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Crawley (a) 13th and Notts County (a) 20th April
at 11:12 4 Apr 2024

Tickets are now available for our last two away games of this season (just got mine). I’m expecting a decent turnout for both matches, particularly as the Crawley tickets are just £2, as they were for their previous home game against Donny at the end of March. They did this 2@£2 offer towards the end of last season as well, and not surprisingly it proved very popular with supporters. Mind you, they had over 5,000 in for the Donny game and still lost 2-0.
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Knees-up Mother Brown #24
at 13:54 30 Mar 2024

After another weekend break to spend a very enjoyable afternoon with Spireite Craig watching the U’s get a well-deserved point at runaway leader Mansfield Town, followed by promotion back to the EFL for Chesterfield, the matchday Saturdays left before the end of the season are running out. So, given I’m away again next Saturday again to join 9,000+ for the visit of Planet Hollywood, I’m going to slip in a Good Friday special ahead of what will undoubtedly be two extremely important fixtures in deciding the fate of Colchester United. On Monday the family are arriving for their traditional Easter Egg Hunt (and obligatory roast dinner), so here goes for the visit of t’other Exiles to the JobServe. Come on Col U!
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Knees-up Mother Brown #24
at 13:53 29 Mar 2024

After another weekend break to spend a very enjoyable afternoon with Spireite Craig watching the U’s get a well-deserved point at runaway leader Mansfield Town, followed by promotion back to the EFL for Chesterfield, the matchday Saturdays left before the end of the season are running out. So, given I’m away again next Saturday again to join 9,000+ for the visit of Planet Hollywood, I’m going to slip in a Good Friday special ahead of what will undoubtedly be two extremely important fixtures in deciding the fate of Colchester United. On Monday the family are arriving for their traditional Easter Egg Hunt (and obligatory roast dinner), so here goes for the visit of t’other Exiles to the JobServe. Come on Col U!


Ready for Battle!

The world outside U’s World
A paper published in Nature this week has focused on how melting polar ice from global warning is affecting how fast the Earth spins, according to author Duncan Agnew, a geophysicist at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institute of Oceanography. The Earth’s astronomical time, known as the coordinated universal time (UTC), has been an atomic-clock based standard since the 60s. In the past, as rotation occasionally slowed (it does, don’t panic) scientists have had to add additional “leap seconds” to keep the rotation and UTC aligned. However, with the increased volume of water around the equator resulting from global warming, our rotation is now speeding up, requiring the introduction of a “negative leap second” at some point (by at least 2029 as things stand). University of Colorado Boulder glaciologist Ted Scambos described the adjustment as a “yikes” moment for computer-based technology.

After losing in her bid to become the new Governor of Arizona in 2022, Kari “soft focus” Lake decided to follow in the footsteps of her hero Donald Trump and deny, deny, deny it was a fair election, and that she’d been cheated. Her focus in doing so was Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer, ironically a life-long Republican. In an unrelented campaign of personal attacks and false accusations, Lake and her supporters made Richer and his family’s life a living hell of constant threats and abuse. So much so that eventually he sued Lake for defamation, and without a leg to stand on, Lake eventually capitulated this week. She has notified the court that she does not intend to defend her claims that he deliberately wrecked her gubernatorial campaign, petitioning the court to hold a default judgement hearing and go straight to determining damages. Let’s hope it’s a really big number.

On a lighter theme, the famous door which saved the life of Rose (Kate Winslet) in the movie “Titanic” was sold at auction for a staggering $700,000 this week. In a YouGov poll of 1,688 Brits, over half of the respondents believe there was more than enough room for Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) as well, whilst only 17% thought not. To mash-up a famous line, it was the scene which launched a thousand memes, and I do like this one.



Ever wondered about donating your body to science? Who’d want it I imagine many of you would be thinking, but annually approximately 1,300 people do. However, experts in the medical profession have warned that this number is still far short of the amount needed by medical colleges to give their students invaluable learning opportunities with real human remains. An opportunity to die for I suppose?

U’s World
Somewhat old news again, but the young U’s battled hard in the Essex Senior Cup Final against Redbridge, but after finishing 0-0 in normal time, lost 5-4 in the penalty shoot-out. Harsh on the lads, but I’m sure the journey to the final alone will serve them well as they develop. The really positive sign was the welcome return of Samson Tovide for the first half of that game, and even better to see him come on at Mansfield and go so close to actually winning the game for the U’s. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets a start today.

