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Matches of Yesteryear - Bournemouth v U's 27/3/99
Written by wessex_exile on Friday, 20th Dec 2019 15:54

After our memorable trip to Old Trafford mid-week, we’re back to earth with a bump this weekend, with a visit from one of our fellow CUFC’ers – Carlisle United…and to keep in step, The Matches of Yesteryear series does likewise and returns to the daily grind of being at the wrong end of a lower league table.

[b]AFC Bournemouth v Colchester United

Saturday 27th March 1999

Nationwide Division 2 (Tier 3)

Attendance 6,442[/b]

Match #31 of the series, and we have a third trip to Dean Court, back in the day before it was redeveloped. The U’s were managed at the time by Mick Wadsworth, following Steve Wignall’s resignation in January, and a very brief spell with Steve Whitton as caretaker manager (one game, though a very creditable 3-3 draw at Stoke City). Wiggy felt he had taken the U’s as far as he could, and resigned after losing four out of five which left us perilously close to the relegation zone. However, he had seen sense to give talismanic Lua Lua his debut in the week leading up to his resignation, so it wasn’t all bad.

The U’s lined up:

1….Carl Emberson

2….Joe Dunne (Simon Betts 77’)

3….Fabrice Richard

4….Geraint Williams

5….David Greene

6….Paul Buckle (Lomana Tresor Lua Lua 45’)

7….Warren Aspinall

8….David Gregory

9….Brian Launders

10..Neil Gregory (Paul Abrahams 63’)

11..Stephane Pounewatchy

The Cherries were managed by experienced Mel Machin, and were firmly embedded in the play-off zone going into this game. Manager-in-waiting Eddie Howe played at no. 4 on the day, as well as hat-trick hero James Hayter at no. 10, the latter only just starting to ease his way as a regular into the first XI. For the U’s, we were beginning to see the influence of Wadsworth taking effect – and more to the point, the influence of his best buddy football agent Barry Silkman – with debuts for no less than Warren Aspinall (following a loan spell), Brian Launders (on loan) and Fabric Richard. We had also already seen the arrival, and almost immediate departure in an Essex ambulance, of Fumaca, in the $ky TV pay-per-view game against Man City the weekend before. Unlike Fumaca, I can remember the Man City game very clearly (watched at a mate’s house in Warminster, as he was the only person I knew at the time who actually had $ky), my recollections of the Bournemouth game are nowhere near as good. I do know I travelled down to this one on the local bus service, and had a couple of beers in the Queens Park Hotel beforehand, but not a huge amount otherwise, bar one notable incident.

As mentioned above, Bournemouth were going well at the time, and we were struggling at the wrong end of the table, only four points outside the relegation zone. A tough game was expected as a result, so imagine my surprise after early pressure from the Cherries, up popped David Greene to head home a Warren Aspinall corner after just 20 minutes. Very much against the run of play, but the U’s fans there that day weren’t complaining. Despite taking the lead, the U’s continued to soak up considerable pressure from Bournemouth, pressure which eventually told after 35 minutes when Christer Warren fired a well-struck shot past Carl Emberson.

Mind you, if that one was well-struck, Richard Hughes’ thunderbolt five minutes before the interval was worthy of not just goal of the season, but goal of the millennium. Following a well-coordinated set-piece routine that clearly originated on the training ground, Hughes let fly a howitzer from 25-yards which gave Emberson no chance at all. Hughes should have been playing that weekend for Scotland U21 against Bosnia (as they were then), but for reasons I can’t discover the game had been postponed – much to our dismay…

Mick Wadsworth made changes second half, bringing Lua Lua on at half-time, and then Paul Abrahams and Simon Betts as the second half progressed, but to no avail. Bournemouth appeared content to keep the U’s at bay for most of the half, rather than put the game out of sight with a third. With players like Eddie Howe in defence, they never looked too threatened second half, although Lua Lua and his bag of tricks caused a few problems. Eventually, Machin shored things up a bit in the midfield to try and stifle supply to Lua Lua, replacing Frenchman Willie Huck with Mike Dean (not the referee), and the game finished 2-1 to Bournemouth.

However, the real moment of the game must have been when Warren Aspinall (a former Cherry) received a very firmly driven football to the family jewels not once, but twice in rapid succession. Now us chaps know that there is absolutely nothing funny when this happens, but honestly, the entire stadium (home and away) were in hysterics – even Aspinall managed a wry smile, once he could actually stand that is.

“[i]Don’t rub ‘em, count ‘em[/i]” came the shout from someone in our end 😊.

[b]AFC Bournemouth 2 (Christer Warren 35’, Richard Hughes 40’) Colchester United 1 (David Greene 20’)[/b]

My feelings on Wadsworth are well-known, and I suspect probably shared by many, and I don’t look back on his time at Colchester United with any pleasure at all. In fact, Wadsworth’s career appears littered with misfortune for the clubs he has been involved with, though in some cases it could be argued that he was the victim of circumstance, or there was just a degree of unfortunate coincidence involved. What is true though, is that he never really achieved much, or indeed held down any single job as a manager for too long, and more often than not moved on in somewhat acrimonious circumstances. Even at the U’s, which might be considered one of his better performances as a manager, he walked out on us claiming the commute from Pontefract was too far…and then ended up at Crystal Palace! – not that I was complaining.

It has been argued that in taking over from Steve Wignall, he saved us from relegation – that may or may not be true, but we’ll never know how the second half of the season may have panned out if (for instance) Wignall hadn’t resigned, or Whitton had stayed in charge following his caretaker role. What I do know, because the stats don’t lie, is that Wignall left us in 18th place in the league, and we finished in 18th place in the league. Certainly some of the players Wadsworth signed were okay – I quite liked Warren Aspinall and Stephan Pounewatchy, and Fabrice was okay too – but Brian Launders, Steve Germain, Fumaca, Bradley Allen?! What certainly marked out a Wadsworth signing, good, bad or indifferent, was they generally didn’t hang around for long.

Bournemouth missed out on the play-offs by one place on goal difference – largely thanks to the U’s gaining revenge by beating them 2-1 at Layer Road exactly a month later on a Tuesday in late April. I was also at that game and remember it well for the excellent atmosphere rocking around Layer Road that night, with a result that guaranteed our survival for another season (that and the inflatables being bounced around amongst the away fans). Incidentally, including the League Cup, we ended up playing Bournemouth four times that season – W 2, D 0, L 2, F 6, A 7.

Finally, leaving the humour of Aspinall’s family jewels to one side, I feel I should finish on the post-football struggles that Warren has been through. His time at Colchester United was close to the end of his career, and following a final short spell at Brighton, Warren retired as a result of an ankle injury in 2000. In doing the Matches of Yesteryear series, I have researched many different players, and it is very sad and alarming to see quite how many fall on hard times once their playing careers are over, often with alcohol, drugs or gambling involved. Unfortunately, Warren was no exception, with both alcoholism and a gambling addiction wiping out his savings (estimated at £1m), and bringing him to the brink of suicide. Thankfully, after a spell at the Sporting Chance clinic (set up by Tony Adams), Aspinall turned his life around, and became an advocate for the Samaritans and their “Men on the Ropes” campaign, talking openly and honestly about his addictions to try and help other sporting males in similar situations – well done Warren!

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