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All non-league football to immediately end below National League
at 21:37 1 Apr 2020

Glad to hear it Durham, and particularly that you've managed to procure some loo roll. I agree, after the extremely unhelpful panic-buying over the last few weeks, everything does appear to be gradually calming down and stores are slowly restocking.

Best wishes to you and yours!

Up the U's
Everyone OK?
at 21:29 1 Apr 2020

All good so far - Alfie's mum (an NHS nurse) has succumbed, but appears to be on the mend now. He saw her on Saturday, she became ill on Sunday, but so far (fingers-crossed) no symptoms for him or me.
Help for the FA!!!
at 21:26 1 Apr 2020

Thanks Burnsie and MFB for corroborating, I knew it happened and the timeline sounds about right. I certainly remember though it was heavy and settling at the time, it was otherwise a freakish blip in what was actually quite a warm day. As a teenage boy, I do also remember being bitterly disappointed it didn't hang around for very long, though I suspect snowballs were briefly thrown
Help for the FA!!!
at 18:11 31 Mar 2020

One of my childhood diaries (not certain exactly which year) listed snow on a day in June/July in Colchester - can't remember the exact date, but it definitely happened.
Matches of Yesteryear - U's v Macclesfield 4/4/92
at 20:14 28 Mar 2020

Spot on chap, well done! 👏👏
True colours
at 19:13 28 Mar 2020

Scumbag Tim Martin, CEO and owner of Wetherspoons, went public this week saying he wouldn't pay the bills of his supply chain during the crisis.
Norwich 1 - 7 Colchester Utd
at 19:10 28 Mar 2020

My favourite moment of the commentary, at 1-6, was "the Canaries won't suffer a worse defeat this season" - really, just hang on for another 10 minutes
Matches of Yesteryear - U's v Macclesfield 4/4/92
at 19:08 28 Mar 2020

You're very much on the right track for 10 down, but a specific (and notable) pub at the time. For 19 down, the clue is in the name.
Matches of Yesteryear - U's v Macclesfield 4/4/92
at 18:05 28 Mar 2020

Nice work MFB, but you're two out - 10 down and 19 down. You'll kick yourself when you know 10 down.

What I meant by the 2-1 reference was my observation that if Macclesfield had scored, 2-1 would have actually been quite a bad result for the U's, so apologies if it wasn't clear.

Edit: thanks btw, your kind words are much appreciated
[Post edited 28 Mar 18:26]
Matches of Yesteryear - U's v Macclesfield 4/4/92
at 14:31 28 Mar 2020

Good afternoon everyone, I sincerely hope you are all doing well? Today would have been a vital home match against Mansfield, struggling at the wrong end of the league this time after a couple of seasons flattering to deceive at the sharp end. Since the last blog, we now know that all football below the National League is cancelled, and the season expunged from records. A tough break for the likes of Jersey Bulls in the Combined Counties League Division 1, who had won all of their 27 matches and already promoted, but then these are very strange times indeed. I sincerely hope the EFL season can be completed somehow, but I’m increasingly pessimistic about whether it will be.

Colchester United v Macclesfield Town
Saturday 4th April 1992
FA Trophy (Semi-Final 1st leg)
Attendance 5,443

Match #51 of the series, and we return to happier times, albeit given the U’s under Big Roy McDonough were in their second consecutive season playing in the Conference. As well as riding high in the league, we were doing pretty well in the FA Trophy as well, and for this match faced Macclesfield Town in the first leg of the semi-final, and just two games away from what would be a first trip to Wembley. This was our second season attempting success in this competition, the previous finishing somewhat ignobly with a 2-0 home defeat to Witton Albion in the quarter-final.

Cup fever was gripping the town, and with Wembley in our sights, the programme featured a rousing article about our famous 1947/48 FA Cup run. Back then, we were the first non-league side to reach the 5th round of the FA Cup, and the programme recalled that moment by reproducing a number of cartoons from that time that had featured in the national press. Though a few teams have since equalled our record, it would take until 2017 before Lincoln City finally went one further and reached the quarter-finals.

