Date:Saturday March 10 2007
This column appears in today's awarding winning Matchday magazine, which was recently voted the best in the Football League at the football awards.
Can U’s kick back?
Fans waking last Saturday, after Derby had demolished Colchester 5-1 in front of the Sky Cameras, may have seen David Beckham in his latest Adidas advert declaring: “The world is round.” Aptly back to basics, then, as United entertain Coventry this afternoon.
A casual observer might think of those buccaneering words of discovery, spoken during Colchester’s morning after the night before, as irrelevant.
They would be wrong, because US-bound Becks made a serious point; so forget all the cheap gags about Columbus getting there first. It was, essentially, that soccer’s spin-cycle can flip you upside-down just as fast as propel you by a peg or two.
After the Rams succeeded in hanging the U’s out-to-dry, those in Essex knew exactly what he meant. A day earlier, Colchester had enjoyed a literal 15-minutes of fame on Five’s Football Night, whilst chief executive, Marie Partner, was also announcing that a future ground-share with Ipswich could be in order.
In the same week, the subject of the club’s rise had continued to confound even the most prominent of talking heads. Watching the game against the Clarets, Downing Street’s former spin-doctor, Alistair Campbell, a staunch Burnley fan, said: “If Burnley can’t go up I think it would be great if a small club like Colchester were promoted - it would not be bad for the Premiership.”
Colchester’s stock has never been so high. Or maybe so low, given that the club shop has only recently replenished its supply of shirts, depleted since Christmas. Such is the fevered demand for all things white n’ blue, that I’ve only just managed to get my mitts on a copy of last year’s fantastic 2005/6 Review, ‘Against all odds.’
That motto ought to be plastered everywhere in Britain’s oldest recorded town, even if the team did not conform to stereotype when surrendering at Pride Park, because it speaks as much about 1971’s famous F. A. Cup victory over Leeds United as it does about this season.
The intention here is not to champion gallant failure, by dressing up an outside chance of securing play-off qualification as a triumph – the table alone expresses that. Better, instead, to highlight how far United have really come over the past season and-three-quarters, putting this relative rough-patch into context.
It seems Colchester merely misplaced their lines for the first half-an-hour away at County, on the big screen. Captain Karl Duguid set about trying to find them, prompting his co-actors by assisting in Jonnie Jackson’s goal, as well as creating chances of his own.
The game was not a contest, in the end, but, at 3-1 down, the hope that it could have been one was alluring enough to keep the attention.
That same appeal has brought you back to Layer Road this afternoon, no doubt. Our unwavering faith is what grants sport the right to welcome a supporter through the turn-style with one hand, and perform a pickpocket operation on their wallet, with the other.
As Geraint Williams promised post-Derby: “There are more highs to come.” Despite four games without a win, I believe him.
We quite often hear it said that, without life’s lows, we could never comprehend the true meaning of the highs. With that in mind, faint muttering about a downturn in fortune – that floats from Barside and into the Family Enclosure – takes better perspective.
Football’s ability to define a working week remains, however, as absolute as ever and it was today’s opposition manager, Iain Dowie, who invented the phrase ‘bounce-back-ability.’
From 3pm, Colchester will be testing theirs.
Date:Saturday March 10 2007
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