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The U'sual Ramblings #2
Written by wessex_exile on Saturday, 6th Aug 2022 13:44

[i]The U’sual Ramblings #2[/i], and the U’s first home match of the season. Much has been written on our narrow defeat away at Northampton Town last Saturday, not least that if they are the yard-stick for promotion contenders, we can take plenty of credit (and hope) from most of our performance, which really should have earned a point. However, we’ve seen these false dawns before – remember away at Notts County, and at Bradford, in recent years, where we thought we were playing contenders, and they turned out to be whipping boys for most of the season. Still, I don’t expect that of Northampton, so stout hearts faithful…and wasn’t it great seeing Nouble bombing down the wing doing what he does best again!

[b]The world outside U’s World[/b]
The cost of living crisis in the UK seems to be sliding towards full blown recession, at least according to the Bank of England at least, as they unveiled the biggest rise in interest rates for 27 years. They are forecasting that inflation will exceed 13% this year, and the country officially enter a recession in October which will last all through 2023. With soaring energy prices and impact on mortgages, rent and credit card bills, they estimate the household disposable income to drop by 3.7% over the next two years. It’s not all doom and gloom however, with the Bank of England base rate expected to peak at 2.85%, considerably lower than the previous 3.59% forecast.

The ripples from Nancy Pelosi’s diplomatic visit to Taiwan continue to be felt, with China, who claim ownership of the self-ruled island (which they see as a breakaway province) announcing new countermeasures against the US. These include, worryingly, suspending any further climate talks with the gas-guzzling US, cooperation on military issues and combined efforts to combat international crime. They are also specifically targeting Pelosi and her family for further economic sanctions, though quite what they can realistically achieve there I don’t know?

Serial scumbag Alex Jones learned this week that he would have to pay $49.3m in damages to a family of the Sandy Hook massacre. Jones had already been found guilty of defamation in the case, after he repeatedly attacked them and other relatives of other victims through his online platform Infowars. Jones claimed the massacre was a ‘hoax’, a ‘false red flag’ event staged by the anti-gun lobby, and that grieving parents were nothing but crisis actors, inflaming far-right activists who proceeded to make their lives a living hell. Whilst this is a substantial amount, though the claim was originally for $150m damages, with Infowars having already filed for bankruptcy, I fear that the parents will see precious little of this award.

[b]U’s World[/b]
The big news of the week was the arrival of Irish international goalkeeper Kieran O’Hara to the JCS. Coming through the ranks of the Manchester United youth set-up, Kieran had several loan spells including Trafford, Macclesfield and Burton Albion, before signing permanently for Burton in 2020. He left Burton for Fleetwood Town at the end of the January 2022 transfer window on a short-term deal, signing for the U’s as a free agent. Kieran qualifies to play for Republic of Ireland through his paternal grandparents, and has turned out nine times for the U21s, and twice for the Irish first team. One of those two games was against New Zealand, with Ireland winning 3-1 after New Zealand took an early lead. If you’re wondering, Tommy Smith did play in that game, coming on as a 74th minute substitute (Ireland scored their third in the 75th minute – probably just a coincidence).

[b]Welcome to the U’s Kieran![/b]

Other U’s news – following Southend announcing a sponsorship deal to rename their West stand as the Gilbert & Rose West stand (as [b]Noah[/b] has already pointed out, perhaps not the marketing and PR disaster it at first seems), the U’s have also announced a new stand sponsor. Chelmsford-based Bank of Telecom have signed up for the naming rights for the North Stand for the next two seasons. Probably shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, given CEO Mark Stewart is a season ticket holder and lifelong supporter of the U’s, but it’s great that his local business with global reach is getting behind the club.

The new shirts have finally arrived, and with the club shop open late on Wednesday to deal with demand, I’d imagine there’ll be a fair few on view today at the JobServe. Frustratingly (for this particular exile at least), they’re still not available online, but they say patience is a virtue…apparently.

