Date:Tuesday August 19 2008
Captain Coyne Flipped But Still Has A Key Roll To Play
The idea that Colchester United`s new captain Chris Coyne is a hard-as-nails defender really appeals. Imagining the U`s Australia international in place of Vinny Jones as he berates Ross Kemp in a scene from the BBC hit sitcom Extras just about hits the mark.
"Are you 'ard?" Coyne could ask League One`s most predatory strikers, assuming Vinny`s dialogue, ala series one. Finger-jabbing the intimidated striker who has been forcing him to ruin the pre-match make-up through sweat, United`s No. six would emphatically answer his own question: "No!"
And cut. Take a pair of scissors to the film-reel and a hammer to lingering divine right mythology, once guaranteeing players a place in the United's XI. Director Geraint Williams instantly pulled Coyne from the side`s feature-length picture against Huddersfield, just one game into the new season, after he mislaid the script.
Coyne defied his typecasting as a human brick-wall. The white light of the camera exposed him for being at fault for two goals in his side`s defeat to Hartlepool. So it is that the man signed from Luton last season went from headline star to added extra in his own movie, all inside seven days.
Much eye-rubbing and two clean-sheets later, the U`s are still floating along without Coyne, who inherited the armband from ex-skipper Karl Duguid just weeks ago. Yet, the campaign is three games young and he is the first casualty; stripped of new duties so soon because ruthlessness is presumed the force to get Colchester topping the table.
Switch on the subtitles here to read behind a sea of symbolism: the manager Williams is proving that United cannot afford any passengers on a ship supposedly desisted for the Championship. More than that, he is showing a zero-tolerance of slackers in his expanded squad. Actions over words, and all that.
Maybe all those hours spent exchanging hot air over the importance of the England national capacity has skewed our perception of what it means to be a team`s leader. This hot potato is a privilege often mistaken as a right. Williams` statement, therefore, is that the position of leader no longer creates a buffer zone against criticism, nor a haven for non-punishable complacency.
Not that Coyne will relinquish his key standing in the Colchester carnival as 'Skippy' the skipper over the long-term. Shelve any thoughts that the defender is about to turn from a leading light into dispirited backstage hand, a mere runner.
Cue in another Extras adaptation, Coyne as a sporting version of Ricky Gervais` desperately hapless Andy Millman: "I am a real footballer, not just an substitute, honest. If you could just get me a game?"
End the roleplay there. Coyne cost £400,000 just seven months ago, when he swapped shirts, and jumped one league, under the impression that he would still be strutting his Championship stuff right now. That answers any question over Coyne`s potential motivation to succeed in this corner of Essex; he will want to play at the highest level possible.
For Colchester`s part, that big-bucks fee equals 400,000 reasons alone to ensure he gets another chance in the team. Coyne still has a role to play, even if the wind of change in this term`s new era has prompted Williams to show that sheer force of personality will not blind his judgement.
Iwelumo Hits High Notes
Chris Iwelumo`s choice this season was either functioning as a footnote at Charlton or becoming a keynote in Wolves predominately young ensemble under Mick McCarthy.
Happily, the former Colchester striker chose the latter, because the bench is no place for such a prolific marksman. Papers in the Black Country have already christened him the next Steve Bull, after his fab four-goal start in old gold.
Yet, the real story here is behind the match-winning headlines. Iwelumo revealed after bagging a brace in his club`s 4-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday at the weekend that he was a big fan of opera. He`d taken his wife to see several performances over the summer.
Initial surprise at the finding receded into glowing respect. It takes courage for sportsmen to admit supposed highbrow tastes, particularly in an environment where conceding interest in anything approaching intellectual can be professionally retarding.
Remember the abuse suffered by Graham Le Saux in the '90s, when the England left-back professed to reading the Guardian, to appreciate the size of the risk behind Iwelumo`s disclosure.
The Scott exposed a facet of his private-life publicly, anyway, regardless of the potentially detrimental impact, which is a breakthrough.
Sometimes a moral victory is better than a sporting one. Especially one that reminds us how athletes, or a 'goal-machine` like Iwelumo, are human beings first, and terrace idols, with a persona to preserve, second.
From Alternative Galaxy to Another Planet
Watching Colchester United has always felt a bit space-age, because the club still produced programmes on paper via photocopier until the mid-nineties, although some people would prefer just to call that retrograde or naff.
When civil servant Gerard Oxford described the U`s new all-seated ground as "like being on another planet," it appeared impossible to disagree, not least because this column always called the old Layer Road site an alternative galaxy.
A change of homes at least means United`s odyssey gravitates more towards reality.
Platt An Unfair Target, Man?
During Saturday`s inaugural match at the Weston Homes Community Stadium, a football-watching friend who`d made the trip especially to see the ground called Colchester`s six-foot-four forward Clive Platt 'the worst player` he had ever seen.
Quite a claim coming from someone who is a regular watcher of Heybridge Swifts. Yes, they of the Ryman Premier Division, occasionally known for using doors in place of the conventional stretcher when injury strikes.
The friend later revised his assessment of Platt, saying he had 'never seen` a player quite like the big U`s number nine, snoring at his missed-sitter in the second half.
Sorry, but people have seemingly reported sightings of the old-fashioned English centre-forward since time began. Such descriptions are invariably always followed by vocabulary like 'long-ball,` 'hit-and-hope` or even '4-4-2 formation.`
Despite a generally bad reputation, some imposing target-men have actually been quite good at their job. Think Alan Shearer, James Beatie, Chris Iwelumo or, oh yes, Peter Crouch.
That Platt only scored eight goals last season, but still attracted a bid of £400,000 from an unnamed League One side only last week, speaks volumes for the scarcity of his breed.
What my friend obviously did not notice on Saturday was that Platt won several important headers in defence, which were probably of an equal value to scoring in the other goal.
If Platt is the worst player anyone has ever seen, they obviously don`t see enough football, although granted he is not prolific. Maybe watching the game with closed eyes is all the rage at non-league outfits like Heybridge.
Date:Tuesday August 19 2008
League 1 MOTM: January Nomination (Dunne) (Wednesday February 5 2014)
Safe Standing - Fans Must Act Now! (Monday January 20 2014)
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)
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