Vintage U’s Fizz
This column appears in the Colchester United Matchday Programme, U’s Review, 2007’s Best Matchday Supplement at the Football League Awards.
Vital Football Colchester would like to thank Matt Hudson for his continued support, while the scribe of this page reserves a special mention for the editor of this site, Deeno for his invaluable advice, patience and willingness to help whenever needed.
Vintage U’s Fizz With Hogan’s Sweet Tango
Colchester United served a stunning recipe for success in this year’s Coca-Cola Championship, boiling reputations like that of Sunderland, Derby and Southampton as part of their staple diet.
After having Hull for breakfast, Luton for lunch, and Southend for supper, the Layer Road faithful show no sign of indigestion. Last on the menu comes Crystal Palace, set to see more gourmet football on the green carpet of our pitch.
Most of the footballing fraternity laughed at a distinct lack of prawn sandwiches and executive boxes in Britain’s oldest recorded town last August. Now even the cynics have come to love Colchester’s superior brand of al fresco entertainment.
From outside the stadium’s fortress walls, it must still seem to those in the media that Geraint Williams has been turning water into wine. The troops were able to successfully declare their war on relegation over, before Christmas.
That champagne strikeforce of Jamie Cureton and Chris Iwelumo soon made sure people were eating their words. After all, it has been a good few months since anybody mentioned that old line about this being the only league club where a female chief executive still has to use an outside toilet.
By December, the press were already drunk on the U’s play-off-making possibility. In the interest of noting end-of-season miracles, it is not yet mathematically written that Colchester cannot finish one place higher than magnificent seventh.
What kind of a written web will they spin on the nation’s back pages as the season reaches its end? Amid grey-stodge rumours about who may leave, I’d welcome more stimulating transfer brain-food: Hogan Ephraim should be first on the U’s shopping list.
By all accounts, this season’s number twenty-four would consider only another loan spell in Essex over a permanent move, but the attacking midfielder’s fizzing runs put more than a spark in the eye of an average Colchester fan.
His talents are such that they merit more use than just as a novel piece of bench-warning equipment back at West Ham. In London, he might as well have been skinning potatoes – not demoralised defenders – for a living.
If the loudest League crowd are bubbly at the best of times, they erupt when Hogan’s volcanic pace brings on another slalom assault. His sweet tango routine is easy on the eye, even if those watching him are, apparently, not so.
Readers of one lad’s mag may have recently voted United fans the Football League’s most ugly, but they can point to a superb home record, of only three Championship losses at home all season, as the perfect rebuke.
In the house still predominantly built by former boss Phil Parkinson, a spirit embossed by pretty football – which is what counts – definitely roams unchained and free.
“When I first came here,” said Parkinson last year, “people saw us as little old Colchester; a good place to come and finish their careers. I saw a unique spirit, a chance to achieve.
“I wanted young, hungry players who had an expectation and who would follow my formula.”
As manager Williams pursues the same line, there is no need to ask what exact shape that formula takes; not when it is so obviously a winning one.