Date:Monday July 16 2007
Was Wayne`s departure a Cluedo case of whodunit proportions? No way. He will be missed, but this man`s one-way ticket to Hull was bought out of choice
Sport`s talent for repetition is both frequent and familiar. Seldom, however, does the spin-cycle come around again quite as quickly as it did when Colchester United`s Wayne Brown tumbled out of view on Friday, bound for Hull.
Left to nurse the bruise of an action-replay slap-in-the-face which was all too reminiscent of Richard Garcia`s recent move to Humberside, U`s fans have been contemplating how exactly Geraint Williams will fill a gaping hole in defence.
The debit column in the goal-saving department now reads minus a quarter in terms of beef and bite at the back.
Two names instantly drawing the highlighter as possible replacements from within the current squad list are Garry Richards and new loan signing Matthew Connelly. Both should figure in the manager`s thoughts as he sleeps on his options and a pillow wad of cash to the tune of £400,000.
While the money in return for Brown`s signature only slightly softens the blow of his departure, at least the above names give reason to believe a theory arguing more coins ought to stay in the wallet as pre-season begins.
Train the existing talent or buy in some more? That is seemingly the choice facing Williams, one of which is obviously cheaper than the other.
The case for selecting Richards, in particular, for full-time roaming duty alongside Pat Baldwin grows when you consider that another new face among the team`s remoulded XI would mean asking a side of virtual strangers to present a united front when competitive games resume next month.
Mountains have moved at Layer Road since the curtain went down at the end of the club`s most successful season of all time in May, as the revolving door has seen seven players leave and six arrive.
Amid the loss of many key players, the summer`s recurring theme has seen supporters attempt in vein to tally routine cries about a lack of ambition with how far the club has come in recent times.
That claim becomes even less valid against the fact that Colchester has risen from Conference to Championship level over a period of 16 years, and now have Teddy Sheringham fitting snugly into the No. 8 jersey.
Overall, we see the footballing pendulum swing between two extremes. It`s a bizarre world when Colchester`s prospects veer between brilliant or awful, and back again, with nothing in the middle.
But back to an idea that Brown`s move, coming in a week when millionaire owner Robbie Cowling became chairman, was a replica of the protracted affairs that stalked other Colchester malcontents. Was it all merely a little bit of history repeating?
Well, maybe. Except that the club`s vice-captain Brown, who served with absolute distinction during three seasons and 139 appearances, enjoyed a fast-track ride toward the exit door. His one way-ticket transfer to Hull was rubber-stamped just nine days after the player first publicly expressed a desire to leave.
Valliant attempts since to portray Wayne as the model pro throughout this, the latest stage in United`s age of the defector, were certainly laudable. They lost weight on Thursday, however, when Brown declared his "head and heart" were no longer in accord with the aims of his current employers: "I`m in limbo."
24 hours later, Brown had reached an introspective phase. In the Evening Gazette, he said: "If I were in their [the fan`s] position, I would be very disappointed. I hope that they understand; they`ve been very supportive."
Right now, though, regular U`s followers have numbed to the repeated experience of their terrace savours posing as fraudsters by performing inexplicable and unprecedented mutinies.
Hence, the response to Brown`s move, even as a renowned dressing-room heavy, will be muted in the main, simply because Colchester`s coping mechanism in the wake of shelling their stars has been to look ahead.
An outstanding footnote for Brown is that he gave everything for the cause, impressively playing every single minute of the club`s maiden Championship season last term. He might well have been granted a transfer amicably if his case did not further epitomise a close-season in which the film Groundhog Day has inadvertently become an alternative manual.
As it is, Brown gets a Viking burial farewell for perpetuating the image that United`s sole existence in life is to assist Hull City as some kind of perverse feeder academy. It`s the price he`ll pay for taking the same route out of Essex as Garcia, and, before him, Phil Parkinson.
Refreshingly, though, you can discard cheap accusations that this move represents another saga of whodunit proportions, or a pass-the-buck festival involving the club`s supposedly tight directors. The new administration wanted to retain Brown, so it is not a Cluedo case of murder in the boardroom.
One final thought is the temptation to assume that Brown`s price-tag was lower than the going-rate simply because the role he held as a defensive mop is undervalued in this modern-day climate of unrelenting praise for attacking verve. Grievances aside, though, let`s hope he is the last of The Great Defectors.
Date:Monday July 16 2007
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