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Knees-up Mother Brown #22
Written by wessex_exile on Sunday, 10th Mar 2024 14:16

Thanks to a combination of postponements and a trip to Sutton following the U’s, it has been three weeks since the last blog, as the U’s prepare to face a very tricky opponent in Barrow AFC. Since they were voted out of the football league in 1972 (arguably thanks to Ronnie Radford’s screamer against Newcastle in the Edgar Street mud), the Bluebirds spent 48 years in the non-league wilderness before their return following the Covid-19 curtailment to the 2019/20 season. Some are surprised at how well they’re doing this season, but probably shouldn’t be – under new manager Pete Wild they finished a very respectable 9th last season and are clearly aiming to improve on that this time around. Mind you, we’ve got our own new management team in place too, and whilst wins are proving elusive right now, we’re certainly making ourselves a team hard to beat.

[b]Worth the entry fee alone…[/b]

[b]The world outside U’s World[/b]
The unmitigated horror that is the Gaza conflict continues, despite mounting international pressure for a lasting ceasefire to allow essential humanitarian aid to reach a population that is literally starving to death. Hamas held ceasefire talks with mediators this week, but with Israel absent (because Hamas had rejected their demand for a list of hostage names), the talks are unlikely to succeed. Last Thursday an aid convoy carrying flour was swarmed by starving Palestinians, prompting panicked Israeli troops to open fire on the crowd. 115 were killed, and another 750 injured, many as a result of the stampede but a significant proportion from gunshot wounds. The US has now reverted to air dropping supplies into Gaza, but that alone cannot achieve the volume necessary to avert the crisis.

To no one’s surprise at all, President Biden and his ‘predecessor’ both sailed through the Super Tuesday primaries last week, to become the automatic nominations for the Democrat and Republican parties in the November general election. Biden immediately went on the presidential campaign offensive in providing his State of the Union Address on Thursday, delivering a fiery impassioned hour-long speech which belied the Republican jibes about his age and mental acuity. Never once referring to him by name, Biden tore into Donald Trump (as his predecessor) repeatedly, in what many consider one of the best State of the Union Addresses in recent times. Will it be enough – I certainly hope so, because the ramifications of Trump as president again will impact on all of us.

Back home, the first part of the Angiolini Inquiry into the death of Sarah Everard at the hands of Wayne Couzens has been released. It is a damning indictment of the police, citing a catalogue of frankly unbelievable mistakes, oversights and indifference despite the huge volume of evidence that they had a serious sexual predator in their ranks. These include eight women who reported him for sexual assault, but he was never once arrested in connection with any of them, being let off without any action after being identified as the individual driving around Dover naked from the waist down and failing to trace him after masturbating fully naked in front of a female cyclist, despite her full description of him and providing a partial number plate. He was even reported for indecent exposure just five days before abducting Sarah Everard. Elish Angiolini blames a toxic mix of apathy and misogyny for the police’s failure to identify what she rightly describes as a “[i]monster in their midst[/i]”.

…and finally, and appropriately given yesterday was International Women’s Day, for those with aspirations of stardom, the tale of 1980s electro pop girl band Zenana should give you all hope. Formed in 1983, they struggled to break into the music scene, before giving up on their dreams and disbanding in 1987. Fast forward to 2022, and Bristolian DJ Kiernan Abbott finds a copy of their only single [i]Witches[/i] in a second-hand shop in Cornwall. Liking the track, he reached out to the trio to say just that, and he and others started playing it in clubs in Los Angeles, Paris and themed 1980s discos anywhere they could. The publicity caught the attention of DJ Antalheitlager, managing director of Rush Hour records, who coincidentally had been playing [i]Witches[/i] at his own festivals, who promptly signed the now near-70 year olds to his music label.

