Date:Monday July 21 2008
So Ends The Lisbie Love Affair
Kevin Lisbie moves to Ipswich, and a transfer triangle started in Colchester offends not two, but three corners of East Anglia. Swapping shirt and shorts a third time, via his one-time Norwich loan, transforms the striker`s C.V. into one Unholy Trinity.
Except that the man with a shockingly contagious smile is unlikely to see a shimmy up the A12 motorway in the same light as an impassioned fan.
Charlton Athletic`s former lost-boy spent 10 years in Premiership purgery before breaking the chain of his reputation for arrested professional development. The result is that of one season as a dead-cert starter at Colchester re-ignited Lisbie`s schoolboy passion for goal-getting while debiting our accounts in sympathy.
As he discovered that scoring is an elixir, and the staple of an average footballer`s livelihood, we felt rueful at all those bench-warming years.
With every chest-pumping celebration in 2007/8, Lisbie also helped overwrite the neutrals` abiding memory of his Charlton days; a glorious hat-trick against Liverpool, vintage 2003. Colchester`s most famous top-flight son since Teddy Sheringham succeeded by turning back his career`s mileage clock, left on his doorstep through advancing age in the face of squandered pitch-time.
As Lisbie tiptoes into Ipswich territory, should the player regret breaking his three-year agreement with the U`s so soon? No, in short, and not even because Ipswich are a stone`s-throw from Colchester. Those screaming Blue 'n` White murder on grounds of loyalty should hush for a second; the truth is that Kevin Lisbie does not owe United another bean.
The club succeeded in showing a little faith by offering him a contract after Leicester and Leeds failed to take a chance last summer. More fool them, but his agreement was signed as a handshake, not a blood-sealed pact; play me and I`ll score for you.
From this side of the 17-goal statistic, Lisbie`s poll position on the club`s scoring chart in the campaign just ended shows how he fulfilled his part of the bargain. A pity that the rest of the team malfunctioned around their shooting star - they suffered what was a first relegation in almost 20 years.
Financial logic surrounding the loss of Lisbie`s leather-lined lungs is not flawed, either; acquired for nothing, Colchester could be compensated by anything up to £1 million now that he has turned potential firepower into meaningful goals.
Hard to see sense, then, in cries that Lisbie is 'doing a Cureton by leaving,` after forward Jamie flew the nest to Norwich in similar fashion last summer, following some net-busting heroics and 24 Golden Boot-winning goals.
Cureton`s Layer Road retreat was an affront to everyone at Colchester, because the sound-bite slagging-match that took place about a lack of "ambition" came right after the player had pledged long-term allegiance.
Quotes in the locals a month before he fled sang of devotion. By July, they were the hollow equivalent of Portugal`s Christiano Ronaldo telling the world of an intention to stay at Manchester United just seconds after they had lifted the 2008 European Cup. Blame the media, if you like, but even magic pens can`t put words into mouths.
With Lisbie it is different, though, not least because he spent time agonising over his switch and most definitely because the team collapsed around his talent.
Cureton could never have argued those points. Not when he was leaving a side at the pinnacle of their league-climbing powers. Besides, Cureton`s departure had a dash of inevitability. Refusing to celebrate his U`s goals at Norwich in 2006/7 showed a return to City was always in his thoughts.
Of course, whether or not you begrudge Lisbie`s leap any more or less than Cureton`s curtain-call, both still sting Colchester`s faithful.
To their mind, Lisbie`s nip of rejection makes him another Cureton, Wayne Brown or Chris Iwelumo - names they might interchange for any mercenary turning his contract to confetti the moment he gets good. Skewed, maybe, but football`s fickle brain also allowed fans to grant their idols that almighty status to start with.
But here`s the key to soothing the pain of a jilt, or at least understanding it. Each time a Colchester terrace darling trades in his U`s badge, boots and ball, he is invariably alienating himself from those who danced his tune while he did on-field ballet. It hurts because Colchester United is an obsession, a piece of each fan.
Your affair is with Colchester the club, or whichever team you support, even if at times like these it feels like a shotgun union. A skilful player dashes for the exit, again, vows and all, leaving you to ponder why it was exactly you first fell in love with life at the U`s.
Lisbie`s departure translates unintentionally for partisans as the latest, hard, slap. It will still be sore for some time, but remember also that his stint with United formed only part of a very private obsession on his own personal merry-go-round. It`s called his career.
Badge of Honour
Last word on Geriant Williams` coaching style before we leave the man to make a living without roasting his C.V.
The raw difference between the Welshman`s achievements in Essex against that of his predecessor, Phil Parkinson, reads relegation against promotion, albeit following the logic that what comes up must go down.
Both young managers of a similar age, the key difference here could be that Parkinson earnt his Pro Licence badges and a sociology degree, while Williams seems to practice without additional certificates.
Answers on a postcard if anyone knows different about the extent of Williams` qualifications, but it is comparison enough to contest in favour of an old debate about the value of having compulsory coaching exams in football, isn`t it?
Layer Road Under The Hammer
For those who thought Layer Road didn`t have any stands to complement the concrete, read that one of them went up for sale last weekend as an auction decided the price of everything priceless about their old home.
It`s just that when Wembley went under the hammer in 2000, a German company managed to buy the famous steps where Bobby Moore walked to fetch the 1966 World Cup.
Not even a Southend fan making off-the-wall bids for one of United`s enclosures could match that sense of irony.
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Date:Monday July 21 2008
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