After a promising start to the season, Colchester have disappointed. 13 games without a win, in a run going back to early December, have left the U’s in 21st place in the table. Only Grimsby have worse form over the last 8 games (though, to be fair, the U’s have had some difficult opponents in this run). A mid-table finish looks like the best the club can hope for as they are 9 points above the relegation places and 12 points off the play-off places. They may still be 9 points and two places above Grimsby Town in 23rd place but, for the first time this season, Colchester fans may be looking over their shoulders at possible relegation.
The home loss to Exeter City (1-2 on 23rd Feb) was the final straw for the Colchester board and they sacked their manager, Steve Ball, who had been in the job since last August. Ironically, it was a loss to the Grecians in last year’s play-offs that led to previous manager John McGreal leaving the club.
Colchester have immediately moved to appoint former player Wayne Brown as interim head coach till the end of the season initially. The former centre-back has impressed during his spell in charge of Isthmian League division north side Maldon and Tiptree and will be invited to formally apply for the role, presumably on a longer term, at the end of the season. Will this give the U’s a managerial bounce we wonder?
It’s their away form that has been one of Colchester’s problems this season. Just 9 of Colchester’s 33 points have come on the road. They haven’t scored in their last 5 away games. They have just 1 win away from home (against Scunthorpe) but they do have a knack of drawing – 7 of their away fixtures have ended in draws, 7 have been losses. Their most recent away outing was a trip to Crawley where a 93rd minute winner gave Crawley the points.
The reverse fixture in October in Colchester saw Rovers concede in the 2nd minute to a Chilvers strike This turned out to be the game’s only goal so Rovers lost 1-0.
The U’s top scorer this season is Jevani Brown (Rovers fans may remember that Jevani was loaned to FGR for half a season in Jan 2020 – he made 5 appearances). This campaign Jevani has scored 7 league goals (11 in all competitions – and this total includes 2 hat-tricks).
Colchester started life as Colchester Town. In 1937 it was felt the club should turn professional but this was resisted by some. As a consequence, a breakaway club was formed and Colchester United was born. The new club progressed well and were finally elected to the football league in 1950. Since then, the club have had a brief drop into the 5th tier in the early 1990’s and a brief rise into the Championship between 2006 and 2008. In 2006 they finished second in the 3rd tier (just behind their Essex rivals Southend Utd) to gain promotion to the Championship. They played just two seasons in the Championship before being relegated back to the 3rd tier. Another relegation in 2016 dropped them back to League 2 – some 18 after they last played in the 4th tier.
Colchester are one of 2 professional clubs in Essex so it isn’t surprising that Southend United are their main rivals. Wycombe Wanderers and Ipswich Town are other main rivalries for U’s fans.
The club originally adopted the Colchester coat of arms as their club crest. But there was a dispute with the local authority in the 1930’s about the use of this logo and this forced a rebranding. Since then, the crest has featured an eagle. The U’s are sometimes also known as The Eagles and their mascot is called Eddie!
Colchester play at the 10,000 capacity Colchester Community Stadium. This has been their home since 2008. Prior to the new stadium being built their Layer Road ground had been their (and their predecessor’s) home for nearly 100 years.
Colchester is 50 miles north of London and 30 miles from Stansted airport, and is built on the site site of what was Camulodunum, the first major Roman city, and once the capital of Roman Britain. As such, Colchester has a good claim to be regarded as Britain’s oldest recorded town.
Colchester was a garrison town in Roman times and remains one to this day with the Colchester Garrison currently home to the 16th Air Assault Brigade.
Perhaps the most famous landmark in Colchester today is ‘Jumbo’. Jumbo is a water tower whose proper name is the Balkerne Gate water tower. It was nicknamed (after a London Zoo elephant) as a term of derision in 1882 by Reverend John Irvine who was annoyed that the tower dwarfed his nearby rectory at St Mary at the Walls. Jumbo became superfluous to requirements in 1986 and was sold by Anglian Water. Colchester is still trying to work out what to do with it now!
Colchester is reputed to be the birthplace of three of the best known English nursery rhymes – Old King Cole, Humpty Dumpty & Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, although all three of these claims are disputed. Humpty Dumpty may have been a Civil War cannon that sat on top of a church tower in Colchester or it may have been a (rather overweight) Royalist sniper who sat on a wall taking pot-shots at Parliamentarians. Who knows!?
Old Colcestrians include personalitites as disparate as Daniel Defoe and Mary Whitehouse. In 1947 Margaret Roberts (later to become Thatcher) moved to Colchester to work as a research chemist for BX Plastics. In 1948 she applied for a job at ICI, but was rejected after the personnel department assessed her as “headstrong, obstinate and dangerously self-opinionated”.