life as an exile following the U’s is substantially less hit and much more miss, but that season I really filled my boots.
We’d go on to do the double over Torquay in the last match of the season, relegating them to League 2 in the process, to be replaced amongst others by Southend United – promoted via the playoffs, and setting the scene nicely for the upcoming 2005/06 campaign.
The work of CCSAG and their small army of petitioners would go on to gather (I think) 33,000 signatures eventually. The petition was presented as an interim measure to the office of the Minister for Culture, Media and Sport in January 2005, and would ultimately be a significant factor in persuading Colchester Council to back the proposed Cuckoo Farm development in November 2006.
I ran past the Castle Park pitch on Saturday and there seemed to be two games going on at the same time! Is that normal? Also the big scoreboard appeared to have a score of 301 on it, unless I misinterpreted it, was that right?
We looked great H1, then Judge and Sears come on to change the game and blunt our attack. Then having made three early subs, we are soon down to ten men as Beadle limps off. One effective attack by the league one side and they score.
Dobra looked awesome and has to play instead of Sears. But we are still missing a striker.