Brown's optimism for U's battle

EX-Colchester United stalwart, Wayne Brown, is convinced that his old club will stay in the Championship.Centre-half Brown returns to Layer Road for the first time today, following his switch to Hull City for a club record fee of £450,000 last summer.

Carl Marston

EX-Colchester United stalwart, Wayne Brown, is convinced that his old club will stay in the Championship.

Centre-half Brown returns to Layer Road for the first time today, following his switch to Hull City for a club record fee of £450,000 last summer.

Brown rocked the U's when he slapped in a transfer request in July. The former Ipswich Town trainee still had a year left on his contract, but was keen to join the mass exodus that had already included Chris Iwelumo, Jamie Cureton, Richard Garcia and Chris Barker.

Although his departure disappointed the U's, it must not be forgotten that the 30-year-old defender enjoyed three fantastic years at Layer Road.

“I will always have fond memories of Colchester United, especially our promotion,” revealed Brown during the journey down from Humberside yesterday.

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“I know they are struggling a bit this season, but if I'm honest I think the division is only an average one this year, and that should save Colchester.

“They were always likely to have a difficult time, in their second season in the Championship, whether or not there were a lot of departures. Unfortunately there were, but the manager (Geraint Williams) has done a lot of wheeling and deadline during the transfer window.

“I think Colchester will be OK. It will certainly feel weird coming back to Layer Road to play, but I'm looking forward to it,” added Brown.

A key figure in the U's promotion-winning campaign of 2005-06, Brown went on to set a remarkable record of playing in every minute of every match during the club's first season in the Championship.

There's no doubt that he has been missed at the back this season, not least because the Essex club currently have the worst defensive record in the division with 46 goals conceded in 27 league matches.

Brown continued: “The team looks to have struggled a little at the back, but I wouldn't just put that down to my departure.

“Chris Barker (now QPR) was also a big player for us last season, and he was always going to be difficult to replace. But the two new signings (Chris Coyne and Phil Ifil) should make a big difference.

“Of course it was also going to be a tall order to replace Jamie (Cureton), Chris (Iwelumo) and Richard (Garcia), who scored about 50 goals between them last season.”

Garcia joined the Tigers a fortnight before Brown, after his contract expired on July 1.

The Australian's departure from Layer Road, on a free transfer, was always expected, in marked contrast to Brown's sudden exit.

BROWN and Garcia are gunning for promotion to the top flight with Hull and hopefully they should receive a good reception from the Layer Road faithful today.

“We have our eye on the top six. I reckon we have a great opportunity to reach the play-offs,” insisted Brown. Hull are currently three points adrift of the top six in 10th spot.

“It's a new challenge for me. I'm an ambitious lad and promotion is a reality. It's a different world up at Hull, after my days with Colchester. We have our own training ground, which you really need these days, and it's a great stadium (KC Stadium).

“We have used that to our advantage this season, and our away form has been fairly good as well.

“Richard (Garcia) has been playing well. He's our third leading scorer, and has been very effective playing down the right.

“As for me, I was disappointed to miss the first game of the season, after picking up an injury in pre-season, but I haven't looked back since then.”

In fact, Brown has started 26 of Hull's 27 league games, while Garcia has scored five goals in 29 league and cup appearances.

But ex-West Ham front-runner Garcia, who played 99 first-team games for Colchester over three years, will have to dramatically step up his scoring rate if he is to overhaul veteran Dean Windass. The 38-year-old has plundered 10 goals this season, to add to the eight he scored in just 15 starts during the second half of last term, while on loan from Bradford.

Brown said: “The old codger (Windass) is amazing! His enthusiasm for the game is unbelievable, second to none, both on the training ground and on the pitch.

“He's still scoring some great goals and he's still celebrating wildly. I hope to still be playing at his age, because I consider myself to be a very young 30. I always found it a challenge playing against Dean, so it's no surprise that he's still doing well at this level.”

The U's will be hoping to keep Brown, Windass, Garcia and co. very quiet today, in a bid to record only their third home win of the season.

That's in marked contrast to this time last year, when Williams' men had already rattled up 11 Layer Road victories.

Brown concluded: “Our great home form was a big factor is us finishing in the top half of the table last season. You need a good home record to stand a chance of doing well.

“I'm sure that Colchester can make Layer Road a fortress again, but we have a lot of self-belief at Hull. I hope that it becomes a fortress only after our visit!”

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