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

"Banter with Burns"

7 May 2021

With a fair wind, together with perhaps a huge slice of good fortune, the U’s could end this current “seasonus horribilis” in the lofty heights of 19th position. It would however require our boys to register only their 2nd away win of the season to do so, so maybe I am clutching at straws a bit.



It was with massive relief that we managed to finally achieve 100% safety last weekend. Our 3 home wins on the bounce being the key to our survival, whilst giving due respect to Grimsby and Southend, as they also got their acts together late on, but in the end they could not trawl in the drifting Barrow and Scunthorpe. I have to be totally honest, I would personally and certainly prefer a trip to Barrow next season than Roots Hall. That said, I suspect that U’s might think differently as a home one against a local team does deliver more bums on seats, as would have Cambridge should they finally secure their promotion tomorrow. Northampton are heading our way of course, but they hardly travel with decent numbers.



Look at me already thinking about next season, when there is still one more game to play. I don’t think I am alone though because the speculation and rumour train has already begun stoking its boiler this week. I learnt long ago never to believe anything until it was confirmed as true, but it still gives the fans plenty to think about and maybe even dream of. To a degree it helps in the healing process after our forgettable season. In my view though, there is a big decision to make on the management front. I would be happy to see Hayden given the reigns and I think the U's would be very lucky to maintain a relationship with Tisdale. What us the fans would like to see however, may not necessarily be what the potential candidates have planned of course, let alone what the football club can and feel able to offer.



The same can be said for the players, some of whom may already have something pencilled in elsewhere for next season after their current contract ends this summer, and that's understandable I think. With the numbers involved, I think the churn levels could be quite high, but we will see.




One player who could become a starting XI regular next season is Josh Bohui, who announced himself as the match winner last Saturday with a lovely taken finish. I thought the U’s played the game very well and hardly looked like securing anything less than the sole point they needed. Not that I managed to see the opening quarter of the game though due to website issues. That said, I was kept well informed of proceedings by my more fortunate mate who had already briefed me on the Salford full back and his love of poorly timed challenges. Luckily for me I achieved a full view of the action just at the right time for his 2nd caution and very early bath.


Once the U's have won tomorrow, and moved up another position, I fully expect the U's to welcome the extra couple of quid they might get for the higher finish. And to be honest it probably will only be a couple of quid. I really do despair with football sometimes. Because, thankfully, none of the EFL clubs have gone to the wall during the pandemic, so far, the national press barely give the ongoing financial crisis a mention anymore. Perhaps they think it's a problem solved? Personally I think it will several years to solve especially for clubs like the U's. There should have been more help on the table, with less strings attached, because the end result will be that the already cavernous gap between those at the top table and those crawling on the floor for crumbs, has just become much greater in the last year. Mind you supporting football at the top table does not sound that great judging by the last few weeks and the ESL fall out.


Back to the U's, and let's hope that they can sign off in style up at the Wirral. Thanks for your support and I hope you all have a great weekend.


Up the U's!

30 April 2021

I have always loved Exeter! Wonderful city, charming people, some interesting journeys on the supporters coach, not least finding ourselves in what appeared to a pedestrian precinct once, and of course they have a brilliant football team. And said team thankfully fought back against Grimsby on Tuesday night to calm all but our tiniest of nerves. It would be great to go there next season and thank them in person, especially over a beer in their real ale supporter’s bar, but we might be thwarted as they look like being possible play-off contenders again.


The U’s could have, and perhaps should have, been similar contenders again but for one of the most unenjoyable and quite frankly most disappointing seasons I can remember. It’s been tough for everyone. Definitely one to confine to the deepest and darkest parts of our memories, with the hope that the reset button can be pushed during the summer to start afresh and compete at the right end of the league table.


With only a couple of freak results within the U’s, Scunthorpe (who have dropped like a stone) and Southend, putting us at risk, I am hoping that we can play well again tomorrow, get a positive result which will also help our new Exeter friends, and then head to Tranmere next Saturday for an almost no pressure finale, followed by a small break from all of the stress. Still a shame that fans could not be allowed back into stadiums for these final games up and down the country, especially when it has worked before. Personally I would have loved to have watched the final home game of the season.


The re-build can then start and the lessons from this season can hopefully be actioned. There is much for the U’s to contend with during the off season, not least who gets the manager/coaching reigns and which of the dozen first team players will have a new contract offered to them. Add to that, that two of the squad last weekend are currently with us on loan. That’s a frightening number to think about in my opinion. I know who I would want to keep but I really have no idea what the finances will say is possible, and whether of course they want to stay.


Anyway, back to the current football, and despite the end result and despite the fact that I was supping a couple of ales which may have influenced my perception whilst watching it on iFollow, I thought that U’s battled well at Cheltenham last Saturday. I agree that we hardly posed a goal threat ourselves and that Shamal George once again proved his credentials with some top saves, but for a now promoted team, they really found it really hard to get through us. Cheltenham clearly love their set piece corners and long throws, so perhaps it was inevitable that they would eventually scramble one in close to the end. After defending them so well for so long, I reckon our guys were pretty annoyed at the late kick in the teeth.


Back at home for the U’s tomorrow, where I am hoping they can play with the same intensity that we saw during the Walsall and Southend wins. We play so much better when we are positive, and this helps when we have two up top who are willing to run the channels and test the opposition back line. More of that please and if I am lucky, a couple more ales tomorrow afternoon with results elsewhere finally ensuring our safety, and I will be a very happy U’s fan.



Thanks as always for your continued support. Up the U’s!