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Knees-up Mother Brown #20
Written by wessex_exile on Sunday, 11th Feb 2024 14:09

Bill Shankly once said that form is temporary, class is permanent. He was of course correct, but let’s hope never more so than today’s visit to Wetherby Road to take on the form side of League 2, Harrogate Town. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say the Sulfurites have defied the expectations of most pundits, many tipping them to be in another relegation scrap this season. But, long-standing manager (and former player) Simon Weaver has turned things around, and they currently sit just two places and two points outside the play-offs. Weaver was rightly awarded the Sky Bet League 2 Manager of the Month for January – hope he looks after it, because it’ll be Danny’s soon.

[b]”Oh Mr Weaver…don’t forget your complimentary curse as well…”[/b]

[b]The world outside U’s World[/b]
I recall mentioning this several years ago in a previous blog, but it is worth highlighting that a power-sharing devolved government has finally returned to Northern Ireland after nearly two years of impasse. The DUP has finally ended their long-standing boycott in protest at the British Government’s Brexit agreement, ratifying the “Windsor Framework” and thus signing in Sinn Féin's Michelle O'Neill as the first Irish nationalist First Minister – a move that would have been unthinkable for the DUP until recently. The move unlocks a much needed £3.3 billion in UK government funding and allows the region to benefit from its unique position with direct access to both the UK and EU markets.

The net closes in on Donald Trump, with a federal appeals court in the DC circuit denying his claim for absolute presidential immunity from 91 indictments he’s currently facing. They didn’t just deny it either, they categorically and systematically tore apart all his ludicrous grounds for immunity in a ruling that won’t be easy reading for Trump and his legal team. In a unanimous verdict, the three-judge panel (two democrat, one republican) wrote “[i]We cannot accept former President Trump’s claim that a President has unbounded authority to commit crimes that would neutralize the most fundamental check on executive power…We cannot accept that the office of the Presidency places its former occupants above the law for all time thereafter[/i]”. Trump has until Monday to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, but if you’ll pardon the pun, the jury is out on whether they’ll even take the case, given they’ve already declined the opportunity once already.

With the Six Nations in full swing, a report by academics that claim children’s rugby could be considered a form of child abuse is no doubt going to get many hot under the collar, and certainly divide opinion. The Times reports that the experts conclude that given the high risk of concussive injuries to developing children, the game should effectively be banned among under-18s. Eric Anderson, a professor of sport at Winchester University went as far as to state “[i]cultural perception is that striking a child outside sport is abuse…striking a child in sport is somehow socially acceptable[/i]”. There have already been many who are denouncing the report, not least former England international Will Greenwood. In a Telegraph article, Greenwood admitted that in the past young players were not protected as much as they should have been, but those days were “[i]long gone[/i]”, and choosing a somewhat unfortunate metaphor, “[i]so there’s no need to throw the baby out with the bath water[/i]”.

[b]U’s World[/b]
It was good to see during the week a couple of our younger players going out on one month loans – Frankie Terry goes to South Essex side Aveley FC, whilst Ronnie Nelson travels a little further, all the way down to the English Riviera at Torquay United. Both Aveley and Torquay sit just outside the National League South play-offs, and whilst I bear Aveley no ill will whatsoever, it would be nice to see Torquay (along with table-topping Yeovil Town) at least get back to the National League level.

Slightly higher up the first team pecking order, now that Al-Amin Kazeem has recovered from injury, he too has gone out on loan for the rest of the season, playing for League of Ireland Premier Division side Galway United. Their league kicks off next week, and I expect Al-Amin will go straight into the starting XI. Good luck to all our loanees, I’m sure you’ll do us proud.

Two managerial appointments to also mention, Lorenzo Dolcetti joins as First Team Analyst, reuniting with Danny and Nicky following time together when they were all at Pompey, and Simon King taking over as the Head Coach for the rampant Colchester United Women’s team. As has been mentioned elsewhere already, Lorenzo is son to Aldo, now Assistant Manager at Juventus and a former Serie A footballer. Speculation that this might be a useful connection for the club has been inevitable – I could cope with the idea of Colchester United being a nursery for Juventus if I’m honest.

The U’s Women’s game at Stones Ladies was postponed last Sunday as the opposition couldn’t field a team, and with second place Sudbury Sports Women only drawing their game in hand at Barking Women Reserves, the U’s are now seven points clear at the top. Simon King’s first game in charge tomorrow will be a bit of a baptism of fire, at third place Premier League side Romford Ladies in the League Cup. Still, with the ladies seemingly unstoppable in their bid for immediate promotion, it will be a useful measure to see how they compare against one of the top women’s sides in the county.

…and finally, and deservedly, Arthur Read’s sublime free-kick at Morecambe has not only won the Colchester United Goal of the Month, but it also made the shortlist for the Sky Bet League 2 Goal of the Month competition too. Ready has already won the November award, for his superb solo effort goal against Sutton United, and whilst he’s facing some tough opposition this time around, no reason why he couldn’t pick up another trophy for his cabinet. Voting closes at 5pm on Monday 12th, and the link is below if you haven’t yet voted.