However, the Colchester United Woman showed how it should be done last Sunday, in the quarter-finals of the Essex County Women’s League Cup. Playing against Premier League outfit Stanway Rovers Ladies, the U’s held their illustrious opponents 2-2 after extra time and went on to win their own penalty shoot-out 3-2. The U’s were due to face Blackmore Ladies at the Garrison on Sunday, but for whatever reason Blackmore have withdrawn from the fixture. Considering they were to face a team that has passed the 100 goals scored mark already, can’t say I blame them.

Bad news ahead of today’s fixture, with the announcement that the match will be refereed by Sunny Singh Gill, assisted by Daniel Bonneywell, Stephen Brown and Stuart Butler. Mr Gill and the U’s are not the best of bedfellows, given we’ve lost all four matches that he’s previously officiated, the most recent last September in our 5-0 defeat to Spurs U21s in the BSM Trophy. He’s also been responsible for a few somewhat “challenging” decisions in those games, so whilst I applaud him becoming the first British South Asian to referee a Premier League match, I do hope for our sake he has a better afternoon today.

Match of the Day
Colchester United v Doncaster Rovers
25th March 2016
Sky Bet Football League One (Tier 3)
Attendance 3,771



Thanks to ColuData for the programme cover image

Match of the Day for KMB24, and it’s a special for Easter (and also not a game I was at). Our Good Friday record overall isn’t too bad, playing 54 times and winning 25, drawing 16 and losing only 13. However, in recent seasons points have proved elusive, and for the seven home fixtures since we moved to the JobServe, we’ve only won three of them (albeit that’s three of the last four). So, what better than to go back to the very first of those three, for the visit of Doncaster Rovers on 25th March 2016.

We had been going through a managerial cluster-phuck that season, starting with Tony Humes, replaced by Richard Hall and John McGreal as an interim duo, then Wayne Brown as a caretaker, and current incumbent Kevin Keen signing as the new manager just before Christmas. It hadn’t been going well either, and going into this match the U’s were rock-bottom of the league, and seemingly needing a miracle to avoid relegation. Our only consolation was that Donny were having a mare of a season as well, and under Darren Ferguson, who had arrived in October, looked like they’d do well to also avoid relegation.

Kevin Keen’s U’s lined up that afternoon as follows:

33..Elliot Parish
4….Joe Edwards
18..Tom Eastman
32..Leo Chambers (15. Frankie Kent 16’)
31..Nicky Shorey
2….Owen Garvan (captain)
8….Alex Gilbey
10..George Moncur
11..Gavin Massey
9….Chris Porter (19. Macauley Bonne 83’)
12..Elliot Lee (24. Richard Brindley 79’)

Considering this was a match between two sides at the wrong end of the table, the first half pretty much lived up to that billing, with both sides struggling to make any impact. Following a lengthy break whilst Parish was treated following a clash with Nathan Tyson, our situation wasn’t helped by the early substitution of Leo Chambers after just 15 minutes. It wasn’t clear where or when it had occurred, but after picking up an injury from an innocuous challenge early on, he couldn’t continue. However, not too bad considering he was replaced by Frankie Kent I suppose?

We’d shown a few flashes of what we could do; Moncur had curled a speculative effort over the bar from 18 yards and Porter had a decent near-post effort deflected wide for a corner, but that was about it really. And then typically, given how our season was panning out, Doncaster Rovers took the lead. Coppinger pinged a cross-field ball from inside his own half, McSheffrey on his loan debut easily beat our lethargic offside trap, and made no mistake drilling past Elliot Parish. It was that simple, and already looking like it would be a long afternoon for the U’s.

There wasn’t much else in the first half to write home about either, as we struggled to get a hold of the game. Even a half-hearted appeal for a 44th minute penalty, as Elliot Lee went down under a challenge from Taylor-Sinclair was summarily waved away by referee Kevin Friend. And so half-time arrived, and our perilous position was looking even more so.

Given how drab and lacklustre the first half had been, I want a shot of whatever Keen put in the U’s half-time cups of tea, because the second half was a completely different performance. Within a few minutes of the restart Massey put in a fine cross for Porter to head goalwards. His effort was blocked, and Lee was unlucky to see his follow-up effort crash off the base of the post. A few minutes later a 25 yard thunderbolt of a free-kick from Garvan flashed inches wide with keeper Remi Matthews beaten.

Following a brief scare, with Coppinger’s shot from the edge of the box also going narrowly wide, and Parish nowhere near it, the U’s finally got the equaliser their second half performance deserved. After excellent work from Massey, turning his defender inside out, he slipped his pass through to an unmarked Porter in the centre, who sliced his effort in off the inside of the far post.

