Perks Of The Job
Livewire Perkins must earn place in Colchester`s line-up before he can even dream of scaling the scoring heights of former midfield star Neil Danns
"After an absence in finesse of Paul Scholes proportions in the middle, missing since the departure of Neil Danns, this corner of Essex is just about ready to embrace another gut-busting goal-getter. Can Perkins be that maestro?"
David 'Dorothy` Perkins is a pint-sized central attacker, an Englishman with a bright haircut and a short fuse. Move over Alan Smith, Wayne Rooney and Paul Gascoine, then, because Colchester United`s own diminutive dynamo waits in the wings.
Read that both metaphorically and literally. The former Rochdale midfielder has been limited to just two left-hand side cameo showings since his return from a four-game ban. The suspension was a hangover from last term, until now preventing prickly Perkins from emerging in quite the same way as the promising Anthony Wordsworth.
After an absence in finesse of Paul Scholes proportions in the middle, missing since the departure of Neil Danns more than two years ago, this corner of Essex is just about ready to embrace another gut-busting goal-getter. Can Perkins be that maestro?
Here come the usual run of answers; yes, perhaps, with reservations. If this happens, then maybe - perhaps, but only if that occurs. If he gets the rub of the green game-by-game, or if he starts weekly, and if he actually performs at a higher level. Well, say the sages after consideration, why not?
Cue talk of life`s lucky breaks, and the need for a right royal flush from fate`s unpredictable hand. Perkins` new manager Geraint Williams is entitled to feel smug about his talent-spotting ability, before the guesses roll in, given that so few people suggested the youngster as a potential acquisition in the summer.
Even fewer were aware that the former non-leaguer had a nominal release clause in his contract, thought to be £250,000. An advance on last season`s six goals would make Perkins a bargain buy from the league`s basement where you can normally flourish with enthusiasm, should skill desert.
It`s probably too early in the number 17`s Colchester career to typecast the playmaker-turned-makeshift wide-man as another player ready-made to link the club`s strikers with the rest through the glue of extra goals. The curse of having attacking talent in this position makes it a dangerous trade.
Unlike Colchester`s big striker Clive Platt or stopper Dean Gerken, whose skill is also measured in number of knock downs or clean sheets, say, Perkins would possibly get judged by the number of chalk-marks against his name come May.
That is mainly because there are too many venerably immovable talents surrounding the tip of the midfield area to guarantee Perkins gets a chance to make his strikes start flowing like wine; he is still a rough diamond.
This eulogy, written at the prospect of a sly sharpshooter storming each Saturday with the same delightful regularity as Danns, presumes Perkins will eventually gain licence to roam through the centre; his height and preferred foot make that doubtful. For this season, at least.
Lefties may be rare as gold dust on the nation`s playgrounds, but Johnnie Jackson`s ability on that side, combined with Kem Izzet`s shortness, means moving Perkins inside represents a risk. It would leave the side`s engine area vulnerable to aerial assault.
Head must ignore heart here and say Perkins will have to fight with Wordsworth and Medy Elito for his starting berth, barring injuries, on the wing. Even then Dean Hammond, himself useful at finding the target, will probably remain in contention for the other central spot.
Selection dilemmas supposedly offer a rare pleasant benefit to the football manager`s job; everyone at Colchester United should salute good competition for places. One of the perks, right? Just don`t expect our Dorothy to agree…
"It`s probably too early in the number 17`s Colchester career to typecast this playmaker as another player ready-made to link the club`s strikers with the rest through the glue of extra goals."
Dazzling Yeates The Inside Man
Oldies have started calling Irishman Mark Yeates an inside forward which, for those who are not on the ball, is where England`s 1966 heroes Geoff Hurst and Jimmy Greaves played, long before the Four Four Two formation invaded our island.
It is just about the right analogy, because Yeates lacks the pickpocket sharpness of a striker but, as he showed last Saturday after his dazzling double against Oldham, he knows where the net is.
That salvo should keep the slavering pack of goal-hungry supporters away from his door for at least a few weeks. His fine double-show sees criticism`s lock sealed for the foreseeable future because, deep down, Yeates is the side`s chief entertainer.
He holds the key to every Colchester United fans` heart.
Lisbie More Than A Hired Gun
Last weekend, Colchester`s popular matchday writer CarbonDioxide came up with a good word to describe those who felt it acceptable to boo former forward Kevin Lisbie during the League Cup tie against his new team, Ipswich.
Our bubbly columnist called them "idiots." Quite right, too, because the man who rejected the chance to earn more than anyone ever has in United`s strip made his switch to Suffolk with professional intent.
Lisbie may be a contact killer, both because he did not sign Colchester`s generous deal and because he is lethal in front of goal, but he is not disloyal.
When smoke from the smouldering Cup defeat finally clears, maybe more rational sections of the crowd will be able to accept that Lisbie was more for Colchester than just another hired gun during his time at the club.
Electing For The Ejector Seat
Saturday`s sub-5,000 attendance figure for Colchester against Oldham still caused a kick-off delay of ten minutes, but not because of teething problems at the shiny new Weston Homes Community Stadium.
It is just that an unprecedented number of fans have bought the democratic right to pick and choose what games to attend, a luxury afforded perversely because less have paid in advance for the season-ticket tie-down.
This means more queuing for tickets on the actual matchday itself for those who decide to come as and when, presumably, hence the weekend`s bottleneck.
That trend could also have the added advantage of forcing the club to review their season-pass prices further than already attempted in order to fill the ground.
It might ensure better value, because the average saving made by purchasing the year`s book in advance currently stands at less than the price of five League One home games.
There will always be the die-hards, of course, but as the credit crunch bites there is only one kind of seat some fans will be interested in having. The ejector seat.
Funny Bus-iness, But It Works
Arguing that Colchester United`s efficient new shuttle-bus saves the environment seems in itself a false economy.
That the whole wait and board process, in this column`s case, takes as long as a brisk walk between the stadium car park and North Station does not obscure the a huge point. Leaving the car twenty minutes away for a bus journey hardly seems a triumph for the eco-conscious, although others travelling from further may disagree.
The truth on that score is a matter of geography. We are left guessing that a huge chuck of inner-town land, with the transport routes already running, costs more than it does to hire scores of police workers and bus drivers each week for the football calendar`s nine months. Make that nine months times infinity.
As the stadium re-house was council-funded, to the tune of some £16 million now Layer Road`s plot undersold, it is even more intriguing to consider that the travel scheme could also be publicly funded.
Would more police have been needed, regardless of the ground was located? Is it in fact better to keep the stadium away from residence and out of town? There are town planning office problems - or they were.
Only now does anyone apathetic toward initial developments see the cost of their own disinterest in the project.
In a case of chase-the-tail finances, my guess is any rise in ticket prices for 2008/9 paid at least in part for this good service, which makes it less free as you might think.
Otherwise, planning applications are a messy business, so it is probably just as well that there are no anti-football residents to complain about the noise out by the A12.
Still, forget talk of hack maths and infrastructure; the best bit about the park and ride system is it actually works.