Date:Tuesday August 5 2008
...Shame About The Parking!
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Pessimism is a response of choice for the average football fan, no matter what the occasion, or score. It was in evidence again last night, during the first-ever match at Colchester United`s shiny, new, Community Stadium. The line from yesterday evening`s chilly summer gathering was: nice legs, shame about the parking.
Colchester United Vs Athletico Bilbao might have been subtitled under the heading entertainment as pain. If you still consider words like megastore, seating, replay-screens and VIP boxes to be dirty ones, an hour-and-a-half into Colchester`s fresh neon-lights era, it is time to shovel them into your vocabulary, and quickly.
Either that, or do what former midfielder Kevin Watson suggested last season and stay at home. Watching the U`s in their last pre-season encounter was, at times, a throwback to the age of stocks, tomatoes and public execution.
Though not because of the quality of football, you understand: it was a very nice, if ordinary, match. There`s just something a little oddly masochistic about watching thousands of spectators around you moan, groan, and complain, despite the club`s successful scratching of a thirty-year itch which cost £16 million in pubic money to satisfy.
Top banana in the annoyance stakes goes to one idiot who shouted 'we pay your wages` after a long ball from new skipper Chris Coyne went astray. It may be true that punters fill the pay packets, but this meaningless friendly was a road test for a new team on the field and fans in their new seats, not a life-or-death duel that warranted such silly shouts.
For an honest appraisal of the stadium's finished product that took decades to dream about, but only a year to build, read that the complex was quietly impressive inside, smelt crisp and had a clean, playable pitch. On the downside, the new slim-line automatic turnstiles were a squeeze. Oh, and don`t mention the parking, everyone`s new favourite P-word insult.
Those at the Cuckoo Farm complex sure are crazy if they think the queues up and down United Way are a good way for U`s fans to line, by pollution, the streets.
Last night there were only 7,000 piling in to worship the club`s alternative altar(capacity 10,000), yet even a slow walker could have beaten the traffic en route to the nearest roundabout. A party-game of Musical Cars every other Saturday, it will be, then, unless everyone decides to use the very reasonable park and ride scheme, starting in Colchester`s surrounding villages.
This column`s scorecard offers a generous eight out of a possible ten for the whole experience, foregoing the shortage of car spaces and attributing the delayed kick-off time to expected teething-problems. Not forgetting a forgettable score-line; for the sake of future pub-quiz questions, the first result in the U`s new stadium was a 2-1 loss. United`s scorer? Scott Vernon.
The parking problems can be sorted, though, if enough fans tell those with the power to change things that they can see right through the transparent measure of charging fans money to compete for far less space than is needed. Or, heaven-forbid, more people actually use the bus.
The one thing that no-one else can fix is a hangover of pessimism about the season ahead, where bookies make the U`s odds-on to gain promotion behind giants Leeds United. For those who think last night`s performance was abysmal and typified the new side`s make-up, look at the statistics: Colchester have faired very well in most of their warm-up games.
Still, if a new stadium can`t blow out the cobwebs of negativity brought on by last season`s first relegation in almost two decades, and encourage a hopeful gaze towards the future, then ever nothing will.
Lamenting Layer Road`s loss has morphed from an idea and into a man on our backs, plaguing the summer, but it is time to shake him off. If you can`t, that`s not Colchester United`s problem. It`s yours.
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Date:Tuesday August 5 2008
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