Posts Tagged ‘cuckoo farm’

Game 23 – Peterborough

25 April, 2009

img_3085_webA great quote in the media this week from Alan Maybury.  Something to the effect that we don’t want away fans celebrating promotion on OUR patch.  That’s the first time I’ve heard one of the players refer to Cuckoo Farm as ‘Home’.  Most of this season they have been playing like the away team, and the fans for the most part have felt like the away support.   Unfortunately Maybury’s passion for his home turf wasn’t translated into direct action today as he wasn’t in the squad.  In the squad was Clive Platt for first time in three weeks and his name was greeted with boos.  Actually it was the away fans that started it, but their dislike of him was far greater than the home fans’ admiration.  Perhaps there’s something significant about that.

img_3028_webOn the subject of absentees, with a virus rampaging through the ranks Captain Hammond also wasn’t fit for duty today but he was on hand to receive his Player of Season trophy.  Tierney was my choice.  He has shown the positive approach to the game that the rest would do well to copy.  On the subject of ‘player of the season’ it seems we have a home winner, an away winner, a young player, a Hospital Radio choice (I thought Gillespie might have earned that one, but Baldwin got it for the number of opposition players he sent to hospital).

img_3050_webThis was probably the best away team performance of the season that we have seen at Cuckoo Farm.  All credit to Peterborough for their entertaining style of play and clearly some of the key Ferguson genes have passed from father to son.  Let’s hope some of the managerial style and luck has rubbed off in the embrace between today’s two managers at the start of the game.  The away fans deserved their success and although it was hard to swallow, at the end of the game they deserved their win, thoroughly deserved their promotion and I wish them all the best in the Championship next season.

img_3104_webI hate statistics really, but this is now the 15th time we have conceded the opening goal at home this season and the 9th time we have lost 0-1, in fact 4 times in a row.   To rub salt into the wound a local business is once again allowed to sponsor the away goal.  When will the club learn?  Who wants to support an organisation that gets a kick out of their local team taking a beating?  Mind you, it woud be good if the home team could actually score a goal!  Maybe the next home game will see a change in our fortunes?  Or maybe not!

Away form returns

18 April, 2009

img_0422_webIt’s a shame they only give full commentary on the second half on BBC Essex.  It would have been good to hear today’s goals go in at the time they happened.  I’m in desperate need of listening to a winning performance (given that home performances recently have left me completely bewildered).  The second half today sounded rather drab and although a 2-0 win away from home is quite desirable at any time, when you look at the quality of the opposition you have to feel we should have bagged a few more.

img_0459_webCuckoo Farm was announced this week as the second stop on a world tour of football league grounds by the BBC Sport team of Tom Fordyce and Ben Dirs.  See their blog.  I just had to have my say of course, and a collection of my photos from the first season here at Cuckoo Farm is now available on Flickr.  It just goes to show that despite our lack of performance recent history has put us on the map.  Sometimes we forget what a rich set of experiences we have had in Colchester in the last 30 – 40 years.  I dragged out my old matchday programmes the other day and found the visits of top flight teams such as Leeds (1971 of course), Aston Villa (1979), and Manchester United (1979).  As a matter of interest today’s opponents Hereford played their first ever Football League match at Layer Road in 1972!

Game 22 – Brighton

13 April, 2009

img_1731_webDire.  We used to have a player with a name that sounded like this.  Paul Dyer.  Always entertaining.  We could do with someone of his stature now.  Is he still chief scout?  I think he’s got a big job on his hands. We need a lot more players. Players who want to wear the Colchester shirt.  Players who want to play FOR Colchester and the people of Colchester.  I think that’s what’s missing from the game at large.  Too many transfers and you have players who don’t really identify with the town or city they now represent.  How many of our regulars were born in Colchester, or Essex even?  I’ll stretch to London if that makes it any easier.  It’s especially true in the higher divisions and it’s starting to creep down into our level.  Yes, I have to admit we are currently playing at the correct level for our overall performances.  We may fancy ourselves as a Championship outfit with our new stadium but we need to string a few more wins together and put in performances that will bring the fans back.