I drove over for this game on my own (my partner was pregnant at the time with my first child), and after lunch at Mum’s headed over to the game with my brother-in-law. It was a long time ago, and although I remember the occasion extremely well, the precise details of the match are rather more hazy – though fortunately there are plenty of bits of reference material about to help. I certainly do remember it was a bright dry day, a very boisterous Drury was packed out before the match, as was Layer Rd when we finally got in, with nearly 5,500 jammed in (our biggest home crowd of the season at the time). Layer Rd was so packed out in fact that the kick-off was delayed by ten minutes to try and get everyone in. As well as a programme, I’m not 100% certain but this might have been the first time I also bought a Colchester United fanzine (“Out Of The Blue” – Issue 9) – it’s certainly the earliest U’s fanzine I still have, that’s for sure.

We had opened our 1991/92 Conference campaign back in August ’91 with a home game against Macclesfield, which the U’s had won 2-0. Going into this match we were of course top of the Conference, but as we know, with Wycombe breathing hard down our necks – and to say it was already a two-horse race was a bit of an understatement. I think, at the time, Redbridge in 3rd place were something like 20 points behind the U’s? Macclesfield were having an indifferent season, floating around mid-table, with no real likelihood of relegation, and certainly no chance whatsoever of going anywhere in the opposite direction.

Remarkably, as it rarely seems to happen, the U’s lined up exactly as listed on the back of the programme:

1….Scott Barrett
2….Warren Donald
3….Paul Roberts
4….Mark Kinsella
5….Tony English
6….Dave Martin
7….Jason Cook (Eamonn Collins 75’)
8….Ian Stewart (Garry Bennett 70’)
9….Roy McDonough
10..Steve McGavin
11..Nicky Smith

Managed by long-standing manager Peter Wragg, and without any disrespect to Macclesfield Town, none of their team that day stand out to me as notable names. A handful had football league experience, including goalkeeper Mike Farrelly (at PNE) and Mark Dempsey (Man U apprentice, and played with Sheffield United, Rotherham, Swindon and Chesterfield), but the Silkmen were widely considered as no slouches in non-league football. If nothing else, they knew their way around this cup competition, winning the inaugural 1970 Wembley final 2-0 over Telford United in front of over 28,000. They’d been there more recently too, just three years earlier, and again against Telford, though they lost that one 1-0. In the Conference, they were also known for their well-marshalled defence, with only the U’s and Wycombe conceding fewer goals at the time of this match.

Despite Macclesfield’s non-league pedigree and robust defence, no one was really expecting anything other than a U’s victory, and probably a comfortable one at that (bookies were already listing us as 5-4 on favourites to win the trophy). However, there is such a thing as complacency, and early on Macclesfield reminded us of that, when Askey should have done better from inside the penalty area than shoot straight at Scott Barrett. For the opening twenty minutes or so, it was a fairly even competition, neither side really carving out clear-cut chances.

Then, on 23 minutes that all changed – Dave Martin passed a free-kick to Ian Stewart, who tried to then feed it on to McGavin in a threating position. However, the ball struck the referee, rebounded perfectly back to Stewart, who delightfully took this huge slice of good fortune and drilled it past a wrong-footed Farrelly in the Macclesfield goal. Layer Road erupted, and the roars were still echoing around the ground when less than two minutes later it was 2-0. Another somewhat fortuitous goal, Tony English and Big Roy played a clever one-two, after a foul on McGavin was played on for advantage, with Tony’s shot deflecting off defender Hanlon and into the back of the net. We were now in uproar, everyone expecting the U’s goal-machine would just roll on and absolute demolish Macclesfield. However, they were made of sterner stuff that day, and not only managed to stifle our attacking threat, but actually get themselves back in the game.

In the early stages of the second half, with still no more goals, it was actually Macclesfield who came closest to scoring next. Askey almost atoned for his miss in the first half, intercepting an under hit back pass to Barrett, but Scott did well to race out and spread himself to prevent a goal. For Macclesfield, worse was to come not long after, with Askey this time turning provider, lifting a beautifully weighted cross over Barrett for what looked like an easy tap-in for Andy Green – but he somehow contrived to let the ball slide under his foot and the opportunity was lost.

