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Courtney and Frank interviewed in advance of Weds
at 19:56 15 Dec 2019

Enjoyed that chaps, thanks. Loved hearing how a died-in-the-wool Stretford-ender rediscovered his passion for the beautiful game on the Barside.

Almost exactly three days to go, shit just got real!
Iron to be overcome by precious Col U at Sands Venue Stadium
at 19:32 14 Dec 2019

So, busy putting up the tree and decorations this afternoon, but had the commentary on. I must admit, apart from the opening minutes, I really feared the worst as Scunthorpe squandered chance after chance. Eisa's goal was inevitable, and I thought we'd done well to only be 1-0 down at half-time. Their second straight after the restart really should have been game over, but then the U's showed a commitment we've seen all too rarely, particularly when behind. With the Luke Roadshow rolling into town, we deservedly rescued a point, and in truth could have snatched it 3-2 (mind you, so could they have). All in all, an excellent point against very good opponents, but what character from the U's!

I know we wail and gnash our teeth about Senior sometimes, but I sincerely hope he's okay for Wednesday - he's earned his place on the pitch at kick-off.

Up the U's!!!
Happy League 2019/20 Week 19 (of 38) - Deadline Saturday 14th December 15.00
at 20:16 13 Dec 2019

Iron to be overcome by precious Col U at Sands Venue Stadium
at 19:36 13 Dec 2019

Haha - Jamie Moralee would have probably missed if he'd had to retire to the library with a revolver :-)

Wasn't it Alan White who hired a minibus to ferry his extended family to watch him at one of our matches at Hartlepool - and then got sent off after 90 seconds?
Matches of Yesteryear - Yeovil v U's 4/11/03
at 16:57 13 Dec 2019

Ahead of a tricky trip to Scunthorpe tomorrow, our Matches of Yesteryear series returns to the EFL Trophy in November 2003, back when it was known as the LDV Vans Trophy.

Yeovil Town v Colchester United
Tuesday 4th November 2003
LDV Vans Trophy (2nd Round)
Attendance 3,052

Match #29 of the series, and we are at Yeovil for the second round of our 2003/04 LDV Vans Trophy cup run. Sounds familiar? Well it should do, this cup run has already featured in the Matches of Yesteryear series, with games against both Northampton and Southend already covered. This doesn’t come as a surprise to me, as I managed to be at all six matches of this cup run. To ease the burden on clubs and their supporters, this competition is regionalised into Southern and Northern sections. However, this was of little benefit to the U’s faithful, facing a long trip to Cheltenham for the first round, and then an even longer trip to Yeovil for the second round – let’s face it, most of the clubs in the Northern section were closer! However, these were perfect for me and the other south west exiles.

This was Yeovil’s first season in the football league, having smashed their way to the Conference title by a whopping 17 points, scoring 100 goals and with a goal difference of +63 in the process. The points margin at least was, and possibly still is, a record for that division. For the U’s, one league above, this was Parky’s first full season in charge, and an opportunity for him to start putting into practice what he had learned gaining his UEFA A and B Licences, and the whole concept of sports science, diet, training etc. that he had been exposed to at Reading. It was working too, and coming into this match we were 3rd in the league, after winning 1-0 at Wrexham on the previous Saturday (by a curious coincidence, Yeovil’s opponents in the FA Cup 1st round the following Saturday).

The U’s lined up:
1….Simon Brown
22..Greg Halford (Scott McGleish 71’)
5….Scott Fitzgerald (Pat Baldwin 90’)
19..Alan White
25..Sam Stockley
12..Craig Fagan
6….Thomas Pinault
17..Bobby Bowry (Richard Johnson 77’)
3….Joe Keith
8….Wayne Andrews
16..Rowan Vine

Before we move on to match, it’s probably worth reflecting that this was our first visit to Huish Park since that terrible day in the FA Cup almost exactly three years earlier, when we were well and truly hammered 5-1, all the goals coming in the second half. Quite a few on the pitch this evening played that day, including Simon Brown, Scott Fitzgerald and Alan White, so we had plenty to prove, and with the added determination that we weren’t going to be giant-killed again.

