Make a house a home
Welcome home. The Weston Homes. Still doesn`t quite trip off the tongue does it? We`ll get used to it.
Having visited the shiny new stadium for the game against Athletic Bilbao, I`ve got a feeling we`ll settle in very quickly. Bless Layer Road but our new pad should make the transition a little easier. It`s lovely. But if you`re reading this you don`t need me to tell you that - look around!
First up you can see all of the pitch, can`t you? All four corner flags, count them. One, two, three, four. Did you have that at Layer Road?
Comfy seats with leg-room as standard. We`ve all endured those new 'all-seater` stadia, where the seats have clearly been bolted into an old stadium. Where, come the end of 90 minutes, unless you`re 5`2" or less you`ve grated off half your shins on the seat in front.
But more important than all that - there`s beer. Cold beer too. From a draft tap. Ah, progress.
It might seem trivial but it`s these sort of advances that will make the U`s a stronger, better club in future. Even being pessimistic 6,000+ fans for every game; let`s say only a third fancy a drink; let`s say some fancy two (though many will have even more) - that`s around £10k more in the tills every match.
We`ve even got decent hospitality boxes. If you were ever lucky enough to experience 'hospitality` at Layer Road, you probably still see that vivid carpet pattern every time you close your eyes.
Many congratulations to everyone at CUFC (and elsewhere) that battled so long and so hard to get us our new stadium. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Profitability and spanking new surroundings aside, how great was it to see our own little Col U against a European giant? Bilbao are a La Liga staple, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Valencia, Barcelona and Real Madrid.
I got looks of disbelief when I told friends and colleagues I was off to watch Colchester play Athletic Bilbao. I brought along a couple of mates and we amused ourselves by imagining how the conversation went on the topic of pre-season back in Bilbao:
Coach: We`ve lined up a trip overseas for you lads! We`re going to England!
Team: Wow! Great! Who are we going to play?
Coach: Well, they have a lovely new stadium…
Team: Oooh, is it Arsenal? The Emirates looks lovely…
Coach: Not quite, no.
Team: Is it the European Champions, Manchester United?
Coach: Uh, not quite… um… they are called United and there is a 'chester` in it…
Bless them, they did look a little startled for the first few minutes. The U`s certainly stroked it around early on like we were the cultured European side.
Much like the match up at Hartlepool the result wasn`t quite what we`d have hoped but there were some chinks of light shining through the clouds.
Steven Gillespie looks a great signing. Proper, proper quick. He had the Bilbao defenders panicking (and cheating) in their attempts to shackle him. David Perkins looked like a real dynamo in midfield. He chased, harried and hassled everything and everyone, at high speed too.
It was unfamiliar surroundings though. The crowd were a little subdued at times, probably just admiring their new surroundings under the (surprisingly bright) floodlights.
Most of us have moved house at some point in our lives. It takes time to get used to. For the first few weeks you still wake up in the night and forget where you are; get lost on the way to the shop/pub/post office is. It takes time before a house is a home.
You need to make your mark on it to make it 'home`: put up your favourite picture, paint a room your chosen colour make your own new food stains on the sofa. It may not be until we give someone a beating at The Weston Homes Community Stadium that it feels like 'home`.
Until that point we`re at as much of a disadvantage as the visiting team - playing in unfamiliar surroundings. We, the fans, have to do our best to make the players feel at home. Already against Bilbao there were a few grumbles of discontent. What those people were expecting against a La Liga team (even if that was against ten-men for a while), I don`t know - presumably not a narrow defeat.
It`s the classic chicken and egg: Give us something to cheer and we`ll cheer. Cheer and you might get something to cheer about.
I`d rather not wait for archaeologists to work out which came first - I`d rather break a few eggs and ruffle a few feathers and roar my team on to win after win at our new home.
Who`s with me? Up the U`s!