By now, we were getting really nervous, jittery even. A 2-0 victory in the first leg would be okay, but not insurmountable, and a 2-1 home victory (or worse) could be a disaster. However, cometh the hour, cometh the man, and three minutes later we were all breathing a bit easier. With a long-throw aimed at him, I’d say McDonough made a bit more of a meal of the pressure from his marker Edwards than was really there, but it worked and the referee pointed to the spot. Who else but Roy McDonough to step up – he’d earned the penalty, he was taking it, and sending Farrelly the wrong way, hammered it into the corner of the goal.

Wembley here we come! (© EADT)

From then to the end of the match the noise was deafening, the sense of relief was palpable, surely we’d done enough now to book our first visit to Wembley! Big Roy dabbled in a bit of game management, replacing Stewart with Gary Bennett straight after his goal, and then five minutes later bringing on Eamonn Collins for Jason Cook, and we held on for a comfortable 3-0 first leg lead. According to Graeson’s ColUData website ( this would turn out to be Eamonn’s last appearance in a U’s shirt.

Colchester United 3 (Ian Stewart 23’, Tony English 25’, Roy McDonough 70’) Macclesfield Town 0

Spoiler Alert: We had done enough, and as I couldn’t join the army of 800 U’s fans making the long trip to Moss Rose for the second leg the following Friday night, and it won’t therefore feature in this series, I’m happy to report the U’s drew 1-1. It was nervy mind, with Macclesfield taking the lead early on, but Jason Cook levelled the scores in first half injury-time, and the U’s comfortably kept out a deflated Macclesfield in the second half.

Incidentally, the second leg should have been played on the Saturday afternoon (and I should have been there), but it was bought forward to avoid clashing with Chester City’s home game against Birmingham. Yep, you read that right, back then Chester City were in the old Third Division, alongside teams like Birmingham, West Brom, Huddersfield and Fulham.

From Issue 9 of “Out Of The Blue”, and for a bit of fun, there’s a crossword on pages 4-5 that’ll have you scratching your heads – it probably would have been fairly easy back then, but a completely different kettle of fish 28 years later – good luck brainiacs! (you might have to zoom in a bit though)

Up the U’s
Who ya gonna call ..... Goalbusters !
at 09:16 28 Mar 2020

Matt Hudson rang me once, does that count?
All non-league football to immediately end below National League
at 08:02 27 Mar 2020

China built a 1000-bed hospital in 10 days, so I doubt getting hold of as many testing kits as they wanted was much of a challenge.
RIP Paul Wright
at 19:37 23 Mar 2020

A moving tribute Noah, thanks for sharing. Like many, I only knew Paul by sight, but I'm sure he would have been touched deeply by your words.

RIP Paul
Latest statement from Robbie...
at 19:19 23 Mar 2020

...for those that haven't seen it.

All seems eminently sensible, provided we actually get any choice in the matter that is.
Col U 5-4 Bristol Rovers
at 18:23 23 Mar 2020

I agree with pretty much all of that Pinault - considering it was only 20 years ago, some of the tackles were far harder than we're use to seeing these days, and yet not too many complaints/ play-acting either. I liked the pace and tempo, it was certainly much more direct than we're used to these days - a purist might say 'long ball', but it wasn't aimless, there was definitely purpose and a target in mind for much of it.
Col U 5-4 Bristol Rovers
at 09:10 22 Mar 2020

Magnificent, never seen that before, so thanks for posting! The noise levels at Layer Rd though, man I miss that place at times.

They say “I can remember where I was the day that...”, well on this day I was in the Bishop’s Mill in Salisbury with my mate Phil, watching Jeff as our fortunes swung back and forth throughout the match - quite an afternoon.
Matches of Yesteryear - Wycombe v U's 6/3/99
at 14:43 21 Mar 2020

Here we are again, so greetings to all you social distancers and self-isolationists, I sincerely hope you are all well. This would have been our third fixture since the suspension of all football in the UK, and with more and more measures being implemented by the government to minimise social gatherings, including extending the football league break until at least the end of April, one wonders whether we’ll ever finish this season? There have been numerous measures announced, including £50m from the EFL, to minimise the financial burden on us smaller clubs, but Robbie Cowling has gone on record stating that “…to really survive and go forward there is going to be help needed from the Premier League or elsewhere” – quite right Robbie.

