Colchester fan hails “arguably best squad in a decade”

Colchester fan Noah4x4 of the U’suals forum is excited about his side’s current form and even more excited about the club’s future…

About the fan

I have always supported my local (always) lower league team; which has been Colchester United for the past 14 seasons since I moved here during which time I have missed about a dozen home league games. Having “retired” three years ago I rarely miss an away game and frequently write match reports for the ‘U’sual fanzine.

 

How do you expect your team to do this season?

 

Next year our young academy stars will be another year older so I am feeling ever more positive about the future…

The pundits (what do they know?) annually decide that the U’s are relegation fodder and yet we have consistently defied gravity for longer than astronauts on a round trip to Jupiter. But this calendar year is different and our record since March 2015 is (almost) “play-off form”. I have no relegation fears for this season and predict a comfortable mid-table finish. But next year our young academy stars who are currently top of the Under 21 Professional Development League Division Two will be another year older, so I am feeling ever more positive about the future.

Who should we watch out for?

Manager Tony Humes has recently acquired some former Premier League quality in attack. Midfielder Owen Gavan has been sheer class; whilst Marvin Sordell alongside George Moncur and Gavin Massey will terrorise most Division One defences. They are backed up by other solid “Number 9” performers like Chris Porter and Zimbabwe international Maculey Bonne.

Watching the U’s exciting attacking style often means a goalfest and it’s just a shame some are in our net!

 

By contrast, our defence has been a bit shaky but who cares if we nervously win games 3-2 as long as it is three points? We drew 3-3 with Chesterfield while hitting the woodwork three times and had the ball in the opposition net four times to take a two-nil lead before capitulating 4-2 to Shrewsbury. Watching the U’s exciting attacking style often means a goalfest and it’s just a shame some are in our net!

What are your thoughts on your manager?

 

It is now coming together in (arguably) the best squad we have had for at least a decade…

Tony Humes has suffered far too much unjust criticism. The fact that Tony is ex-Ipswich; made some ex-Ipswich signings and then sold Freddie Sears to Ipswich seems to matter far too much to some fickle U’s fans who were moaning about the superb Owen Garvan even before he had kicked a ball. I perhaps don’t understand this ‘history’. Thankfully we are starting to get the results that we deserve, but it has taken patience and an influx of experience to get the best out of our young academy starlets that were perhaps exposed to the more brutal side of Division One a tad too early. But it is now coming together in (arguably) the best squad we have had for at least a decade.

What are your thoughts on your board?

Owner Robbie Cowling is a visionary that has made Colchester United into a financially self-sustainable Division One (or better) club in decent stadium surroundings but again, fan opinions are very divided.

Owner Robbie Cowling is a visionary that has made Colchester United into a financially self-sustainable Division One club…

 

He justifiably saw the need to invest in Academy Two Status with the advent of Financial Fair Play; and has introduced many ticketing innovations such as under 11’s can attend free with a paying adult.

However (according to the BBC), our cheapest season tickets are 13% more expensive than the league average; but then we do get a compensating £40 ‘shop’ voucher.

The cynics inevitably see it as a means to “force us to buy shirts”; but I have typically spent mine on (say) F A Cup tickets and for other club sponsored entertainment like the thriving comedy club and regular tribute nights. I simply see this as innovative. Similarly, our match day tickets are not the cheapest but if one buys using the ‘early bird’ advance deals or mini-season packs you can get good value (provided that the team performs as that always has an impact on value perceptions!).

We have a population a tenth of that of Bradford, or Sheffield with strong rivals for local football spectator traffic such as Ipswich and the London clubs on our doorstep. We simply have to be innovative as regards raising revenue, staying solvent and funding the playing budget under FFP. All that has been missing in the last decade has been the results and we are hopefully now turning that corner. Vale fans will enjoy the (free) pre-match music entertainment and our award winning ‘family club’ atmosphere. We also make some decent noise too.

How do you expect Vale to do this season?

 

We have always enjoyed good banter with Vale fans in your supporters’ bar…

Like the U’s, Port Vale always seem to be a team in eternal transition. However, I wonder if you now have as strong a future vision as the U’s? I predict a mid-table position for both sides but I feel that the U’s possibly have the greater momentum to kick on from there (e.g. given the Academy II status which is bringing ever more young talent). We have always enjoyed good banter with Vale fans in your supporters’ bar and in the many real ale pubs in Colchester so a mutual long stay in Division One is welcome with only an exit upwards.

A score prediction?

3 – 1 to Colchester. As the away side; you will no doubt once again get nine men behind the ball whilst we throw the kitchen sink at you. This time I believe that we have the fire power in Sordell, Moncur and Massey to emerge as victors.