Still the U’s pressed, with Gilbey going close after yet more excellent work from Massey down the right. With 20 minutes to go, the roof lifted off the ground, after Elliot Lee, drifting in from the left and fired in an absolute belter from all of 30 yards which cleared the despairing dive of Matthews and into the top far corner of the net. Less than a minute later it was 3-1, and with barely a chance for the supporters to catch their breath, as Gilbey picked up the ball in the middle of the Doncaster half. He seemed to be drifting wide, but instead lashed in an unstoppable shot which found the same top corner as Lee’s had.

From 1-0 down at half-time, the resurgent U’s were now comfortably in control after three goals in ten minutes, and surely good value for a much needed three points. The stuffing had been knocked out of Doncaster Rovers, who couldn’t do anything to get back into the game, and with two minutes to go the U’s served up the cherry on the cake. Moncur, twisting and turning, managed to weave his way into the box without a single defender daring to go near him, laid the ball off perfectly to the waiting Richard Brindley, who drilled into the middle of the net to seal an emphatic victory for the U’s.



Colchester United 4 (Porter 62’; Lee 71’; Gilbey 72’; Brindley 87’) Doncaster 1 (McSheffrey 21’)

The stats for this one, with thanks to ColUData, were off the chart. Our biggest win of the season, in fact, our biggest win for the last two years, the first time we’d come back from 1-0 to win in all competitions since 2011 (at Crewe in the FA Cup, I was there), the first time we’d come back from 1-0 down at half-time to win in the league since 1985, and the first time we’d come back from 1-0 at half-time to win 4-1 in the league since 1977!

Hope springs eternal, and on the back of this result the U’s won 1-0 at Coventry City, drew at home 0-0 with Millwall, and won again 1-0 at Blackpool to keep our faint hopes of survival alive. But, with five games to go and eight points adrift from safety, sadly the writing was on the wall. After a 3-0 home defeat to Burton Albion on 23rd April confirmed our relegation, Keen fell on his sword. Following one game under David Wright as caretaker, Steve Ball was given the dubious privilege of managing the U’s on the final day of our League 1 existence, as the U’s lost 2-1 at home to Rochdale. We were joined by Crewe, Blackpool and of course Doncaster Rovers.

Up the U’s!
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Good Friday weather watch
at 22:03 27 Mar 2024

We're having pretty biblical conditions this evening - torrential rain and even hail for the last 3-4 hours. How's it looking over in Essex?
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Wrexham (h) 6th April
at 18:35 24 Mar 2024

Got my tickets this morning, so just a heads up for anyone still undecided, it's looking like it's going to be close to a sell out. Just a handful left in the East stand, most of the West stand close to sold out, and likewise S2 and S4. Should be a cracking atmosphere.
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Knees-up Mother Brown #23
at 14:35 17 Mar 2024

Following a disappointing result at Holker Street, exacerbated by yet more poor refereeing to deny us a clear penalty in the first half and award a non-existent free-kick to give the Bluebirds a first half lead (albeit the free-kick was an absolute blinder), and the inevitable postponement of the Donny game on Tuesday, the U’s now find themselves in the relegation zone. It is what it is, and with seven of our remaining 11 games at home, our destiny is still very much in our own hands – but everyone has to do their job, both on and off the (repurposed) pitch.
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Knees-up Mother Brown #23
at 14:19 16 Mar 2024

Following a disappointing result at Holker Street, exacerbated by yet more poor refereeing to deny us a clear penalty in the first half and award a non-existent free-kick to give the Bluebirds a first half lead (albeit the free-kick was an absolute blinder), and the inevitable postponement of the Donny game on Tuesday, the U’s now find themselves in the relegation zone. It is what it is, and with seven of our remaining 11 games at home, our destiny is still very much in our own hands – but everyone has to do their job, both on and off the (repurposed) pitch.


UP THE U’S!!!

The world outside U’s World
As an homage to the news that we’ve temporarily solved the problem of our atrocious pitch by moving it away from the East stand bog, whilst reducing its size to 102m by 64m, I’ve decided today’s blog would be an opportunity to reflect on a loosely related experience from the real world – a kind of “The world outside U’s World meets U’s World” I suppose. Incidentally, whilst finding a handy League 2 pitch size comparison table on t’interweb has proved elusive, from what I can see, the Bescot (for example) measures 100m by 66m, so slightly wider and slightly shorter.

My story begins early in my career as a field archaeologist for the company I still work for, as an aspiring Project Supervisor running a trial trench evaluation of the proposed route of a new wastewater sewer pipe installation in and around Deal in East Kent. This was back in the early 90s, somewhere around 1991 or 1992 I think, and the new sewer pipe (a massive 1.5-2m diameter construction) was in part designed to alleviate perennial flooding in Deal (which ironically, they still suffer from).