I was living in Salisbury at the time, so a trip to Yeovil was the simplest of journeys on the train, albeit both of Yeovil’s train stations happen to be about a zillion miles outside the town itself. But, there was a perfectly good shuttle bus from Yeovil Junction into the town, and a late train home that evening that should be comfortably achievable. I also had time for a couple in The Bell before the match, to be the scene of some epic celebrations a few years later on that fateful day in May 2006.

I was also fortunate to meet up with James in the pub too, another former visitor to the U’sual shores (JAS if anyone remembers him – he’s the one kneeling down in the photo), and I know his dad quite well too. It won’t come as too much of a surprise that the open away terrace on a cold winter’s evening wasn’t exactly crammed – about a hundred or so I reckon, but considering this was only the second round of what was even then quite an unfashionable competition, not a bad turnout from both us and the Yeovil fans.

As for the match, or at least what I can recall, the U’s were under considerable pressure right from the start, and you would have had difficulty telling which team were the higher league side to be honest. It certainly didn’t come as much of a surprise when Jake Edwards put the Glovers ahead with just 11 minutes on the clock. They had other chances too, with Gall and Edwards keeping our rear guard like rabbits in the spotlight for much of the first half. However, very much against the run of play, four minutes from half-time Wayne Andrews levelled for the U’s, to at least give us something to keep warm jumping up and down for.

The second half continued in a similar manner, albeit the U’s were starting to push out more, and hold a higher line. Gary Johnson was the first to change things around, replacing Colin Pluck (plucking Pluck if you will) with former youth player Steve Reed. Whether this was a tactical masterstroke, or just plain coincidence, Yeovil restored their lead 8 minutes later when that thorn in our side Gall put the Glovers 2-1 up. This then was probably the turning point in the game, with Johnson pretty much immediately substituting Jake Edwards with more defensively-minded Adam Stansfield, and shifting to one up front. Suddenly, relieved of pressure on the defence, the U’s starting to be able to play their own game. Parky made his own attacking substitution, replacing Halford with Scott McGleish, and it paid off before too long, with Scotty equalising for the U’s.

I know Parky took off Bowry for Johnson at about the same time as the goal, I just can’t remember if it was immediately before or after the goal (think it was the latter). From here to the end it was all U’s, with Yeovil struggling to get to grips with the game following their formation change. However, though plenty of chances came our way, it wasn’t to be, and normal time finished 2-2. Parky bought Pat Baldwin on for the start of extra-time, as fresh legs for Scott Fitzgerald, but despite plenty of huffing and puffing from both sides, there were no more goals, and thus on to the dreaded penalty shoot-out – never usually a positive thing for the U’s back in the day.

The penalties were taken at the far end, in front of what is known these days as the Thatchers Gold Terrace, where Yeovil’s more vociferous supporters stand, which wasn’t a good start as far as we were concerned. However, it certainly didn’t faze Simon Brown, who superbly saved Gavin Williams opening penalty. Rowan Vine, Kevin Gall, Scott McGleish, Adam Lockwood and Wayne Andrews all then comfortably converted to leave things poised 2-3 to the U’s after three kicks. Then came Simon Brown to the rescue again, with another excellent save to deny Darren Way, leaving Joe Keith to convert our fourth out of four to send the U’s through 4-2 on penalties.

What was really funny about this was that Gary Johnson had brought on Jamie Gosling in the dying seconds of extra-time, presumably as his fifth and final penalty taker, and he never actually had the chance to take a kick thanks to Joey – in fact I don’t actually think he touched the ball at all, is this some sort of record?

Yeovil Town 2 Colchester United 2 aet (2-4 penalties)

After the match, Gary Johnson wasn’t a happy chap, and is reported as saying "We are all disappointed because we should have been four up in the first-half. The game should have been over. We outplayed them, but we didn't outscore them. I don't want to keep on meeting the press after a game saying that although we played very well we lost".

