Date:Thursday July 24 2008
Guy`s Got Talent
Colchester-born striker can still rub the writing from the wall, says our columnist. How? By using his talent.
How they laughed when Christopher Columbus said the world was round. Now sport will have to work hard at stifling the guffaws when someone decides to forecast that Colchester United`s Jamie Guy could win his place back. This columnist is that someone, so start cramming those fists inside your mouth.
The 20-year-old is a Colchester-born boy, marooned in Oxford by his loan contract with the Blue Square Premier side. The law`s long arm has been paying Guy more attention than the home fans, lately, the first suffocating him, the second giving him the cold shoulder. Gone for good, or playing-out that old Monopoly board cry of "just visiting"?
That is the question, and there can be no easy answer. There are those who say Guy mortgaged his future at Colchester, and in football generally, the moment the gabble went down on the judge`s decision to remand his driving-licence for a year, making May`s drink-drive escapades public knowledge. They might be right, but time`s hands will serve as a fairer arbiter than twelve months away from the wheel ever could.
Guy`s immediate reaction to seeing his own face on the front, instead of the back, of two local papers last month was to panic. Panic in the same way that you or I might, had we caught sight of ourselves during an out-of-body experience: he said he wanted to run away, leave and quit town.
Let`s cut the narrative here for the sake of those who think Guy got off lightly for being caught over the legal limit in a car he didn`t have any documents to drive. He was more harshly treated than any average Joe, Jack or Jeremy, all-too often found cruising illegally down the street, and typically at about Guy`s age.
Harsh because Guy`s face was put on a billboard of shame; served on a silver-platter so that those feasting on words could simply shake heads or tut. There are people committing more heinous crimes than Guy out there every day whose names don`t ever make the news.
Is Guy a recidivist, though? He intimated in court that he was - or could be - because his answer the stock what-have-you-got-to-say-for-yourself question was he wouldn`t advise people of the younger generation to fuse a potentially lethal mix of cars and alcohol. In Guy`s case, we know it`s not the first blot on his copy-book, since he was cautioned and fined for pushing a teenager last year, so sages in pubs have already put writing to wall.
There is evidence that his manager Geriant Williams, however, believes his striker is capable of change, too, even if the man himself isn`t quite sure. Capable, therefore, of letting talent be his savour and making actions speak louder than any words, key-strokes or boos. This correspondent came round to the view, too, that Guy has enough potential to justify Colchester continuing to nurture his skills. Watching DVD re-runs from two seasons ago, when the imposing forward showed signs of greatness through neat finishes at Coventry, Cardiff and West Brom, jogged the memory.
Yet, the argument here is not that Guy deserves to get off scot-free, or that the media should waiver a right to report on such matters when they are clearly of a public interest. It`s more along the lines of an after-the-fact, and possibly liberal, analysis; one that says Guy began paying for his mistake internally long before it arrived at the people`s debating houses, or court.
The timing, for example, when his infringements were revealed couldn`t have been worse, on both occasions and in that sense Guy suffered instantly. At the end of last season, the youngster might just have trampolined his way from bench to first-XI because the net-busting duo of Jamie Cureton and Chris Iwelumo cashed-in.
Twelve months on, Clive Platt and Kevin Lisbie were both unsettled by reported interest from Ipswich and Norwich just days before the press helped to create another of Guy`s PR own-goals.
A neat parallel to illuminate where we should place his largely self-destructive, but fortunately not publicly harmful, act comes from a match at Colchester`s old stomping-ground, Layer Road.
During 2006/7, when the club played host to Leicester City, the Foxes fielded former Premiership man Danny Cadamarteri, previously convicted for testing drug positive. He took a barrage of boos, plus the expected and perhaps deserved cocktail of insults that day.
Guy is no Cadamarteri, though, who is arguably guilty of a far greater crime. Yet, the latter coped with his abuse. Others, say David Beckham after France 1998, or Eric Cantona in 1995, have coped, too, under more enduring pressure than Colchester`s livewire has had to deal with so far.
Besides, back-from-the-brink is a most-craved headline, especially in sport where a dollop of failure essentially balances against continuous winning and success.
Guy will be 21 next week and is at a crossroads, even at this tender age. He`ll get his key to a door long before he gets his car-keys back, obviously, but a few months in Oxfordshire will at least help us gage how deep his ability really runs.
While we`re all waiting to see what his heart and will are made of - granite or jelly - it could be Guy who has the last laugh as he starts on this redeeming road. Success should follow, provided he scores some goals. Stranger things have happened.
He`s Behind U`s!
As the silhouette of Kevin Lisbie in a Colchester jersey slips behind a mini-sunset lifted from the movies, it is time to say 'cut` on his latest career-made scene after one year, 42 games and 17 goals in north Essex.
Stop hanky-waving, or maybe throwing lighted spears, towards Ipswich and start reading the script`s finer print.
Lisbie says he was torn between the allure of a Championship return with Town and staying at a club where he`d forged more enduring professional friendships in just twelve months than during ten years at Charlton Athletic. The people at Colchester were also prepared to make him the highest-ever earner, meaning they did all they could to prolong his spell.
How is this a happy-ending? Well, Mark Yeates` decision not to leave equals the equivalent of a new signing, especially when he was so electric in blue last year. What`s more, Lisbie isn`t likely to return in pantomime fashion during 2008/9 to haunt U`s defenders like some ghost from the past.
"He`s behind you," U`s fans would shout comically every time their former striker skinned the back four. He would have done so too, probably, if United had not suffered relegation and there was actually a derby-day to attend.
As it is, Colchester`s faithful have accepted Lisbie is behind them anyway, in the past. It`s where he`s going to stay now.
Bob Russell, MP, is making a stand for the club he adores but which he thinks sold its sole too cheaply when old Layer Road went under the hammer, microscope and knife last weekend.
Simply put, after fifty years of unconditional support, he says he is not coming back until things change. He highlighted the moral bankruptcy of putting trophies - the side`s very heritage - up for sale at auction, instead of leaving them in a cabinet for generations, now and later, to see, appreciate, understand and enjoy.
During this column`s report on the event, there seemed no adequate way to explain exactly what was going on where those particular lots were involved.
Yesterday Russell was right on the money in the Evening Gazette, however, when he described the shameless satisfaction of those counting-houses as "air-brushing history." He is right, sadly, because that`s exactly what it was. It should have been illegal.
Wotto`s Bulb Still Burns Bright
If footballing contracts were awarded on yards and not years, thirty-something Kevin Watson would still be a Colchester United player today. Watto spent more than 100 matches and more than a few column-inches for the club`s cause before his legs gave way to the treatment table last season.
His brain still ticks which is why, after a dreadful year with injuries, Kevin still considers he has something to offer in football and has been linked with moves to Luton and Northampton, where he is on trial.
A stalwart of the Phil Parkinson promotion-wining era, Watson was also a friend of other former U`s stars, Teddy Sheringham and Jamie Cureton. He memorably took corner-kicks, told Colchester`s detractors to stay home and watch Coronation Street, also explaining how he read supporters` webspaces on the internet.
The former number six was more than another boot-room boy, in the end, though, since he arrived out of obligation but left a genuine United fan. He loved the game, and still does.
Because of that alone, let`s prey he gets another chance to play professionally. I hope he reads this.
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Date:Thursday July 24 2008
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