OAP fan hoping for right result

WHEN Colchester United run out in front of their travelling support for tomorrow's crunch game against Yeovil there will be few fans watching that are more dedicated than 86-year-old Laura Sheldrake.

WHEN Colchester United run out in front of their travelling support for tomorrow's crunch game against Yeovil there will be few fans watching that are more dedicated than 86-year-old Laura Sheldrake.

The Colchester pensioner, who has been following the U's since the end of the Second World War, goes to all the home games and travels by coach to most away matches.

And when she is not watching the first team she is following the reserves, not to mention the youth side.

With a back garden overlooking the club's Layer Road ground, Mrs Sheldrake is better placed than most to follow the U's.


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She can boast she was there in 1971 when the club sent Don Revie's mighty Leeds crashing out of the FA cup and travelled to Wembley for the successful play-off final in 1998.

She will be up at the crack of dawn tomorrow for the coach trip to Yeovil where Colchester will be hoping to get the all-important point to guarantee Championship football next season.

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But Mrs Sheldrake is not counting any chickens, having seen hundreds, maybe thousands, of games since she first went with her late husband, Vic, in the late 1940s.

She said: “It has been a good season all round - I am hoping and praying they will pull it off, but who can say with football? We will need a little bit of luck too.”

And she will be hoping her favourite player this season, defender Wayne Brown, plays like he has done throughout the successful campaign.

Mrs Sheldrake admits the long treks around the country are beginning to take their toll and thanked the Colchester United Supporters' Association members for their assistance on match days.

She grew up in Colchester, within walking distance of Layer Road, and used to go when attendances of 5,000 were the norm.

In recent weeks she has noticed a distinct absence of empty seats where she sits in the main stand as some fans start to “come out of the woodwork”.

Mrs Sheldrake said she is not a “shouter” like some around her, going quiet with nervousness for 90-odd minutes.

And, despite having the out-dated ground on her doorstep, she is in favour of a proposed 10,000-seat stadium at Cuckoo Farm, on the other side of town, saying she feels sorry for the away supporters.

“Admittedly I am happy with the ground being here, but not happy for the away fans as it is not geared to them,” she said.

“If we go up we will be going to Sunderland and the Stadium of Light and seeing all these lovely stadiums on the away games.”

With the Us' on the brink of reaching the second tier of English football for the first time she is not ready to hand back her season ticket yet.

Mrs Sheldrake said: “I will keep going for as long as I can, I don't feel as good as I did last season and am beginning to feel it, that is at the back of my mind, but as long as I can get a little bit of help getting there I shall continue to do it.”

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