Date:Friday January 12 2007
At 3pm on Saturday, as the battle cry sounds, a fit-again Karl Duguid is due to lead his troops out of the tunnel for the first time this year, to face Leicester. The captain`s gladiatorial autocue ought to be: "On the referee`s whistle, unleash hell."
He will let his football do the talking, as usual, and hopefully continue the U`s charge up the table, attempting to secure a twelfth straight win on 'Layer Drome` soil. For, unlike another English talisman whose name has been dominating the back pages of the nationals this week, Doogie is not fed any of his lines. When he says he hopes to be staying in Britain`s oldest recorded town "for the next fifteen years," he really means it.
The news that Duguid intends to stay beyond the end of the current season will abhor one blogger, who argued that his recent absence from the ranks 'didn`t make much difference`, but it will delight the faithful. Why? Because the man they call, 'The Destroyer` represents every Colchester fan when playing out on the pitch. During the maelstrom of passion play, he is total and unconditional commitment personified.
When he is not busy destroying the opposition, Doogie is cutting through the hype, and, this season in particular, has been giving his team-mates the occasional reality-check amid a fantastic run of results. No surprise, then, that Karl spoke hit out strongly at rumours linking him with a move to MK Dons, despite the fact that his contract expires in the summer. Duguid, speaking in the East Angian Daily Times, said: "I have spent my career trying to get to this level of football with Colchester United. Now we`ve made it to the Championship, I'm not about to throw all that away."
This column concedes that the 28-year old, made captain by Phil Parkinson three years ago, might have lost some of his speed due to a number of horrific injuries, although the battle scars have not hindered his ability as an expert reader of situations. He is one of the few modern professionals fully deserving his testimonial, which took place to mark his graduation from the club`s YTS scheme, in 2004. Duguid also feely admits to being "part of the furniture" at United.
The problem with merging so easily into the background - to go along with the furniture analogy - is that people start kicking you around, taking for granted the fact that you will always be there. But Duguid is no fool, and is as aware as anyone that his footballing career is finite, having been a stroke away from retirement not so long ago.
As he told the Daily Mail last month: "I kept coming back and breaking down. I could do the running but I couldn`t strike a ball. I was close to packing it in.
"In the end I saw this lady called Linda Green. She asked me questions and held my arm up and out to one side. She felt the pressure in my arm when I gave my answer and knew if I was telling the truth. It`s a bit freaky because I`m not a great believer in that sort of thing, but after I saw her, I`ve played ever since."
Since his return last year, Colchester have mounted that unforgettable promotion charge, with Duguid as skipper, to take them into the Championship. He expects to sign a new a contract extension in the near future, and is set to prove this weekend, once more, that he is fully deserving of a new deal.
Doogie might not be an indispensable player, but when he dons that U`s shirt on a Saturday, he is irreplaceable.
Date:Friday January 12 2007
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