img_1736_webDesperate.  There was only one team desperate enough to make a game of it this afternoon.  It doesn’t really say much for Brighton that they managed to walk away with a 1-0 win since we weren’t competing with them.  What a load of tripe we were dished up today.  It’s difficult to stomach rubbish like this.    No tackles, no sensible passing, no effort, no teamwork.  Just a load of long balls to no-one and nowhere in particular.  Oh the joys of League One football.  Brighton were clearly intent on time wasting from the outset.  Their keeper was lucky not to be booked for spending so long over every  goal kick.  He even dropped to the ground on one occasion after  he clearly caught a ball with his eyes shut.

img_1743_webDreary.  The announcement of the day came with about 15 minutes to go.  “The Ticket Office is open after the game.”  This made the home fans smile for the first time this afternoon.  What for they asked – ‘Refunds?’.   The worst announcement was accompanied by the realisation that we had 4 minutes of added time.   Not another four minutes of this?  I was going to describe the fact that we were getting that Layer Road feeling back again – two balls out of the ground today, South and East.  At least at Layer Road we had some fans singing, even when weren’t winning. Today the stewards were doing their best to upset the E8 crowd.  It was obvious from all round the ground that the home and away fans were being treated differently.  This is OUR HOME GROUND for crying out loud!

img_1750_webDoom and gloom.  Inevitably the fans were starting to blame Lambert and he received a few choice comments with the obligatory boos at the end.  Listening to the post match interview it seems he accepts this.  Let’s hope he sticks to his word and gets rid of the worst of the squad this summer.  Sadly I wonder if management and fans have the same idea over what makes a good squad.  The fans want players they can relate to.  Someone who will show loyalty to the club and become part of the community.  I don’t see a lot of it here at the moment.

Disaster.  The season is officially a disaster as the other team in Essex will now finish above us.  It’s getting tight on whether Geraint Williams’ Orient may join them in leapfrogging us.  That would be a result for George, but a hard pill to swallow for those at Cuckoo Farm.  There’s only one word for this afternoon’s experiences – Difficult.

Game 21 – Leeds

4 April, 2009

img_1682_webWhat a disappointment.  In reality Colchester never turned up for this one, even though a near capacity crowd turned out.  True, a third of them were from Leeds and they outsang the home support throughout.  Mind you they had more to sing about.

img_1699_webThe video screen attempted to add some interest by showing segments of the match live.  I’m not sure what was happening with that but it was annoying when the clock disappeared and a bit of live ‘action’ was screened.  It looked like some of the home players were watching the screen rather than their own game at times.

img_1695In the first half a couple of strange things happened with the crowd.  First of all the Barside ‘patch’ in the top corner of E8 was empty.  It was almost like that area was haunted by the ghost of the former Barsiders and the Leeds fans were afraid of going near it.  Then at the other end of the stadium those ‘formerly known as E8’ seemed to be herded into a corner of the Not-so-Noisy-North.  I wonder what makes the hard core of the home support want to gather in a corner of a stand rather than in the middle like all the travelling support we’ve seen.  Is it something to do with the way they have been leaning against the Layer Road structures for years ?  Have their bodies adapted in some way to create a lean-to-the-left?

img_1704_webAt least we have experienced something of a matchday event a couple of times in recent months with the visits of Southend and Leeds.  Sadly we seem to be getting on the end of a 0-1 scoreline all too often.  Seven times we’ve been turned over by this score at Cuckoo Farm and six more times we’ve conceded the first goal.  I’m sure that when I look at the video screen now it already has 0-1 etched onto it.  We need a screen saver!

img_1709_webIn the second half I felt the urge to concentrate on the sky for quite a while.  There were some interesting cloud formations which helped to pass the time.  There were some fluffy movements and a little dark stuff to be seen, but I can’t remember now if that was the game or the sky – everything went into soft focus for most of the second half.