For the most part our work, on behalf of the water company delivering the scheme but coordinated by the council, focused on agricultural land on the outskirts of Deal. However, as we approached the end of the trial trench evaluation, we were required to investigate some green spaces within the town itself, these including the home of Deal Wanderers Rugby Football Club. So early one Thursday morning I set up the theodolite and set out the three trenches we were required to machine excavate.

I then double- and even triple-checked my measurements – this couldn’t be right, the line of the trenches was cutting right across one corner of their pitch, with noticeboards outside the ground advertising their next home game was on Saturday! I did as I should and phoned my manager. She double-checked her plans, that was where they should be she confirmed, so she went away to make further enquiries, whilst I rang our coordinator at the council. He was adamant, the trenches were in the right place, on the proposed alignment, and anyway, the council had written to Deal Wanderers RFC well in advance to notify them of the works – so we were ordered to proceed.

As you’d expect from a top quality sports pitch, the turf lifted beautiful in clean slabs when faced with a 360-degree tracked excavator, and in no time at all we had virtually finished the machine excavation of all three – when the approach of a blazered individual was brought to my attention. This it turned out was the club secretary and by the look of him (5’6” in his socks, neck wider than his head and barrel-chested), former tighthead prop.



I have never seen anyone more incandescent with rage before or since, nor do I wish to. He was literally purple, and struggling to find the words, any words, to demand what the bloody hell did we think we were doing. Self-preservation mode kicked in, as I, as patiently and politely as possible, tried to explain we’d checked the setting-out information several times, that these were we where we were told to put them, and that I’d even checked with the council…

That was a magic word – at the word “council” he went deathly calm, swivelled on his heels to march back to the clubhouse, whilst telling us in no uncertain terms to get our trenches “effing” backfilled immediately. In no time at all the site was besieged by officials from the water company, club and council whilst we, as diligently and carefully as we could set to backfilling and reinstating. It turned out that whilst the council should have written to Deal Wanderers, someone somewhere in County Hall forgot to do so, and they had a game in less than 48 hours.

However, all was not lost, one of the trenches was fortunately not actually on the pitch, one was only just, and we’d already done an excellent job through lots of shovel work in getting that one backfilled, so much so that the club secretary was happy the surface was good enough for the match to go ahead. That just left the final trench, and we were three-quarters through backfilling that one by the end of the day. Despite the monumental f’ck-up, everyone left that evening reasonably confident we could finish the top quality reinstatement work we’d been doing, and the match could go ahead.

Sadly, our plant operator, showing the sort of initiative you really don’t want to see, decided to rock up early the following morning with a JCB to finish off the reinstatement, rather than use the tracked excavator. When we arrived at 8am the site looked like Passchendaele. From almost non-existent marks left by the excavator tracks, the wheels of the JCB had left deep ruts everywhere, the back feet of the JCB had sunk deep holes into the turf all over the place, and without us and our trusty shovels in support, he’d managed to repeatedly rip large sections of turf off.

The site was an utter disaster when the great and the good arrived for a 9am inspection. Now wholly over a barrel because of their incompetence, the council had to go into overdrive in finding a creative solution, and thankfully one of their surveyors did. Noticing that there was considerable excess green space on the opposite side of the pitch, he worked out that if the pitch was both moved and rotated a bit, it could still fit within the grounds, just – and thus Operation Game On was borne, and by the end of Friday the entire pitch had been re-laid, posts and all, and the game went ahead the following afternoon.

We never worked with that plant firm again.

U’s World
So, new pitch, ‘nuff said.



Sanity has also prevailed and, given the intense use the JobServe pitch will have to sustain between now and the end of the season, the Essex Senior Cup final between the U’s and Redbridge FC next Tuesday has now been moved to Dagenham and Redbridge’s Chigwell Construction Stadium. Tickets can be purchased from the Daggers ticketing webpage, link below:

https://daggers.ktckts.com/event/dag2324escf/bbc-essex-senior-cup-final-colchest

Match of the Day
Carlisle United v Colchester United
20th April 1997
Auto Windscreens Shield (Final)
Attendance 45,077




Match of the Day for KMB23, and finally the random memorabilia match selector has picked our third appearance at Wembley, for the Auto Windscreens Shield final against Carlisle United. Although drawn as the ‘home’ side, Carlisle elected to play in their away shirt sponsored by Eddie Stobart, a decision no doubt influenced by the sponsor. Their kit was a fetching (Ed. retching, surely?) array of Stobart green, gold, red and white stripes, their supporters known as the deckchair army as a result. This allowed the U’s to play in traditional blue and white stripes for the match, which kicked off at 1.30pm on the Sunday afternoon and was also broadcast on Sky TV.