[b]Well done ladies![/b]

[b]U’s World[/b]
As it’s been three weeks since the last blog, much that has been happening at the JobServe since then is now pretty much old news. However, probably of note for several reasons, it’s definitely worth going bang up to date with the U21s storming 6-2 victory over Championship side Bristol City yesterday evening. Noteworthy in itself as a very impressive performance, but also because it saw the return of Matty Etherington and Liam Bailey to the management of the U21s. Now, this news will probably receive a mixed reception amongst the fanbase, but nevertheless it does again show how fiercely loyal Robbie Cowling can be to the team he builds around him.

Following victory over Hashtag United in the semi-final, the U’s will now face Redbridge in the Essex Senior Cup Final at the JobServe on Tuesday 19th March. The U’s will be looking to win the trophy for only the second time in their history, and the club are clearly hoping the U’s supporters will turn up to cheer them on, even opening a portion of the South stand in anticipation of a big crowd, despite increasing ticket prices from £5 to £15 for paying adults.

That is a bit of a hike if I’m honest but given it’s a chance for some silverware in what has been otherwise a difficult season following the U’s, I do hope the young (and not so young) lads get a decent crowd turn up. It would be nice if there was a streaming option for exiles too, but if not, I’ll have to make do with the club’s twitter feed.

On the subject of International Women’s Day, another massive shout out for the Colchester United Women (again!) who demolished third place Rayleigh Ladies 13-0 last Sunday. Twelve matches in, eight to go, and the CUFC Women are way out ahead ten points clear at the top of the League 2 table, winning all 12 games and with a goal difference of +83. It will come as no surprise that of the top ten scorers in the division, seven of them are U’s players! Magnificent stuff, and I sincerely hope the club do something special to celebrate their inaugural season when it is concluded.

[b]Match of the Day
[i]Stockport County v Colchester United
13th February 2010
Coca-Cola Football League One (Tier 3)
Attendance 3,642[/i][/b]

[b]No programme, for good reason, so thanks to ColUData as ever[/b]

[i]Match of the Day[/i] for KMB22, and a bit of an oddity – in that the game is on my calendar and therefore in my memorabilia archive, I clearly planned to be there, but know with absolute certainly in the end I wasn’t. My first and only trip to Edgeley Park was this season, and given where they are in the league, it’s likely to remain the case for at least one more season. I can’t for the life of me remember why I didn’t travel, but it was the weekend before Sam’s birthday, which might have had something to do with it.

So, today’s account will have to rely on my own records and online reporting, including as always Graeson’s excellent ColUData website. There’s also a strong element of déjà vu here too, as this match was just two weeks prior to the Bristol Rovers game featured in the previous [i]Knees Up Mother Brown #21[/i] blog. I will endeavour to find some new material to liven things up a bit.

The U’s, under Aidy Boothroyd, went into this game facing a run of six games, four of which were against sides in the bottom half of the table, and three of those were in the bottom six. In the week leading up to the match Aidy highlighted just how important these were if the U’s wanted to maintain their promotion challenge, likening them to six cup finals in pure football cliché terms.

Aidy’s U’s lined up that afternoon as follows:

1….Ben Williams
25..John White
4….Magnus Okuonghae (captain)
28..Matt Heath
23..Marc Tierney
26..David Prutton
10..Kemi Izzet
8….John-Joe O'Toole
22..Anthony Wordsworth
9….Clive Platt (16. Ian Henderson 69’)
15..Kayode Odejayi

Stockport, managed by Gary Ablett, were not only rock-bottom of the league, but even in February looked near certainties to still be in that position at the end of the season. They’d been bottom of the league since mid-November, without a win since October, and whoever the long-suffering supporter was who had been updating their 2009/10 season Wikipedia page, they clearly gave it up as a lost cause around Christmas 2009. With good reason, the U’s were hopeful that back to back wins at home to Carlisle and Southend could be followed up with another three points at Edgeley Park.

And it didn’t really take long to see those expectations were justified. Playing a poor Stockport County bereft of any confidence or self-belief, the U’s raced into a two goal early lead. It started with what looked like an innocuous 10th minute long range free-kick from David Prutton. Whether Stockport keeper Owain Fon Williams was anticipating someone getting on the end of it or not, it’s unclear, but as nobody did, he found himself wrong-footed as the ball rolled into an unguarded net.