[b]Stat attack[/b]
Our paths with the Cumbrians didn’t cross until after the deregionalisation of the old Third Division, when we first met in August 1961 at Layer Road. Interestingly, that too was our second match of the season, also in the 4th tier, and Benny Fenton’s U’s won 2-0 – wouldn’t we just love a repeat of that today. Since then, we’ve played 52 times in the league, with the U’s edging it with 21 victories, 13 draws and 18 defeats.

We’ve also played three times in three different cup competitions. Almost exactly 50 years ago to the day we beat Carlisle United 2-0 in the second round of the Watney Cup, on our way to victory in the final at the Hawthorns. A couple of years later we defeated Carlisle at Layer Road, another 2-0 victory, in the third round of the League Cup. That season we would go on to overcome Southampton (eventually) in the fourth round, before eventually falling to Aston Villa in the Layer Road quarter-final. And of course, if we needed any reminding, we also lost a penalty shoot-out to the Cumbrians in the 1997 Autowindscreens final at Wembley. To this day, Carlisle are still the most successful side in the EFL Trophy competition (in all its guises), making the final on six separate occasions and winning it twice in the process.

As far as memorable matches are concerned, Paul Lambert’s 5-0 demolition of the Cumbrians in October 2008 stands head and shoulders above the rest. Mind you, Carlisle have battered the U’s 4-0 at Brunton Park on no less than four separate occasions, most recently of course in December 2018. Most notably, it was our 3-0 victory at Brunton Park immediately prior to the first Covid lockdown that secured (only just) our play-off place in 2020.

Officially formed in 1904, Carlisle United was actually a rebrand of former club Shaddongate United, who’s existence is first recorded in 1896 as the winners of the Carlisle Association Charity Shield. At their 1904 annual general meeting, members voted to rename the club as Carlisle United, the idea allegedly coming from Newcastle United officials who reckoned Carlisle stood more chance of election to the Football League if by name they were perceived to represent the entire city.

It kind of worked too, and after finishing second in the North Eastern League behind Sunderland Reserves in 1927/28, the Cumbrians were elected to the Third Division North, replacing Durham City in the process. Since then, much like the U’s, Carlisle have generally bounced around the bottom two divisions, and also like the U’s, including a brief drop into non-league.

However, unlike the U’s, back to back promotions in 1964 and 1965 brought about a sustained ten-year period for the Cumbrians as a solid Second Division side. This of course culminated in promotion to the top flight for the 1974/75 season, and after opening with three consecutive victories, they sat at the top of the football league. It wouldn’t last unfortunately, and by the end of the season they were relegated. It is noteworthy that they still remain the smallest location (by population) to have a resident top flight side since 1906.

[b]Match of the Day
[i]Colchester United v Carlisle United
Saturday 25th October 2008
Coca-Cola Football League Two (Tier 3)
Attendance 5,152[/i][/b]

[b]Courtesy of Graeson’s ColuData website[/b]

This one is a special, as we go back to that previously mentioned game in October 2008. The U’s were three months into our new home at the (then) Weston Homes Community Stadium, and still looking for their first victory at the new ground. Following hard fought 0-0 against Huddersfield in the first ever competitive fixture at the new ground, followed by a more entertaining 2-2 against Oldham, the U’s had lost four on the bounce at home to MK Dons, Leicester City, Bristol Rovers and Millwall, and were perched perilously above the relegation zone.

The rocky start to the season had taken it’s toll on managers too, with Geraint Williams relieved of his duties in September, with the U’s second from bottom. Caretaker Kit Symons briefly halted the slide in his first game in charge, with a spirited 4-3 victory at Tranmere, but any suggestion he would be appointed permanently were following two of those success home defeats against Leicester City and Bristol Rovers. Paul Lambert was appointed as the new manager on 9th October, and although the U’s were unlucky to lose his first game 4-3 at Cheltenham (an undeserved 90th minute winner from Hayles), he immediately made his mark by following up with a 2-1 victory at Edgeley Park.