He added "We only scored two goals in the penalties, while our keeper didn't get close to any of theirs. Chris (Weale – their goalkeeper) will be practising saving penalties all this week and the penalty-takers will be practising taking them. We've got to have more mental toughness in such situations".

Having mentioned above that there was a handy late train I could get back home after the match, suddenly after unforeseen extra-time and penalties, that wasn’t looking that optimistic for me. Having legged it back to the pub as soon as possible after the match, I was lucky enough to pick up a taxi from there and get to Yeovil Junction just as my train was approaching – phew!
Jim Smith
at 17:15 11 Dec 2019

Not forgetting Bobby Svarc and Jim Froggatt too - very sad news.

Spare Old Trafford Ticket £30
at 23:03 9 Dec 2019

Fair do's chap, I've got mine in E334 also, but hope someone can help you out and get a good deal in the process.
Super U's to hammer the Ammies at JSCS
at 15:19 8 Dec 2019

Scunny will be tricky I reckon, they're one of the form sides at the moment, and I think a point will be a decent result if we get it. As for the next three* after that, definitely winnable, but will we?

* league games naturally, I'm saying nothing about Man U.
Super U's to hammer the Ammies at JSCS
at 11:56 8 Dec 2019

Still, 1 place and 1 point from the play-offs with a game in hand - I've had worse problems.
Super U's to hammer the Ammies at JSCS
at 11:45 8 Dec 2019

To me, what differentiates Poku from Senior is that Poku and Frank seem to have a very good understanding of each other, and link up very well. It was profoundly frustrating that Norris didn't square the ball instead of going for goal from a tight angle, but I have to also respect a striker's inherent selfish streak to go for glory, particularly having done all the hard work to get to that point - but if the match had finished 0-0 as a result...
Super U's to hammer the Ammies at JSCS
at 20:33 7 Dec 2019

GWR WiFi not up to playing the highlights for me to relive, but trust me it was one hell of a moment in real time. Even though it was overall a relatively poor game, there’s no debate that the result was deserved. Considering we rarely got out of 3rd gear, particularly first half, if Salford City are genuine play-off contenders, we ought to be a shoe-in.

Delighted for Harry, and his celebrations at the end showed just how pumped he was too!

Up the U’s!!!
Super U's to hammer the Ammies at JSCS
at 13:14 7 Dec 2019

Is that your line-up or the line-up Durham? I’m hoping Poku will start (or I have predictions to change )
Happy League 2019/20 Week 18 (of 38) - Deadline Saturday 7th December 15.00
at 13:23 6 Dec 2019

Man Utd v Col Utd
at 13:08 6 Dec 2019

Over 5,200 yesterday according to someone on the OMB. I was on the phone to the ticket office earlier about tickets for the Salford game, and the chap didn't have the number, but reckoned sales were still going well. With very few left to sell up the back of E331, it's possible that people are waiting for the lower tier to become available?

Gut feeling at the moment is that we might make 6k, but maybe not many more - so that's only twice our usual home attendance, for an evening game just a week before Xmas, and over 250 miles away - not bad really
Matches of Yesteryear - Swindon v U's 1/9/01
at 12:40 6 Dec 2019

I have the first of several Xmas work outings tonight, so I'm posting this a bit earlier.

Match #28 of the series, and we return to league action following our brief foray into the shadowy underworld of fanzines. We also return to the County Ground for a second visit – given my location, it will come as little surprise that there are quite a few more trips to Swindon in my collection.

Swindon v Colchester United
Saturday 1st September 2001
Nationwide League Division 2 (3rd Tier)
Attendance 4,889

Perhaps already the date has resonated with some of you as somehow familiar, or maybe significant, but can’t quite put your finger on it – but more of that later.