Wycombe Wanderers v Colchester United
Saturday 6th March 1999
Nationwide League Division 2 (Tier 3)
Attendance 4,670

A notable milestone reached, Match #50 of the Matches of Yesteryear series, and again a match from the 1998/99 season has been randomly selected, and what a humdinger it was. The U’s travelled to Adams Park for our first visit since crushing them 5-2 back in 1993. That earlier match was notable in particular as it was the first football league defeat suffered by the Chairboys – quite appropriate really that we had the honour of inflicting it. The U’s, under Mick Wadsworth, were on quite a decent run at the time of this latest visit to Adams Park, six games unbeaten, and although only two of those had been victories, we were beginning to consolidate our position safe in mid-table. Wycombe were having a much tougher campaign, and after a dreadful January (losing all five matches in a row) and only a marginally better February, they were second bottom and 6pts from safety.

I travelled over on the train for this game, to join a sizeable turnout from Essex for the match. I’m not sure how many of the faithful had turned up, but it must have been at least 7-800 I reckon. Pre-match beers were taken at a very noisy and dissolute White Horse, followed by the customary police escort to the ground. Back then, these fixtures really did still have an edge, and there were some gnarly faces in the crowd that day that I’d rarely see at most matches – and the atmosphere inside the ground was volatile to say the least. This is yet another match for which I also have a ticket stub, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t an all-ticket match.

As a result of their dreadful run of results in January, Lawrie Sanchez had taken over as manager of Wycombe Wanderers in February, following the sacking of Neil Smillie with the Chairboys looking destined for relegation. Sanchez’s brief was simple, avoid relegation at all costs, and a win and a draw from his first four matches had at least stopped the rot. Mind you, Mick Wadsworth only joined the U’s a few days earlier than Sanchez took up his position – replacing Steve Wignall at the end of January – so this was very much two new managers finding their feet at new clubs. Wadsworth had wasted no time bringing in new faces, signing Stéphane Pounewatchy from Port Vale, as well as loanees Warren Aspinall and Bradley Allen (from Brentford and Charlton Athletic respectively).

All three featured for this game, as the U’s lined up:

1….Carl Emberson
2….Joe Dunne
3….Warren Aspinall
4….Geraint Williams
5….Simon Betts
6….Aaron Skelton
7….Stéphane Pounewatchy
8….David Gregory
9….Bradley Allen
10..Neil Gregory
11..Jason Dozzell

The match itself was very much a Jekyll and Hyde performance for the U’s. For the first half hour or so we were awesome, all over a Wycombe side who looked like a team bereft of confidence, and doomed to relegation. Just three minutes in, Neil Gregory blasts home an exquisite pass from Bradley Allen to put the U’s ahead 1-0, the faithful invade the pitch celebrating, only for referee Fraser Stretton to rule it out for a highly questionable offside. Pounewatchy in particular was proving to be a huge handful, and on 18 minutes was there to flick on a pinpoint corner from Aspinall to allow Dozzell to power home a header past the onrushing Taylor in the Wycombe goal. This time it really was 1-0, and the travelling blue and white army behind the goal were going absolutely mental. Three minutes later, and it should have been 2-0 as Bradley Allen scored for the U’s, only for this one to also be ruled out for a questionable handball.

We were rampant, and surely it was only a matter of time before more goals came. However, Sanchez had started to instil some steel in his relegation-haunted squad, and slowly they started to get back in the game. On 25 minutes Emberson pulled off a world class reflex save to deny a point-blank header from Scott, and five minutes later kept out a fierce shot from the same player. With five minutes to half-time, Wycombe should have equalised, but Simon Betts pulled off an excellent goal-line clearance from a powerful Keith Ryan header, and thought they had equalised when Baird turned the ball in from six yards – but this too was quickly ruled out for offside – much to our amusement behind the goal. However, amused we may have been, but by half-time it was clear we were actually hanging on now, despite our total dominance from the start.

The second half saw a significant shift in Wycombe’s tactics, deciding they’d resort more on some proper route one stuff, and it was sadly working. There was no doubt about it now, we were under the cosh and desperately holding on, with Scott flashing a free header wide of the goal early on when it looked easier to score. On 57 minutes our defiant rear-guard action was finally breached. A speculative goal-bound effort from McSporran hit the back of Joe Dunne and fortuitously rebounded into the path of Baird, who gratefully tucked in the rebound past a stranded Emberson. A harsh way to concede, but it had definitely been coming. On 75 minutes Wycombe went one better, when a decent free-kick from Carroll was headed home by Scott in the six yard box, to give Wycombe what by then was a deserved 2-1 lead.