If the first was fortuitous, the second was sublime. Again, Prutton was involved, leading the charge from midfield before laying off to Anthony Wordsworth, whose piledriver from the edge of the box found the top corner with Fon Williams well-beaten. Two nil up after less than 20 minutes, everything was looking good for an easy three points, that is until former U’s Jabo Ibehre took the game by the scruff of the neck. Ibehre, alongside four other MK Dons players, had joined Stockport on loan in January, at the same time as U’s player David Perkins (bafflingly out of favour with Aidy Boothroyd) was loaned to the Hatters – though Perkins wasn’t in the matchday squad for this game, presumably the standard agreement about loan players not playing against their parent club.

Barely four minutes later, with the U’s still buzzing, the Islington Assassin pounced on what was a fine block from Ben Williams to keep out a sharp effort from George Donnelly, lifting the ball over the keeper and into the net. Bugger – that took the wind out of the U’s sails somewhat, but before too long normal service was resumed with the U’s largely controlling the game, though this time a bit more wary of Stockport County, and particularly Jabo.

If the first half had shown, by and large, considerable promise from the U’s, the second half was a spectacular disappointment. Dominating possession and territory in the first, we found ourselves on the receiving end from a newly invigorated Stockport County throughout most of the second. Worse still, there didn’t seem to be anything we could do about, and even when we got hold of the ball, we made poor decisions about what to do with it to alleviate the pressure.

It really came as no surprise that Stockport County would eventually get the equaliser they deserved, and also no surprise that it would be Ibehre who’d get it. The bounce of a long clearance from Paul Huntingdon completely caught out Matt Heath, and there was Jabo again to nip in and drill home with 12 minutes to go. Sadly inevitable, though the U’s did rally somewhat following the goal to try and get the three points back, and Ian Henderson was unlucky when his injury time effort crashed off the underside of the bar and bounced away to safety. So the U’s had to be content with a point that really should have been all three.

[b]Stockport County 2 (Ibehre 22’, 77’) Colchester United 2 (Prutton 10’; Wordsworth 18’)[/b]

In the previous blog I highlighted that in his post-match interview, Aidy Boothroyd’s “[i]disappointment was palpable[/i]” – it was more or less the same following this game (a pattern developing perhaps?). To be fair, Aidy did emphasise that to keep things in perspective it was still an away point in our bid for promotion, but conceded it should have been more, stating “[i]it's an away point gained but our defending was really bad….that can't happen for a team as good as ours that is pushing for promotion[/i]”.

Stockport County couldn’t avoid the inevitable, and finished bottom of the league with just 25 points, and it would be 12 more years and a spell in non-league before our paths crossed again at the start of last season. Incidentally, they’ve won all three matches since then, just the rearranged fixture on 9th April standing between them and a clean sweep of four out of four.

With Aidy moving on to Coventry in the summer, new manager John Ward recalled David Perkins from his exile, and he would go on to make 40 appearances in his final season with the U’s, netting the Player of the Year, Player’s Player of the Year, and CUSA Home and Away Player of the Year awards. We tried to extend his contract, but understandably he decided to move to Championship Barnsley.

[b]I know Perkins was short, but that bloke behind him must be a fecking giant![/b]

Perhaps with memories of this game, Ibehre was signed on loan literally on the first day of his appointment by new manager Joe Dunne in 2012, scoring a brace on his debut against Hartlepool United. He finished that season alongside Freddie Sears as joint top scorer and winning the Player of the Season award in the process. The following season he netted ten goals in 39 matches but following a knee injury and yet to make an appearance under new manager Tony Hume in 2013/14, Jabo asked to leave to pursue his career elsewhere, eventually ending up for two very successful seasons at Carlisle United.

[b]Up the U’s![/b]

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Knees-up Mother Brown #22 by wessex_exile
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