Date:Thursday April 3 2008
Put Away The Violin, And Get Out The Drum - Even If Col U Do Go Down Tomorrow
Tissue time, U`s fans. If Ipswich Town win against Colchester at Layer Road on Saturday, one of their nearest rivals will be responsible for flushing away the club`s Championship status without the need to consult another scorecard come five o` clock. So who says football isn`t a cruel game?
But pause for a moment - relegation has been lurking in the shadows for a long while; only a spoonful of bravado would cause Colchester fans to argue that, should Ipswich win, relegation would be entirely their fault, even if Town also sent Leeds to League One last season.
Ditto with Jamie Cureton`s hat-trick, because when United`s former saviour strutted around Carrow Road last month during the 1-5 reverse, he was merely kicking United when they were already down, albeit that he took great pleasure in doing so. To blame him only would be churlish.
Yes, it`s not without reason that tomorrow`s A12 derby has been dubbed the by another column as the East Anglian anticlimax; tomorrow`s riot of colour and noise will be almost meaningless in terms of league standings - Colchester might as well be in a vacuum, as far as the football fraternity as a whole are concerned.
General statistics, too, are a sad indictment to the story of the club`s sickly Second Season Syndrome - the record books will say Colchester took the uniquely British root from notoriety and back to the land of naves, because they`ve kept only one clean sheet since August despite being the league`s eigth-highest scorers.
One big purple patch enveloped the Layer Road pitch, where the Fortress that took two years to build but only one summer of crumbling contracts to knock down - half a dozen exits last summer saw to that.
You can shape the statistics any way you want, of course - they sure make a sad reading, an almost filthy fable. But this weekend signals a chance for U`s fans to put away the violin of sympathy, and get pride's drum out, instead - a first relegation in almost twenty years is by no means a disgrace for a club who were still in the Conference at this point in 1991.
What Phil Parkinson`s arrival twelve years later, and subsequent promotion in 2005/6, did was transform the small-town mentality into a place for winning and defiant meritocracy. The U`s are still benefiting from that change of ethos right now, because while Parky went about winning hearts and minds on the ground, he left the media to convince the public at large. Colchester would no longer merely be a routine point for players to pick up a pension pay-packet at the end of their playing days, he said.
Cue the wins, and fans biting lips, because Colchester took their ascendancy all the way to Chelsea`s Stamford Bridge during an FA Cup run in their promotion season , humming all the while in the vein of Millwall`s mantra: 'No one likes us, but we don`t care.`
Yesterday`s youngsters became tomorrow`s Titans: Neil Danns, Pat Baldwin, Johnnie Jackson and Liam Chilvers, to name a few, were all spurred on by Premier League rejection to a career renaissance in Blue 'n` White. The script was then ripped up and plaudits really started to arrive with the results; that delicate alchemy of harnessing self-belief became tangible in the terraces. Colchester`s fans formed the Loudest League crowd in 2005/6, by decibels.
The paean of the past should end there, though, without a retinue recital of their Championship glories: actions now - like the security of knowing Dean Hammond`s future with the side is safe - suggest that cycle of long-term improvement will continue.
Gaze ahead and a new stadium, after thirty years in waiting, is also on the horizon - it has risen up out of the ground as an emblem of a bright future. The road is open now, and League One is there for the taking next season if Colchester United`s squad are willing to shed sweat for a bungee-bounce straight back up.
It's right to forgive U`s fans for getting a little red-eyed tomorrow if they do go down, but the club stopped running backwards on life`s treadmill long before bombarding the back pages on a regular basis.
Besides, for the die-hards, at least, the expiration of what turned out as a one way-ticket on Colchester`s Championship roller coaster will not matter so much as the fact they were actually there to witness it happening to start with.
Date:Thursday April 3 2008
2006 - U's March To The Top (Thursday February 7 2013)
2006 - Parky's Cup Heroes (Monday January 28 2013)
2007 - U's Visit Portman Road (Sunday January 20 2013)
2010 - Lambert's U's Return (Wednesday January 16 2013)
2011 - Late Drama From Gilly (Monday January 14 2013)
1999 - Introducing Lua Lua (Wednesday January 9 2013)
2000 - Lua Lua Steals Late Win (Tuesday January 8 2013)
2006 - Late Layer Road Drama (Wednesday January 2 2013)
U's Earn Daggers Point - Report (Wednesday September 29 2010)
Bond's Premium Keeps On Rising (Sunday September 5 2010)
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