This was our fourth consecutive season in the third tier, and our third season under Steve Whitton, taking over after the departure of Mick Wadsworth in 1999. As I’ve mentioned in other blogs, the U’s had started this season exceptionally well, and went into this game top of the league with three victories and a draw, ahead of Brentford on goal difference (thanks in no small part to smashing Chesterfield 6-3 at Saltergate on the opening day). With my wife working away on the Outer Hebrides at the time, this was a men behaving badly opportunity, so my brother-in-law came down to watch this game with me, and of course share a few beers.

The U’s lined up:
21..Andy Woodman
3….Joe Keith
12..Scott Fitzgerald
18..Alan White
5….Micky Stockwell
6….Karl Duguid
8….David Gregory (Dean Morgan 75’ – I think it was for Greggers?)
10..Kem Izzet (Bobby Bowry 80’)
14..Thomas Pinault
9….Scott McGleish
20..Kevin Rapley

As for Swindon Town, they did have Richard McKinney on the bench as their reserve goalkeeper, but the big name (in more ways than one) was Neil “Razor” Ruddock in the middle of defence, arriving on a free transfer from Crystal Palace. Ruddock was signed as a player/coach, and this was to be his debut for the Robins. Mind you, it very nearly didn’t happen, as his club struggled to find a supplier capable of providing shorts large enough to fit his (ahem) ample frame. I recall there was much amusement amongst the U’s online community (back in the good old days of Rivals) about Ruddock, e.g. turning circle of an oil tanker, it’ll take two minutes to run around him etc etc. Shorts were eventually found for Razor – they had to be flown in from Egypt!

We drove over to Swindon from Salisbury on a bright September day, and with time for a quick one in the Merlin beforehand. There was a fairly decent turnout for the U’s (about 250 I reckoned), and we as ever were housed at the east end of the Arkell’s stand. Swindon had had an indifferent start to the season, and were sitting lower mid-table at the time, perhaps a factor in a surprisingly low crowd for them of under 5k.

There weren’t too many clear-cut chances in what was a fairly uneventful first half (described as “no-thrills” by the BBC reporter at the time). Ruddock was obviously getting plenty of banter directed at him from the U’s faithful, but if it was getting to him, he really didn’t show it, and commanding his defence like a great big silverback. There were one or two close calls, Andy Woodman getting down well to keep out Jo Osei-Kuffour when through on goal, and that man Ruddock booting a Pinault effort off the line at the other end. However, other than that, not much to speak of, and at half-time it was still 0-0.

The second half certainly started better, and to be fair for both sides, with a bit more attacking intent, and some real end to end stuff. The deadlock was finally broken in the 53rd minute, and I just knew it would have to be Razor Ruddock. Swindon were awarded a free-kick 20-25 yards out, and there was Ruddock lining up to take it. Lumbering forward to get up to speed (think glacial), he put all his prodigious weight behind a left-footed pile-driver, which simply burst through the wall as if it wasn’t there. The kick took a slight deflection on the way through, which wrong-footed Andy Woodman, who could do nothing about it. Probably just as well, because if he’d got behind it, he’d have ended up in the back of the net as well. Ruddock embarked on a mazy Neanderthal celebratory run back towards the Town End, certainly the fastest he’d moved all afternoon, whilst his teammates clung on like oxpeckers on a hippo.

From a U’s perspective, this was the start of fairly sustained constant pressure through to the end, with numerous chances to equalise going begging – Micky Stockwell, Kevin Rapley and Dean Morgan all missing scoring opportunities with only the goalkeeper to beat, but try as we might, we couldn’t find a way through. It’s not churlish, or sour grapes to say we at least deserved a draw that day, and on clear-cut chances made, a victory wouldn’t have been a shock, but it just wasn’t our day.

Swindon Town 1 (Neil Ruddock 53’) Colchester United 0

Although there’s no sound, I have found an extremely grainy YouTube video of the highlights from the County Ground, including that Ruddock thunderbolt. Ruddock only scored one league goal in his time at Swindon – why did it have to be against Colchester United!