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For a moment I was sure I saw a pig flying past and then it jumped over the moon, but of course I may have been mistaken.  It was difficult to concentrate when the video screen effectively gave me a second helping of not-very-much-at-all.  At least it gave me some time to think about the state of the nation, the financial climate, world peace, anything but football really.

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I did glance back in time to see a bit of a cat-fight at one stage but it didn’t really justify the purchase of a ticket. By the time I got my camera out the handbags had been put away and the players had resorted to a spot of name-calling and nasty glances at each other.  I don’t even think the ref felt it was worth making any notes.  In fact if we were still there while I’m writing this blog later in the evening, and the away team are on their way home I don’t think Colchester would have got anywhere near an equaliser.  Oh well, it’s George’s boys next week.

Pre-match build up – Leeds

4 April, 2009

It’s a sell out. A full ground. Yes, really, this time we are assured it will be full.  Not ‘full’ like the under-19 international when just 9,692 turned up, but maybe something close to the 10,000 capacity.  The main difference this time will also be that the majority of the crowd will be cheering for club rather than country.  It’s Colchester v Leeds for the third time in 38 years. So far the results are both in our favour.  Crawford (2) and Simmons hit the net for the 3-2 cup win in February 1971.  In April 2007 Iwelumo and and Cureton got the goals that gave us a 2-1 result. Which pair of strikers want the glory today?  It should also be the biggest travelling support.  It might be argued that the result will potentially do more for Leeds than for us since it looks like our play-off hopes have been burned.  We have the chance to dent Leeds’ chances as well, in the hope that we can play them again next season.  We also have the chance of yet another double, having won the fixture at Elland Road in December last year when we attracted one of their lowest home league crowds, just under 20,000.

Game 20 – Crewe

14 March, 2009

img_1640_webI felt confident about today’s game.  We were due a real cracker and Crewe were going to feel the  force of a team in full flight.  This was going to be a good day at Cuckoo Farm. Even the new scoreboard made the place feel brighter and the first ten minutes of play suggested that we were going to get a hat full of goals. Flowing play from back to front.  Intricate team passing.  Dangerous crosses from both wings.  Oh yes, the scene was set and we were in for a treat.  Even the weather was better than it has been since, … well since Layer Road I reckon.  Here endeth the dream!

img_1636_webOh yes – the new scoreboard.  I was going to call it a video screen but I can’t recall seeing much in the way of moving images on it.  Certainly the score didn’t move much, and on the one occasion that it did we weren’t too happy about it.  Never mind, the club got their advertising revenue from the goal sponsor!  Can you imagine that?  The club gets paid when the team lets in goals!  Well it’s a bigger screen than before and I’m sure we’ll see some innovative creations on it in time.

img_1634_webThe standard of play was so desperate after we went  the goal behind that I think Paul Lambert was even considering whether he ought to make a comeback himself.  He probably wouldn’t do much worse than a few of our lot did today.  The old bad habits creeping back towards the end of the game.  Lack of passing between team mates.  Running the ball into nowhere.  ‘Hoofing’ the ball upfield in the hope that it will find one of ours. The confidence drained away as soon as we conceded the goal really.  The effect it had on the crowd was much the same.  With 20 minutes left a steady dribble towards the exits – maybe if we could harness the discipline of that dribble and teach it to the players?

