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

"Banter with Burns" 

10 May 2019

Winning at champions Lincoln City was a mighty fine way to end the
season for the U’s and their supporters last Saturday. Not just a win, more
like domination in my view and it just proves the point that no one in League
Two was unbeatable. A double over MKD and Lincoln shows everyone just how
good the U’s are on their day, and reinforces those who state that our 8th
place finish was a massive opportunity lost.

Sammie was excellent, Sam Saunders and Tom Lapslie tireless, and as for
our defence up against Akinde and Rhead, they were simply outstanding. As to
were the U’s fans who massed nearly 700 to cheer their team to 7th
place only for a late, bundled Newport equaliser to scupper the day.

Hindsight is a wonderful quality and much like many of you I have been
dwelling on those simple and sad lapses up front or at the back that have
ultimately cost us the point to the play offs. Nothing can be changed of
course. Such a shame that we’ve lost out, and more so on an automatic promotion
in my opinion place because the U’s would have certainly been worthy of it
given their early form.

The injury blight of our midfield, some goalkeeper uncertainty and a
combined barren period from our front men, all got together to stall the U’s
engine this season after it purred to perfection early on.

Not much more to be said other than I hope that the U’s can get their
player business sorted early and successfully as they did last season. Our
squad was one of the best assembled for years and if they can do that again
then we have to believe that we’ll be fighting for promotion again.

Will that squad still contain some of our current stars? There will be
rumours everywhere over the next couple of months. Some true and some bogus,
and I always love the ones that come from supposed sources in the “know”.
Experience has taught me to only believe it when it happens. Ronaldo seen at
the McDonalds near the stadium and all that.

So much talk about Sammie Szmodics this week. Our top scorer appears to
be in high demand and rightly so. First up I would love to see him at the U’s
again next season, but on the other hand I would also love to see him further
his career at a good club in the Championship. It will be a massive wrench for
our home grown Colchester lad but I know he’ll be a great success wherever he
plays his football.

The same can be said for Frankie, Kane and several
others, whether they are in or out of contract. For what they have given for
the U’s over the years, they would only be leaving us on the very best of

That is it from me this season. Thank you to all of the U’s
supporters who have got behind the team home or away. You are a credit to the
football club. I hope you have a great “off season” and come back ready to go
again for another promotion battle.

Up the U’s!

3 May 2019

I hope that that the 4G coverage around Sincil Bank is up to scratch tomorrow. Or you might be lucky enough to have a “friend” with access to the stadium Wifi password. Phones will be out everywhere analysing the scores as they happen around League Two as the U’s head into another last day challenge. There’ll be cries and cheers at frequent intervals I reckon and it might be best if our U’s players do all they can to block it out. They’ll have enough to think about.

Newport are in the box seat but nothing can be certain with so many of the challengers away from home this weekend. Even Stevenage could sneak in from 11th place with the right results. The U’s just have to win their game and not stress about elsewhere. Our goal difference is a slight advantage so at least we won’t need a thumping victory, just the 3 points, which of course we have taken from Lincoln before courtesy of our very worthy Player of the Season, Frankie Kent.

The double over MKD was achieved. No reason why the U’s cannot manage another. It was a fantastic atmosphere last Saturday. You could feel the positivity amongst the fans and that was mirrored by the players. Sammie’s early goal helped big time. It settled his team mates down so that they just played their football. Just as they did earlier on in the season when the U’s were in the top 3.

Sammie was influential all game. How he managed to set up Frankie for the 2nd, I just don’t know. An incredible piece of skill. The warm comfort of Eastman and Kent at the back was enhanced by home debut man Ethan Ross, a keeper who loves to deal with a cross, which made for a pleasant change. All in all a top team performance. The U’s we remember from a few months ago before the slippage stepped in.

I appreciate that it will take a barrow load of luck and good fortune for the U’s to extend their season. I do think they have a very decent chance though. Football and unpredictably go hand in hand of course. I just hope that whatever the final standings, the U’s end on a strong note with the fans right behind them for 90 minutes. That’s all anyone can ask of them.

