Another big challenge for Brown

COLCHESTER United defender Wayne Brown has already overcome some big challenges this season, both on and off the pitch. But he still has one more hurdle to clear.

By Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United defender Wayne Brown has already overcome some big challenges this season, both on and off the pitch. But he still has one more hurdle to clear.

The U's player-of-the-year will not rest easy until promotion is secured. And he is not looking beyond this Saturday, where he wants a sizzling season to end in glory at Yeovil.

Phil Parkinson's men will grace the Championship next season, playing the likes of Ipswich Town (Brown's former club), Norwich, Sunderland and West Brom, if they earn at least a point against the Glovers.

It would be the perfect end to a year of highs and lows for U's stalwart Brown, who has not only been a tower of strength on the pitch, but has also recovered from a cancer scare.

“Life chucks many hurdles at you. It's no different for me,” explained Brown. “You're only in the game for so long, and many players go through their whole career without ever winning promotion.

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“I was lucky enough to win promotion with Ipswich, through the play-offs (1999-2000), and now I want to do it again with Colchester. However, I don't want to even hear about the play-offs this time. We have set our sights on the top two.

“It's all about being positive. When you hear that you could have something like cancer, which is what happened to me, it would be easy to just say - 'oh no!' I was told I had a mole on top of my head, that it was cancerous and it was spreading. It was obviously a worrying time for me and my family, but we all stayed positive.

“I just had the mole removed and that was the end of it. We decided to keep it all quiet until after I was given the all-clear,” added Brown.

Incredibly, despite Brown's brush with cancer, he only missed three games during this worrying period - the wins over Cheltenham (LDV Vans Trophy) and Derby County (FA Cup), and the 3-1 league win over Bradford.

The 27-year-old was back in the squad for the visit of Scunthorpe on February 7, and returned to the starting line-up just four days later for the trip to Huddersfield.

Brown continued: “Luckily, the lads did really well while I was away, especially in the FA Cup. The trip to Chelsea made me determined to get back quickly.

“I didn't want to miss any games at all, but your health must always take priority.”

Barking-born Brown played at the highest level for Ipswich at the start of his career, and has also spent a good deal of time playing in the second tier of the Football League, for Ipswich, Wimbledon and Watford.

He insists the U's already have a pool of players who would feel at home in the Championship.

“The gaffer (Phil Parkinson) is a very motivated person, and that rubs off on us,” said Brown.

“To make history for the club, by getting into the Championship for the first time, would be very special. I know we have the players who could hold their own in the Championship, and we would obviously also add to the squad.

“But it's still in the balance. At least Saturday's win over Rotherham (2-0) means we need just one point rather than all three from our final game at Yeovil, because the other results went for us.

“We are going to Yeovil with the intention of winning. If we can start well, like we have recently, then everything will snowball from there,” added Brown.

Left-footed centre-half Brown became the third central defender in a row to win the Colchester United player-of-the-year accolade, following in the footsteps of Alan White (2003-04) and Pat Baldwin (last year).

In fact Brown, who played 50 games for Ipswich, and has now made 109 senior appearances for the U's, walked away with all the major player-of-the-year awards after the 2-0 win over Rotherham.

He won the official player-of-the-year, as well as lifting the home and away supporters' awards, and the players' player-of-the-year. Fellow defender John White scooped the U's young player-of-the-year crown.

Brown revealed: “I haven't won many player-of-the-year awards before. In fact, this is my first season of winning one.

“It means a lot to me, but it will only be very special if I'm part of a promotion-winning team this season.”

The U's will wrap up automatic promotion if they can avoid defeat at Yeovil.

Brentford are the only team that can pip them, by winning at Bournemouth and hoping that the U's lose in Somerset.

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