Finally, stung into action by going behind, the U’s decided to grow a pair and actually compete in a game they should have been comfortably winning at one point. For the last 15 minutes this turned into a real blood and thunder battle, with the U’s going close to equalising, and Wycombe still clearly capable of getting another. The contest was exemplified by Aaron Skelton, going down with an ankle injury on 80 minutes when keenly contesting a 50:50 ball…and he stayed down too, for a long time, before eventually being stretchered off. As we approached 90 minutes, the U’s were now fully in control, with Wycombe happy to waste as much time as possible to try and just hold on to three vital points. Then the board went up – 7 minutes of injury-time to come, which was greeted by a deafening roar from the away end.

And still the U’s surged forward, wave after wave crashing against a resilient defence – Abrahams blasted one across the face of goal, David Gregory sent a header agonisingly wide, but time was running out. In the 8th minute of our seven minutes of injury-time (yes, Wycombe’s time-wasting had been that apparent that even corpulent Fraser Stretton couldn’t ignore it), Wycombe forced an unlikely corner, and the match looked over. With the U’s faithful breathing down their necks almost within arms reach, Wycombe decided to try to keep the ball in the corner, but the U’s were having none of it, and after a few hefty challenges went flying in, Buckle managed to dislodge the ball and send it flying up the pitch to Aspinall, who’s slide rule pass fell beautifully into the path of Neil Gregory. Gregory just ran and ran towards the Wycombe goal, Taylor came headlong out to meet him, and ended up taking Neil out in the penalty area for a clear spot-kick (and a yellow card for his troubles). Up stepped brother David, who gleefully dispatched the penalty in the 9th minute of injury-time to send us into raptures. The sight of David Gregory running back the length of the Wycombe main stand with his finger to his lips will stay with me forever!

The whistle was blown as soon as Wycombe restarted, and the U’s had snatched a draw from what had looked like certain defeat.

Wycombe Wanderers 2 (Andy Baird 57’, Keith Scott 75’) Colchester United 2 (Jason Dozzell 18’, David Gregory 90+9’p)

What a day it had been, and the fun wasn’t over then either. Initially held back inside the ground, a large group of U’s fans tried to force the locked gate open, causing quite a bit of damage in the process. When we finally got out, everyone bound for the station was herded on to shuttle buses, there was no option to walk back permitted. Probably just as well, because it was certainly a volatile atmosphere that afternoon. The police were their usual charmless self, and that day had probably underestimated the mood of the U’s fans, which resulted in a lot of confrontation, not least when the police were told to ‘do one’ when trying to get us actually off the shuttle buses.

Eventually things calmed down, and we all headed off on our various journeys home. As I’ve already covered in previous blogs for this season, we did avoid relegation, but it ended up being closer than we thought it might be back then in March. Although they dropped two points here, under Lawrie Sanchez Wycombe went on to have a very good final two months of the season, and escaped relegation on the very last day beating Lincoln City 1-0.

Up the U’s
Corona Island .
at 10:20 21 Mar 2020

Solitaire - The Carpenters
Matches of Yesteryear - U's v Bournemouth 27/4/99
at 20:08 20 Mar 2020

So, my reckoning for the Man Utd transfer is Terry Cooke to Manchester City. The timing is right, according to Wikipedia it occurred on 16th April, not quite two weeks before the U's game, but Man City were Division 2 at the time. Trouble is, Wikipedia records the fee as £1m, but it is entirely possible the £600k fee was mis-reported back then, or that add-ons eventually pushed £600k up to £1m.

There are three other possible contenders - Michael Ryan on 24th March to Wrexham for an undisclosed fee, and they were in our division, Paul Gibson on 25th March to Notts County, again in our division and again for an undisclosed fee, or Philip Mulryne also on 25th March to Norwich City for £500k. However, although Mulryne's fee is close to the reported £600k, Norwich were Division 1 at the time.

On balance, I reckon it must have been Terry Cooke?
Corona Island .
at 18:27 20 Mar 2020

Good call on Tigermilk, would probably feature for me in a top ten.
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