Date:Saturday April 28 2007
Welcome to Chris Iewlumo`s very own red-letter day.
The former Stoke six-foot striker has moulded a verbal writ straight from City`s manual of worst nightmares: "Hopefully I can be the man to break Stoke`s dreams so we can live the dream at Colchester."
Some have called this fixture, between two Championship clubs looking to leapfrog each other beyond 69 points on a play-off-place pinching crusade, the most important game in the entire history 70-year history of Colchester United.
An over-statement? Perhaps, but the Premiership`s glass-ceiling is there to be smashed by any one of eight sides, if we assume for a moment that Birmingham and Sunderland already have one paw on the promotion catwalk.
Iwelumo, scorer of 17 strikes so far this season, would have a smile wider than the Trent should he hit the string in this match.
With two games remaining, Chris told the Essex County Standard: "I think four points will get us into the play-offs.
"If you are going to get promoted, then the play-offs are the best way to do it. There are two fantastic games and then a final and it is such a fantastic feeling to go up like that."
He speaks from experience. The proud Scot, who helped today`s opposition go up from League One in 2002, seemed adamant that football`s biggest lottery is a great way to taste glory. A feat he is, in fact, eager to repeat.
"We are a confident bunch of lads. We beat Stoke before and we`re going for a win." Iwelumo is inviting his former employers to find out this afternoon whether or not Colchester`s comic-book maiden Championship season grants him licence to transform from friendly giant to fearsome hulk.
The U`s resident spot-kicker often uses his head to locate goal, possessing great physical presence both on the ground and in the air, which befits his size.
Yet, amid claims that he has, physically impossible though it is, been living in the shadow of fellow sharp shooter Jamie Cureton of late, it`s worth noting how Iwelumo is equally capable at juggling with his feet.
Cue a 41-goal footnote; that impressive tally has been forged in front of goal by the division`s most prolific partnership since August. Of Cureton, whose failure to gain recognition from his professional peers in the recent PFA awards, Iwelumo had nothing but praise.
"It would be nice to break the 20 goal mark," he explained. "I was delighted when Jamie did it and I have said that if we get any penalties between now and the end of the season, that I will give them to him to help him get the Golden Boot."
With so many teams still in the hunt for a grandstand finish in the top-six, the encounter appears to be one in which victory is essential.
Iwelumo, however, sees it differently: "Big teams are under a lot of pressure to produce results, while smaller clubs like Colchester haven`t got that."
Even so, any casual observer would agree that the team`s fabric is woven by a bunch of workaholics called the playing staff, changes of perception as much as fortune in recent times.
Chris resumes the narrative: "I was talking with Kem Izzet [the U`s central midfielder] this week about the player-of-the-season award and we agreed it should be a team-of-the-season award as it really has been a fantastic achievement from everybody."
Modesty, and from even the most prolific of Colchester`s forward fighting vigilantes, is proving the best policy. Come kick-off, an unassuming Iwelumo might just bring the house down. Dreams, after all, are on the agenda.
Date:Saturday April 28 2007
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