Carlisle, under the chairmanship of Michael “Keepy-Uppy” Knighton and new manager Mervyn Day, had been having a storming season at the top of the league, almost constantly in the top three, and looked destined to possibly achieve a league and cup double. Knighton being Knighton, it was revealed post-match that he’d threatened to pull Carlisle out of the final because he wanted a better share of the TV money. Calling his bluff, the Football League said if he did that, they’d kick Carlisle out of the league, and having put up, Knighton then demurely shut up.

It’s probably no coincidence that Carlisle’s up-turn in form under Day also coincided with former manager Mick “Bigger B’stard than Mick Wadsworth” Wadsworth moving to Norwich City – sorry Canaries. Mind you, under Steve Wignall, we weren’t doing too bad either, and despite a poor run of form late February to early April (losing seven of nine), we were hanging on to the play-offs by our fingernails.

And that really was the prize we wanted – as much as trips to Wembley are fantastic for supporters and club alike, we really needed the promotion out of the basement that Wignall’s U’s were promising. Arguably, our dip in form leading up to this game was in part caused by this cup run. But let’s not sound ungracious, getting to Wembley is always a fantastic occasion, and one that on this day just under 20,000 U’s fans came along to enjoy.

Steve Wignall’s U’s lined up that afternoon as follows:

1….Carl Emberson
2….Joe Dunne
3….Paul Gibbs (12. Chris Fry 105’)
4….David Gregory (13. Adam Locke 85’)
5….David Greene
6….Peter Cawley
7….Richard Wilkins
8….Mark Sale
9….Steve Whitton
10..Tony Adcock
11..Paul Abrahams (14. Karl Duguid 91’)

For such a big occasion for both sets of supporters, it wasn’t really that good a game, certainly not to begin with. I used to have a video of the match (my brother-in-law had Sky, so taped it for me as a memento), and in a cautious first half both sides largely sparred with each other, without really landing any blows of note. Incidentally, not anticipating the possibility of extra time and penalties, he set the video to shut off at the end of the original scheduled broadcast, so my video missed the final moments of extra time and the penalty shootout (fortunately I suppose?).

Albeit from a slightly negative viewpoint, perhaps the brightest news for the U’s was the early injury substitution of goal scorer Allan Smart for the Cumbrians. Carlisle were definitely the more dominant side in the first half, with Stephane Pounewatchy and Warren Aspinall in particular causing problems, in a side which also includes quality players like Tony Caig in goal, Rory Delap in defence and Lee Peacock up front.

Slowly though, into the second half, the U’s got more and more into the game, although still without either side really carving out any really clear-cut chances. The second half started brightly for both sets of supporters, after Rory Delap attempted to fire over a cross, and managing to destroy the corner flag in the process. Of course, the Wembley staff had a spare readily available – oh no, hang on, they didn’t – and it took a full five minutes before an official emerged sprinting from the tunnel with a new flag held aloft a la Braveheart, to easily the biggest cheer of the match so far.



That moment lifted both spirits and the game, and the second half was a much-improved spectacle. Master of shithousery Warren Aspinall and Steve Whitton went close at opposite ends, but it was Joe Dunne who should have won it. With just 15 seconds on the clock, and the U’s really ratcheting up the pressure, Mark Sale swung in a deep cross that managed to reach Joe. With a bit of composure it was a certain goal, but Joe leant back and managed to blaze the best chance of the afternoon over the bar.

And so to extra time, and with Adam Locke already on for a tiring David Gregory, our own master of shithousery Karl Duguid replaced Paul Abrahams – whose golden goal in the second leg semi against Posh had taken us to the final. Five minutes into extra time Carlisle had their own clear cut chance to win it, with Rod Thomas and Warren Aspinall combining well to put through captain Steve Hayward, but he slipped at the crucial moment and the chance went begging.

That was Thomas’s last contribution to the game, and after coming on as a substitute for the injures Allan Smart, he was then substituted by Matt Jansen. The second half of extra time saw the introduction of Chris Fry for Paul Gibbs, but still produced few clear cut chances, although Mark Sale went close with a header in the dying seconds.

Penalties it was then – usually a barren source of amusement for long-suffering U’s fans. However, even with the kicks being taken at the Carlisle end of the pitch, we had some hope. Wilkins scored first for the U’s, with Conway replying followed by Adcock with the second for the U’s to give us a 2-1 lead. Up stepped Archdeacon, but his soft effort to Emberson’s right was easily stopped, and with the U’s supporters still celebrating like crazy, Greene calmly gave the U’s a 3-1 lead.

