As published in the Essex County Standard/Colchester Gazette and copied here with their kind permission

"Banter with Burns"

20 November

Someone has found a match, and despite a blustery cross wind, has still managed to light a candle and place it at the end of the tunnel signposted as the way back into stadiums for football fans. There are plenty of COVID related post-lockdown stories around at the moment, but for many a U’s supporter desperate to watch their team in the flesh again, even if it means being covered head to foot in PPE, this tiny beacon of hope is a very welcome one.


If not just for us fans, but also for the football club and players too I suspect.


That said, they are currently doing very well without us up at the JCS, with last Saturday strong performance and 3 points against Orient being the latest success at home. A well-managed and well played game of football from the U’s I thought. There were times in the first half when we had to chase the ball, but the error count was well down and only a late disputed strike provided their only real threat, There was a lot more confidence from the U’s with the new chap Folivi showing up well, Poku just about back to his old self, Chilvers working the ball hard from box to box and of course Jevani Brown carrying on his rich vein of goal scoring.


At almost the quarter mark of the season we are in the play offs, looking comfortable along the back four and sensing that an effort on goal can now be made from virtually every attack. Putting the rose-tinted specs to one side for a bit, there are still areas to work on I think, but to coin a phrase, we are in our “happy place” at the moment.


Tonight, Mansfield will be a big test for us. They have a new gaffer in charge, and it’s a Clough variety too, and they also have a “Lapslie” in their ranks to take us on. I bet Tom wishes he was fit enough to do battle with his brother in midfield. Wonder which would pick up the early yellow card for the friendly sibling sliding tackle? That would make for some top viewing on the EFL iFollow service over an ale or two later, and don’t forget like so many an evening game at the moment, the fun begins at 7pm


Mansfield are yet to win at home and we are yet to win away, so whilst a draw might be favourite, what a chance this is for the U’s to get their first 3 points on the road and cement their feet even further into the top positions? Then we go to Exeter next Tuesday looking for a little bit of pay back after missing out of last season’s playoff final.


All in all let’s keep our fingers crossed for the U’s over the next week, and keep our eyes peeled for further news as the old candle flutters away on its journey up the tunnel. Stay safe and thanks for your support

13 November

Another interesting week in football comes to a close. With fingers firmly clasped around their own wallets and purses, the Government have been grilling the powerful people in football in an effort to extract from them an improved funding proposal to help save the pyramid. Yet again we hear that one of the counter arguments centres on not wanting to help profligate football clubs. Well, the simple answer is to help them to a lesser degree, because surely they must know by now which clubs haven’t got the faintest idea what a “budget” is.


And then we come to the U’s who unfortunately deliver their own budget performance in the FA Cup, but very nicely follow it up with a stellar display against Southend in the “dead rubber” cup.


It was painful last Saturday, there is no denying that fact. Marine FC barely put a foot wrong in terms of their tactics, football and of course, penalty taking. They simply did not make a mistake all game, whilst the U’s tally of simple errors mounted up rather embarrassingly. One or two of the U’s players looked out of sorts and whilst at the time I was very upset that we played badly, with hindsight was I guilty of not giving them a degree of understanding and sympathy given the pressures that we are all under during this pandemic and current lockdown? On paper, the U’s should have won, but games are played by human beings, not robots, whose minds might drift understandably elsewhere. I know on occasions mine has other priorities whilst I am at work. I am not looking for excuses, because our football wasn’t great in many areas, but I think some players are due a bit of slack in the current climate.


It was a costly off day for the U’s in terms of FA Cup income but it is behind us now. After a good team meeting and a wadge of training they re-focussed and took apart struggling Southend. If only us fans could have been there in person, what a night that would have been. As Steve Ball has said, give Jevani Brown service and he will deliver, and boy can he deliver in style? It was a very front foot performance and just shows what attacking power we do have when we choose to utilise it. Really pleased that Poku capped a fine game with a goal, and good to see one of the new strikers get in on the act too. The gaffer has a good number of team selection headaches to contend with over the next few games I think.


Tuesday was probably the perfect riposte to an off Saturday, and let’s hope that the players can maintain those levels against Leyton Orient tomorrow afternoon. Kick off times are changing left, right and centre these days, but I am pretty sure it’s still 3pm so hope you can tune in. The 3 points are important to keep us around the higher fringes and will take us nicely into a couple of potentially tough “aways” against Mansfield and Exeter.



Thanks for all of your support as always and I hope that you are all keeping safe and secure. Cross your fingers for a warmingly positive U’s win tomorrow and I am sure it will happen. Up the U’s!