Date:Friday March 30 2007
Boomerang Cureton will want to make Norwich pay
Colchester United`s last away win in Southampton a couple of weeks ago was as much desired as it was required, so forget that hazy, but crucial, dividing line between two of life`s most powerful urges: what we want and need.
Both emotions are strong and sometimes easily confused, although the U`s caused them to potently converge under glare of the Sky Sports cameras on the south coast, bringing a routine Championship cockfight to the nation`s front room, and eventually another three points home to Essex.
On a night when Colchester`s 400 travelling fans had adopted the Johnny Cash tune Ring of Fire, Jamie Cureton ironically entered his own, coming out with a superb salvo.
If the 2-1 win felt improbable from the stands, with this fixture coming during the U`s worst run of their median Championship season, then it must have left goalscoring vigilante Curo in a daze, because his brace fired a stake into the heart of Southampton`s promotion hopes. The Saints endured some hell from Cureton, a man they glibly rejected as a youngster (for a supposed lack of presence in the penalty box).
You tend to feel sympathy for Cureton, shipped around by so many sides, because he has constantly kept the gun out of its holster, firing shots into the string for every club he has graced. Yet, against irrefutably good statistics in front of goal, he is still ushered out of the saloon; always told to go and play somewhere else. As Geraint Williams put it: "Most managers would give their right arm for someone who could score fifteen goals a season."
But Cureton has an added dimension that others lack. He has modesty, borne out of living all his life on the move, having played for eight clubs in twelve years. This streak became obvious when he shook his head in disbelief at the sound of adulation coming his way from the crowd, earlier in the season.
It was August and he had just netted a hat-trick against Derby County, which compelled 5,000 fans to chant his name. Jamie, however, has a reluctant acceptance of his status as an idol.
Such humility is a rare thing in a footballer, and much more a striker (since they are taught to be predatorily selfish). In that sense, Cureton is a like contact-killer, whose forced detachment from his work sees him to score goals without feeling sympathy for the victim of his clinical sharpshooting ability.
Colchester supporters are yet to discover whether their love that radiates from the terraces is reciprocated by the player himself, but may get the chance to find out when we faces his old club Norwich on Saturday.
The 31-year-old, who won England youth honours at Carrow Road and described them as "a special club," will renew acquaintances with the other team from East Anglia, after they too famously cast him off failing to re-new his contract, despite pleas.
Jamie is now three goals shy (on 17) of his personal target for the season, and he`ll probably wants a hat-trick, although, with nothing at stake but pride, he does not really need it.
We all saw, though, on Sky and in the stadium, what happened the last time Cureton returned to a former club. He will take particular delight if he manages net against another of his one-time employees; the deal with United`s No 8 is that he will always make you pay, because he is a boomerang striker who always keeps coming back.
This weekend`s game acts as another point of his career, a mapped cycle of rejection followed by countless opportunities for redemption. Against Southampton, he had us dancing to his tune and took us through his Ring of Fire, as well as all parts of the emotional spectrum.
Now, as Colchester host City, somebody from Peter Grant`s clan might have to pick up the bill for whoever made the fatal mistake of letting the striker defect to their nearby neighbours.
Date:Friday March 30 2007
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