Game 19 – Swindon

10 March, 2009

img_1622_webNot so long ago Swindon were in the Premier League conceding 100 goals in a season. I was looking forward to a few Colchester goals today, and I wasn’t disappointed.  Unfortunately, while it made for an exciting game it meant that we had to lose the lead twice before bagging the winner.  I wouldn’t describe it as a 5-goal thriller as it has been hailed in some places, but at least WE scored most of them.  It helped that we were never behind, and it helped that we scored in the first couple of minutes.

img_1628_webWhat didn’t help was the pitch.  It’s getting bad in places.  Nowhere near the mud baths we used to see at this stage of the season many years ago but after being spoiled by the lush carpet at Layer Road this one is beginning to look a little threadbare.  Still, only a few more home games and the ground staff can get to work on it during the few days that are now called a ‘close season’.  In cricketing terms we are also experiencing ‘unpredictable bounce’, a term that could also describe Colchester’s fortunes over the last few seasons.

img_1643_webTalking of unpredictable, who would have thought that Clive Platt would score in the opening two minutes two games in a row?  It gets worse.  He scored two today.  The purists among us might say that since today’s goals were both with his head that we are at last beginning to see the benefit of having a 6’4″ striker.  Only half the story in that I’m afraid.  I’d swear that for both goals the man was falling backwards and the ball managed to rebound off his head towards goal and into the net.  I know I should be more loyal about our team but my son and I seem to be the ony ones who are totally frustrated at Platt’s lack of energy, lack of movement and lack of control.  After today’s performance it’s been suggested he needs to be drug tested.  I think they’ll find nothing.

img_1617_webThe new scoreboard is nearly ready for use.   That means bigger adverts for local companies.  Does anyone else find it annoying that there is a need for a company to sponsor corner kicks?  It gets worse!  Now we have local businesses sponsoring goals scored by the opposition!  Why?  Don’t they want our business?  Why on earth would I want to spend money with a company who gets their kicks by being shoved in my face when the U’s concede a goal? I know these are desperate financial times but the club need to think seriously about where their own loyalties lay.

Game 18 – Hartlepool

28 February, 2009

img_1589_webFor the second time in as many seasons  we see an away strip that blends nicely with the stewards.  At times it seemed as though there were twenty or more Hartlepool players but it was clear that the extra numbers were fairly static – a bit like our defence at one stage this afternoon.  Come to think of it, for the Hartlepool goal it looked like we were heavily outnumbered in our own penalty area, so I can only imagine that there were a few stewards in the mix as well.  For the rest of the game Reid and Baldwin held them at bay quite well.

img_1596_webThe full backs battled well too but the midfield, despite being marshalled well by ‘skipper-for-the-day’ Izzet, never really settled into a good passing rhythm like in recent games.  They missed Perkins, who was having a well earned rest.  Talking of having a rest, I expect the fans will be glad of a week and a half without another home game after having to fork out for three games in 8 days.  The lucky ones amongst us saw that coming and bought a season ticket.  The sneaky ones only attend the ‘kids for a quid’ games and today was one of those occasions.  It helped to push the published attendance figure above 5,000 and that’s quite amazing for a home match against Hartlepool, especially as they could muster barely a couple of hundred.  They had quite a distance to come I think.  It must have taken some effort getting down here, and for the first half you wouldn’t have known they were there.  It didn’t help them that they are also ‘United’ and when they did start up in the second half they were easily drowned out by the kids in the North Stand.

img_1600_webUp front we were quite dreadful at times.  Only Yeates, who now plays as part of the team instead of on his own, seemed to be making any sort of effort throughout the whole game.  Although he got our only goal vernon lacks any amount of oomph (I can’t think of another word for it), while Gillespie looks and acts so fragile that we are constantly wondering if this frail figure will stand up to it all.  Taking of frail figures, there’s a new structure emerging in the North East corner (it’s not yet sponsored by anyone, so get your bids in quick).  I’m told it’s for the new, improved, larger, brighter, more visible, more expensive video screen.  I wonder if they will be able to incorporate a clock that can count beyond 45 minutes?  It’s funny really that they think the rest of us don’t wear watches or have clocks on our mobile phones.  I don’t really see the problem with letting the fans know how much of the ‘time allowed’ has elapsed.  Perhaps they think we will plague the officials with whistles.  Perhaps we ought to give them the bird – how about we start chanting a few ‘cuckoo’ calls when we want the whistle to blow?