Walling pulled one back to make it 3-2 to the U’s after three each, and then the contest pivoted, largely at the hands of one man, Carlisle keeper Tony Caig. Guessing correctly, he kept out the penalties from young Karl Duguid and towering Peter Cawley, and with Aspinall already levelling the scores, it was down to Steven Hayward to narrowly squeeze the last one past the dive of Emberson and win the trophy for the Cumbrians.

Carlisle 0 Colchester United 0 (aet, penalties 4-3)

As heart-breaking as it was, you had to be proud of the U’s in the face of adversity. Karl Duguid was in floods of tears on the pitch and had to be consoled just to get him up the steps to receive his runners-up medal. In an interview reflecting on his career and the game, Tony Caig said “I've come across Karl a few times over the years, played against him and actually coached with him as well. He was on Colchester's coaching staff a few years ago and after the game we were having a chat about it. He said it took him a good while to get over it. He was 18 when he took that penalty. He'd just turned pro. That's a big ask for a young lad, isn't it? But he must have put his hand up, and fair play to him”.

In a case of after the Lord Mayor’s show, Carlisle lost 2-0 at Cardiff the following weekend, the result costing them the title, albeit they were still promoted in third place. The U’s drew at home 0-0 to Northampton the following Saturday, which similarly cost us our play-off spot, missing out by one point to the aforementioned Cardiff City.

However, 12 months later Steve Wignall’s U’s would return to Wembley in the Play-Off final, making no mistake this time – ironically thanks to a David Gregory penalty.

Up the U’s!
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Tonight elsewhere
at 19:51 12 Mar 2024

U's currently in the relegation zone as it stands, after FGR take a 1st minute lead at Bradford City. Time for my alma mater to step up and do their job!
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Knees-up Mother Brown #22
at 14:16 10 Mar 2024

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.
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Knees-up Mother Brown #22
at 14:16 9 Mar 2024

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.


Worth the entry fee alone…

The world outside U’s World
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 “monster in their midst”.

…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 Witches 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 Witches at his own festivals, who promptly signed the now near-70 year olds to his music label.


Well done ladies!

U’s World
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.

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



No programme, for good reason, so thanks to ColUData as ever

Match of the Day 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 Knees Up Mother Brown #21 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.

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

In the previous blog I highlighted that in his post-match interview, Aidy Boothroyd’s “disappointment was palpable” – 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 “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”.

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.


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

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.

Up the U’s!
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Knees-up Mother Brown #21
at 14:08 17 Feb 2024

Today represents a rare opportunity for the U’s, a chance to register our first (and possibly only) double of the season, against Accrington Stanley. There are precious few more chances to come, just Salford, Tranmere, Grimsby and of course Notts County, and whilst Grimsby and Salford would be most welcome, the other two look like longshots at the moment. Still, we can only beat who we’re up against, so one game at a time right now. The Manager of the Month curse seems to have been set with a long fuse, after Harrogate dodged a bullet and snatched all three points against the U’s last Saturday. But it completely blew up in their face midweek as Mansfield battered them 9-2 – a record league win for the Scabs. And that there is the story, take your chances and you’ll be okay, don’t and you usually won’t be.


Exactly!

The world outside U’s World
Opposition leader and outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin and his authoritarian regime, Alexei Navalny, has died in a Siberian gulag, serving time on various trumped up charges brought by the Russian judiciary system, and obviously at the behest of Putin. Whilst this probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone, it does underline in a perverse way just how tenuous Putin’s grip on power must be, that he feels the need to murder an imprisoned opponent. Russia has a long history of ‘disappearing’ leaders when the mood takes them, and Putin’s disastrous war in Ukraine probably doesn’t help him sleep easy in his bed. The Russian state’s repeated attempts to keep Navalny silent and deny him his political voice are numerous and transparent, including poisoning him with Novichok in 2020, so it looks like they’ve finally succeeded.

Across the pond, Donald Trump’s legal and financial woes just keep mounting. Trump and his two sons had already been found guilty of massive and systematic fraud, vastly inflating his wealth in financial statements to get preferential loans, whilst significantly under-inflating the figures when it came to property tax etc. The big question was what would be the fine that Judge Arthur Engoron handed down in the case brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James? On Friday we found out - $350 million, which with interest accrued is now already $464 million. Add to that the two fines imposed in the E Jean Carroll cases, and Trump is in the hole for a whopping $551 million – and none of it he can dismiss if he were to become president.

Engoron also ruled that Trump cannot conduct business in New York State for three years, and two years for sons Eric and Don Jr. Trump has already appealed the first E Jean Carroll decision and handed the $5 million dollar fine as collateral. If he wants to appeal the other two, he has to do the same, so some way or another he’s going to have to find a small fortune that most commentators don’t think he actually has – at least not without liquidating assets. And he’s sitting on a ticking time bomb too – every week that goes by, the interest accrued (and that he’s therefore liable for) clicks up by another $1 million.

