Fortune favours the U`s
Fortune favours the U`s; history in the making just divine
Not far from the Colchester United ground, where Stoke City are forced by the fixture-list to come this Saturday, there are posters advertising the local Methodist church. The word on the street is that visits there are down recently. Instead, the faithful have come flocking back to worship at the alternative alter of Layer Road, where some impressive miracles are being played out, albeit in front of disbelieving fans.
Unbeaten at home in the last eight games, initial fears that Colchester would have to endure a season-long backlash after promotion seem a distant memory. Greg Halford`s transfer request in August, along with Phil Parkinson`s protracted departure, appeared to show that the Gods were fuming at the U`s for even daring to step up the League ladder, and onto the rung of football`s second tier, for the first time.
However, at least for now, supporter and team appear to be singing from the same hymn sheet. A rocking Layer Road contingent have witnessed answers to their most audacious of prayers in recent weeks, following stunning wins against Southampton, Southend, and Hull.
At home, near sell-out crowds for the last dozen or so fixtures have enjoyed football as pure theatre. Nail-biting moments of fear, and the euphoria of seemingly improbable wins, come with a caution - don`t look at the league table for too long, unless you want altitude sickness. This high placing is a credit to Geraint Williams, who has arguably taken charge at the height of the most exciting period in the club`s history to date.
For, despite being Britain`s oldest recorded town, Colchester houses to one of the youngest of the Football League`s 92 sides, whose formation in 1937 marks next year out as a very important 70th anniversary.
Not that being tender in years seems to matter. No-longer will you find those in Essex pining for the by-gone glories of Grandad`s Army, or re-playing video reels of that amazing 3-2 FA Cup victory over Leeds United in 1971. There`s no need, since the fire of last season`s David and Goliath knockout encounter with Chelsea still burns so brightly in the imagination.
Researchers of irony will point out something even fresher. That rivals Southend are stuck in quicksand at the bottom of the Championship, which looks like a piece of divine intervention, especially considering how Colchester fell on their own sword by failing to beat them at home, or away, during 2005-6.
Did you spare a thought or two for the Shrimpers - as well as those signs by the church - during the recent win? Thought not. "When Jesus saw you, it was love at first sight," reads one. Loyal fans can argue that the same applies to the U`s; the adventure of the past year proves that following a football team is not simply a tale of unrequited love.