Still though that first win at the new ground eluded us, with Millwall (who would go on to make the play-offs) taking the points with a 2-1 victory the following Tuesday night.

Steering clear of Lambert’s somewhat questionable man-management style, his U’s lined up that day against Carlisle United:
1….Dean Gerken
2….John White
12..Pat Baldwin
5….Chris Coyne
4….Johnnie Jackson
11..Mark Yeates (Anthony Wordsworth 83’)
10..Kem Izzet
8….Dean Hammond
17..David Perkins
7….Steven Gillespie (Akanni-Sunday Wasiu 16’)
9….Clive Platt (Scott Vernon 80’)

There are a few names of note in the Carlisle line-up that day. Simon Hackney started in midfield for the Cumbrians, and Ben Williams was on the bench as the reserve goalkeeper. However, top billing must probably go to their manager John Ward. When Ward was appointed the U’s manager in 2010, all three would have a bit of a Cumbrian old boys reunion.

If games at the new ground had been a bit bereft of entertainment up to that point, diminutive midfielder and programme cover poster boy David Perkins got the U’s off to an excellent start. On just three minutes, Carlisle ‘keeper obligingly parried Mark Yeates’ cross right into his path, who gleefully converted from close range to give the U’s a 1-0 lead. Barely ten minutes later, Yeates had one of his own to celebrate, curling home from outside the box after Kemi had flicked on a John White pass.

The gloss was slightly taken off the moment shortly after, with Steven Gillespie subbed just after the quarter-hour mark with another injury, to be replaced by former St Albans City forward Akanni-Sunday Wasiu. Although another disappointment for the injury-prone Gillespie, Mark Yeates quickly got the celebrations back on track with his second and the U’s third on 31 minutes. A defensive misunderstanding between Darren Campion and experienced pro Graham Kavanagh allowed Yeates to nip in between them and slot past Alnwick, to take the U’s to the interval comfortably in charge at 3-0.

Although much of the traffic in the first half had been one-way, Dean Gerken had to be on his toes early in the second half to palm away a Kavanagh long-range free-kick. However, for the most part, although the U’s were comfortably controlling the game, Carlisle had managed to get their defensive act together to minimise any further clear-cut chances for the U’s to extend their lead.

Finally, with just a minute left on the clock, Dean Hammond scored his first goal in U’s colours, latching on to an inch-perfect pass following a driving run from Scott Vernon to make it 4-0. As if that wasn’t enough, Akanni-Sunday Wasiu served up the cherry on the cake in injury-time, slotting home what the BBC described as “[i]a stylish fifth[/i]” to make it 5-0 to the U’s.

[b]Colchester United 5 (David Perkins 3’; Mark Yeates 14’, 31’; Dean Hammond 89’; Akanni-Sunday Wasiu 90’) Carlisle United 0[/b]

The U’s under Lambert would go on to have a very good next three months, losing just three times, and including a run of eight games unbeaten – the 8th ironically a 2-0 victory in the return fixture at Brunton Park. By the end of the season the U’s finished in a very solid 12th place, whilst Carlisle dodged relegation by one point and one place. Mark Yeates, already on six after his brace against Carlisle, would go on to be top goal scorer for the U’s that season, with 13 in all competitions.

Akanni-Sunday Wasiu would go out on loan to Luton Town in the January transfer window and was one of those eventually released by Lambert at the end of the 2008/09 season. He scored twice for the U’s, this one being his last. Wasiu wasn’t on his own in the clear out, with Lambert selling Mark Yeates to Middlesbrough for £450,000. Other players either let go, demoted to training with the youth team and/or not even given squad numbers included Chris Coyne, Jamie Guy, Matt Heath, Philip Ifil, Johnnie Jackson, Matt Lockwood and John White.

That after all that, Lambert was responsible for the protracted signing of Joël Thomas for £125,000 from Hamilton Academicals was laughable – particularly given by the following January he was sent back to the Accies on loan and had his U’s contract cancelled without ever returning.

Up the U’s!

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When Saturday Comes #36 by wessex_exile
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