Something that our gallic U’sualites might appreciate, the residents of Seine-Port village in France have voted to restrict the use of smartphones in public. People are no longer allowed to scroll through their devices in the street, in shops, restaurants or parks, even at school gates collecting their children. However, there’s no actually penalty for doing so, it’s more of a public health service announcement really. The mayor commented that phone addiction was a “public health problem…we have to help them”. Anyone reading this blog on their device – shame on you 😊!

…and finally, in a fitting tribute from a classy football club to a classy man, Liverpool FC have announced that Sven-Göran Eriksson will form part of the management team for a “Legends” game to be played at Anfield on 23rd March. Former England manager Eriksson sadly has terminal cancer, and Liverpool’s announcement follows an interview with Eriksson in which he stated that he had always wanted the opportunity to manage Liverpool. God-willing, Eriksson will be in the dugout on 23rd March to realise his dying wish.


Bravo Liverpool, Bravo!

U’s World
Further questions have been raised throughout social media about the quality (or lack of) of the JobServe playing surface, following the late postponement of the Grimsby game on Tuesday night. Never a particularly well-draining part of town up there, and with the incessant rain that the area has been receiving in recent weeks, the ground was literally saturated and simply couldn’t cope with yet one more downpour on matchday.

From the pictures I’ve seen, it clearly was the right call, but very hard on supporters already on their way to or even at the ground – particularly the Grimsby Town supporters. It remains to be seen what, if anything, will be done about the drainage issues during the close-season, and whether after the departure of long-term groundsman Dave Blacknall, the club will now invest in a full-time replacement.

In a move designed to get him some sustained game-time, talented attacking midfielder Chay Cooper has gone out on a short-term loan deal to National League side Hartlepool. Despite strong competition in midfield, Chay has still made 15 appearances and scored three goals for the U’s this season, even though most of these were from the bench. It’s probably no coincide that he goes to the side where he scored an absolute belter for his first ever professional goal back in 2022.


Always worth watching again.

The EFL and official match ball sponsors PUMA are marking LGBTQ+ History Month by releasing the very first Rainbow match ball, which will be in use today at the JobServe. Putting their money where their mouth is, for every goal that is scored across all three EFL divisions using the Rainbow ball, PUMA will make a donation to an LGBTQ+ Fans for Diversity fund. Whilst numerous wags have commented to the effect of “hope it floats”, it has of course prompted a small minority of gammons, seemingly threatened by colours on a ball and what they represent, to get their knickers in a right old twist…


…Good!

Match of the Day
Bristol Rovers v Colchester United
27th February 2010
Coca-Cola Football League One (Tier 3)
Attendance 6,023



No programme, just the usual calendar entry

Match of the Day for KMB21, and the random memorabilia match selector has gone back almost exactly fourteen years, and the U’s visit to Bristol Rovers’ Memorial Stadium when we were both plying our trade in League 1. Em was working a double shift at Odstock on the day, so an opportunity for Dad and Alfie to have an awayday on the train. Fortunately, living in Warminster at the time, this was always going to be one of our easier trips that season. By coincidence, our previous match against Brentford had also been postponed, also a Tuesday night home game, also called off at short notice, and also for a waterlogged pitch – and this was at the billiard-table surface that was Layer Road. Mind you, Magnus Okuonghae wasn’t complaining, as it gave him a few more days to recover from a shoulder injury picked up in training.

Following a tumultuous start to the season (i.e. Norwich, Lambert, Dunne etc.), Aidy Boothroyd had been appointed as the new U’s manager on 2nd September. Since then he’d kept the U’s right in the promotion mix, and we went into this game in 3rd place, on a five game unbeaten run, and very much considered favourites against a Bristol Rovers side managed by Paul Trollope who still had strong promotion ambitions of their own.

With Magnus regaining sufficient fitness to make it to the bench, Aidy’s U’s lined up:

1….Ben Williams
21..Danny Batth (20. Kevin Lisbie 89’)
23..Marc Tierney
25..John White
28..Matt Heath
31..Phil Ifil (7. Ashley Vincent 71’)
8….John-Joe O'Toole
22..Anthony Wordsworth
26..David Prutton
9….Clive Platt (captain)
18..Steven Gillespie (15. Kayode Odejayi 71’)

In the opening exchanges the U’s were living up to their billing as favourites, with neat passing moves mostly originating from Marc Tierney at the back causing the Gas problems, and a decent following from Essex expecting great things. Rovers keeper Mikkel Andersen did well to palm away Gillespie’s header, and injury-prone Gillespie should have buried a cross from Ifil, only to fire it into the side-netting.