As a reminder, it’s Star Wars day tomorrow (May the 4th) and the U’s will need our Jedi Warriors to weald the Force with a vengeance against the Dark Lords of Lincoln. It’s certainly not Mission Impossible though. That’s it for the film analogies folks. Thanks to all of the U’s fans off to support the team in the morning. Safe journey all and best of luck to John McGreal and his men

26 April 2019

The pressure of promotion has caused many a team to stutter these past few weeks. You don’t need me to tell you that if only the U’s had turned at least one of the sorry defeats into 3 points, then they would be in the driving seat for the play offs.

Only FGR are grabbing the bull by the horns with a strong finish. Even the mighty Lincoln are easy going champions recently. Let’s hope that continues! The U’s will need to win next week after hopefully beating MKD, who are also feeling the stress at the top, tomorrow afternoon, where the blue and white numbers attending are shaping up to be rather impressive from the U’s faithful. It can only help the team to have a strong following behind them for their final home game, especially when so much is at stake.

I do still think that the belated Newport v Oldham game next Tuesday will have a huge bearing on our fate. Appreciate one of them had a long cup run, but I always thought that the EFL wanted a clean week leading up to the final games. Possible unfair advantage? Let’s bag the 3 points first though and then worry about next week.

At Stadium MK before Christmas, I thought that the U’s played their best football of the season so far. Rarely do you see a football team work that hard for victory as our U’s players did that afternoon. I was utterly impressed and Lapslie was incredible from memory. Can they replicate it? Let’s hope so.

Yeovil has to be put down as another opportunity lost for the U’s especially with other results going in our favour. Even with a referee named after U’s legend Peter Wright, we could not prevail. Dillon’s chance to be a hero over the next week has been squandered so it will be up to the lesser seen Ethan Ross to repel the masses and be a new hero. I was pleased for Tom and his important equaliser. Sadly our forwards are not being so lucky with their chances recently, bar Frank’s easy one against Grimsby last Friday, although it's not for want of trying. Perhaps Mr Eastman deserves a run up front? 

Not much more to say really. It's a 2 game shoot out for the U's. Somehow they will have to rise above the pressure, find a way to relax and enjoy their football again, then they'll re-engage with the wonderful form that they had at the beginning of the season. No easy task and they'll need all of the encouragement possible from their fans if they are to pull it off, so thank you if you are coming along to cheer them on.

Best of luck to John McGreal and the players tomorrow. Let's see lots of blue and white amongst the fans, and as a back up, don't forget the lucky underwear please!

19 April 2019

Unless the U’s can halt their current form and put in a
finish of strong performances to win a few games, not only will this season
have been a massive opportunity lost, but there is a real danger that we will
find ourselves in the bottom half of the table come the end of it.

From a football club that has been challenging for the play
offs or more virtually all season, it could end up being a very painful and
sorry finale. Not only has it been hugely tough for the fans to take, but spare
a thought for the players and management, regardless of whether you like them
or not. They are not losing games on purpose. Nor are they failing to find the
back of the net deliberately, despite racking up strong numbers of shots on
goal each game.

We want them to do better, they also want to do better.
There is a lot to be said for the mental health side of professional football
and the players will no doubt be feeling nervous and anxious about every game,
even if they choose to shield it from other, because it’s not the cool thing
for a footballer to talk about. They are still human beings like you and me,
and if I was in their shoes, I know how rubbish I would be feeling at the

An early U’s goal this afternoon against Grimsby would be an
incredible lift for everyone. Whether it’s a 30 yard screamer or a ricochet off
someone’s backside at a corner, I don’t really care. Any sort of win today and
on Monday at Yeovil, against 2 other out of the form teams, may still give us a
chance by this time next week before we take on the MKD and Lincoln hurdles.
Even with an extra 6 points in the bag by then, the flickering candle of hope
that is the play offs, may already have been extinguished, but like I said, a
strong finish is so important.

So the U’s simply have to go for it today. Put right a few
wrongs and give us something to cheer about as we head into the Bank Holiday
weekend. Hopefully a sensible decision has been made on the keeper conundrum
and hopefully we’ll see Brennan Dickenson back in the starting line up. 

Whatever the team, and whatever the pain we as fans are all
feeling, please also try to consider the stress levels of our suffering players
too. Thanks for your support as always and Happy Easter.