Colchester United: more players used in one season, since the end of World War Two!
Colchester United have used more players, during this relegation-haunted season, than in any other season since they joined the Football League back in 1950.
To date, a total of 42 players have turned out for the U’s this term, with no fewer than 26 of them making their debuts during the campaign.
And that includes a tally of 14 loan players – an unusually high number for any club.
Looking back through the archives, it’s a struggle to find any season where Colchester United have fielded more players.
In fact, you have to go back to the 1945-46 season, the first after World War Two, to find a U’s campaign which used more than 42 players.
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It was hardly surprising that a total of 79 players turned out for the U’s, in the immediate aftermath of the war – team line-ups were never the same, from one week to another, with clubs able to register players on the day of the match, irrespective of the fact they might be on the books of another club.
Usually – although not always – the more successful seasons coincide with a smaller number of players.
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That was the case in the U’s most successful ever campaign, in 2006-07, when Geraint Williams’ men achieved the dizzy heights of a 10th-placed finish in the Championship – effectively 30th in the Football League ladder, the club’s highest ever League finish.
Williams only used 21 players during that whole campaign, with seven of them making 40 or more senior appearances, and 11 of them chalking up at least 30 games, in all competitions.
Similarly, the previous year, when Phil Parkinson guided the U’s to promotion into the second tier, only 27 players were used on the way to a second-placed finish.
By contrast, the U’s have chopped and changed continually this term, under previous boss Joe Dunne and more recently under Tony Humes, since his appointment at the start of last September.
The club’s policy of blooding young players, from the Academy, has certainly boosted the overall number – the likes of Tom Lapslie and Dion Sembie-Ferris have broken into the first team squad, with others like Kane Vincent-Young and Kevin Lokko waiting in the wings.
Recruiting short-term loan players has also been a factor, with temporary recruits such as Will Packwood and Kenny McEvoy playing just one game, and West Brom’s Kemar Roofe a mere three games.
There is no doubt that an unusually high number of long-term injuries has also contributed to the current total of 42.
Frankie Kent, Magnus Okuonghae, Drey Wright and Michael O’Donoghue have all been out of action for virtually the whole of the campaign, while Tosin Olufemi has not featured at all due to his pre-season injury.
Of course U’s fans won’t care how many players have donned the U’s shirt this season, if Humes’ men manage to escape relegation during the final eight games.
That will be decided over the next five weeks.