[b]Always worth another watch, a goal that even Platini would be proud of[/b]

[b]Match of the Day
[i]Peterborough United v Colchester United
25th March 2005
Coca-Cola Football League One (Tier 3)
Attendance 4,084[/i][/b]

[i]Match of the Day[/i] for KMB20, and the random memorabilia match selector has selected another of my collection of U’sual fanzines, this one for March 2005. As a result, I’ve just chosen a U’s game from that month, and what better than our Good Friday visit to London Road to face auld enemy Peterborough United. The fanzine, as ever, is an entertaining read, Blackpool and Blackburn (the “Aidan divot” incident) awayday recollections from Geoffrey Squire, an update on the Cuckoo Farm stadium campaign, and a Q&A with Pat ‘Rio’ Baldwin. [b]Daniel[/b] was even gracious enough to include my own “[i]MK No Way[/i]” piece – a take on the recent formation of MK Dons, and the demise of Wimbledon Football Club as a result.

I’m pretty certain I wasn’t at London Road for this game, or if I was, I certainly can’t remember it, so today’s [i]Match of the Day[/i] will have to rely entirely on what I can glean from t’internet. I don’t know exactly when the U’sual #10 was published, but given it highlights our upcoming U18 game against Ipswich in the FA Youth Cup, it must have been before 16th of March, so there’s nothing in there I can rely on for the Posh match. Incidentally, another factoid about the game was that it was refereed by Uriah Rennie, a regular Premier League referee, and the first black referee to officiate a Premier league game.

This was Phil Parkinson’s first full season in charge of the U’s, and after a thorough clear out in the summer, a much-changed U’s had started the season strongly. By mid-October we were still in the play-offs, but a dip in form from there saw the U’s slip alarmingly down the table. Never quite so much that there were genuine concerns about relegation, but certainly getting a little too close for comfort when you start to look for the point that you’re mathematically safe. However, a draw at Port Vale, win at Stockport and draw at home to Sheff Wed leading up to this game had calmed a few nerves, with Parky naming the following line-up for the London Road visit.

1….Aidan Davison
2….Greg Halford
4….Gavin Johnson (23. John White 45’)
5….Wayne Brown (captain)
6….Kevin Watson
9….Marino Keith
26..Neil Danns (8. Gareth Williams 85’)
12..Pat Baldwin
18..Liam Chilvers
20..Marc Goodfellow (14. Stephen Hunt 80’)
25..Sam Stockley

Peterborough United, with Barry Fry as manager, were having a terrible season, coming into this game with just two wins in the last four months, and already looking a dead certainty for relegation. Parky’s U’s would have been cautiously optimistic, but as we all know, London Road is never an easy place to visit. Plus, and whilst good news financially, the sale of leading goal-scorer Craig Fagan at the end of February was also a massive disappointment, with great expectations placed on the shoulders of incoming Marino Keith to fill the goal-scoring gap.

Considering Peterborough’s perilous position, most of the first half was a cagey tense affair, with neither side gaining complete control, and precious little to get a fairly poor attendance of just over 4,000 excited about. That is until just before half-time, when Sam Stockley caught a perfect volley that Mark Tyler did will to fingertip it over his bar. Kevin Watson whipped in one of his trademark corner kicks which was only partially cleared, and there was loanee Marc Goodfellow on the edge of the box to drill home through a forest of legs to give the U’s a 1-0 lead, and his first goal in a U’s shirt.

Peterborough had posed little threat going forward for most of the first half, so Barry Fry was forced to change things around for the second half, bringing on Wayne Purser and Mark Coulson for Ryan Semple and Craig Ireland. Parky also chose to make a change, withdrawing Gavin Johnson for the ever-dependable John White, to put a bit more steel into the defence. Golden rule, if you’re going to struggle to score, just make sure you don’t concede first.

With a 1-0 lead and still little if any threat from Posh, the second half started reasonably comfortably for the U’s. The Posh defence weren’t having a good day, and on 70 minutes another poor clearance went straight to Sam Stockley. This time Sam had the vision to slip the ball through to Neil Danns, who made no mistake from close range to give the U’s a comfortable two goal cushion. The U’s control continued, and Goodfellow was unlucky not to get second a few minutes later, with an effort that went just wide with Tyler beaten.

Throwing caution to the wind, Barry Fry brought on towering Nigerian striker Fola Onibuje with just under 15 minutes to go. 6’ 5” in his socks, but in truth he rarely threatened Aidan’s goal. With ten minutes to go Goodfellow had run his race and was replaced by Stephen Hunt to batten down the hatches and make sure we left London Road with the points we deserved.

We needn’t have worried though, as three minutes later Uriah Rennie pointed to the spot for the U’s. I can’t find who fouled who, or what caused the incident, but what I do know is that Marino Keith made no mistake from the spot, and the U’s easily saw out the remaining minutes for a surprisingly comfortable 3-0 win at Peterborough United.

[b]Peterborough United 0 Colchester United 3 (Goodfellow 45’; Danns 70’; Keith 83’p)[/b]

The win, and a fourth game unbeaten, effectively ensured we were mathematically safe from relegation. In fact, going unbeaten from there through to the end of the season, a run of 11 consecutive games, saw the U’s finish in 15th place. Plenty therefore to be optimistic about for the upcoming 2005/06 season.

Peterborough were indeed relegated, alongside Torquay, Wrexham and Stockport County. When you consider the other three all ended up in non-league, I suppose Posh can consider themselves fortunate they didn’t suffer the same fate?

Marc Goodfellow rejoined his parent club Bristol City at the end of the season, his goal at London Road his only one whilst with us.

[b]Up the U’s![/b]

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