Still, the signs were good, so it came as a bit of surprise when Bristol Rovers opened the scoring on 16 minutes. Heffernan laid the ball off to Dominic Blizzard, who let fly from all of 30 yards. I thought Ben Williams should have done better, but he failed to get a hand to the long-range effort, and it flew into the net to give the Gas an ill-deserved 1-0 lead.

Fortunately though, it didn’t stay that way for long, and after five more minutes we were level again. From a Marc Tierney throw-in, Phil Ifil’s speculative effort certainly looked to be going wide, but for ‘headband hero’ JJ O’Toole, who managed to get his aforementioned headbanded head to the shot, glance it past a helpless Andersen and into the net. This was JJ’s first goal for the U’s since he converted his loan spell into a permanent move in January, and didn’t we celebrate it.

The remainder of the first half was much more even encounter, with Rovers growing into the game. Decent chances for both sides could have been converted, with Heffernan shooting wide when well-placed, and Gillespie guilty again when he failed to convert a good pass from Prutton, so we had to be content with 1-1 to go with our pasty and Bovril half-time. Plenty to play for though second half.

Again the U’s started strongly, with Rovers very much reliant on breakaways as their main threat for the opening 20 minutes or so, but that threat was always there, and the U’s had to be alert to it. Sadly, one momentary lapse in concentration on 67 minutes wiped out all of our concentration up to that point. Stuart Campbell had already fired a warning shot, shooting narrowly wide, and a minute or so later Heffernan flicked the ball into the area, the U’s defence were caught napping, and in came Jo Kuffour to finish past Williams from close range.

As intensely frustrating as it was, still the U’s came back, showing they had the ability to get something from the game, and Andersen did exceptionally well to prevent Clive Platt from immediately bringing the score level again. Throwing caution to the wind, Boothroyd bought on strikers Kayode Odejayi and Ashley Vincent to try and rescue something from the game, sacrificing Ifil and Gillespie in the process.

It looked like it might work too, with the U’s throwing the kitchen sink at Bristol Rovers – but wouldn’t you know it, for all of our dominance, it was the Pirates who would deliver the hammer blow. With barely ten minutes to go Kuffour managed to hook the ball back into the area when it seemed destined to be a U’s goal kick, and with the defence napping again, there was Chris Lines to finish from close range to give Rovers a seemingly unassailable 3-1 lead.

Still the U’s came back though, and after Andersen did well to keep out another Platt effort, Odejayi was unlucky to see his follow-up effort hit the post. So close, but in the final minute we went closer, with Odejayi finally blasting home from a Platt lay-off. Roared on by the travelling faithful, and with Kevin Lisbie coming on for the final seconds, we laid siege to the Rovers goal in added time, but just couldn’t find the equaliser that our performance deserved.

Bristol Rovers 3 (Blizzard 16’; Kuffour 67’; Lines 79’) Colchester United 2 (O’Toole 21’; Odejayi 89’)

In his post-match interview, Aidy Boothroyd’s disappointment was palpable, quite rightly highlighting our lack of concentration in defence and failure to take chances in attack the cause of our downfall. Aidy said “I can’t remember being as annoyed as I am since I’ve been here. People talk about football in great detail but it’s what you do in the two boxes that really counts”.

What he didn’t know at the time, none of us did, was the Memorial Stadium defeat would herald a terrible drop in form for the U’s. We would win just two more games all season, and whilst on paper an 8th place finish might not have looked too bad, in reality it was a disaster. As a result, and although this would turn out to be our best league finish since relegation from the Championship, no one (I certainly wasn’t) was too bothered when Boothroyd moved on to Coventry in the summer.

Since this encounter, whilst the U’s would be relegated to League 2 just the once six years later, Bristol Rovers would slip all the way down into non-league, back up to League 1, back down to League 2 and last season back up to League 1 again. Who said following a lower league football club could be boring…

Up the U’s!
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Thread
The Cowley's five games in
at 19:59 12 Feb 2024

So here's my not very scientific view on the first five games, measured against some pretty basic criteria.



No doubt some will disagree with my highly subjective assessments on a match by match basis, and I have no doubt the Cowley's are all over this anyway (this isn't meant as a criticism btw). However, only once have we dominated the first half, we're generally much better in the second half. Three times out of five it could be argued we've taken at least some of our chances, and likewise shut the opposition out in the final few minutes. Worryingly, for four out of the five we've had to come from behind, albeit in three of those games we did at least rescue a point.

The Cowley's will be demanding five out of five, will we see that tomorrow night?
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