Final whistle blows for Layer Road

IT was out with the old and in with the new as staff at Colchester Utd's Layer Road said their final farewells to the ground yesterday.

James Hore

IT was out with the old and in with the new as staff at Colchester Utd's Layer Road said their final farewells to the ground yesterday.

With the work on the long-awaited Weston Homes Community Stadium now complete, it was time for the club to lock the doors on the past.

Chief Executive Marie Partner was given the honour of bringing the Us' 71-year stay at Layer Road to an end.

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It was an emotional moment for Mrs Partner, who started work at Colchester United in the club's ticket office more than 20 years ago.

The removal lorries then wasted no time in moving all the boxes and belongings up to the new 10,000-seat ground to the north of Colchester at Cuckoo Farm.

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There will be a chance this weekend for U's fans to grab one last piece of Layer Road history as the club auctions off parts of the ground, including the corner flags, centre circle and penalty spots.

And a boot stretching table and signed shirt hooks from the changing rooms are among the more unusual items going under the auctioneer's hammer.

Matt Hudson, media manager, said although the staff were sad to say goodbye, they were already seeing the potential of the new ground.

“It has taken three lorry-loads of stuff and I think everyone was surprised at how much they had, although a lot of items will be going into the auction on Sunday.

“As soon as we got to the new ground we could see the opportunities that the place will offer - there is so much more office space,” he said.

Mr Hudson said the first season the U's were in the Championship had been his favourite time at Layer Road, where club after club were played off the pitch by the league's overachievers.

But he said last season's relegation back to League One had been the toughest time to be involved during his seven-and-a-half years at Layer Road.

Speaking this week, Colchester borough councillor Lyn Barton, in charge of planning and regeneration, said: “The completion of the Weston Homes Community Stadium is the culmination of a tremendous deal of effort by all the partners.

“The facility is a fantastic high quality landmark building for Colchester which with the ability to be used and enjoyed by a wide variety of residents and visitors will be a great advertisement for the borough and the region.”

There will be viewing opportunities tomorrow at Layer Road of all the items that will be going under the hammer on Sunday.

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