|Matches of Yesteryear - U's v Blackpool 11/10/03|
Written by wessex_exile on Friday, 31st Jan 2020 18:26
Ahead of our upcoming match at the Abbey Stadium tomorrow, we again go back to the Parky era, and for this match his first full season in charge at Layer Rd. It’s funny, when I first started following the U’s in the 70s, matches against local rivals Cambridge United always seemed to be a really big thing, up there with Southend in many ways – they just don’t seem to have quite the significance these days?
Colchester United v Blackpool
Saturday 11th October 2003
Nationwide League Division 2 (Tier 3)
Match #41 of the Matches of Yesteryear series, and we have a home game against Blackpool in 2003/04. This was Blackpool’s third consecutive season at this level, after a solitary season dropping down to the basement back in 2000/01. Under the chairmanship of the odious Owen Oyston (the least said about him the better) since 1988, Blackpool’s go-to position had been more or less consistent lower mid-table in the third tier, and they were certainly living up to that billing this season, in 17th place and six places lower than the U’s.
In Match #36 (U’s at Cheltenham) I reflected on Peter Heard’s somewhat surprise appointment of untested Reading legend Phil Parkinson to the managerial hotseat in January of the previous season, with Geraint Williams confirmed as his assistant. As we know, Parky had steadied the ship during the tail end of that season, and in this, his first full season in control, we were beginning to see some of the promise of things to come.
Parky was starting to introduce some of the sports science stuff that he’d been exposed to during his time at Reading, and no doubt learned whilst getting his coaching badges. Perhaps it hadn’t bedded in that quickly, because August was a poor month for the U’s, with the U’s languishing in 19th place after an away point at Tranmere (I was there, but it’s not on my memorabilia list, so it won’t feature in this series). However, September was considerably better, as the U’s went undefeated in the league, winning four and drawing two, at the end of which Parky rightly received the Nationwide League Division 2 Manager of the Month award.
I love this photo – not just because it’s a wonderful line-up of many true Colchester United legends, but mainly because of physio Stuart Ayles. Never mind the boxer’s nose, or the dishevelled highlighted mess that purports to be a hairstyle (yet looks like he’s just stumbled out of bed after an all-night bender), but that tie! Where do I have to go to get a tie that substantial – it’s awesome, and I want one! Joking aside, from memory I always thought he must have been a good physio, totally bought into Parky’s philosophy for bringing the U’s kicking and screaming into the world of modern football. I suspect he was quite good for team spirit too, both on the training ground and after hours…
That run in September had propelled the U’s into the play-off places, and with real hope amongst the faithful that we could maintain that challenge. However, the famed Manager of the Month curse had immediately kicked in, losing 3-0 at lowly Notts County in our first match of October, with the U’s dropping to tenth as a result, so it was important that the U’s got immediately back on track in this match at home to Blackpool.
The U’s lined up:
25..Sam Stockley (Scott McGleish 85’)
10..Kem Izzet (Bobby Bowry 45’)
For Blackpool that day, despite their lowly position, they did have Scott Taylor up front, who was already banging goals in for fun that season. They also had current manager Simon Grayson in defence, alongside ever-present Danny Coid in the midfield. However, the other name of note as an attacking midfielder was none other than Richie Wellens – the current manager of Swindon Town, and after Tuesday night a man who is probably heartily sick of the sight of Colchester United this season.
My calendar for 2003 simply reads “U’s v Blackpool” for this day, so apart from knowing I didn’t bring any of the children along, I can’t really remember quite what the circumstances around my trip over was. However, I most likely drove over with Em to visit Mum and the family for the weekend, taking the opportunity at the time to get over to Layer Rd with my brother-in-law. I say most likely, because that’s pretty much my modus operandi for trips to Essex back then 😊, usually capped off with a trip down to Maltings Yard in the evening to see my mate Dave.
As you are probably gathering, my actual memories of this match are very hazy at best, though I certainly remember Wayne Andrews getting us off to a perfect start, shooting home after just 87 seconds. However, fortunately Daniel’s excellent The U’sual fanzine comes to the rescue, as Issue 6 (from November 2003) contains a summary of this game.
“Blink and you’d miss it, Wayne Andrews got United off to a dream start, linking well with Craig Fagan to side-foot home after 2 minutes, and Colchester were comfortably on top for the first 45. Kem’s injury saw him emerge on crutches for the second and his replacement Bobby Bowry throw in the worst performance of his United career. As United lost all attacking momentum, Blackpool grabbed an equaliser, and if it wasn’t for Brown, they could have had all 3 points. Man of the Match – Thomas Pinault. Disciplined and creative from the holding role, and assumed responsibility when Izzet was forced off."
There were other aspects to the game I recall, certainly that Rowan Vine was causing considerable problems for Blackpool most of the afternoon, and that their equaliser was scored by none other than Scott Taylor (who else). However, it was Richie Wellen’s attempt from near the half-way line I remember best, after spotting Simon Brown off his line – fortunately that one hit the bar, and the game finished a 1-1 draw.
Colchester United 1 (Wayne Andrews 2’) Blackpool 1 (Scott Taylor 53’)
Blackpool inevitably finished lower mid-table again this season, but in Scott Taylor they had a striker in magnificent form, and he finished with 27 goals in all competitions that season. Continuing that rich vein of form into 2004/05, it came as no surprise when he was sold to Plymouth Argyle for £100k in December, already at the time with another 14 goals to his name.
With a considerable buzz going around Layer Road after the arrival of Phil Parkinson, Issue 6 of The U’sual was the third of the year, and by the end of the 2003/04 season Daniel would go on to add Issues 7, 8 and 9 to the list – a fantastic achievement by any measure!
Parky couldn’t quite keep the momentum from September going in the league, and we finished 11th at the end of the season. However, for the entertainment of the faithful, he was just about to embark with the U’s on two successful runs in both the FA Cup and the LDV Vans Trophy, the latter just about to start the following Tuesday (14th October) at Cheltenham.
Up the U’s
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