However, now to that date – Saturday 1st September 2001, and Germany v England World Cup Qualifier at the Munich Stadium. Having planned ahead, we were out of Swindon straight after the final whistle, and by kick-off in Munich, already a couple of beers to the good in a packed-out football pub in Salisbury (alongside a sizeable number of Pompey’s 6:57 crew as I recall). I tend not to get over-excited or over-hyped about England these days, bitter experience has shown me often that there’s little point, but that night we watched the most comprehensive dismantling of one of the leading football nations in the world I’ve ever witnessed.

When Jancker poked home to put Germany ahead after just 6 minutes, I feared the worst, but nothing could prepare us for what was to come. On 12 minutes, a Beckham corner is cleared, only to be returned with interest, Barmby heads down to Owen, who finds the net with the home side appealing for offside. Crucially, on the stroke of half-time, following another Beckham free-kick, the ball found it’s way out to Gerrard, who from what must have been well over 25 yards, blasted the ball low into the far corner of the goal – needless to say, the pub erupted, beer, glasses, people flying everywhere!

If we were in bedlam then, imagine the scenes just three minutes after the restart, when Owen again found the net, an excellent poachers goal if ever there was one, and we had a vital two-goal cushion to sit back and defend. Like heck we did, on 66 minutes Owen, doing most of the work himself this time, burst through to fire past Oliver Khan for his hat-trick to make it 4-1…and we weren’t done then either, Emile Heskey competing the rout on 74 minutes from an excellent Scholes pass.

It’s never easy seeing the U’s lose, particularly lose in a game we didn’t deserve to, but that night England certainly eased my disappointment – enjoy!

Germany 1 (Jancker 6’) England 5 (Owen 12’, 48’, 66’; Gerrard 45+4’; Heskey 74’)

The fallout from this result was profound: from comfortable group leaders, Germany slipped behind England on goal difference, and a position they couldn’t retake. With only the group winners qualifying, England went through, and Germany had to suffer the ignominy of the play-offs to qualify. Of course they did qualify, but I’m loving the fact that they were so confident of winning the group that they’d already arranged friendlies for the dates of the play-offs! Let’s put that night into context, Germany had never been beaten, ever, in a World Cup qualifier at home. The last time they lost a World Cup qualifier at all was back in 1985. Since 1966, we’d only beaten Germany once in a competitive match, and Germany deserved a stuffing after beating England 1-0 in the match to close the old Wembley Stadium.
U's v Stevenage 7.30 ko
at 12:45 5 Dec 2019

2,501 - I'll be there :-)
Matches of Yesteryear - The Blue Eagle (Issue 39)
at 23:37 3 Dec 2019

Noted chap, and probably inevitable at some point - I'll do my best. I too love(d) fanzines, and lament their virtual passing as a vibrant part of the football community. I was an avid subscriber and occasional contributor to When Saturday Comes, back when it really was produced in the fanzine style. But over the years they gradually lost their edge, fell in love with the Premiershite (no offence) and all things $ky, and it became more of a chore than a pleasure to read it. Eventually, quite a few years ago, I gave up on it, and haven't read an issue since (is it still even going?).
U's v Stevenage 7.30 ko
at 21:32 3 Dec 2019

...and that particular adventure is over.

Much better second half, but the damage was done in the first half unfortunately. I saw two clear cut penalties for the U's second half, but with an ineffectual referee failing to get a grip on Stevenage's dreadful 'game-management' in the second half, we must rely on the two remaining routes to a possible Wembley appearance.

First half I was glad I don't have to watch the U's play like that too often, second half I was glad I don't have to watch Stevenage at all.
U's v Stevenage 7.30 ko
at 21:14 3 Dec 2019

100% penalty - very poor it wasn't given.
U's v Stevenage 7.30 ko
at 21:03 3 Dec 2019

Pell doesn't look anywhere near his best, and you have to wonder if it is a lack of match fitness. Stevenage showing their (lack of) class as usual.
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